How to Have a No-Spend Month {FREE PRINTABLE}

This is how to have a no-spend month plus how to get ahold of a FREE PRINTABLE to help you on your challenge!

Do you feel like your spending has been out of control lately, or do you need to come up with extra money quickly for a large expense? Consider doing a no-spend challenge. Having a no-spend month can help you reach a financial goal quickly as well as develop healthy money habits.

What Is a No-Spend Month?

You might be thinking, what exactly is a “no-spend month”? Don’t worry – it’s not a month in which you spend absolutely no money because that is impossible.

A no-spend month is a savings challenge in which you don’t spend any unnecessary money for a whole month. That means you can still pay for bills, groceries, and anything essential, but you give up things that you can live without.

A no-spend challenge requires sacrifice, but it can help you get back on track with your budget, practice discipline, and save more money than you usually do.

Maybe your budget is so tight that you struggle to save any money at all. An occasional no-spend month can help you reach financial goals on a low income. Or maybe you have plenty of wiggle room in your budget, but you want to reset and reassess your spending habits.

How to Have a No-Spend Month

There are different ways to do the challenge, but here are the general guidelines on how to have a no-spend month:

  1. Develop a budget and plan before the month begins. Budget for all the essential expenses. The amount of income left over will be your savings goal for the month.
  2. Explain the challenge to your friends and family so they can understand your decision to not spend any extra money that month.
  3. Establish rules for your personal budget (see No-Spend Month Rules).
  4. Make preparations to set yourself up for success. An example is meal planning to help avoid eating out.
  5. During the month, log each day of the challenge as a “spend” day or a “no-spend day” (Get my free no-spend challenge printable down below). If something comes up where you have to spend extra money, log it as a “spend” day.
  6. Take any opportunities to increase your income during the month.
  7. Celebrate at the end of the month! Just don’t blow all the money you saved…

No-Spend Month Rules

Every budget and financial situation is different, so you will have to set up some ground rules for yourself before beginning the challenge. Write them out, so you know exactly what the expectations are. Here are some ideas:

  1. No eating out.
  2. No hair or nail salon visits.
  3. No car washes.
  4. No online shopping.
  5. No thrift shopping.
  6. Make coffee from home.
  7. Only free activities.
  8. Do side jobs on the weekends.
  9. Have a garage sale.
  10. Cancel unnecessary subscriptions.

What If I Have a Low Income

My family currently lives on a tight, single income. When I first heard about this concept, I thought it sounded cool, but unrealistic. Our “fun” money each month equals about $200 or less, so I didn’t want to sacrifice the small pleasures we have to barely scratch the surface of our debt. 

However, if you are living paycheck to paycheck, there are still several ways to reduce your expenses.

For example, if there are any birthdays during this month, try giving homemade gifts instead of buying a gift. Look up different craft ideas or recipes, write a meaningful letter, or offer to do something for them that they have been really wanting done.

Another way to make a no-spend month effective is to use up all your free time to increase your income. Instead of going to a restaurant or movie on the weekend, you could babysit, do someone’s yard work, pick up a Door Dash shift, or sell your unwanted clothes on Ebay.

No-Spend Month Alternatives

While having a no-spend month is a popular challenge, some people find a shorter or a longer challenge more helpful. Other typical options include a no-spend weekend or a no-spend year.

You can really come up with any time frame that works best for you as long as it challenges you without setting yourself up for failure. You don’t want it to be too easy or too hard. It might be best to start with a shorter challenge and work your way up to a longer one.

Many people like to commit to these types of challenges right after Christmas because of the excessive spending that usually occurs around the holidays. You can start one whenever you want, whether you need to save money for a large expense or you just want to exercise self control and develop better money habits. It’s a really customizable challenge.

No-Spend Challenge Tips

Here are a few tips to help set yourself up for success on your no-spend challenge:

Brainstorm ways to avoid pitfalls.

If you usually run out of time in the mornings to pack a lunch, practice waking up early or preparing it the night before.

Meal plan and stock up on essentials, so you don’t run out of groceries and fall into the temptation of ordering delivery.

If you don’t know how to make a good coffee, look up yummy coffee recipes on YouTube.

Make the challenge fun.

Change your mindset and attitude to think positively about it. Make it seem like a game and think of a reward to give yourself at the end.

Get your spouse or a friend on board with the challenge, so you can do free activities together and hold each other accountable.

What If I Mess up

I’m going to burst your bubble right now and say that you probably will mess up at some point. You probably won’t go a whole month without spending any unnecessary money or running into an unexpected expense. 

If you make it to day five and find yourself in the Starbucks drive thru, don’t quit the challenge. Think of a no-spend challenge like a diet; if you have 28 healthy-eating days out of 30, you can count yourself still successful. The important thing is to keep going even if you get off track for a moment. 

That’s why I recommend tracking the “spend” and “no-spend” days. You can see how well you stuck to the challenge without expecting yourself to be perfect.

Free Printable

Sign up for my email list to receive a free printable that you can use to keep track of your no-spend progress. Color in one coffee cup each day you successfully followed your no-spend rules. Then, tag me on Instagram at the end of your challenge, so I can share it!

Next Steps

Now that you know how to have a no-spend month, set a start date soon and stick with it. It’s SO easy to keep putting it off, but if you really want to do it, then find an accountability partner and make it happen! Not only will you save a nice chunk of change, but you will also reap the benefits of practicing self-control and discipline.

Have you ever done a no-spend challenge? Let me know in the comments below!

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5 Comments

  1. I like your tips for being realistic about a no spend month. Like you said, 28 days out of 30 sounds pretty successful to me! Thanks for sharing!

  2. These sound like great tips. I especially like the tips about not worrying if you mess up, or about setting different length of goals like even a weekend. Every little bit helps!

  3. I’ve never tried to do a whole month! I usually try to do 10-15 no spend days in a month. How often do you do this?

    1. That’s really good! We try to avoid spending every day of the month as well, so no-spend days are normal for us, but a whole month is hard! This is about once a year for us.