The Ultimate No-Spend Challenge Guide – Save More Money

Many people want to trip their budget and save more money. It can seem daunting and extremely difficult to save more money. If you can lower your expenses despite that, your savings rate will increase a lot. This ultimate no-spend challenge guide will help you save more money and increase your savings rate instantly. 

How does the idea of a no-spend challenge make you feel? Does it scare you? Do you think you can do it? Before you dismiss it entirely, think about what it would mean for you to save hundreds of dollars! Would you be able to go towards your financial goals faster? 

I have participated in a no-spend challenge, which lasted a month. Participating in this no-spend challenge has taught me so many things. It’s great the lessons you can get from these kinds of challenges. I promise, if I can do it, you can do it too!

In this ultimate no spend challenge guide, we will dive deep into this concept. This will be your go-to for when you want to do a no-spend challenge yourself. I wish this no-spend challenge guide were there when I did my first no-spend challenge. I intend to help you complete your first no-spend challenge with ease!

What Is A No-Spend Challenge?

The Ultimate No Spend Challenge Guide - Save More MoneyThe Ultimate No Spend Challenge Guide - Save More MoneyPin for later!

A no-spend challenge is a period where you will stop spending your money. Well, that sounds exciting, right?! A no-spend challenge is a powerful tool. You can be sure to save a lot of money, live on half your income, and spend only on the essentials. It will slow down your spending – a lot. 

You will become more aware of what you’re spending your money on, what is hard for you to resist, and did I already mention you save a crapload of money?

This no spends challenge guide will give you all the direction you need to complete your first no-spend challenge successfully!

Why Should I Participate In A No-Spend Challenge?

You Save A Lot Of Money

First of all, you save a lot of money! Your savings will increase by cutting into your spending, and you will reach your financial goals in no time.

You can fast track your way to saving for an emergency fund, you can save for a mini-retirement, or because you want to be financially independent and retire early

Little Things Add Up

When you participate in a no-spend challenge, you notice that little things add up. You go to the supermarket every day, you pick up a drink here, grabbing lunch there, or you find something at the dollar store (let’s admit it, you always find something there). 

Over the weeks, this spending can have a big impact on your budget. You don’t notice it, but the $10 here and $20 there will impact the numbers at the end of the month. 

A no-spend challenge will make you aware of the money leaks you’re having, and it will fix them immediately. It’s simple. You can’t spend money on these things when you’re in the middle of your challenge.

You’ll notice every time you’re tempted to spend this money. You will stop in your tracks. It’s a great habit to develop, and it will immediately impact your financial life. 

You Will Learn To Control Your Impulses

When you’re in a no-spend challenge, you will learn to control your impulses. Trust me on that. It’s going to take a lot of discipline initially. As you form the habit, things are getting easier and more manageable. 

When you are being disciplined around your money, you will experience the ultimate freedom. As you’re not spending money on every occasion anymore,  you will find much money left for the things you truly value. 

The newfound skill of learning to control your impulses will make sure you save more money than you ever held possible. It will change your spending habits long after the challenge has ended!

[Related Read: How I Live On Half My Income – And You Can Too!]

You Will Save A Lot Of Time

A no-spend challenge will save you a lot of time. The time that you would typically spend shopping, doing groceries, or wandering around.

You now have the goal of getting in and out of the grocery store as fast as possible, without being distracted by all the nice things they’re offering.

You don’t need to wander around the shopping center anymore since you won’t go and buy anything anyways. You can spend that time on things you value and enjoy. Maybe even take on that thing you always wanted but never had the time to do!

How To Have A No-Spend Challenge

A no-spend challenge is an efficient way to reset your spending habits, pay off debt quickly, or boost your savings goal. 

You can decide how long you want this challenge to last. I’ve done a no spend a month. If that’s too radical for you, there are other approaches. You can start with a no-spend week. You can start with two no spend weeks in a month. Whatever feels like a challenge for you. 

To have made the challenge a success, follow the steps in this no-spend challenge guide and start saving more immediately!

Set Up Your Rules

A no-spend challenge is a challenge where you can still buy some things, only when you need them.

It’s not that you’re not spending money at all. You have to sleep somewhere. You have to eat. You have to get to work. You have to pay your electricity bill. Meaning that you can buy groceries, put gas in your car, and pay your bills. 

The point of a no-spend challenge is that you don’t buy anything you don’t need. You don’t need new clothes or go out to eat. This is clearly a no-buy. When you need to spend on a haircut, a broken item or you just ran out of something – it’s up to you to decide. 

When To Start Your No-Spend Challenge

I have to say that no-spend challenges can be quite intense. Especially the first time around. When to start your no spend challenge is important. I can imagine you don’t want to do it around the holidays, around your partners’ birthdays, or any significant anniversary. 

If you’re doing no spend challenges regularly, you can plan them whenever you want. When it’s your first time, I would advise easing into it. 

How Long Should It Last?

I get that you’re wondering – should I do a no-spend day, a no spends a week, a no spends month? Heck, I’ve even heard people doing no spend years. I admire those people, but I’m not sure if I’m ready for that kind of commitment. 

The time limit you put onto it is entirely up to you. When you’re having a no-spend day once or twice a week, it will add up over time. It’s not like you need to do an entire no-spend year to notice the benefits. 

When you want to ease into it, I suggest starting with a no-spend day. When that’s successful, add another day. After that, you can move on to a no-spend week. Who knows where it goes from there? You can do a no-spend month as well!

Do what you think is feasible for you. You don’t want to get frustrated halfway through your no-spend month. Quit, and buy everything in sight.

It’s about the small wins that motivate you to keep going!

Plan Where Your Money-Saved Will Go

Before you start with your no-spend challenge, plan ahead where will your unspent money will go. The goal of this challenge is for you to save more and lessen your spending habits. Here are some suggestions where you can put your money:

Make More Money While Doing The No-Spend Challenge

You can be productive while doing the no-spend challenge by thinking of how to earn more money. You may add the money you earned into whatever your goal is after the challenge. Below are some suggestions on how to make money:

8 Tips For A Successful No-Spend Challenge

Until now, we’ve talked about what a no-spend challenge is, why you should participate in a no-spend challenge, how to get started, and when to start your challenge. 

Now it’s important to share my tips and tricks for a successful no-spend challenge. 

1. Think Ahead

Before you’re starting your no spend challenge, think about all the things that could potentially come up.

Do you feel obliged to attend that dinner next week? Is your partner on board?

There are many things that you can think about in advance. For example, you’re having a party with friends, and you don’t want to spoil your no-spend challenge. Just work with what you have. You can gift them something you’ve ever been gifted, and you didn’t ever use. You can make them something yourself. Get creative!

2. Start With Why

When you’re getting tempted to buy something, start with asking yourself why. Why do I want to buy this? Will this bring me happiness? Will it make my life easier?

That’s also one of the tips that I use when buying something. I always ask myself why I want to buy it and what it will bring to my life.

If I’m not clear on why I’m not going to spend my money or if there is some doubt about the purchases I am about to make, it may be better to save cash instead.  Having frugal ways for everyday expenses will surely help my plans in the long run.

3. Know What You Have

Many people have so many things that they buy something new only to find out they had it laying around already somewhere.

Some people will dine out at work while others choose to bring their own lunch instead.  This is a great opportunity to save money and is a sure way to save money fast.

Know what is in your closets, your garage, and your pantry. Know what you have so that you don’t buy things you already have or something similar.

When I want to buy something, I ask myself if I have something similar to the item I want to buy. Most of the time, I do. I just get tempted by the thought of something new, while it’s not necessary at all!

4. Avoid Trigger Situations

If you know you’ll be triggered when you go to the shopping mall, don’t go! For most of us, our tendencies to spend money is strongest when you go shopping – of course.

Why? You get bombarded with commercial advertisements and all the beautiful shiny objects you want to have.

This is the same case when you’re watching television, where they will try to sell you things in the commercial. That’s why I don’t own a TV – and preferably never will.

Avoid trigger situations like the mall and TV commercials to have a successful no-spend challenge.

The Ultimate No Spend Challenge Guide - Save More MoneyThe Ultimate No Spend Challenge Guide - Save More Money

5. Go Through Your Pantry

It’s good to take inventory of all the things you still have lying around in your pantry or your cupboards. If you want to minimize your grocery spending, take inventory of all groceries you still have, and make a list of meals you can create from that.

You want to plan meals for the week with ingredients you already have. Meal planning is something that I’m regularly doing now – read my guide on meal planning here!

If you need some meal inspiration for meals that you can make with most staples, I’ve written down 11 budget recipes and quick easy meals for some inspiration!

6. Learn To Say No

It can be easy to fall into the trap of trying to please everyone but yourself. We don’t talk about money with all our friends, meaning that you might get invited to events that are wildly out of reach for you money-wise. Whether it’s out of your budget or not in line with your financial goals, you might want to consider saying no.

Saying no to friends is really just an acceptable response when an event is out of your budget. It’s not like you’re personally declining their friendship. You’re just declining their offer.

If you let them know why you’re saying so, you’re direct and honest with your friends, and you’re letting them know in advance, you should be fine.

I have 3 guidelines on saying no to friends that are helping me manage my time, manage my energy, and manage my money.

7. Find Free Activities

Many people are under the impression that frugality is boring. I disagree!

If you’re in a no-spend challenge, it’s about saving money. No one is telling you that you can’t have fun.

I believe that there are many ways to make saving money fun and exciting!

You could, for example:

Go for a hike, walk, bike ridePlay board gamesVisit the local parkVisit a free event in your areaGo hang out with friends

If you’re not convinced yet, there are surefire ways to have fun and save money this summer!

[Related Read: 105 Awesome Things To Do Without Money]

8. Concentrate On Your End Goal

Instead of stressing yourself about having a no-spend challenge, focus on its end goal. You may save more money for your vacation or even pay off your debts. Think of what you will achieve after the challenge.  Having a sound personal finance and budgeting strategy will help you and your plans and goals.  Spending less and having a tight budget to follow are good money habits that will surely keep you out of debt.

In Summary – No-Spend Challenge Guide

The ultimate no-spend challenge guide has covered all the basics you need to know – now you’re prepared to start your first no-spend challenge and slay!  These money-saving tips will you and your bank account so that you will reach your goals for retirement. Live frugally, spend wisely and never splurge will improve your outlook in life.  Do this, and your retirements plans and savings will be all the more within your reach.

What is your experience with a no-spend challenge?

Radical FIRE Financial Independence Retire Early - Ecuador Photo with Dog LabradorRadical FIRE Financial Independence Retire Early - Ecuador Photo with Dog Labrador

Founder of Spark Nomad, Radical FIRE, Journalist

Expertise: Personal finance and travel content
Education: Bachelor of Economics at Radboud University, Master in Finance at Radboud University, Minor in Economics at Chapman University.
Over 200 articles, essays, and short stories published across the web.

Experience: Marjolein Dilven is a journalist and founder of Spark Nomad, a travel platform, and Radical FIRE, a personal finance platform. Marjolein has a finance and economics background with a master’s in Finance. She has quit her job to travel the world, documenting her travels on Spark Nomad to help people plan their travels. Marjolein Dilven has written for publications like MSN, Associated Press, CNBC, Town News syndicate, and more.

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