How to Do a No Spend Challenge

In yesterday’s post I mentioned that I had just one goal for 2022, which was financial. To kickstart this goal I have decided to participate in a month-long no spend challenge.

What is a No Spend Challenge?

A no spend challenge is setting a period of time to spend as little money as possible. In my case the no spend challenge is lasting for a month (the entirety of January), but no spend challenges can be followed for one day a week, a weekend, a whole week, fortnight, month or even a year.

There can be numerous reasons to start a no spend challenge:

  • To get back on track financially after a period of excess – Christmas, birthdays, holidays etc.
  • To stop impulse spending and being more mindful of where your hard-earned money goes
  • To kickstart your savings
  • To pay off debts
  • To change your mindset towards money and finances
  • To help break addictions (eg. smoking)
  • To avoid becoming overwhelmed by the rapidly increasing cost of living

Personally, I am primarily doing a no spend challenge to start really building up my savings, be more mindful of how and when I spend my money, and to stop impulse spending on things that are irrelevant and unnecessary for the lifestyle I want. 

How to Do a No Spend Challenge

Can a No Spend Challenge Really Make a Difference?

Absolutely! Even the smallest of changes can indeed make a huge difference over the space of a year.

For example:

A coffee from a coffee shop = approximately £2.75. If you bring coffee from home one day a week, over the space of a year you will save approximately £143.

Taking lunch from home once a week instead of purchasing a pre-packed sandwich at £2.50 could save up to £130.

A magazine at £4.00 a month can save £48.00.

Just by cutting out these small items can save £321 in a year, with minimal effort.

How Does a No Spend Challenge Work?

The rules for no spend challenges can be adapted to individual needs. While some people chose to stock up on things like groceries beforehand, for me that completely defeats the challenge, so I will be taking it one day at a time and budgeting in advance. Grocery spending, meal planning and batch cooking will be included as part of my challenge. 

My rules for the no spend challenge are:

  • Money can (and should!) be spent on rent, bills and essentials like groceries, toiletries and petrol. 
  • Money can be spent on parking should an activity be free. The reason why I am including this is that we have several press reviews at the theatre coming up over January, and while the tickets are complimentary we pay a few pounds for parking.
  • Should I need to go somewhere, I am allowed to spend money on bus fare, but not on a taxi unless it is an emergency (Note: I never learned to drive, hence why I am including this).
  • I am not allowed to spend money on non-essential items, including new clothes, books, takeaways, snacks, meals out, taxis, drinks at the pub etc.

How to Start a No Spend Challenge

Make a note of your current monthly expenses. This should include non-essentials and anything you may purchase on a daily basis – coffee, lunch, drinks after work etc – and will give you a better understanding of your spending habits.

Set a goal. How much do you want to save over your no spend challenge? Make sure the goal is realistic to your current income.

Identify the things on the list that are wants, not needs. Work out what things can be replaced eg. taking coffee and lunch from home, and what can be cut out completely.

Work out a timeframe. I’m doing a month long no spend challenge in January because Christmas and New Year is now over and I have very little going on in terms of birthdays, events and things that would require me to spend money. The post-Christmas grocery sales will also help with meal planning and budget spending. Because January is less busy socially, I have the opportunity to distract myself and spend time doing things around the house that I have been putting off for a while. 

Create a budget. I know what my end goal is, so I am working backwards by creating an ideal target number at the end of the month, then figuring out where and how I can cut back and save on my expenses to reach that number.

Put away the credit cards and leave them at home when you go out. This may help to avoid any impulse spending. 

Work out a meal plan and plan your grocery shop in advance. This is going to be a big part of my no spend challenge – I have worked out a budget for the month, have a budget meal challenge for a week and part of my meal planning includes using up anything that is already in the cupboards, fridge and freezer.

Get family and friends on board. Having support will always make the process easier.

Take advantage of sales and offers within grocery stores. In January there are lots of offers and reduced items as they are trying to clear out their post-Christmas stock. Make sure that the offers you purchase are part of your meal plan.

Avoid checking out the sales for unnecessary items. This is difficult, particularly in January when many of the post-Christmas sales are everywhere. Turn off the tech and go and do something else.

Remember that the point of a no spend challenge isn’t to simply delay buying something ie. don’t shop for a week and then go and buy all the clothes you wanted the week after.

How to Do a No Spend Challenge

Whatever your financial goal is this year, why not try a no spend challenge? You might be pleasantly surprised as to how much you can save!

Are you thinking about doing a no spend challenge this year? Let me know in the comments below!

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7 thoughts on “How to Do a No Spend Challenge

  1. Wow, the best thing was probably never getting a driver’s license and buying a car. Imagine all the money you saved over the years: car payments, cost of fuel, cost of insurance, probably avoiding road rage, cost of maintenance, et al. Instead, you only spend a little money when you ride the bus and avoid the stress of finding a parking place.

  2. I am doing my first no spend year! I’m hoping to have the savings be applied to our mortage. I’ve done a few one month no spends before and loved the results.

  3. woohoo! this motivates me on my no-buy through april. it’s not all-encompassing, but definitely targets the things that i always buy and just don’t need. good luck, keep us posted!

  4. Pingback: January No Spend Challenge Update: Week 1 | Suzie Speaks

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