What is a No-Spend Challenge? 7 Simple Tricks to Do It Yourself

Last updated on February 29th, 2024 at 07:34 pm

In this post, you’ll learn what is a no-spend challenge and how to do it yourself.

If you’re facing financial problems paying off debt or building an emergency fund then saving money is a key solution. 

But it’s possible that your spending patterns didn’t leave room for saving money. And you see zero dollars at the end of the month.

We all spend money on two types of things. One falls under need and another falls under wants. And the solution is to cut back on wants to save more money.

But how do you cut these wants?

Among all the other options like budgeting and sticking to a shopping list, the best solution is to have a no-spend challenge. Because challenges are powerful motivators to achieve something.

For more explanation let’s read the article.

What is a no-spend challenge?

It’s a challenge in which you don’t spend money during a specific time frame. Over the past few years, it’s become more and more popular in personal finance. 

The no-spend challenge is a fun activity for helping you save more money. Whenever you spend more in a specific period and you are unable to save then going for a no-spend challenge is a good option.

According to CNBC, 51% of Americans have no more than 3 months of savings in their emergency fund.

It makes saving activities much fun because you try to stop spending money on things other than necessities in a week or month. For example, you spend money on food, utility bills, and rent but avoid wants like buying pizzas, burgers, drinking alcohol, and picnic. 

In simple words, while doing the no-spend challenge you only stop spending money on wants not needs. After a successful no-spend challenge you will have more money in the savings fund. 

Along with that some good money habits developed inside you regarding spending and wisely managing your money. 

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No-spend challenge: How does it work?

The no-spend Challenge is a lifestyle where you reduce or eliminate your spending for some time. It is designed to help people live more frugally, save money and increase their savings.

The no-spend challenge can be done in two ways:

– The challenge can be done for a set amount of time (e.g., one month) or until the challenge goal is met (e.g., $2,000 saved).

– The challenge can also be done until the person has reached their desired level of financial freedom.

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Why you should do the no-spend challenge?

Several benefits make doing the no-spend challenge worth it. Here I’m mentioning some of them:

  • you can easily cut back on impulse purchases and stop bad habits
  • money can be saved quickly for a specific purpose you want to achieve
  • when you achieve the goal you get relief from financial stress and burden
  • develop good financial habits for spending and money management
  • when you complete one then it motivates you to do more challenges
  • it doesn’t feel boring and is like a responsibility 
  • have more time to spend on things that you’re passionate about 

Now let’s jump to the next section.

What are some no-spend challenge ideas?

There are ideas for the challenge based on the time frame. The famous types include:

  • 7-day challenge
  • 15-day challenge
  • 21-day challenge
  • 30-day challenge 
  • 66-day challenge
  • 90 days challenge
  • 52 weeks challenge

This is upto you which one appeals to you. But the basic target is the same “to save more money and cut back on unnecessary spending.” The longer challenge you take the more money you save.

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How to practically do a no-spend challenge?

Doing a no-spend challenge on your own becomes difficult if you have no planning and strategy in place. You need to do homework in advance as preparation for taking on the actual challenge.

If your challenge is shorter like a weekend then much prework isn’t required. But if you had decided to go for a week, 2 weeks, or a month-long challenge then you can fail without preplanning. 

For the sake of solving this problem and making your challenge a breeze, below are 7 simple tips:

1. Have a clear purpose for doing the no-spend challenge

Like your job, business, family, and house, everything in life has a sense. Likewise, you should have a clearly defined purpose for doing the challenge. 

That is true, that no spending challenge is done for saving money. But where should you spend that money after finishing the challenge? That’s the actual purpose of saving money. 

How do you get clear on the purpose or goal?

You need to answer some simple questions. Here they’re with answers and they may be different for your situation.

  • why you’re doing a no-spend challenge? (answer: for saving more money)
  • where you should use the saved money? (answer: for paying off credit card debt)
  • why do you want to pay your credit card debt? (answer: for lowering interest cost)

Now you see the example of having a real purpose. It keeps you motivated to stick to your challenge till the end. It’s better to answer these questions for the shorter and longer challenges. 

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2. Decide on the length of your challenge

Your success highly depends on the length of the no-spend challenge. The shorter the challenge easier it’s to handle and cope with. 

While longer challenges require more planning, preparation, and discipline. It’s possible that you may break the challenge when you go for longer ones. 

If you didn’t practice any challenge before and started as a beginner then choose shorter 2 to 3 days challenges. Here if you go for a longer one then you may end up getting frustrated and demotivated. 

When you do smaller challenges then add more days to them with time. As a result, longer challenges will become a lot easier to complete. 

It is my opinion and lots of other experts’. 

On the other side, it’s up to you which type of no-spend challenge you pick. Here are some common time frames: 

  • Weekend Challenge
  • 7 days challenge
  • 30 days challenge
  • 30 to 60 days challenge
  • 90 days challenge
  • 52 weeks challenge

But whether the no spends challenge is shorter or longer you learn a lot about your spending habits. And you see big changes in your financial behavior after a successful end. 

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3. Choose the right month of the year

Obviously when you do a no-spend challenge a certain month of the year is going on. And some of these months are free from the rush of events and others are busy. 

When you decide to go for a no-spend challenge make sure to select a month with minimum disturbance. For example, it’s good to avoid months when holidays, weddings, and birthdays are coming. 

Or you can prepare for them in advance to buy things. For example gifts, parties, and vacations. 

The less busy your month is the more chances are that you stick to the challenge. 

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4. Establish some no-spend challenge rules

In step 4 you need to write down some rules regarding what you buy and what to avoid. Here you list down allowed and unallowed items during the no-spend challenge. 

Because the no-spend challenge is to stop wants while spending on needs. That’s why allowed items only include necessities. Here is a list: 

  • Food items (groceries, fruits, oil, rice, etc)
  • Utilities (electricity, gas, water, garbage bill)
  • Debt payments (student loan, mortgage, credit card)
  • Child school fees
  • Transportation and fuel
  • Medical bills

While unallowed items are ones that are nonessential and come under wants to improve or entertain life. Here is a list of these unallowed items:

  • Eating outside in restaurants
  • Buying launch from outside
  • Having drinks with friends
  • Buying coffee
  • Purchasing bottled water
  • Too many gifts 
  • Shopping for clothes and shoes
  • Online shopping and subscription
  • Makeup and hairstyling products
  • Taking uber lifts 
  • Furniture, home renovation, and decoration
  • Expensive vacations and picnic
  • Drinking alcohol and smoking
  • Going to dance clubs and gambling

All these no-spend challenge rules should be pre-decided. That means the first four steps are preplanning steps. 

For reading more about how to differential between essential and non-essential items read this post: How to differentiate between essential and non-essential expenses

5. Start small with your no-spend challenge

As mentioned earlier, don’t go for longer challenges if you’re a beginner. First, you need practice to see your comfort. When you get a kick then you can extend it slowly. 

Doing this will help you stay motivated and relaxed. One day you’ll be comfortable taking a month or 3 month-long challenge. The longer challenge may fail you fast at first. That’s why choose to go with a shorter one.

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6. Inform others about your challenge

When you start the challenge then informing others is a good idea. You can share the challenge information and rule with your wife and children. Advise them to follow the rules during that time and tell them what is allowed and what isn’t. So they don’t force you to buy any item on the list. 

You can communicate it with friends and colleagues. Tell them that you don’t purchase any unallowed items and they don’t force you to do parties, dinners, and too many drinks. 

Bola Sokunbi a CFEI and CEO at Clever Girl Finance suggests “that you share the challenge on social media. This way you stay accountable for the challenge.”

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7. Avoid some bad habits during the challenge

The basic purpose of the no-spend challenge is to save more money to spend on a specific financial goal. And this purpose can only be achieved when you support the challenge by avoiding bad spending habits. 

Examples of some bad habits include:

  • browsing online shopping sites
  • social media ads
  • emails subscriptions
  • frequently going to supermarkets
  • Buying expensive dresses

A good strategy is to make spending difficult. For example, cut down subscriptions from online stores, cancel credit cards, and follow a schedule for shopping. Another best trick is to stay busy with some productive activity like earning more money. You can also watch your favorite movies at home or walk with your pet. 

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How to stick to a no-spend challenge?

In longer challenges, you face a major difficulty of not coping with the challenge. This breaks challenge rules and you fail. 

Let’s have some amazing tips to make sure you stick till the end:

  • invite others to participate in your challenge to stay supportive
  • don’t become rigid and flexibly spend on needs that are important
  • never give up on just one mistake and stay motivated to perform well onwards
  • post your challenge on social media to stay accountable
  • preplan a reward for the successful completion of your challenge

If you follow these tips your chances of completing the challenge will be maximum.

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What Happens if You Break Your No-spend Challenge?

Breaking the no-spend challenge is not a big deal. It is not like breaking the no-spend challenge will affect your credit score or make you go bankrupt.

We all know that we are living in a consumerist society. We are surrounded by advertisements everywhere we go and they tell us to buy, buy, buy! But we don’t always have the money to do what they want us to do.

A lot of people think that if you break the no-spend challenge it means that you failed at saving money for yourself. That isn’t always true.

However, if you break your no-spend challenge, it is important to understand the consequences of doing so.

There are many reasons why people might break their no-spend challenge. For example, they may have forgotten about the challenge and made an impulse purchase or they might have been tempted by an advertisement for an item that they really don’t want.

Breaking the no-spend challenge can lead to a number of negative consequences such as guilt, shame, and regret. But don’t take the burden of these things.

If you did any mistakes then try to avoid that in the remaining time of that challenge. Don’t leave the challenge there and get demotivated. Instead, complete it till the end. It’s possible that the damage from your mistake is recovered in the end.

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FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

What Can You Expect from the No Spend Challenge?

This challenge is about living without spending any money for a set period of time. People who take the challenge will experience a number of benefits, such as increased savings, lower stress levels, and more satisfaction with the things they already have.

The no-spend challenge is not just about saving money. It can also be seen as an opportunity to live a more mindful life by practicing gratitude and mindfulness. As well as to learn how to live without depending on material goods for happiness.

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How a no-spend challenge can improve your finances?

Because the no-spend challenge helps you save more money and cut back on extra spending. Therefore it helps you adopt a frugal lifestyle and lowers costs that are damaging your financial future. For example credit card interest, non-essential spending, and impulse purchasing. As a result, you’ve more money to achieve other financial goals and start getting financial freedom.

What is a 30-Day No Spend Challenge?

A 30-day no-spend challenge is a personal challenge where you only spend money on necessities for 30 days not wants. 

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Taking a no-spend challenge is a great way tos save more money. But you need to take it as fun and start slowly to build upon it.

In the beginning, take short challenges and stick to them. When you have developed some habit then add more time to it and make it lengthy.

But before starting any challenge do proper planning while following the above 7 steps. 

You heard that saying “An idiot with a plan can beat a genius without a plan”. So planning provides a solid base to do the challenge and helps you stick to it.

Now tell me in the comments which no-spend challenge idea you like. A week or a month longer.

Ahmad Ali