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12 Simple Ways to Rock a No-Spend Challenge

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12 Simple Ways to Rock a No-Spend Challenge

Be honest – how many times have you told yourself you were going to do better when it came to your money and all of a sudden its gone again? It happens to the best of us, don’t worry! Pick yourself up and try again next pay period. While you’re planning your next no-spend challenge, take a look at these 12 simple steps that help me crush my goal every time I complete one of these!

1. Track your expenses for the last 3 months

And I mean down to the very last penny! If Christmas is in that 3-month period, I go through and exclude anything spent on gifts because that is out-of-the-ordinary spending.

Add up your total expenses and divide them by 3 (this is your monthly average spending) then by 90 (this is your daily average spending).  Now that you now where you’re average monthly and daily spending is at, lets look at totaling up all your bills, expenses, and subscriptions each month.

How much money is leftover? 

2. Prepare accordingly for one-time expenses

Check ahead to make sure you are aware of any gifts or emergency expenses that you may have to pay during this challenge.

Subtract that from the amount you have leftover.

3. Identify your savings goal

Looking at how much money you had leftover from your bills and extra expenses how much of that money do you hope to save this pay period?

Write it down.

4. Learn to separate your wants from your needs

Needs consist of things such as:

  • Groceries
  • Gas
  • Medical emergencies
  • Insurance
  • Mortgage
  • Therapy

Wants tend to look more like:

  • Your daily coffee
  • Getting your hair or nails done
  • A 50% off sale
  • Traveling
  • Eating out for lunch

Also look at what places you need to avoid so you aren’t tempted to spend unnecessary money. Avoid the Starbucks, avoid the mall, unsubscribe from those store emails…

5. Determine and avoid spending triggers

Unfollow your favorite Instagram influencers (for now), they always are finding the cutest clothes and many of them score great deals as well! Also avoid those stores putting out those deals!

Are there any emotions that trigger you to spend extra money? Many people tend to spend money when they are feeling pretty down. If you struggle with something like this, why not try going for a walk, exercising, or writing when feeling down? These are some of the only proven ways to help anyone who isn’t feeling up to par. This is a problem too many people suffer from. Buying “stuff” fills a temporary void and you’ll be back to feeling how you were by the end of the night or the next day. When you say “shopping is my therapy”, you are only masking the problem and making it worse for yourself in the long term.

What triggers you to spend money?

6. Figure out a small allowance during this challenge

I normally allow myself $10-$20 each week during a no-spend challenge just in case something pops up. You still have to allow yourself to live, ya know?

Determine an allowance

7. Find an accountability partner

Whether it’s your spouse, your mom, or your best friend, make sure you have someone who will keep you honest and make you stick to your goals.

Who is your partner?

8. Make a “future purchases” list

This can be items that you would normally buy on a whim or things that you want to save for.

For example, I wanted a new tripod for when we go on vacation but it’s $50. Since I’m in the middle of a no-spend challenge, this is going on my list. This gives me time to come back and look and see if I really want that new tripod or if the desire has faded. If it’s something I still want, I’ll get it when I have the money for it.

Something my dad always told me growing up that stuck with me,”If you don’t have the money in your account to pay for an item twice, you don’t have enough money for that item.”

Wait to buy the item

9. Raid your pantry

Use this time to use up as many pantry items as possible.  Learn how to meal prep using the ingredients you have in your home. Don’t forget about your toiletries or make-up…try not to buy more until after the challenge is completed.

For meal prepping with your pantry, it’s easiest if you make a list of what’s in your pantry and then decide on what you meals you want after.

10. Find activities that are free

There are so many things you can do during the week and weekend that would be free:

  • Host a movie night
  • Host a game night
  • At home mani/pedi
  • Workout following IG or YouTube videos
  • Go to the library or bookstore
  • Visit museums on their free days
  • Take a free class something that interests you
  • Go for a walk
  • Have a picnic
  • Volunteer
  • Take advantage of Home Depot’s FREE workshops
  • Deep clean your phone (get rid of old pictures, numbers, messages, and apps)

Not too mention, purge your house!! Clean out everything, starting with your clothes and working your way across the house. Truly, you will feel so much better once you get rid of everything! I’ve been watching Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix and it is extremely motivating. It will definitely get you in the mood to start fresh with your belongings.

Keep yourself busy with free activities

11. Find ways to make extra money in your free time

Remember that purge you just did? There are so many apps that you can sell everything on! Poshmark, ThredUp, DeCluttr, Facebook Marketplace, Mercari, LetGo, and so many more apps. I sell on Poshmark and find that I can make a lot of money on it whenever I stay consistent and make much more on my clothes than I would at a garage sale. Just remember, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure!

Other ideas to make extra money:

Look into donating plasma. For the Biotest center, you make make roughly $340 your first month and an average of $250 every month after that. You are able to donate two times per every seven days. If you have a few hours free twice a week, I recommend trying it out! I used to donate plasma after learning my grandfather, who passed away from Leukemia, needed plasma transfusions on a very regular basis. I just wanted to give back and help out, the money was an added bonus. Now that my schedule is so busy, I haven’t been able to donate in a couple years.

Going back to the garage sale thing, my cousin used to be a “traveling garage sale salesman”! Basically, he would take everything everyone wanted to get rid of, price it accordingly, and take it to or host different garage sales around the surrounding areas. Whatever items sold, he took a commission of it and gave the owners of the items the rest. He spent an entire summer doing this and would make anywhere from $150-$400 per garage sale! And he did a lot of garage sales. It took a lot of work and recruiting, but he profited quite a bit from it.

Use your free time to make extra money

12. Most importantly, what is your reason for doing this?

Everything you do in life, you have to have a why behind it. If you don’t, you won’t succeed like you should. So why are you doing this no-spend challenge? Are you trying to save for Christmas? Are you wanting to travel the world? Trying to pay off debt? What about working on impulse control? These are all fabulous reasons and there are so many more. Whatever the reason may be, just use it as your motivation to not fail!

Besides, you start realizing what’s really important in your life and I promise you it isn’t making sure you’re “keeping up with the Joneses”.

Now just because you’ve successfully completed your challenge, that doesn’t mean you get to go spend money the day after! You worked so hard to save that extra money, don’t waste your money by buying something just because you can again. Remember your reason why and you won’t be as tempted to spend.

What are some things that you do to help you successfully complete a no-spend challenge? Let me know below in the comments!

Please share if you enjoyed!

(15) Comments

  1. Well thought out list. Impulse purchases are my vice.

  2. I always have problems doing this because it’s hard to plan for things that I don’t even know exist. And when I see it I realize how much better my quality of life would be with it.

  3. Great tips, thanks! We aren’t doing a no spend challenge right now, but have done them in the past for various reasons. Right now we are working towards paying off all of our student and car loans!

  4. I think waiting to buy items you want is probably the most important part of this list. All too often something comes up that I’m just dying to get, and a week later I’m no longer interested. Unfortunately, I’m quite impulsive.

  5. this time of year is the perfect time to do a no spend challenge… the hardest part for me is the differetiation between wants & needs! I neeeeeed to work on that one lol

  6. This is a well thought out no buy challenge. I never thought of some of those things when I did one. I make sure I would do that next time.

  7. I need to start this challenge today. I definitely see things in my daily routine I can improve with these steps and my wife and I love those free home Depot workshops for the kids 🙂

  8. Nnnniiiccceeeeeee….making that distinction between our needs and wants is the 2nd most important part of it all, for me.

    Thanks Sarah, for sharing.

    1. sarahbanwart says:

      What’s the first most important for you? I agree though! Determining needs vs. wants can be such a difficult distinction sometimes!

  9. There are some awesome tips here to help save money! Will definitely be implementing them!

    1. sarahbanwart says:

      Thank you! I hope you’re able to crush your goals!

  10. really cool tips, i have some of these in effect already but a couple are ones i can start on.
    and letting things sit in the shopping cart for a while helps..

  11. Hi Sarah,

    I do most of these. I am into saving and have a specific amount goal at the end of the year.

  12. Love that therapy is on your list of needs! Not one I see often. Great list and advice, I need a no spend month and this is helping me plan it!

  13. Awesome post! Love it! :)!

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