If you’re looking to learn how to save money, especially lowering your monthly spending budget, a no spend month can be a great way to do so!
Many people are in debt. In fact, the average person has some sort of debt, whether that be credit card debt, a mortgage, student loans, or something else.
We all have things we have to spend money on, and there is even some debt we knowingly take on, like student loans or a home, but many people make unnecessary purchases on a regular basis, sometimes every single day. These unnecessary purchases can lead to not being able to save money or even adding to your debt. This can negatively impact you for years, even decades, and sadly for some, your entire life.
And, this is why a no spend month can help!
A no spend month or a no spend challenge is where you don’t spend money in a certain category or categories for a designated amount of time. It’s a way to significantly cut back overspending in certain areas, which has many benefits, such as just saving money.
Now, a no spend month doesn’t mean that you are literally spending $0. After all, you most likely have bills, such as a mortgage, you need to eat, you probably need electricity (unless you are self-sufficient), and so on.
Instead, a no spend month is where you decide to spend $0 outside of all normal necessities, like the ones I just listed above. This could mean not spending any money on clothing, on junk food or going out to eat, on going to Target or some other store and randomly buying items, and so on.
I find no spend challenges extremely beneficial. Some naysayers of no spend challenges think that they don’t work because the person will just push off the purchase until after the challenge is over. While that may be true for some people, I don’t think that’s the norm.
There are so many positives of a no spend month, which I will detail below.
A no spend month can help you change your bad habits.
One big positive of a no spend challenge is that it can help you to change your normal shopping habits. A no spend challenge can help you see areas in which you are overspending, because you will have to think and wait until the challenge is over before you actually buy something.
If you make a conscious effort to remember all of the things you had to say no to, you can start to see what types of unnecessary spending you do. This might be clothes shopping, going out to lunch, or grabbing coffee.
Or, if you know where your problem area is, you can put a no spend challenge in place for that specific spending area.
This can then help you change your spending habits well into the future, for the better!
No spend challenges can stop impulse spending.
We’ve all gone to Target and spent way more money than we originally planned. Going into a store and only needing one item yet coming out with ten other things is even a norm for some.
By taking part in a no spend challenge, you can prevent yourself from cluttering your life with items you don’t need.
I think this is one of the top reasons for why no spend challenges work. If you aren’t going shopping in the first place, you are preventing yourself from impulse purchases, and you have to think more about the items you do want to buy, which means you are likely to understand whether or not you should purchase them at all.
For me, whenever I think twice about a purchase, I almost 100% end up not purchasing the item. If I go home and think about an item to purchase, I almost always decide not to get it.
You can finally use some of the items you already have.
If you are like me, you probably have tons of food in your pantry and freezer that you are not eating. Plus, you may have clothing in your closet that you haven’t worn in forever. This can be applied to many other items in your life.
By taking part in a no spend challenge, you may find use for the items you already have, instead of letting them spoil or completely forgetting about them. You will also realize what items you probably shouldn’t buy anymore of because they are a waste of money.
Related: How To Live On One Income
A no spend challenge can motivate you.
A good challenge can help anyone and everyone become more motivated.
If it helps you, you can think of a no spend challenge like a game. Maybe you even give yourself a reward at the end, but make sure it doesn’t wreck the savings you have just earned.
If you are cutting back on going out to eat, think how good a dinner out will be after a month of dinners at home.
Or, maybe, the amount you were able to save by taking part in a no spend month will be the type of reward and motivation you need to make positive financial decisions well into the future. That is a reward in itself!
It can make you aware of your spending problems.
Challenging yourself and analyzing your spending can help you be more aware of where your money is going.
You will see how many times each month you almost spent money and think about the ways you can improve your spending behaviors.
A no spend month can help you declutter.
Depending on what type of challenge you are doing, you will still be able to buy certain things, but, for the most part, you are trying to use up what you already have. This can help you declutter, clean out your pantry, and more.
I’ve done a no spend challenge for pantry and freezer items before, which really helped me save money on food and clear out things that were about to go bad.
It doesn’t have to be hard.
There are many ways to take part in a no spend challenge and still have a great time.
Below are some examples:
Look for free days. There are many days where businesses will offer items for free. There’s National Coffee Day, Donut Day, Ice Cream Day, and more.
Look for coupons for free stuff. Similar to the above, you may be able to find free treats, free movie rentals, and more.
Play board games with friends and/or family.
Finally complete a DIY project that you’ve been pushing off.
Have a potluck.
Get your friends to join in so that it is more competitive. Plus, everyone can help each other out!
Visit your local library. The libraries in Colorado are even giving away free state park passes! Besides books, you can also borrow movies, magazines, and more.
Go to free events around your town.
Go to a national park, when they are free. There are a few days each year when they’re free!
Take part in mystery shopping so that you can get items and meals for free.
Explore your town and the outdoors.
Avoid stores which may tempt you to shop, such as Target or the mall.
How to start your next no spend month.
No spend months are fairly simple. Here’s a quick guide to get you going in the right direction:
Think about what you want to cut out and not spend money on. Some categories that people try to work on include: restaurants, grocery shopping, clothing, cosmetics/nails, and entertainment.
Realize why you want to take part in a no spend challenge. To stay motivated, you will want to think about this. Are you trying to save more money? Do you think you have a spending problem? Are you trying to save more money for a different goal, such as a vacation?
Set a timeframe. Will you do a no spend week, month, year? Designate a time frame so you have a way to see your progress.
Decide on rules for yourself. Lastly, you’ll want to set some rules for yourself and whoever else may be taking part in the no spend challenge with you, such as your spouse or a friend. You may want to set rules about what items you can buy (such as if your no spend challenge is not to buy groceries, perhaps you still want to purchase fresh items such as fruit and vegetables), how you will keep track of your spending (perhaps Personal Capital or Mint can help you with this), if you can still use gift cards that you may already have to purchase things, if you can “get ready” for a no spend challenge, and so on.
Do you think no spend months work? Have you ever taken part in a no spend challenge?