How to Do a No Spend Challenge [2024 Guide] - (2024)

I see a lot of people attempt a no spend challenge in January, and I get it. It's post-holiday and people want to cut back and see some type of stability in their finances after the spend-spend-spend of the holiday season. But doing a no spend challenge in January is just bananas to me. It feels like you're setting yourself up to fail, for a few reasons.

  1. January has 31 days. Couple that with the after-Christmas slump and January feels forever long.
  2. Often, I find my finances don't immediately stabilize after the holiday. People have to prepare emotionally and financially for a month-long no-spend challenge.

Any time I do a no-spend challenge, I always do it in February. It's the shortest month of the year and other than Valentine's Day…there isn't much going on. You can do a no spend challenge anytime you want, but I love February for several reasons I'll get into below. BUT before I get ahead of myself, let's cover what a no spend challenge is.

What is a No Spend Challenge?

What's a no spend day, you ask? It's basically a day where you don't use your debit card, cash, go to the store, or buy anything online. You spend nothing.

And the challenge of February is to have as many of them as you possibly can. Ideally, you'd want to go the entire month without spending anything extra.

You can have exclusions for groceries, bills, and gas, but that's it. We're already technically cheating because February is a shorter month than most, but you know what? That makes it the PERFECT time to attempt something like this.

February is the best; you can see Spring around the corner, and the coldest month of the year is behind us. (My birthday and my favorite human's …ahem…are also in March, so it makes for a nice reset before I go a little bananas for both my birthday and my son's.)

It's a time for optimism! And for challenging ourselves. You can set exclusions for anything you want. Go wild on Valentine's Day if you want. You can customize this to you, but the point is we want to shake up what we're doing with our finances and really monitor our spending so we can ensure we're doing it mindfully for the rest of the year. (And it's a great way to jump-start saving a large chunk of money in a short amount of time, like this guide on how to save $5,000 in 3 months.)

Tips for a No Spend Challenge

I've attempted a few no spend challenges a handful of time in the ten plus years I've been running this blog. I did one when I very first started out that was laughable because I was still spending every day. A total fail. I also did three of them in a row when I was doing my $8k in 90 days challenge, and those went really well.

Here are a few tips I've learned.

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

Sure, you can say on January 31st you're going to take on a February No Spend Challenge and I'll admire you for it, but you'll likely be less successful than others who planned for the event ahead of time.

Take a look at your toiletries, your paper goods, your dog's medicine. You NEED all of those things and you'll have to sacrifice a no spend day to go get them since they're not groceries, gas, or bills. So, pad your month a little bit by going out and preemptively buying anything you think you may run out of in the next month. A no spend challenge is as much about getting creative and making do as it is about saving money.

Clear your calendar.

Yeah, this isn't fun. And I'm not saying you can't go out. I'm just saying if you do, that's a spend day, not a no spend day. Even if you planned for it and put it on the calendar, it still counts. Use this time to ramp up your side hustle, purge items from your home to sell, and focus on your own health and well-being. How are those resolutions from January working out? Did you abandon them? Use this time to get back on the bandwagon.

Meal Plan

I'm just now starting to do this and it's harder than I thought. But I do like this tutorial. As well as the meal planning archives on I am THAT Lady. Often, when we have nothing at home we have to eat out, which is why meal planning is crucial to a successful no spend challenge. Make sure you're not caught with your pants down.

Settle on a Mantra

How about, “I can do anything for 30 days?”. Here's a list of my other favorite money mantras here.

Need more resources? Here's how to save $1000 in a month.

Need a little extra motivation? In 2017 I urged readers to join me in a public February no spend challenge and I had over 70 people join me. Below are my observations from that time. While a little dated (I'm writing this in January 2023 now.) The points I make and tips and tricks I learned are still valuable.

Here's How I Did…(From 2017*)

I set the goal of having 4 spend days and 24 no spend days. After following the preparation and planning outlined in this post, I was pretty successful in avoiding expenditures.

I ended up having six spend days, 22 no spend days.

Roo needed an office visit for a skin infection, and because I'm terrible at keeping up with beauty appointments, I ended up NEEDING my roots done before the end of the month was over for some events/TV stuff I was doing.

This is why planning is so critical because also, my roots needed to be done in January, so joke is on me.

Here's How You Did

We had 77 people join us for the February No Spend Challenge – which I'm thrilled about because there was very little promotion to garner sign ups.

After sending out a survey – the majority of you planned for 28 no spend days. (Overachievers, the lot of you…)

That's a full month without any non-discretionary spending, which is very hard to do. The majority of you ended up with 3-4 spend days, which is still super amazing. Although one woman reported buying a piano….?

I took all the emails of the people who filled out the response form and put them into an excel sheet with a corresponding number.

Then I went to random number generator and got this number: 11

The giveaway winner is JULIANA HERRERA . Check your email for your prize – a $25 Starbucks Giftcard.

My Takeaways from the February No Spend Challenge

Even though at times I did feel deprived, it felt really good to focus just on where my money was going for a full (albeit short) month. One thing I learned is how many apps and subscription services I have on autopay (which I didn't notice so much when previously spending at my normal rate). This helped me evaluate if some of these services were really worth the money. Click here to read how to do a full utility audit if you're interested.

I think it's important to have days where you are allowed to spend, even during a “no spend” challenge. I always feel like having breaks allows for greater consistency. Keep in mind the whole point of a challenge like this isn't to not splurge ever again, but to spend in a more mindful way.

Meal planning can help a great deal with food costs and ensuring you always have something around. I live in the heart of a walkable area where you can walk out the door, go down a block, and grab food very quickly if you're #hangry, so having groceries on hand was key for me to being successful with this challenge. Even though I ate at home more, I was able to keep my grocery costs the same as months where I plan for eating out. Meal planning is the ultimate way to get this kind of result! Check out our lifestyle Pinterest board for tutorials from other fabulous bloggers on how to do this.

Every little bit adds up and the more you save, the more exciting is to save faster. I don't think I really understood this before now. (Isn't it amazing to still have revelations about your money habits even after all this time?!) I have savings goals in my Qapitalapp and they're saving for me automatically (usually around $50-$75 per month of “change” off regular purchases) and was able to contribute additional money for those goals thanks to my greatly reduced spending habits. It was fun to log in and see even bigger balances, which helped motivate me to contribute more to those goals that I really do feel are important….more important than say, $30 for takeout chinese. (I eat a lot when I order Chinese. Don't judge.)

How to Do a No Spend Challenge [2024 Guide] - (2024)


How to do the no spend challenge? ›

For the no-spend challenge, you pay for essentials only for a set period of time. Thirty days is pretty common, so you might hear it called a no-spend month too. Basically you're covering your Four Walls (food, utilities, shelter and transportation) and other necessities, but you're saying no to all the extras.

What is the 50 30 20 rule? ›

The 50-30-20 rule recommends putting 50% of your money toward needs, 30% toward wants, and 20% toward savings. The savings category also includes money you will need to realize your future goals.

What are the rules for no spend January? ›

How 'no-spend January' works
  1. Rule 1: No coffee shops. Look, there's no denying the joy of walking into Starbucks, Dunkin' or your local favorite and getting your favorite latte or cold brew – and maybe a donut on the side. ...
  2. Rule 2: No online shopping. ...
  3. Rule 3: No entertainment. ...
  4. Rule 4: No eating out. ...
  5. Rule 5: No buying clothes.
Dec 19, 2023

How to do a no spend calendar? ›

This viral trend involves going as long as possible without spending money on non-essential. (Rent, groceries and other necessities are okay.) Participants track their progress on a calendar, trying to rack up as many consecutive no-spend days as possible.

How do I prepare for a no spend month? ›

Look at the things that you might have to purchase this month. Simply having your goal, a list of rules and expections, and your habits is the best way to prepare for your No Spend Month. Doing an audit of your home and your schedule can help increase your preparedness.

Is 4000 a good savings? ›

Are you approaching 30? How much money do you have saved? According to CNN Money, someone between the ages of 25 and 30, who makes around $40,000 a year, should have at least $4,000 saved.

How to budget $5,000 a month? ›

Consider an individual who takes home $5,000 a month. Applying the 50/30/20 rule would give them a monthly budget of: 50% for mandatory expenses = $2,500. 20% to savings and debt repayment = $1,000.

How to budget $4,000 a month? ›

making $4,000 a month using the 75 10 15 method. 75% goes towards your needs, so use $3,000 towards housing bills, transport, and groceries. 10% goes towards want. So $400 to spend on dining out, entertainment, and hobbies.

What do you put on a no buy list? ›

Think of potential purchases along these four categories:
  • Stuff you have but never use (definitely don't need more)
  • Stuff you already own, love, and use (already have it!)
  • Stuff you use that's seen better days (hmm, this could use an upgrade) ✅
  • Stuff you don't have but really need (ding, ding, ding) ✅
Nov 7, 2023

What is a no buy list? ›

It's a tool for identifying all those things you want to stop buying more of, often because you already have too many similar items you simply don't use. A good no-buy list is not only great for your finances, but it can also be a boon to your storage space!

What is the one month rule in buying? ›

A simple yet effective strategy, the 30-day savings rule is something anyone can implement in their financial routine to help curb impulsive spending. The rule, which encourages people to pause and reflect on nonessential purchases for a month before making them, can lead to substantial savings growth.

What is the best money saving challenge? ›

100 Envelope Challenge

To begin, gather 100 envelopes and sequentially number them $1 through $100. On day one, you'll place $1 in envelope one. On day two, you'll add $2 to envelope two, and so on. Place each envelope in a safe place, and by the end of the challenge, you'll have saved $5,050.

How to not spend money for 30 days? ›

How to be Successful in a No-Spend Month, 10 Tips and Tricks
  1. Choose the right month. ...
  2. Research free activities to do in your local area. ...
  3. Put your money away to reduce the temptation. ...
  4. Get your friends and family involved. ...
  5. Remind yourself why you're committing to a no-spend month. ...
  6. Track or monitor progress.
Nov 21, 2022

What is the spending rule? ›

The idea is to divide your income into three categories, spending 50% on needs, 30% on wants, and 20% on savings. Learn more about the 50/30/20 budget rule and if it's right for you.

How can I have fun but not spend money? ›

To keep yourself entertained and on budget, check out these free or cheap things to do.
  1. Go to a museum, aquarium or zoo. Many aquariums, museums and zoos waive admission fees on certain days. ...
  2. Read a book. ...
  3. Catch a movie. ...
  4. Play a game inside. ...
  5. Play a game outside. ...
  6. Volunteer. ...
  7. Visit the farmers market. ...
  8. Go thrift shopping.
Jan 25, 2024

How can I make not spending money fun? ›

Whatever your situation, here are 13 fun things to do that don't cost money with friends and family:
  1. Go on a picnic. ...
  2. Go to no-cost museum and zoo days. ...
  3. Give geocaching a try. ...
  4. Leverage your chamber of commerce. ...
  5. Take a historical city tour. ...
  6. Visit a farmers market. ...
  7. Go camping. ...
  8. Do a photography challenge.
Feb 14, 2024

What is a no buy challenge? ›

The 'No Buy Challenge' is a strategic approach to saving money by abstaining from unnecessary expenses. It's not about depriving yourself but rather reevaluating your spending habits and focusing on essential needs.

How can I trick myself into spending less money? ›

How to Save Money: 23 Tips
  1. Make a budget.
  2. Say goodbye to debt.
  3. Set a savings goal.
  4. Save money automatically.
  5. Buy generic.
  6. Meal plan.
  7. Cancel some subscriptions and memberships.
  8. Adjust your tax withholdings.


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