How to Do a No-Spend Month Challenge

How to Do a No-Spend Month Challenge
Anne Johnson

Credit card debt has bloated, and people are struggling to pay bills. The economy is the biggest culprit, but there also could be some issues with people’s financial behavior. In other words, their monthly spending is out of control.

If you’re one of those people who runs out of money by the end of the month, you need to reign in your spending. Doing a no-spend month challenge could help. But what is a no-spend month challenge, and how do you do it?

What Is a No-Spend Month Challenge?

A no-spend month challenge is a way to test yourself financially. For a month, you don’t spend any money on non-essentials.

Of course, you must pay your regular bills, such as car payments and housing. These are essential. But non-essentials like social events, restaurants, coffee shops, and impulse buying are gone for the month.

You challenge yourself to live a frugal life for one month.

What to Do During the No-Spend Month Challenge

Think of the no-spend month as a financial detox or cleanse. You'll flush excess spending from your finances. There are many ways to do this, and many of them aren’t really that challenging; it just comes down to thinking before you buy.
  • Set Goals and Create a Budget

Write down why you want to do the no-spend month challenge. If you want to have extra money to pay off that credit card, write that down. Or if you want to save for a vacation, put that on the list. Once you do that, you can refer back to it to keep yourself motivated once you start.
Use an Excel sheet or columns on paper to create a budget. This will let you know exactly what is essential and must be paid. Anything else is fluff and will disappear.
  • Timing Is Important

Choose a month when not much is going on. November and December are terrible months to do a not-spend month. Check your personal calendar; if you see a month with a lot of birthdays or weddings, it might not be the one.
But be careful that you don’t reject every month; you need to make a commitment to it.
  • Plan All Meals

Eating is essential, but eating out or ordering take-out is not. Plan your meals for the month. Start by taking an inventory of your pantry and cupboards.

If you find spaghetti sauce in the pantry, buy pasta and have a meal. Ensure you use all the food you can from home and then supplement it.

You want to eat healthy, so if you take the time to plan and follow through, you can monitor both your budget and your food choices.

When grocery shopping, if you can’t resist buying new items to try, don’t go in. Do the curbside pick-up or use a grocery delivery service. You’ll probably save more using the service than you would if you walked into the store.

And never go grocery shopping hungry. Eat your dinner first.
  • Make Online Shopping Difficult

Emotional spending is the culprit for many blown budgets. And online shopping enables this. Make it difficult to purchase online.

Take the retail apps off of your phone. That will make it a little harder to go right to your favorite retailer.

When shopping online, many people save their debit or credit cards with the retailer. Go through and un-save them. That takes away the ease of purchasing.

If you have to go and grab your wallet to make a purchase, it gives you time to think if you really need that item. Any obstacle you can put in your buying path will save you money and help you stick to the challenge.

If you still want the item and it’s non-essential, write it down and save it for later review. You’ll gain perspective as to whether you need it. You may even just forget about it.
  • Find Free Entertainment

You may not be paying to go to a movie or concert, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything. There are often free activities in your community. Go online and look for options. Free entertainment is especially common during the spring and summer months.

Dust off those board games and have the family or friends over for a game of Monopoly.

If you’re active, go hiking or take walks in the park. And remember, libraries not only loan books, but many have movies you can borrow.
  • Don’t Take a Cheat Day

If you’re tempted to “cheat,” remember, the only one you’re cheating is yourself. This would be your money you’re wasting. Take this seriously, set your budget and stick to it.

Take the No-Spend Month Challenge

Do the no-spend month challenge and save money. Track your progress on a calendar as you go. If you usually buy lunch at work, how much are you saving daily by packing one?

You’ll see it’s working and be motivated to continue.

By taking the challenge, you'll be forced to change your spending habits, resetting the financial clock. Once the no-spend month challenge is finished, this may carry over to other months.

The Epoch Times copyright © 2024. The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors. They are meant for general informational purposes only and should not be construed or interpreted as a recommendation or solicitation. The Epoch Times does not provide investment, tax, legal, financial planning, estate planning, or any other personal finance advice. The Epoch Times holds no liability for the accuracy or timeliness of the information provided.
Anne Johnson was a commercial property & casualty insurance agent for nine years. She was also licensed in health and life insurance. Anne went on to own an advertising agency where she worked with businesses. She has been writing about personal finance for ten years.
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