Why You Should Try A No Spend Challenge

Updated: May 15, 2021

Taking on new challenges and developing healthy habits can be done at any time. There is however the excitement about starting a new year, a new season, or a new month that can make it the perfect time to get your finances and spending under control. One of the most fun ways to get your finances in order is with a no-spend challenge. Let's get into just how it works and why you should definitely try it out!

What is a no-spend challenge?

No spend challenges have become trendy over the past couple of years. If you’ve never heard of a no-spend challenge, it refers to a period of time in which you intentionally chose not to spend any unnecessary money. During the challenge, you’re only allowed to spend money on bills and necessities. Most people opt for no spend week or month-long challenges.

Typical categories where spending is allowed include:

  • Rent or mortgage

  • Bills (cable, internet, utilities, phone, car, etc)

  • Groceries

  • Health expenses (insurance, doctor’s bills)

  • Gas

The idea is to only spend money on what you need and to eliminate all spending on non-essentials. This means saying goodbye to spending in categories like these:

  • Restaurants and take out

  • Coffee and drinks

  • Furniture/home decor

  • Clothes

  • Gifts

  • Ubers/Lyfts

  • Hairstyling/nail appointments etc

It’s important to establish upfront what’s a need and what is not. For instance, if you don’t own a car, an Uber may be required to get to work. However, getting creative is also essential to this challenge. If you live in the city and work less than a mile away, is riding the bus an option? What about walking or riding your bike? Decide up front exactly what you’re allowed to spend money on and set limits before starting this challenge.

How a no spend challenge can improve your finances

A no-spend challenge can save you money by forcing you to refrain from unnecessary spending. However, the beauty of a no-spend challenge is more about what you learn during this time period, rather than the money you save.

Here are a few of the financial benefits you’ll reap during a no-spend challenge.

1. You save more money

2. You’ll identify your bad habits

3. You will get clear on your goals

4. You’ll find new ways to fill your time

Starting with a no spend month

Starting a no spend challenge with a no spend month is a great idea. A month is a fixed period of time that is not too long in which you can focus on achieving as many no spend days as possible. You can plan your no spend month alongside your budget and use it as an opportunity to really get clear on your monthly expenses and splurges.

Below are some keep steps to help you be successful with your no-spend month.

1. Time it correctly

2. Use a journal to track your urges and emotions

3. Create plans for your time to stay productive

4. Make spending more difficult

5. Post about your no spend month online

6. If you accidentally slip up, don’t let yourself off the hook

7. Set a reasonable reward for yourself upon completion

New year, new financial goals

Completing a no spend month is a great way to kick off a new year, a new season, or a new month to set yourself up for financial success. To make your no spend challenge as easy as possible, plan ahead, think of ways to avoid your spending triggers, and share the good news with family and friends so you can stick to healthy spending habits. You can get started right now by taking one of the Clever Girl Finance savings challenges which include a no-spend challenge!

For the specific actions for each point in your no-spend month, see the full article at:



Courtney Johnston is a freelance writer, specializing in finance, small business, and health content. She has written for The Chicago Tribune, Benzinga, Fundera, The Blueprint, Investopedia, Mashvisor, JustBusiness, JoyWallet, and MoneyGeek. She resides in Indianapolis where she also teaches writing instruction at the University of Indianapolis. You can find her at www.courtneywrites.com.

Clever Girl Finance has been extremely gracious in allowing esteem magazine share their content . I encourage all readers to visit their site regularly and take advantage of amazing resources and advice available - they are truly Clever Girls! Many thanks to the team at Clever Girls for helping to build our financial esteem.

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