The rule is simple. Cut out all non-essential spending for one month. No dining out. No trips to the craft or home improvement store. No new clothes or gadgets. No movie theatre, local pub, or sports event. Absolutely no credit card purchases.

You still need to pay your normal bills – rent or mortgage, utilities, debt payments – buy perishable food items, and anything else that’s a necessity for you. Everything else is off-limits.

For one month, your goal is to simply use what you have.

The no spending challenge

In our consumer-driven culture, the pressure to spend is intense.

Restricting your spending forces you to look at your life differently. The challenge compels you to pay attention to the things you already have, instead of constantly looking to buy something new.

It’s so easy to say, “I’ll just pop into the store and pick up – a roast chicken, pasta sauce, a new belt, replacement eyebrow pencil, etc. – on the way home.”

Most of us stock-pile too much food. Clear out those long-forgotten canned goods and packages in your overflowing pantry – dig down to the bottom of the freezer.

The internet will tell you substitutions for just about any ingredient. Be inventive and create new recipes with what you have.

If possible, don’t fill up your gas tank – walk or bike, especially those shorter distances.

Avoid browsing at the mall, or online. As much as you can, stay away from people you know spend too much.

Challenge yourself – make it a game. Think outside the box and use some creativity to keep you motivated.

Try a 30-Day No Spending Challenge

You can do this

It will take a serious commitment to make it a full month without spending. If a month seems overwhelming, try it for a week.

When you are just learning how to budget, you are advised to keep track of your spending by saving your receipts and then analyzing your purchases. The no spending challenge is similar, but instead of a pile of receipts, you have extra money in your account.

I’ll be honest. You probably won’t save a huge amount of money – it’s what you get out of the experience. This exercise could change your spending habits. It’s easy to see what you can’t do without, what could be an occasional indulgence, and what can be eliminated altogether without regret.

Since the rules are personal and flexible, anyone can have a no spending month that works for them.

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4 Comments

  1. Sandy on April 19, 2017 at 8:06 am

    A six week spending ‘diet’ has been imposed on me by virtue of major knee surgery. And, because I drive a standard transmission, it may not be over for a couple of weeks yet. Not being one who loves to shop, it hasn’t been a hardship, however, I am sure looking forward to getting my driving privileges back.

  2. boomer on April 19, 2017 at 9:03 am

    @Sandy: Ouch! I hope you have a speedy recovery.

    • Dale on April 23, 2017 at 5:36 pm

      Having been through a TKR myself I can attest to the long-term importance of doing all of the recommended physio during recovery. Otherwise you can be back where you started with few remedies. Keep up with the exercise after you’re driving again.

  3. APF Blogger on April 23, 2017 at 7:41 pm

    I appreciate that you acknowledge that you “probably won’t save a huge amount of money” over the course of the month. That is likely true for most. But like you say, this exercise and other’s like it, are about learning: considering the difference between needs and wants, and realizing that many of the things we feel we can’t do without are not that important in the end.

    Thanks for the encouragement to challenge our assumptions.

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