15 No-Spend Challenge Ideas (Plus 3 Important Rules) You Can Try to Save Money (2024)

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Shifrah Combiths

Shifrah Combiths

With five children, Shifrah is learning a thing or two about how to keep a fairly organized and pretty clean house with a grateful heart in a way that leaves plenty of time for the people who matter most. Shifrah grew up in San Francisco, but has come to appreciate smaller town life in Tallahassee, Florida, which she now calls home. She's been writing professionally for twenty years and she loves lifestyle photography, memory keeping, gardening, reading, and going to the beach with her husband and children.

published Apr 12, 2019






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15 No-Spend Challenge Ideas (Plus 3 Important Rules) You Can Try to Save Money (1)

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When you’re trying to pay off debt or save up for some fun or some not-fun-but-reassuring financial security, you have two options: increase your income or cut down on your spending. There are drastic ways to cut back, like downsizing your home or switching to a one-vehicle household, and there are small changes that can add up over time, like the oft repeated advice to make your own coffee or bring your own lunch.

For those times that a huge change isn’t possible and you need a little more motivation (or cash flow) than a few dollars here and there adding up, there’s one thing that can put more money in your pocket quickly and easily: Try a “no-spend” challenge.

A no-spend challenge is exactly what it sounds like: You commit and challenge yourself to avoid spending money on a certain category of item for a limited amount of time.

No-spend challenges are great for beefing up your money goals and reaching them faster than ever. And they’re kind of fun. What makes them especially appealing is that they’re temporary. If you love to pick up your barista-made artisan coffee three times a week and imbibe as you walk from your parking spot to the office, you don’t have to say goodbye to it forever.

Before You Begin…

Personally, I can’t wait to roll up my sleeves and play these self-serving (in a good way) and super responsible “games.” But before we get into specific challenges, it’s important to keep these three key points in mind:

1. A no-spend challenge is not a deferral of spending. A no-spend challenge is a futile exercise if you’re simply waiting to buy what you wanted to buy and didn’t during the challenge. While this wouldn’t be a problem if you’re swearing off eating out with friends for a month, if you commit to not purchasing a certain type of item for a period of time, you can’t just amass an I’ll-buy-this-later list or you’ll undo all the monetary benefit of your self-denial.

2. Decide beforehand where your not-spent money will go. Having a goal in mind before you embark on any no-spend challenge will do two things: First, a goal will give you a specific vision of what your money will accomplish; as you keep your eye on the prize, you’ll bolster your resolve each time you begin to falter. Second, your hard-saved money won’t “disappear.” If you just let it accumulate in your account, it’ll get frittered away in no time when you seem to have more money than usual. Each time you don’t spend, stick that savings into a pre-created line item in your budget. You’ll see the money add up and it will motivate you even further.

3. Set yourself up for success. Once you decide which challenges are a good fit for you, make sure you’re prepared. For instance, if you know you chucked all your swimsuits last season and you’re headed to the beach, buy your swimsuit before you make clothing purchases off-limits. Be careful not to overspend in preparation, though, or your challenge will be little more than spinning your wheels.

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15 No-Spend Challenges to Try

Here are some areas where you can cut back for a period of time. Choose which ones you want to do and for how long, depending on your goals, and watch the dollars add up:

  1. Eating out
  2. Beauty products or treatments
  3. Beverages besides water (alcohol, coffee, smoothies, wheatgrass shots, etc.)
  4. Clothing
  5. Electronics
  6. Hobbies
  7. Treats disguised as groceries
  8. Cleaning products and tools you want to try (is that just me?)
  9. Meat
  10. Books (use the library!)
  11. Streaming media, like movies or music
  12. Checkout aisle impulse buys
  13. Target (don’t go)
  14. Amazon (don’t look)
  15. Instagram (don’t swipe up)

Have you tried any of these? How did it go?

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Mindful Living



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15 No-Spend Challenge Ideas (Plus 3 Important Rules) You Can Try to Save Money (2024)


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