5 Tips to Succeed During a No Spend Month

I am always up for a good challenge. Can you imagine a no-spend challenge? Could you do it?  You pay your bills and you buy groceries. That’s it! Getting a handle on your monthly income and spending is no easy feat; however, it is doable! A no spend month is a great way to get there. A no-spend challenge is a way to make you aware of how much you actually spend in any given timeframe. It also comes with the added perk of putting more money in your pocket!

What is a 30-Day No Spend Challenge?

A no-spend challenge is when you challenge yourself to not spend money on anything extra or unnecessary for a certain time period. Typically 30 days is just right to give you a good perspective on your own spending while also helping you save a nice amount of extra dough that you can then use however you want.

You’ll still need to pay for things like essential groceries, bills, and gas. Necessities. But if it isn’t a necessity, you don’t buy it. 

So where do you begin? Below are 5 easy-to-follow steps to succeed at a no spend month.  

Identify Your Goal 

Having a goal makes any challenge easier. It gives you a why and a reason to keep going when it gets tough.

So, what is your goal of doing a 30-day no spend month? Is it to save extra money for a down payment on a new home? Is it to get a hold of your out-of-control spending habits? Is it to help you get out of debt or raise your credit score? Maybe you just want to save for a mini vacation or even just do it to see if you can. Any goal is the right goal as long as it’s something you believe in.

Once you identify your goal, write it down somewhere so you can look at it when you need a little extra motivation.

RELATED: 4 Ways to Fix Your Money Mindset To Reach Your Financial Goals

Set Ground Rules

Once you’ve established when your “no spend month” will be, it’s time to start thinking of rules. These will look different for everyone because of the structure of your home and family. But at the most basic level, the ground rules serve the purpose of establishing what you want your “no spend month” to look like. Take this time to evaluate the costs in your home and determine what counts as an essential item vs. a non-essential item.

It’s important to set up ground rules that are practical.  It may be helpful to create a list of essential items vs. non-essential items and have it hanging in plain view for everyone to see- maybe in a high-traffic area like your kitchen or by the front door.

Make a Budget

Set up the different areas of your budget and break them down into your necessary expenses (groceries, gas, etc.). This can also be a good time to talk about why you’ve chosen the budget numbers you have. Look back on the expenses of a previous month for a good starting number. This will also be a good indicator of any area in which you may have budgeted for more than you need. For example, if you budget $500 for groceries, but find that you’re only spending a consistent $250, then shrink your grocery budget to the $250 and stick to it!

Once you have all of your essential expenses accounted for, it’s important to look at the money you have remaining. There’s a good chance that you have a nice chunk of money left over, but what will you do with that money? Figure out where this money will go.

Plan Your Meals

One benefit of a no-spend challenge is that you’ll use up much of your inventory of what you already have at home. Go through your pantry and fridge, toss anything that’s expired, then plan your meals around what’s left.

Determine what kind of meals you can make for each day of the week.  If you have more time on Sundays, prepare your more time-consuming meals on that day.  The primary goal is to be prepared.  When you know your schedule, it will be easier to plan ahead and not break the rules by going out to eat.

RELATED: 5+ Best Meal Planning Ideas to Save More Money

Get Your Family and Friends Involved

A no-spend month can feel daunting if you go it alone. Telling family and friends about it or encouraging them to join gives you an accountability system.  Your squad can provide crucial tips, reassurance, or even constructive criticism when you need it.

Making your journey public on social media networks or other online forums takes accountability one step further. It shines a spotlight on successes and failures, which is exactly what some people need to stay the course.

Have you taken a no-spend challenge before? What have you found to help you be successful?