Family putting money away into piggy bank

How to do a no spend challenge

author: Sarah Beresford

By Sarah Beresford

The no spend challenge isn’t as hard as it might sound. You’re still allowed to spend money on necessities, but could potentially make huge savings by tightening the purse strings.

What is a no spend challenge? 

A no spend challenge is designed to help you save money by cutting out non-essential spending for a set period of time.  

How does a no spend challenge work? 

You’ll continue to pay your mortgage or rent, food, petrol, and important bills. Anything else that’s non-essential isn’t allowed (e.g., takeaway food, coffee to go, magazines, gym subscriptions, and cinema tickets). But make sure the goal you set yourself is achievable - if you think you’d struggle without your Netflix subscription then include that in the list of essentials.

You can do the no spend challenge for as long as you like, but start with a period of time that will be easy to stick to, so you don’t feel disheartened. You can always extend it at the end. 

No spend week 

If you want to start off small to see how it goes, then try the challenge for one week. If this works well, you could do a week of no spending each month, helping your money go much further. 

No spend month 

If you think cutting out non-essentials for one week is too easy then try doing it for a whole month instead. Good months to try are January (to get back on track after the Christmas spend) and in July and August when you can spend more time out of the house (weather permitting). 

No spend year 

If you’re up for a bigger challenge, then doing a no spend year could save you a lot of money. It’s a big commitment, so don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t always manage to stick to it. Taking on a no spend challenge for a whole year is a good way of saving for a big-ticket purchase like a car, or a deposit for a property. 

What are the benefits of doing a no spend challenge? 

It’s too easy to pay on cards these days, resulting in us not really considering our purchases and spending more than we need to on items we don’t necessarily need. A no spend challenge makes you think about what’s really essential, and helps you realise what you can live without. 

At the end of the challenge, you might be surprised at how much you’ve saved, and it could (hopefully) start a whole new habit of wise spending. 

No spend challenge ideas to get you off to the best start 

Try a no spend app 

If keeping track of things on your phone helps to keep you motivated, then try out a habit tracker app or an app designed to save you money like Plum.  Apps that help you save unwanted food will give your no spend challenge a great boost too. 

Raid your cupboards 

It’s important to take a list when you go shopping at the supermarket to ensure you don’t make any impulse purchases and only buy what you need. But how about having a thorough look in your cupboards first? Challenge yourself to use all the tins and packets of food that have been in the cupboard for months. Use up all the non-perishable goods before buying more and only spend money on fresh items. 

Go through your toiletries 

If you’ve got half-empty bottles of shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, and shower gel, finish them before going out and buying more. Maybe you’ll find long forgotten toiletries left in a travel bag, or a gift set under your bed. Make liquid soap and shower gel last longer by adding a little water and shaking it up to use every last drop. 

How to stick to your no spend challenge 

Two of the best things you can do to help you stick to the challenge are to decide what items are essential vs non-essential, and for how long you’ll do the challenge. 

Apart from that, there are a number of other things that’ll help you reach your goal: 

  • write your savings goal down and display it somewhere you’ll see it every day, like on the fridge 
  • put up a calendar so you can cross of each day that you complete - seeing your progress is great encouragement 
  • save petrol by walking instead of driving
  • bulk cook meals in advance and store some in the freezer 
  • get the whole family involved - see who can save the most 
  • avoid temptation - don’t go food shopping more than you need to and stay away from the high-street shops 
  • emails from shops trying to get you to spend money won’t help, unsubscribe from them - all of them! 
  • if you normally spend money on entertainment like the cinema or theme parks, think of free ways to have fun instead - visit parks, play board games, camp out and have a picnic in the garden 

Read on to discover some more ways to save money. 

Disclaimer: All information and links are correct at the time of publishing.

author: Sarah Beresford

By Sarah Beresford

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Family putting money away into piggy bank Family putting money away into piggy bank