Have you ever had a no spend day or week? Ever told yourself that you wouldn’t touch those credit cards?
If you haven’t and you’ve been struggling to save money and manage your spending, you should consider freezing your spending for a few days to reset your finances and generate some savings.
Incorporating a spending freeze into your schedule can be quite healthy for your finances especially when you feel overwhelmed with it all.
One way to do this is by adding a no spend day or week into your monthly budget.
These tips will help you get prepared and maximize the best results!
Please note, this post was updated in 2021.
How to Prepare for a No-Spend Day, Week, Or Month
In order for your no-spend period to be successful, you must be prepared.
A no-spend period might actually include some spending on necessary items, such as gas or groceries.
The key is to eliminate any extra spending during this time frame.
Determine the length the no spend period will last – a day, week or even month
If you are a beginner, I would start with a small goal. This leads to more success!
This could include a no spend day or weekend or my personal favorite, a no spend work week.
I find it easiest for myself to save money during the work week.
I always pack my lunch and enjoy the coffee my work provides.
On my lunch break, I try to get out of the office and get some walking in when the weather is nice.
Otherwise, I’m tempted to get on my cell phone and online shop.
After work, instead of stopping at the grocery store to grab a couple things, I’ll head home instead and eat the groceries I already have.
It can be easy and tempting to swing by the grocery store every day after work, but the expenses add up fast.
Instead, try to grocery shop once a week.
If you are really looking to jumpstart your savings or pay off debt, you can really ramp up your spending freeze and challenge yourself to a no spend week or even a no spend month.
This is a great idea if you overspent the previous month and you are looking to get your finances back to normal.
Get creative to help you achieve a no spend day or week
If you’re able to carve out time to go on a spending freeze and are fully committed, that’s great!
One of the hardest parts during the no spend challenge can be figuring out how to use what you have. This is where a bit of creativity can really pay off!
This can include:
- Using up the remaining groceries in your pantry
- Ordering groceries online to avoid the temptation to overspend. You can also shop multiple stores for the same price with the Instacart app.
- If you are a business owner, get a free Amazon business account for better deals
- If you like blogging and want a fun, creative outlet, read this blog post.
- Downloading a podcast instead of renting a movie
- Borrowing a book or video from the library (many times you can do this online through your library’s website)
- Download Amazon’s Kindle book to access the library’s free ebooks!
- Signing up for an audible account
- Going on a walk with a friend instead of going to happy hour
- Clean your house and find items to sell
- Learn how to travel for cheap – or even do a volunteer trip where you get free lodging and food in exchange for volunteering!
- Make your own coffee at home
- Earn Swagbucks to earn free gift cards so you can treat yourself to little things like coffee. Other great survey sites include Survey Junkie and My Soap Box.
If you like to travel, try staying at an AirBnB instead of a hotel. This a fun and creative way to save money.
Over the past couple of years, I have stayed at a handful of AirBnB’s and saved a ton of money. Plus, I’ve even been able to bring my dogs!
I prefer to rent an entire house, condo and apartment instead of a hotel room. I even stayed in a tiny home to see what it would be like to live a more minimal life.
If you want to stay at an AirBnb, here’s a coupon for $40 off your first stay anywhere!
Reassess your wants and needs
A no spend day or week or month can really help evaluate what you want or need.
It is so easy to mindlessly spend money on coffee every day or overspend at the grocery store.
By saying no to everything for a set period of time, you can really get an eye opening experience on your spending.
This is a great time to figure out where you really value spending money.
On the other hand, you also learn what you are wasting money on without even realizing it.
All those little expenses can add up daily.
Plus, you learn how to work with what you have.
I can’t preach this enough!
Instead of spending money all the time as a solution, you may find that you can fix something so you can use it again.
This can be tricky if you aren’t handy, but I bet if you get on YouTube, there is probably a video tutorial for help!
How to proceed after the no spend day or week ends
This is an important period.
You don’t want to fall back into any bad spending habits or go on a shopping binge to make up for several days without spending anything.
This is a good time to look at how much money you saved during your no spend period as well.
What do you plan to do with your savings? Are you going to transfer it to your savings account or use the extra money to pay off some bills? Will you put it toward debt?
After you decide what you’re going to do, take action immediately. Put the money to use right away, or you might be tempted to use it for the wrong thing.
I also recommend getting a notebook and tracking your savings. If you aren’t into notebooks, create a simple spreadsheet online.
This is a great way to document your spending and savings, and it’s fun to look at your progress!
Start saving, even if it’s only a few dollars a week
Whether you want to start an emergency fund or a vacation fund, you have to start setting some money aside.
So many people struggle with saving. Start small and try to put away even $5 per week. If you primarily bank online, you can transfer money into a savings account each week.
For those that prefer to use cash instead of a credit card or debit card, put a $5 bill into a jar each week. It can be so helpful to have a visual and see your cash add up, which only makes you more motivated.
While it may not seem like a lot, at the end of the year you will have $260 in savings.
How to save money if you can’t do a no spend day or week
Can’t do a no spend week right now? No problem.
I recommend getting out your calendar and planning out your first no spend day or even a no spend weekend. There’s no reason you can’t find time each month to focus on reducing your spending, even if it’s just a few days per month.
Based on my experience, it can be a big mental shift to not grab a coffee while out running errands. Instead, I will intentionally make a coffee to take with me in the car. It tastes just as good and I feel great knowing I saved around $6.
When holidays, birthdays and travel are coming up, it can be difficult to do a spending freeze and you don’t want to set yourself up for failure.
If you need to spend money in certain areas of your budget, you can still reduce your costs and perhaps earn a little money back as well.
One of the best ways to make any money from shopping is using Rakuten.
Rakuten pays you a percentage back when you make a purchase online.
While I have to do some online shopping, I always use Rakuten first because they pay cashback on purchases from hundreds of retailers. Plus, they help you hunt down coupons that you can use to reduce the price of your order.
Each quarter, they deposit all of your cash back earnings into your PayPal account. Yippee for free money!
If you are new to Rakuten, claim your $10 now (either in the form of a $10 GC to places like Target or $10 off a $25 purchase!)
This cell phone app helps you make money off your grocery receipts. Yup, for real!
You use it after you go grocery shopping and use your receipt. It’s basically a rebate app, so you can earn anywhere from 50 cents to $5 off everything you buy.
My favorite part about Ibotta is that it’s not always brand specific, like a lot of coupons are. So you’ll be able to scan “any brand of bread” for 50 cents off, etc.
If you do coupon – you can STILL use Ibotta and get a rebate.
For the diehard couponers out there, this will often result in getting an item for FREE.
When you sign up, you will receive a $10 cash bonus when you make your first scan!
If you are going to shop, you might as well make money doing it.
Another app similar to Ibotta is Fetch, but instead of getting cash back, you get points for each receipt you scan, no matter what you buy.
This app is amazing and the points add up fast!
You can get 2,000 bonus points just by signing up with this link.
Make money instead
If having a no spend period seems tough or if you don’t want to do it on a regular basis, consider trying to make money instead.
Increasing your income will provide you with more money to add to your budget.
You can pay off debt quicker and catch up financially at a faster rate.
There are so many things you could do to earn extra income.
It took me about four months from when I got started, but I was able to start this blog and made $60 in my very first income report.
In my first year alone, I made around $13,000 blogging while working at my full time job. That’s a lot of extra income that helped me get out of debt!
I have made more than $4,500 in one year in my spare time thanks to side hustling.
If you have something you would like to share with your readers that can help them – whether it’s mentally, financially or physically – go for it.
- Here is the best list of surveys to earn cash and make money.
- How to make extra cash during the holidays.
- Epic list of side hustles
Side hustling is great because it allows you to earn extra money by doing flexible tasks and monetizing your skills.
- Walk dogs or pet sit
- Start a homemade dog treat bakery
- Become a Pinterest Virtual Assistant
Take surveys while at home or on the go
This is one of the best ways to make money that won’t cost you anything to get started!
I have made thousands of dollars over the past few years taking surveys online and participating in research studies.
Not all surveys are created equal. I have weeded through a ton of companies to figure out which ones pay the best. Here’s a few to choose from!
- Survey Junkie
- Nielsen (great if you love to watch TV!)
- Pinecone Research
- Digital Voice
- My Points
Turn your home or bedroom into an AirBnB
If you have a room or even a home to spare, turning your space into an Airbnb can have amazing results.
I have friends that have switched from renting out a room in their house to using it as an Airbnb and are making so much more money!
With a renter, you get a fixed monthly rate and usually enter into a month-to-month contract or one year lease.
As an Airbnb host, you can oftentimes make more income in one week via AirBnB than an entire month of rental income.
To learn more about becoming an Airbnb host, click here!
Can A No Spend Month Help You?
I believe it can! A no-spend day, week, or month is a great way to reset your finances, save a little extra money, and get back into budgeting.
I am so excited to see if you decide to incorporate a no-spend period into your lifestyle.
Ultimately, there is a good balance to be had by having a no-spend period as well as trying to side hustle and earn extra income.
I really like these tips! I am going to do these suggestions take small steps instead. First is the one week no spend especially the no sugar also. THanks
Kristin Larsen says
You can do it!
I’m a senior, always looking for more frugal inspiration. I do most of the things I’ve read, so now I am comfortable in my retirement. When DH died a couple of years ago I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep my home the way it needed to be kept. My daughter helped me find a wonderful seniors apartment in the city she lived in. It was very reasonable. There are a lot of activities in our building. Many have no or very little cost. So greatly lowers cost of living, plus provides interaction with other people. Yet the privacy of my own apartment.
Also we trade and share a lot. For example if there is a good deal on groceries ther are 6 of us who check with each other and split up a great sale of meat, vegetables, fruit and staples. I think this has given me a far larger variety in foods and I’m spending about half of what I used to spend. Two of our ladies love to thrift shop and garage sale, they know what size each of us wears and the style/ type of clothes likes best. I haven’t had as many beautiful clothes in my life. Items are never more than a couple of bucks. Often items are free. If we get something that doesn’t fit or we don’t want we just pass the item around the group.
If no one can use the item it is sent over to our church thrift shop. (. Across the parking lot not my church but they are very good to the people in our apartment block.
Kristin Larsen says
These are such helpful tips, thank you so much for taking the time to share this with us. There are so many ways to save money and it definitely makes it easier when you can split the cost with others. Thank you!
My husband and I decided to stop all but necessary spending back in the fall. We made exceptions for things like Christmas gifts and an occasional meal out, but we have already saved several thousand dollars! It was really hard at first, but once I started, it was so fun to see the savings grow. I still occasionally splurge a little, but it’s not an every day way of life like it was before.
Kristin Larsen says
Oh YAY, congrats on saving so much! That’s amazing!
I find it’s helpful to do a no-spend week or month every so often just to “reset” my spending defaults. Even though I think I’m fairly frugal most of the time, I know I can usually do better! This month I’m doing no-spending and no sugar, so it should be a fun January, ha!
Kristin Larsen says
Good luck!! January is such a great time to reset!!
Iya from Kingdom Talents says
I should start this challenge/activity for myself. Before, when my salary comes once in a month, by the 4th week after the payday I rarely go out to spend zero amount. Sometimes I stay at my moms or grandmas to be able to get free meals for a few days or a week to survive! LOL Those are the days when budgeting is not yet part of my vocabulary.
Kristin Larsen says
Ha, I think I’ve also done it towards the end of the month and so have a lot of other people 🙂 I like doing it during the work week, because I’m definitely able to control my spending better compared to a weekend when I’m out and about. Good luck and make sure to update us how it goes!
Rhonda Grice says
No spend days are getting quite popular with the frugal crowd. As I write this it’s January 2, and most of my frugal friends and I are going for a “no-spend” January, to see if we can only get food and necessities this month. No extras what-so-ever! Should be interesting!
Thanks for the article. Loved it!
Kristin Larsen says
I’m trying for a no spend period right now as well just like you! I’m trying to get creative in the kitchen with everything in my pantry and cut down on the grocery bill as well this month 🙂
I am currently saving to study abroad second semester and realized I don’t have enough “no spend days”. These tips were extremely helpful – Thanks!
Kristin Larsen says
Ha, I need to have more ‘no spend day’s more frequently!
This was really helpful. I am always looking for ways to budget & save. I had no idea that the Redcard was linked to your bank account, I buy all my diapers and wipes from target so I will definitely be looking into that. Thanks for the info!!
Honestly I have to divided my own ‘spend’ lists at journal into two separated coloumn. First contain lists all what I want and what I need, and after finished, I move a few of ‘something’ urgent in the other side. So, it could help me a lot, to define what’s truely really important and not important, urgent and not really urgent things.
Carrie Willard says
Yes, I’m doing a no-spend summer right now to help save money for a down payment on a home. We’re about halfway to our goal. This post is great, and I love the advice to EARN instead of spend. Shopping takes a lot of energy, and simply staying home and out of shops can free up time for money-making pursuits. Thanks for this article.
Oh wow, great job! I’m all about earning and side hustling – it can definitely give the savings a boost 🙂
Gosh I’ve really lost touch with what I WANT vs what I NEED! There are many tips shared that I have used in my past life to help me get by…I need to revisit these.
Thank you to all who shared.
Cynthia C says
I’ve lived on a cash only basis for about 25 years. I used to say, “The only thing I got from my last relationship was bad credit.” That started it. Since I’m low income on top of that, credit wasn’t going to be easy to get. Rather than be upset about it, I just started living on cash only. Wow! It works. No, I don’t own a house, I don’t have an expensive car, I don’t have huge medical expenses, but I do have the cutest rental house you’ve ever seen, with all but a few pieces of furniture custom-made.
I live in a tiny town so I don’t even own a car. I walk everywhere or take a bus. I have a market cart (we used to call them granny carts–not sure if they still do or not) so I can get bigger stuff and still walk home.
Here’s the most important thing I learned. It came from Barbara Sher in her book Wishcraft. The bottom line is that people have what you want and many times they have it lying about and would love to give it to you but don’t know you need it. Just put it out there that you’re looking for ___ and you never know what might turn up. I once moved into an apartment that had everything in the kitchen but a stove. The rent was so cheap I took it. I started telling folks at work I was looking for a stove. Before I had a chance to go to a thrift store one of my co-workers said they had one they had never gotten around to getting rid of. It turned out to be an extra-wide one with a large oven and a big storage space for pots and pans. It worked great and was totally free. He and three of his strongest friends even delivered it.
When we learn to live on what we have, life is so much sweeter. I never have to worry about how I’m going to get the money to pay the minimum on my credit card bill.
Oh, I also do little side stuff as well. I pet sit and crochet afghans for sale. Life’s good.
Cynthia, you are so smart and crushing it! It is so great not to have to worry about the Joneses and focus on what you have and loving it. Thanks for sharing!
Great tips thank you for sharing. I will be taking my one week challenge next week. I am really looking forward to it.
Oh yay Esther!! Let me know how you do 🙂
We don’t go anywhere unless there’s an absolute need (appointment, need groceries or prescriptions). We prefer to stay at home. If you don’t go out, you will not spend a dime!
We never use a credit card; that’s reserved for emergency only and there’s not been any of that going on since we got married.
If we want to buy anything, it’s on a cash basis only. If we don’t have cash on hand, we just don’t buy. If it’s a costly or major purchase, we intentionally save for it and then we buy that item.
We rarely eat out. I cook all meals from scratch and we eat leftovers, either as is or I use leftovers to create a totally different meal. Ive always cooked since I was 13, and this became more important in recent years for health reasons. I have newly developed allergies so I need to know exactly what is used in everything that I eat.
We’ve been able to pay down and eliminate debt while simultaneously increase our savings by living a simple life. And we don’t feel like we are suffering any. We actually enjoy hanging out at home!
Good luck to all who wish to live a similar lifestyle.
Faye – you are so inspiring! Thank you for sharing these awesome tips. I have worked really hard to cut down on my dining out – this is such a hard expense for me. Thanks for all this!
Helen N says
How about ideas specifically for seniors or those often restricted to being at home most of the time?
Side hustles from home that are legitimate, not scams.
Living on limited fixed incomes.
Hi Helen! I would do a Google search on panel studies. This month I have made around $400 from home completing panel studies online. These are a million times better than online surveys. I go into detail about these a lot in my book. As long as you have internet, you can do these from home. I have done a ton on all kinds of things – coffee, cat litter, my shopping habits, banking, grocery shopping – the list goes on and on. You can check out my book here if you want to see all the companies I work with so you can get signed up!
Jill B says
What a great idea, might try this in February, as it’s a short month! Would be great to have a no spending on ‘extra’s’ month to regain control over what has been a big spending December and paying things off in January!
I’m totally with you! I am planning on doing a no spend week at least once a month this year. Good luck!
Sharon gray says
How do you know how much you are saving? I have no budget and need to get one ASAP.
I am really good about tracking my spending and how much I save using a simple spreadsheet! WhenI first started tracking my spending, I would just write it all down in a notebook to track everything 🙂
I need a good simple spread sheet for spending. Being newly retired I need something to work with the limited income. What do you suggest?
Marta Szarka says
we love mint.com
It’s a budgeting site/app that works great for tracking our spending!
I love the idea of a no spend period, it’s very hard for me myself, but my husband has no problem with not spending for weeks on anything but food. One trick I found, as scary as it is, leave all your cards at home, and only carry 5-10$ cash on you. This way, you have the “safety” of having money, but not enough to bother spending.
I like that idea! I find I get much more frugal when it comes to only having cash 🙂
I have no spend days or a week when I do not have a car. I never thought it was saving money. But I guess it is until we are forced to go to the grocery store. We were out of hubby’s favorite tea. We spent a lot. We made the mistake of going hungry. Oh well.
Wow, that is great no to spend money for days!
Saving Sanely says
I am attempting my first No Spend Challenge for February (yay, short month!) and it is more difficult than I would have anticipated. There’s always SOMETHING that the hubs wants picked up or is on super clearance, etc. Thanks for the tips, I just came across your site, but I really relate to your topics so will definitely be back! 🙂
Thanks for stopping by! The No Spend Challenge is hard but a great way to save money! I started slow, with just trying to get through a work week or weekend. The No Spend Month is tough – good luck!
[email protected] and the Beach says
I’m with Erin on this one. I can see it being very handy and a good exercise, especially if you find spending out of control, but I’m so frugal I naturally have more no-spend days then I’d like. lol!
Ha, there have been times after paying bills that I have no-spend days because I’m poor until my next paycheck 🙂
Big Ed says
thats because you cant control spending, live beyond you means and work pathetic lives. For me, I was born into a very wealthy family, have exotic cars and homes, own 4 companies (not sure what they do) and recieve boat loads of money weekly, sometimes daily. My family all lives beneath our means(My house is $1,150,000…I can live in a $5,000,000 house….my cars are a little under $100,000 each…isntead of $250,000). So you see people, if you live beneath your means…..your money goes a little bit further. Off to Australia for a month mate…..cheers!!!
Yes!!! As a single mom of 2 (1 in college) I am amazed how much money I saved in making coffee at home and packing my lunch for work. Here in New Jersey, that’s an easy $75 a week in savings! I have a no spend week every month after paying bills. Just enough for gas to get to work!
Fig @ Figuring Money Out says
Like Holly, I sometimes do a no-spend period at the end of the month. I’ll not spend anything the last week of the month or the last work week or similar. It really helps!
The no-spend period really helps! I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one who does this!
I also like to have the last week of the month without spending. The money that would ordinarily go to grocery shopping goes into savings. I also do what I can to not buy gasoline and move that purchase to the first week of the month if at all possible. Any money left over at the end of the month goes into savings even if it turns out that it is only a few dollars. It all adds up.
I’ve never actually intentionally had a no-spend period, but we naturally go days without spending. I should start keeping track of how many no-spend days we have during a month! I think they’re a great idea for anyone who has trouble controlling their spending, though. It definitely forces you to reflect on why you feel the need to spend.
That’s awesome you can go for so long and have that mindset! I find that it’s much easier to have no-spend days when I work from home versus going to work 🙂
[email protected] says
We are usually forced into a “no spend” situation at the end of the month. We use a zero-sum budget, and all of our funds are usually depleted by then.
I like the concept of the zero-sum budget, it’s such a smart way to budget and use your income each month!