Need to save some money right now? Saving up for something special? Doing a No Spend Challenge can be a quick way to find some extra cash. Follow these tips and you can have a successful spending freeze experience.
What is a No Spend Challenge
Maybe you have heard the phrases “No Spend Challenge”, “No Spend Month” or “Sending Freeze”. And really they mean what they say- a duration of time where you don’t spend money on certain items with the purpose of saving money for a specific goal. I was first introduced to the concept of a spending freeze from my dear friend Katie. In her family they do 2 no spend months- February Fast and September Save (don’t you love those names! See more about how they do their monthly spending freeze here)
The most important part of this definition is your “why”? What goal are you wanting to work toward with the money saved? Pay down a debt, save for a vacation, prepare for Christmas- how successful you are with the no spend challenge with translate into a success toward your goal.
What Will Your Spending Freeze Look Like
Now that you have a goal and therefore the drive to complete a spending freeze. You have to decide what your no spend challenge with “look like”. That means you need to define two things, the duration and categories of your freeze.
Many people choose an entire month to not spend. (I suggest February to start, it’s a shorter month so easier to stick to it) I prefer to break down my spending challenges into 2 week chunks. More on this in a minute.
My friend Katie’s family is hardcore (and therefore they see a ton of savings during these 2 months) and they literally try not to spend money on anything (utilities included- they use candles and wood-burning stove). You may want to choose specific categories to suspend your spending. For instance groceries and dining out.
So for me, I often like to do a 2 week no food spend challenge. That means I do not spend money on groceries (try none, but sometimes will buy milk and or a few produce items) or eating out of any kind. If you feel overwhelmed by a whole month of absolutely no spending… this condensed and specific spending freeze can seem more “doable”. Thinking you won’t save much? Well, if your weekly grocery budget is $100- That’s a potential $200 saved! (not to mention the money saved from not eating out)
Life Happens During a No Spend Period
That’s right, life will go on during your spending freeze month or weeks. So that means you are going to have to cook at home more, get creative with entertainment and maybe just avoid the stores altogether. I actually think “pantry cooking” during a spending freeze is fun! This means hit up your pantry and freezer and see what you can create!
I know some people will say that to be super gazelle intense (that’s a Dave Ramsey reference to being intense and intentional with your savings and budgeting) means that you don’t spend ANYTHING- including gift cards and reward points. I am a little more flexible about this. If your goal is to save money to put toward something in particular- those gift cards aren’t really the same as cash. Right?! But you do you.
What to Do with Your Savings After a Spending Freeze
Speaking of that goal; now that your no spend time is over it’s time to spend again! And hopefully, you have a nice chunk of savings to work with. If you are an envelope system family, this is especially easy to do. At the end of the month, whatever cash you have left in the envelopes of the categories you chose not to spend on- that cash will now go toward whatever your goal was. So your spending is now with a purpose. Pay down that next debt snowball item, start a Christmas fund or put into savings for summer vacay!
But beware, don’t spend excessively now that you can. That means don’t buy extra groceries or go out for a congratulatory dinner.
One last thought on accountability. As Financial Peace University coordinators, many people often ask hubs and I why they should join an FPU class instead of just doing it on their own- accountability! Doing a spending freeze with a friend can be great for sticking with it. When the whole family is up for the challenge, you all will work together to hit that goal.
Print this FREE No Spend Challenge Tracker Worksheet to see just how much you can save in 1 month!
Have you ever done a spending freeze? I’d love to hear your experience in the comments below.