How to Do a No-Spend Challenge: Spending Freeze Tips and Save More Money

Are there rules for the spending challenge that you should follow? The short answer is “Yes…” But you have to put it yourself.

Table of Content

  • What is the No-Spending Challenge?
  • Spending Challenge Rules
  • Why Are You Saving Money?
  • How Long Will You Spend Freeze Last?
  • Will The No-Spend Days Be Consecutive or Cumulative?
  • Will You Be Allowed To “Cheat”?
  • Rules About The No-Spend Challenge: The Keys to Success
  • Know About The Difference Between Needs and Wants
  • Avoid Rationalization
  • Planning For Success
  • If You Fell Off The Wagon.
  • How Can I Stop Spending Money?
  • Steps You Can Take To Break Bad Spending Habits:
  • How Can I Freeze Spending when I have Children?
  • What Should I Do With All The Money I Save?

The good news is that there are no hard and fast rules to follow if you are interested in doing the no-spending challenge. The bad news is that most people will fail.

Fortunately, with proper planning, you don’t need to be one of them.

Here are some tips to help you plan (and finish) your next no-spending challenge.

What is the No-Spending Challenge?

The no-spending challenge (also known as a spending freeze) is a quick way to save money, pay off debt, or regain control of your budget after a month (or two) of overspending.

To begin the no-spending challenge, you can set a period during which you do not spend money on anything outside the essentials (monthly bills, basic food, gas, and medical care).

“Do not be afraid to give up the good of going for the great.” John D. Rockefeller

Spending Challenge Rules

The first rule of the no-spending challenge is to set your own rules.

Like the first base of the fight club, you are not talking about the fight club.

However, there are some global guidelines that most people accept as the spending challenge rules to follow to succeed:

  1. Know your “Why.”
  2. Set a time frame.
  3. Select pre-planned “cheat” days.
  4. Do not include the necessary expense in the challenge
  5. Eat from the pantry before going grocery shopping, then buy the basics
  6. Do not do the shopping before (or after) the challenge
  7. If you make a mistake, keep going.
  8. After the challenge, use any money saved to pay off debts or save


Why Are You Saving Money?

The best way to begin the no-spending challenge is to start with “why.” Design a mood board to empty your dreams, house or car and keep them in a good place so you can turn to them again when you struggle with the challenge.

And I promise there will be times during the no-spending challenge when you inevitably struggle.

Another way to motivate yourself is to imagine a life in which you no longer worry about having “enough” money. A life in which you are debt-free and financially independent.

The challenge of no spending can come faster!

How Long Will You Spend Freeze Last?

People usually pose no-spending challenges to last:

  • Weekends
  • One week
  • A whole month

But, again, check the spending freeze. You can do so if you want to extend or shorten your time.

Will The No-Spend Days Be Consecutive or Cumulative?

If you know in advance that there will be certain days in the month that you will “need” to spend, say your brother’s birthday or an upcoming wedding, you should aim to complete your no-spend challenge based on the total number of days added during the month rather than a set number of days in a row.

Will You Be Allowed To “Cheat”?

Decide in advance whether you will allow yourself to “cheat” during the challenge.

Allowing cheating days will prevent you from taking an all-or-nothing approach and allow you to forgive yourself if (and when) you get it wrong.

Remember that “cheat days” are not meant to be used as “excuses” for spending.

Things allowed in the no-spending challenge:

  • Mortgage/rent
  • Facilities
  • Telephone
  • Internet
  • Groceries
  • Insurance
  • Medicine
  • Gas
  • Debt payments
  • Transportation expenses
  • Free entertainment

Things are NOT allowed in the no-spending challenge:

  • Restaurant meals
  • Saloon services
  • Cable/TV streaming
  • Clothing/shoes
  • Paid entertainment
  • Alcohol
  • Gifts
  • Hobby equipment
  • Other “wants”

Rules About The No-Spend Challenge: The Keys to Success

Remember when you said that most people who start the no-spend challenge would fail? The reason they failed is (usually) because they failed to plan.

Here are some tips that will help keep you on track.

Know About The Difference Between Needs and Wants

How often have you caught yourself saying, “I need a new bag. This wallet is falling apart.” Or “our bathroom is outdated. We need to redo it.”

The only real “needs” are basic food, clothing, shelter, transportation, and health care. Everything else is frozen.

Avoid Rationalization

When doing justification, you try to “explain” bad behavior. Sometimes the reasons I found may seem perfectly logical and correct. Most likely, they are just bad excuses wearing great reasons.

Suppose you made a mistake while daring not to spend and buy milk. Then rationalize the purchase by saying, “It was an emergency! If I hadn’t had some caffeine in a hurry, I would have slept while driving! ” or ” My blood sugar was low, and I probably ended up in the hospital if I didn’t get some sugar in me! ”

Either the “cause” of the grocery freeze breaking makes perfect sense (on the surface). After all, no one wants you to end up in an emergency over a $3 cup of coffee.

However, both crafty reasons are just convincing, weak excuses.

What is the chance you will end up in the hospital because you skipped a cup of coffee?

Instead of trying to justify your mistakes, you own them. Admit that you succumbed to a moment of weakness, then resume the challenge of not spending.

Whatever you do, don’t let these moments of vulnerability make you give up!


Planning For Success

If you plan to fail, you will. When it comes to committing to the challenge of not spending, a positive attitude can mean the difference between success and failure.

As the old song goes.

“You have to eat the positive. Get rid of the negativity. Stick to the affirmative. Don’t mess with Mr. Bean “…

Also, having an accountability partner (or two) will help keep you enthusiastic. That’s why telling your friends and family to freeze your groceries is a good idea.

So shout it from the rooftops!

After all, you might inspire someone else to start their no-spending challenge!

If You Fell Off The Wagon.

I never told you anything.

The best way to stay passionate about ending the no-spending challenge is to focus on something other than grocery shopping.

Distract yourself by working on a project you were putting in. Find ways to get more money instead of spending it:

  • Selling unused items
  • Activate spare change
  • Starting a side rant
  • Starting a blog
  • Using Ibotta to save money on groceries and toiletries

“Success is not final: failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue.” Winston Churchill

How Can I Stop Spending Money?

If you are a chronic spender, you should take steps to trick yourself out of spending.

For example, you may want to “freeze” your spending by freezing all your credit cards in a block of ice.

Also, consider suspending your Amazon Prime account or having someone else change your password as you participate in the challenge.

We often spend money for two reasons: out of habit or boredom.


Steps You Can Take To Break Bad Spending Habits:

  • Implement a 24-hour “quiet” period before making a purchase
  • Disgust yourself: add up all the money you spend each year on unnecessary purchases, note it down and record it on your wallet
  • Open your eyes to how the “coward” really lives. Are they overwhelmed by debt? On the verge of divorce? Self-healing?
  • Calculating the number of hours of work needed to pay for a particular item
  • Carrying an “emergency” bag with bottled water and snacks to avoid going through the car
  • Avoid window shopping
  • Using cash instead of cards

How Can I Freeze Spending when I have Children?

While it’s true that children (and their many activities) can throw a monkey wrench into our best budgeting efforts, it’s possible to succeed in challenging non-spending despite the little shocks.

Here’s how to do the no-spend challenge with children.

  1. Be honest.Tell kids early on that you will not spend money on anything extra, and explain why. You may also want to reassure them that the family is not “bankrupt” and that it is just a challenge you have decided to do.
  2. Get them on board.Kids like to be part of something bigger than themselves. If your children are old enough, upgrade them to “accountability buddy” status. Reward your child whenever they remind you not to spend money.


  1. Keep Them Entertained. Please. If you cancel your child’s paid activities, keep them busy with free entertainment. Some free ideas are: riding bikes, having a coloring contest, and playing board games together.
  2. Learn to say “no.”Rest assured that you will not cause any lasting psychological harm to your children by saying “no.” It may help them find creative (free) solutions to their problems.

What Should I Do With All The Money I Save?

While it is hard not to spend, list everything you want to buy (but have yet to). At the end of the challenge, I turned the money I had saved into a separate savings account or used it to pay off debts.

The challenge rules and unspent tips have helped you start freezing your spending so you can save more money for the things that matter to you!

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