The No Spend Day Challenge


What is a No Spend Day?

If you have spent any time on the Internet reading about personal finance and frugality, you’ve probably come across the notion of the “No Spend Day.” This is an activity that many people who are trying to reduce their debt, improve their finances, and just figure out where their money is going attempt to do to get a better view of how they spend money. The concept is really quite simple. Instead of going about your normal everyday spending, choose a day and attempt not to spend any money during that day. No morning coffee at the local coffee shop on the way to work, no late morning snack or soda, no going out for lunch, and no quick stop at the store to buy things for dinner. Basically, the goal is to not spend a single penny the entire day.

No Spend Day

So, what does a No Spend Day accomplish? The results will vary from person to person, especially depending on where you are in your budget process, but it has the potential to teach you a lot a lot about money management and your personal views on handling money. Here are a some of the things that a No Spend Day can accomplish:

Financial Insight

The first thing it will do is give you some basic insight into how you have been spending your money. Most of us purchase things without giving the purchase a second thought. By doing a No Spend Day, there should be a number of instances when you catch yourself about to spend money, but you have to stop yourself from doing it. This is a great time to reflect on the purchase, why it was being made and whether it really was something that was worth purchasing. By not being able to spend, you should gain insight into how you have been spending up until that point that you can’t get by simply making a list of things you do and don’t buy. There seems to be a much more profound realization when you stop a purchase when it actually is about to take place rather than thinking about it in your head.

Daily Leaks

Taking a No Spend Day challenge can help you find some of the daily leaks that you may have not noticed. Most people who begin a budget do their best to figure out where all their money is going, but often fail to account for a lot of the small purchases that they make. This is often because these small purchases are made without a lot of thought and are immediately forgotten. No Spend Days are a way to find what these daily leaks may be because you’re forced to think about them when you’re no longer able to automatically make them. For example, if you are making a $1 snack purchase at work in the afternoons that you never really thought about, that one forgotten daily purchase comes to over $250 in spending throughout the year.

Improved Financial Creativity

An important aspect to personal finances is learning to be creative. A No Spend Day can go a long way to helping your creativity in this area by forcing the issue. When you aren’t allowed to spend any money during the day, there are going to be instances where you’re going to have to think of creative ways to do what you want to do without spending any money. For example, if your car is low on gas but you need to go somewhere, can you get to where you want to go by other means of transportation such as a bike? If you are bored and you want to be entertained, what forms of entertainment can you find without costing any money? By not being able to spend any money, you force yourself into a situation where you have to be creative to get things done during the day without spending a cent.

Improved Organization

If you decide to do No Spend Days on a regular basis, you’ll find that your organization becomes better. When you can’t do the things that you would normally do because you’re not allowed to spend any money, your natural reaction will be to become more organized so that you don’t run into problems. For example, if you decide to do a No Spend Day each week, you’ll quickly learn to make sure that you organize your weekly grocery shopping so that you have all of the ingredients you need for all the meals you plan to make that week. This is because you won’t be able to run down to the store to buy something that you have forgotten if it happens to be a No Spend Day. No Spend Days make you think through purchases that need to be made in advance, rather than purchasing things when you happen to think about them.

Changed Habits

No Spend Days challenge the daily habits that you have made up to that point. When you don’t have to think about spending money, you can often get into habits where you spend money without thinking about it. Once you’re in the position where those daily habits are challenged, you’re in a position to actually change the habit. If you have a habit of buying a daily cup of coffee each morning, that habit is going to continue unabated until there is a reason to question it. A No Spend Day is the impetus that will challenge that daily habit because you won’t be able to do it on that day. This will allow you time to think about whether that purchase is really necessary and whether it is a habit that is worth changing. Not all habits will be ones that you feel are worth changing, but there probably will be some that you will end up changing that would never have without the No Spend Day.

Free Alternatives

One of the greatest advantages of doing No Spend Days is that it helps you find numerous free alternatives to things that used to cost you money. A great example of this is entertainment costs. Most people spend quite a bit of money trying to keep themselves entertained. This could be shopping, going to the movies, or any other activity that costs money. When you commit to a No Spend Day, you have to come up with entertainment alternatives that don’t cost anything. What many people will find is that just because something doesn’t cost any money, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s any less enjoyable. By learning about all the free alternatives to things that you used to spend money on, you have put yourself in a wonderful position to reduce the cost of this area in your budget.

Deemphasization Of Money

Money is emphasized by society quite a bit on a daily basis. A No Spend Day takes spending money out of the equation so that it’s deemphasized, at least for that day. With money being such a central part of most people’s daily activities, it’s important to step back and realize that money is simply a tool and shouldn’t be the actual focus. By learning that there are many things that can be done during the day without the need of money, a No Spend Day puts a much better perspective on what money is all about.

Improved Money Skills

An extremely important benefit of a No Spend Day is that it forces you to improve your money skills. While it seems a little odd that not spending money would help improve your money skills, that is exactly what No Spend Days will do. Since you aren’t able to spend any money on that particular day, you must use your financial skills to figure out how to get all the things that need to be done during the day without spending any money. This in turn will help you a great deal when you do have money, but need to make it last as long as possible. By learning skills of how to do things without the use of money, you put yourself in a much better position to make the most of the money that you do have to spend.

More Purchase Thought

No Spend Days also have the benefit of helping you put more thought into the purchases that you make. By making you aware of what you are spending money on, you have time to critically think about whether the purchase is necessary, useful and worth it. The No Spend Day makes you take a step back and look at the purchase in a different way. This can be an extremely useful skill if you can get into the habit of using it even on the days that you can spend money. By putting more thought into the purchases that you do make, you’ll likely find that you’re buying less, and getting more out of the things that you do ultimately purchase.

Stepping Stone To Better Budgets

What it all comes down to is that a No Spend Day is a good, solid stepping stone to a better overall budget. It makes you think in ways that you would not have thought otherwise which can result in you taking on a completely different perspective of the purchases that you do make. Once you are in a position to look at your budget in a way that shows what you have been spending money on and watch which things may not be necessary, you have built the foundation that can help you create a budget that will work for you. The more information you can get about how you spend and why you spend the way you do, the better position you will be to make your budget a success.

3 Responses to The No Spend Day Challenge

  1. Minny says:

    So true, getting into a ‘no spend day’ habit has all the benefits you discuss. There are so many ways our money ‘leaks’ out, the more of those leaks we can block the more money for other things.

  2. Gail says:

    I have a lot of no spend days during the week because I generally don’t go out of the house except to shop when needed. We try to run all errands a the same time, but I’m on disability and hubby is self-employed and works from home so much easier to have no spend days. I’ve been known to forget that I actually have money in my purse of will hae the same couple of bills hanging out in my purse.

  3. JMK says:

    Great idea for anyone who’s normal day involves picking up coffee and meals any place they happen to be. Also great for the disorganized to force a total rethink. No more “there’s nothing at home to cook so let’s go out”.

    Suggestions of a no spend day make me smile because most of our days are no spend days. A normal “no spend day” ordinarily excludes things like mortgage and tax payments and automated utility payments, and focusses on the discressionary daily spending. On our spending plan (laid out a year in advance) includes automated mortgage, tax, insurance, utilities and the only discressionary spending is gas and groceries every week. Both are done on the weekend and that’s it for the entire week. We pack our lunches, take coffee from home and make dinner at home. A detour to any place I’d be able to spend money would actually be inconvenient. Between kids homework, DIY house projects, hiking/biking, reading, and some TV or a movie on DVD, we’re never in need of paid entertainment. If we do want to go out, most museums and galleries have a free or cheap day every month, so doing your research and being organized is key.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *