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What is a "No Spend Month" and Can You do it?

Updated on August 28, 2009

Have you ever heard of a "No Spend Month"? It is becoming increasingly popular among bloggers all over the world. I have done it twice now and it is such a refreshing change, that I am planning on doing it again in September. I have no idea who originally thought up the concept and the first time I did it, it was not a planned idea that I had heard somewhere and prepared for. It was out of necessity to pay a $1200 dental bill. In order to cover the bill, for five weeks I allowed myself $25 each week for food and other than basic bills we saved all our money for the dental bill.

The next year when I noticed some of our savings areas were pretty low, I decided to declare a no spend month and stash all extra money into savings. It worked very well! This year I am declaring a no spend month for two reasons. The first is because I want to save money. The second is because I am sick and tired of spending money. I finally have all the kids off to school, but the few weeks prior to school starting I did nothing but run around and spend money on lots of random little things they needed. I don't like this habit and I am tired of going to the store, so as of September 1st, I won't be going.

There are some general guidelines to having a no spend month. First, no stockpiling like crazy on August 31st. That would defeat the purpose right? A goal of mine is to reduce some of my stockpile. Having found a few too many great deals lately, I can barely fit anything into my freezer. It is time to dig to the bottom and use up the old stuff.

Secondly, figure out what you can spend money on. In a month's time you know you will have bills to pay. Chances are pretty good that you will have to put gas in your car. For us, those are non-negotiable. I do allow myself a small amount of money for the month to get any must have's and to purchase milk, eggs, and fresh fruit and veggies. We do try to use up what we have, but realistically we aren't able to go a month without fresh stuff and milk. The first time I did this I gave myself $25 a week. The next time I did this I gave myself $200 for the entire month to cover anything at all that might come up. This is what I am doing this time too. If we need stamps it will come from this amount. It a child wants to go to a football game they can pay their own way or it will come from this $200. All food items will be bought with this $200. Your amount might be different and that is fine. But make it a challenge or it won't work for you.

Third, have a plan. If you are like some people I know that keep very little food in their house, then not spending money on food for a month won't work. We can't have people going hungry. Maybe you want to have food be off limits for this challenge. That is fine. Declare a no spend month on clothing, eating out, toiletries, etc. You will still save money. But you need to realistically have a plan in place for how the month will work. Figure out how you will handle specific situations ahead of time, like a child's birthday party, and then stick with it.

Fourth, pick a month that will work for you. If you garden it might be wise to pick a month when the garden is still producing. In the past I have done November and October. This year I am doing September, because I know we will get lots of fresh veggies from my garden for free. If you have some large expenses coming up, you probably don't want to declare a no spend month for that month.

Fifth, no spending on anything frivilous.  Yes I am giving myself $200 for the month of September, but that doesn't mean I have to spend all of it.  I will spend the bare minimum to get us through the month.

Sixth, don't beat yourself up if the month doesn't go perfectly. Things happen, but do the best you can. Last year, on November 1st we went shoe shopping. You guessed it; the kids all needed new shoes by the end of October. I had not planned on dropping over $100 on shoes on November 1st, but life happened. Just do the best you can and I am sure something good will come of it. Not spending money certainly never hurt anybody. Good luck!


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    • John-Rose profile image

      John-Rose 5 years ago from USA

      I love it! I just can't do it yet, but that is still a great idea. Maby. Ext summer, because we do the garden thing as well. Love the hub!


    • Betty Reid profile image

      Betty Reid 7 years ago from Texas

      Wow, this is totally amazing! It's hard to get by on $200 even without kids.

    • mpurcell10 profile image

      mpurcell10 8 years ago from Arkansas

      What a wonderful idea. We have tried something like this and it did us some good. The first time we tried it we didn't tell the kids I have learned to tell them because it make it alot easier.

    • pennyhowington profile image

      pennyhowington 8 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Good idea! I wonder if I can get my family on board?

    • Kevin30 profile image

      Kevin30 8 years ago from Illinois

      I have had a no spend month as in $0 simply because there just wasn't any cash to spend!!!

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 8 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Discipline is so hard but so important.I will try this in our house. First sharing the link with my Hubby and Sonny Boy! Thanks for the novel suggestion. MM

    • The Rope profile image

      The Rope 8 years ago from SE US

      Thanks for your hubs, I hope you don't mind if I add a link on my latest hub. Check out #4 in my list of tricks so that you'll never again have to "dig to the bottom and use up the old stuff".

    • J Burgraff profile image

      J Burgraff 8 years ago

      Thanks for your hub. My greatest expense (aside from rent) right now is food since I don't have a garden and live in an urban area where the prices of food are high. My best investment has been a rice's amazing how many economical dishes can be made to go over rice.

    • Tracker Frost profile image

      Tracker Frost 8 years ago from Wyoming

      Having been laid off, every month is a "no spend month"...

    • Thamisgith profile image

      Thamisgith 8 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland

      Sounds like a great idea to me. My kids just went back to school so I know exactly what you mean about the amount of stuff you need to buy for them. It's incredible!

    • profile image

      valnat 8 years ago

      Jennifer thanks for the hub great news for my budget and will create improvements for my monthly expenses and decrease my spending will and increase my savings very practical saving not spending. Yes I can...

    • filthyscoundral profile image

      filthyscoundral 8 years ago

      I need to try this.

    • Ashley Joy profile image

      Ashley Joy 8 years ago

      This is a great idea! Now that my daughter is in college I could use a no spend month about every other month.

    • stuart747 profile image

      stuart747 8 years ago from Colchester, Essex, UK

      A very good hub which sounds like it is worth a try, I have come across this website that you can type in ingredients that are left in your fridge/cupboards, and see what recipes include them.

    • profile image

      Peter conn 8 years ago

      I enjoyed reading your article.. Thanks jennifer.

    • The Rising Glory profile image

      The Rising Glory 8 years ago from California

      Very interesting concept, not sure if I can do it :) so I think I will focus on increased income to make up the difference. It makes life more fun....but discipline is a very good thing also

    • Solorya profile image

      Solorya 8 years ago from Oklahoma

      We did this the month of July and it worked great! My husband and I are both competitive and to us it really became a challenge to see how far we could maket things stretch. We're starting Dave Ramsey's Baby Steps and needed to get that reserve of money for emergencies--we did it in 3 weeks! Would highly recommend this to anyone!

    • shawna.wilson profile image

      shawna.wilson 8 years ago from Arizona

      I love this idea and can't wait to try it. We're on a VERY tight budget, so I don't know how much I'll save because we're already so limited, but it will be neat to see what happens. Thanks!

    • emievil profile image

      emievil 8 years ago from Philippines

      Hmmm, this gives me an idea for "no spend" month. How about "no eating out for one month" or "no ice cream for one month" or something to this effect. I like your hub because what you put here can be realistically done by anybody. Thanks for the hub!

    • Shelly McRae profile image

      Shelly McRae 8 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Great hub, Jennifer. A good approach to learning how to be thrifty with your money and use resources at hand.

    • jayb23 profile image

      jayb23 8 years ago from India

      Wow, I wish I can think of a no spend month. All the best for your task. Im sure you will be able to carry out with elan

    • Nemingha profile image

      Nemingha 8 years ago

      I am definitely going to give this a try!

    • artrush73 profile image

      artrush73 8 years ago

      it's a great way to save money :)

      Very interesting Hub, thanks for sharing Jennifer

    • profile image

      JOYE 510 8 years ago

      This is a great idea. In this economy, it's good practice to prepare for lean times. Just figuring out what is necessary spending vs. luxury spending is beneficial. Thanks for sharing!

    • Glenn Frank profile image

      Glenn Frank 8 years ago from Southern California

      Hmmm... I might be able to try this. I already try to ride my "Trike" (think "bike"... but three wheels) to work once or twice a week. I could either negate the need to buy gas or minimize it.

    • evelynsaenz profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 8 years ago from Vermont

      With vegetables from the garden and going to bed when the sun goes down I would love to see if this is possible. Maybe we will try this next summer.

    • Aya Katz profile image

      Aya Katz 8 years ago from The Ozarks

      Jennifer, this is a great idea! However, "no spend" is a little bit of a misnomer, since you do spend a small amount even in the month in question. So it's more like "no splurge"!

      What would a real "no spend month" look like? It might mean that you ate only from food you had grown or hunted and you had no utility bills because you were off the grid!

      I have to admit, I haven't achieved that yet, either. But it's something to work toward!