THIS chart helped curb my overspending habit-- I think it will help you too! Check it out, it makes saving much more fun! -S

6 Tips on Having a Successful No Spend Month

Whether you’re just starting out on your debt free journey, or you’re a veteran debt slayer, a no spend month is an effective way to hit the ‘reset’ button on your personal finances. 

Having a no spend month allows you to unearth your budgeting flaws, see what you truly need to survive and gives your savings a boost!

Here are 6 ways to have a successful no spend month!

1. Make your own rules

Typically, you already know where you have issues, especially if you’ve been doing a monthly budget for a while. While a lack of hard and fast rules can be frustrating to some, I find that it is freeing. So hear me out on this one...

The beauty behind no spend challenges is that you get to make up the no spend month rules! Trust yourself.  Go with where you know you have problems.

Make a list of what you want to accomplish and give yourself permission to spend or not to  spend on whatever you feel.

Make a list of all the habits (and shopping places!) you are trying to break up with. For me, this is usually Taco Bell, Amazon, and oh - more Amazon. 

2. Know your 'Why'

Establishing why you are doing a no spend month is important, because when you want to give up, this is what you will remember. This is the reason you will persevere.

Your why can’t just be to save more money or make money. While valid, those reasons will never last during hard times. Dig deep here. Do you want generational wealth?  Do you want to travel the world?  Do you want to get out of the stress of those “easy” monthly payment plans that are drowning you?  Do you want to send your family members to college? 

Or has COVID-19 scared you, and made you realize you wouldn’t survive one month because you are wholly dependent on your W2 job? 

My why is building a life where I am not dependent on my job for income, so I can follow my passions. 

That may be staying in a job I love, exiting a job I hate, or starting a new career that brings me joy. 

That may mean me and my daughter spend a month in Florida over the winter, enjoying snowbird life with my family. It will NOT mean waiting until age 65 to experience these opportunities.

To stress less, decrease anxiety, and live a slower, more present life with my daughter.

3. Start off small

If an entire month seems insurmountable, try a no spend week instead. Starting off small can ease you into a no spend month down the road.  It gives you a sneak peek into what will be more challenging over that longer duration.

Try locking up your debit cards or your cash envelopes where you won’t use them.  Try to go 6 days without spending on anything, outside of necessities.  Try leaving your debit card locked in your car, so you aren’t tempted to eat a lunch you did not pack at work. 

Remember, in most cases, it is smart to crawl before you walk, and to walk before you run.

4. Build in rewards

It’s easy to get burnt out on a no spend month -- that’s why you must build in rewards!  Even if they are small.

One of my favorites is going to get ice cream on each Friday of the month, or going for a beer at a local brewery.  It doesn’t have to be a $100 movie night or a shopping spree… just enough to reward you for hard work.

Notice my example above. I reward myself each week with a Starbucks latte. It’s so important to give yourself love during this challenge, so don’t skip this step or you may throw up your hands and go right back to  “adding to cart.”  

5. Challenge yourself

One of my biggest downfalls in my monthly budget is spending money on Amazon. I mean, all of the delivery drivers know my address.  

Therefore, during a no spend month, I will challenge myself to spend no money on Amazon.  

I even delete all of my payment options off of my account. This is really difficult, I won’t lie, however, flexing the self control muscle isn’t a bad idea when you’ve let your budget run amok. 

What do you have the most difficulty with in your budget? What would it look like if you took a break for a month?  What could you achieve if you DID NOT break this promise to you?  Really showed up for yourself.  I mean, it is only 30-ish days.  Do this for YOU.

6. Document the month

One of the best ways to enjoy your progress is to visually see it. There’s a reason why there are so many charts in the debt free community -- and it is why I created my no spend month calendar. 

Your goals and wins just hit differently when you can physically see how far you’ve come.  And it provides a little extra accountability when you post all your success and failures out there, for all to see. 

I challenge you to give August a no spend month try. I know I will be doing it!  So, come join me!  

Sarah Brandenberger is the founder of Nerds Guide To Financial Independence, a brand dedicated to showing that financial independence is possible through real estate investment. She began her debt free journey in 2017 and quickly became a voice for budgeting and personal finance information as she and her husband paid off over $100,000. They discovered real estate investing and now own four properties while help others towards the path of FI.