How To Succeed With A No Spend January Challenge To Save Money

It’s that time of year again. The time when you are tempted to buy things just because it is the new year. Because there are sales galore and everyone else seems to be doing it.

So this January, instead of buying things impulsively, try the no spend January challenge.

No spend January has been trending in recent years with people who want to have more control over their finances. It can help us become less materialistic and more mindful about our spending habits. Especially at this time of year.

Christmas always ends up costing more than you planned. You’ve got credit card debt you want rid of. It’s the new year and you want a fresh start.

When we spend money on items that don’t bring us joy, then we are not really living large – at least not in my book.

What is no spend january?

A no spend January is a month-long period where you commit to not spending any money on unnecessary items. You can still pay your essential monthly expenses and shop for essentials.
But no buying clothes, or going out with friends or any other non-essential spending.

What’s the purpose of doing a no spend January challenge?

A no spend January challenge is a great way to jump start the new year and your plans to save money.

Christmas invariably cost more than you expected. And now you face paying off the debt you’ve built up from too much Christmas fun.

January really is the perfect month to spend time on your finances and create new savings goals.

It helps us become aware of our spending habits. It can be a real eye opener for many people who are not really mindful about their money until they experience this type of challenge.

How Can I succeed with a no spend January Challenge?

Like any challenge, you want to prepare ahead before doing it. This includes setting some rules and creating a budget.

It’s important that the whole family be on board as well because chances are, they will try to convince you out of your challenge.

This also includes the kids. Explain to them why this challenge is important and how it can help everyone save a lot of money.

Since we are limiting ourselves from buying unnecessary items, try to spend more time with your family or friends instead. Have a night out or in, but without spending out on food or drinks!

It’s easy to fall off the wagon when we see the after Christmas sales and tempting deals. If you want to succeed with a no spend January challenge then stay away from malls, websites or any place that will tempt you into buying unnecessary things.

Benefits of completing a no spend challenge

Now if you’re wondering how beneficial a no spend challenge is, here are just some of the benefits that you will get from completing one:

  1. You will save money, a lot more money.
  2. You can top up your emergency fund (which often gets dipped into during December)
  3. It helps reduce stress and anxiety because we don’t have to think about money all the time.
  4. You have a no spend month where your primary aim is to save money and get better at all things personal finance.
  5. You become more mindful about what your budget really gets spent on and what brings real joy to your life.
  6. It can help build better relationships because you will have more quality time with your friends and family instead of too much time devoted to shopping or dining out.
  7. It can be a chance to start making healthier choices because you will learn how it feels like not to rely on fast food when hunger strikes in the middle of the day!
Woman and man holding piggy banks to show the no spend January challenge.
No spend January is the perfect cure for Christmas overspending

How can i go a month without spending money?

There are many ways you can approach your challenge, but it is important that you have a plan in place before beginning so you don’t run into any problems along the way. This typically means, making a budget and then sticking to it.

Your month without spending money isn’t truly about spending nothing at all. It’s about only paying for things that are a neccessity, essential for you to get through the month and to stick to your commitments. Thinking of it like that makes it much easier to complete a no-spend month.

Another way to succeed with no spending is to create a list of items that are non-negotiable, meaning things that you need to pay for no matter what – this includes bills for example.

Everything else should fall under your “wants” category. A category that wil remain unused for this spend-free month.

All that is required to be successful at succeeding on a no spending challenge is commitment and dedication!

Related posts:

7 Things To Do At The Beginning Of Every Month For Your Money

9 Short Term Financial Goals To Set For Success

6 Medium Term Financial Goals You Should Have

11 Long Term Financial Goals You Should Have

how do I get ready for a no spend january?

Before you start your no spend January, it’s sensible to take a little time to plan out how you are going to achieve not buying anything unnecessary for the next month. Some things that you can do to get ready include:

Set a budget. Write down all the essential expenses that you have for the month. These would include your mortgage, insurances and monthly utility bills.

Complete an inventory of your food cupboards as this will give you an idea of what not to buy at the grocery store.

Create a meal plan for the month ahead and write down what ingredients are needed so you won’t be tempted to eat out when hunger strikes.

Limit your access to credit cards so you won’t be tempted to use it on things that aren’t really important or necessary for you. Use the cash envelope system instead.

Pre-warn friends that you will not be going out during January. Don’t let them influence you to go out and spend any money on things like food, drinks or activities.

Think about what you might do to replace the time you would otherwise have spent going out, shopping at the mall etc. Check out this post of mine on 99 productive things to do when you have no money.

If you need help, find someone who can support your no spend challenge and keep you accountable like a family member or friend.

Vector of woman growing a money tree.
Follow the rules for the no spend January challenge to save the most money

Basic rules for spending money during a no spend january

You can of course set your own rules about exactly what you can spend money on. But here are some general rules that you can follow during a no spend January so you will have an easier time sticking to it:

Things you can spend money on:

  • all essentials
  • basic monthly bills
  • mortgage/rent
  • essential travel (transportation costs to and from work)
  • insurances
  • student loans
  • essential groceries (but use your pantry first!)
  • debt repayments

Related posts:

7 Golden Money Rules To Embrace in Life

10 Powerfully Smart Budgeting Tips For Beginners

How To Successfully Budget as A Single Woman

What about food? What can I eat during my no spend January?

What you can’t or shouldn’t eat is any meals out, any takeouts, lunch bought for work, coffee and cake at your local deli. You get the picture.

In addition, given you are trying to buy as little as possible, you may decide, like many others, that you will eat from your pantry and food cupboards first.

Instead of buying food for meals you feel like making, plan your meals around the food you have already got in your cupboards.

This way you can keep you grocery bill really low and save more money.

What you shouldn’t spend money on during your no spend challenge

Your focus is about seeing how much money you can save for one calendar month. So your plan is to not spend any money on anything that isn’t truly essential.

Things not to buy during your no spend january:

  • anything and everything that is a want not a necessity
  • going out
  • eating out or grabbing takeaway
  • coffees to go
  • lunch at work
  • new clothes
  • shoes
  • nice to have toiletries
  • make-up
  • Salon visits for beauty treatments inc nails and hair
  • Entertainment and activities that cost money
Grey money bag against a pink background
A no spend challenge doesn’t mean a no do challenge!

Things to do instead of spending money

To go from regularly paying out on activities, meals out and new clothes to suddenly not doing any of them can easily make you feel deprived. Even though it’s your idea!

To make your month more enjoyable think about how you could be spending time doing other things instead.

  • Investigate free activities in your local area
  • Play some traditional board games with your partner
  • Go through your clothes closet and pull out the items you know you really are never going to wear and give them away
  • Set a savings goal for how much you want to save this month
  • Set up a separate bank account and pay all the savings you make directly into it

How much could I save doing no spend January?

It all depends on how much you don’t spend this month compared to what you usually do.

If you usually spend $250 in any given month on entertainment, then that’s $250 saved because you’re going to be looking for free and fun stuff to do instead.

If you normally budget for $300 on eating out there that’s another $300 saved.

If you pay $200 on clothes and other stuff then successfully completing your challenge gives you that money back to throw at your debt or any other ideas you might have for it.

Realistically you could easily save upwards of $500, in just one month! That’s got to be worth a few sacrifices hasn’t it?

If your target is to save $1000 then head over to my post on how to save 1000 in a month for lots of helpful tips.

What are the rewards for completing a no spending challenge?

Keeping your cash in your wallet the entire month is a pretty big challenge and there won’t be many people who can say they’ve done it.

So if you’re tempted to give up, remind yourself of the rewards that you will actually enjoy at the end of this no spend January:

  • Extra cash to pay down any debt such as credit card bills, personal loans or your mortgage
  • The confidence boost of knowing you’ve done something difficult and succeeded at it!
  • You will feel really good about yourself for breaking some of the bad habits you’ve developed
  • You’ll feel proud of yourself and all your hard work.

So when family and co-workers ask why on earth you are doing nothing fun this month and tell you how hard it’s going to be, just smile and think about all the money in your pocket.

What are some pitfalls that I should look out for during my no spend January?

Even the most motivated people can struggle with this challenge. It’s normal to feel tempted, bored or discouraged. So keep these things in mind when you’re starting to waver:

If you’re feeling tempted to splurge:

  1. Remind yourself of the real reasons why you want this, and how it can really help your life in a big way.
  2. Remember that every $100 you save is $100 more towards debt or savings goals
  3. Don’t get bored! Keep active, find free things to do every day

Instead of thinking about what you cannot buy during no spend January, think about all the things that you won’t spend any money on that will allow you to save instead. You can use that saved cash for a trip, invest in your future or just splurge.

Womand man holding wads of money to show no spend january challenge.
Complete the no spend January challenge, no need for a 52 week saving challenge!

what is a no spend month?

A no spend month is a period of time where you commit to not spending any money on unnecessary items. The aim is to spend no money on anything that is not a necessity.

The point of not spending for a whole month is to give you some time without the daily distractions of mindlessly spending. So that you can plan ahead and kickstart your financial goals.

There are many benefits of doing a no-spend challenge, especially if it’s done along with other no-spend strategies.

Note: no spend January is a no spending challenge based around the new year that lasts for one month, but there are other no-spend challenges available too.

What is a no spend week?

A no spend week is a great way to start cutting back on your spending and saving some money. A week is a good enough length of time to feel the difference to your everyday habits.

No coffees, no lunch out at work. No Saturday nights out. You can save a decent chunk of change in just a week if you put your mind to it.

What are no spend days?

No spend days are like no spend weeks but they only last for a day. They are perfect for dipping your toe in the water of challenging yourself not to purchase anything for a set period.

What is a no spend year?

A no spend year is the ultimate no spend challenge and not for the faint-hearted. It is a whole year where you don’t buy anything that isn’t essential.

You budget purely for your essential expenses and groceries. But no going out with friends or having a vacation that costs anything.

Other no spend and money saving challenges you might like:

How To Save 10000 In 6 Months: 7 Tips For Success

How To Save 10000 in A Year, And Some!

How To Rock The 100 Envelope Money Challenge

How To Complete The 200 Envelope Challenge: Save $5100!

How To Do The 50 Envelope Challenge: Save $1275 In 50 Weeks

Vector of piggy bank with a tight belt around it to signify no spend January challenge.
How to do no spend January – it’s about your plans your rules

Get planning your no spend challenge today

If you are looking for a new way to save money, then the no spend January challenge is a perfect fit. It’s a fantastic opportunity to give your finances the reset they deserve.

This is not so much about being cheap as it is about saving money and changing your spending habits. It’s also an excellent opportunity to find creative ways to have fun without spending any of that hard earned cash!

If you’re looking for ways to cut back on expenses or want to start saving more, consider taking on the no spend January as part of your New Year’s resolutions.

Start taking back control of your money by grabbing your copy of the Money Saving Starter Guide today.


Come and follow me on Pinterest for more money saving hints and frugal tips!

Pinterest image for no spend January challenge.
Pinterest image for no spend January challenge.

Last Updated on 24th March 2022 by Emma

About Emma

I'm here to help you become confident in making the best money decisions for you and your family. Frugal living has changed my life, let me help you change yours.

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