During a no spend month challenge you vow to spend no money outside of your essential bills and necessities. Doing a no spend challenge month can save you money but it will also test your creativity. You’ll need to come up with no spend challenge ideas and activities to keep yourself busy.

This list of 100 no spend challenge ideas will give you a jumpstart on things to do for free during your challenge.

By cutting out your normal luxuries from your spending you can reset your spending habits, save money faster, and achieve your financial goals more quickly.

No Spend Month Challenge Printable PDF - Stop Spending Money Pennies Not Perfection
No Spend Month Challenge Printable

What Is A No Spend Challenge?

What is a no spend month? Why would anyone do a financial challenge like this? What are the rules for a no spend challenge?

A no spend challenge is simply a challenge to not spend any extra during a set amount of time. The most common length of a no spend challenge is one month but you can also do other time periods. During the no spend time frame you cut out all luxuries and extra spending and only allow the basic expenses.

Doing this type of money challenge allows you to save a lot of money since you won’t be spending like normal. For many people it can also break bad habits and unconscious spending.

Why Do A No Spend Challenge?

Most people have a strong WHY behind doing a no spend challenge.

Many people do no spend challenges for reasons like the following:

  • Putting more money toward paying off debt
  • Quickly saving up to pay for a big upcoming expense
  • Resetting your spending habits after a period of overspending
  • Building up an emergency fund
  • Building up a savings buffer to get ahead on expenses so you can live on last month’s income
  • Paying off the mortgage faster with a lump sum payment
  • Finally achieving debt freedom

These are all great reasons people do no spend challenges.

You may be doing it for one of these reasons or one completely unique to your situation!

Can This Actually Be Fun?

Unfortunately no spend months get a bad rap as being no fun, but there are plenty of ways to have fun without spending money!

I’ve shared a list of 50 things to do without spending before and today I’m sharing 100 fun no spend challenge ideas you can implement. These will help you stay busy and have fun without spending money.

Even if none of these ideas sounds appealing, remember that you’ll save a lot of money during the no spend month. Saving money can be fun because it will allow you to do fun things in the future!

100 Fun No Spend Challenge Ideas

If you’re planning to do a no spend month, make sure you plan to have a lot of fun activities scheduled for the month! Making a list of no spend challenge ideas to pull out during the month makes it easier to complete the challenge.

Having lots of free activities planned during your no spend challenge gives you little time to miss the things you normally spend money on each month.

The key step to having a great no spend weekend is planning. You’ll need to plan around old habits and fill up your time with free activities.

Below you will find a list of 100 things to do on a no spend weekend or any weekend when you don’t want to spend money.  

  1. Family movie night
  2. Binge watch a show on Netflix
  3. Go camping outside, even just the backyard
  4. Start a gratitude journal
  5. Play board games
  6. Hike local trails
  7. Listen to a new podcast
  8. Read a book
  9. Learn a new language with free resources
  10. Walk in the park
  11. Go to the playground
  12. Walk around your neighborhood
  13. Start a side hustle
  14. Play games on your phone
  15. Build an indoor fort
  16. Have a fun dance party
  17. Play with your kids and their toys
  18. Visit a local farmer’s market and just browse
  19. Visit the library
  20. Set a goal or vision for the year with your partner
  21. Plan a date night or four
  22. Plan a future trip with your family
  23. Walk dogs at the animal shelter or local rescue
  24. Have a garage sale to declutter and make money
  25. Deep clean your house
  26. Declutter your belongings throughout the house
  27. Play in the garden or backyard
  28. Take surveys (you can earn money for this!)
  29. Take a long nap or two
  30. Inventory your pantry and meal plan
  31. Tackle something on your to do list
  32. Start a blog by writing some blog posts
  33. Practice yoga with free videos
  34. Go for a bike ride
  35. Go for a run through a new neighborhood
  36. Bake cookies from scratch
  37. Have a picnic and eat lunch outside
  38. Create a scrapbook of a time period
  39. Volunteer locally
  40. Make coffee at home and invite a friend over
  41. Explore a new to you part of your city
  42. Take a hot bath and relax
  43. Write a kind note to someone
  44. Write emails to people praising something they have done
  45. People watch in a crowded place
  46. Watch the stars at night in a secluded place
  47. Attend a free festival
  48. Rearrange all your furniture at home
  49. Have a craft night
  50. Attend a free class at your local store or library
  51. Watch some exercise dance videos on youtube
  52. Organize your stockpile of supplies
  53. Lay in the sun for vitamin D exposure
  54. Collect rocks
  55. Take photographs around your city
  56. Go geocaching in your city
  57. Plan a staycation for your city in the future
  58. Cuddle on the couch under a blanket
  59. Call a friend you haven’t talked to in a while
  60. Set up a video hangout with friends or family far away
  61. Host a neighborhood potluck to get to know your neighbors
  62. Attend a free church function
  63. Attend church on Sunday morning
  64. Have a home spa day to treat your body
  65. Read a book you’ve been wanting to read
  66. Read a book too your kids
  67. Play with bubbles outside
  68. Make a budget for planning your next paycheck
  69. Find more ways to save money
  70. Write out your goals for the rest of the year
  71. Tour a local museum with free entry
  72. Watch educational videos on YouTube
  73. Learn how to make YouTube videos for money
  74. Visit your family and catch up with each other
  75. Collect recipe ideas for meals on Pinterest
  76. Plan out a remodel with a Pinterest board
  77. Make a vision board to represent your goals
  78. Host a themed dinner party
  79. Rewatch your favorite movie
  80. Listen to a free audio book with a trial membership
  81. Have a themed movie marathon
  82. Research a topic that interests you online
  83. Have a tea party at your house
  84. Play an instrument (or start learning how)
  85. Challenge your brain with online games and puzzles
  86. Play lawn games with what you have already
  87. Do something artistic or try coloring pages
  88. Try doing as many pushups and squats as you can
  89. Learn how to be more frugal
  90. Learn a new skill
  91. Teach your kids a new skill
  92. Go fishing if you have the supplies
  93. Clean out the garage
  94. Go fly a kite
  95. Write a letter to a friend or loved one
  96. Clean out your email inbox to hit inbox zero
  97. Make a video with your smartphone
  98. Find a nice place to watch a sunset
  99. Go on a mural hunt and find the murals in your city
  100. Attend a free fitness class at a local church

Those are just 100 no spend challenge ideas that can help you fill up your time during the month in order to stop spending money and feel good!

My No Spend Challenge Month Experience

In January 2020, I decided to do my first no spend month challenge.

I set my own rules, exemptions, and guidelines based on what I thought would work best for our life that month but also giving up enough to make sure it would save money.

Challenge Rules

The only real rules of a no spend challenge are:

  1. Set your own no spend challenge rules.
  2. Follow the rules you set for the entire time.

You can see this in my no spend month setup where I set my own rules regarding our spending.

My No Challenge Month Set Up

For my no spend challenge I decided to leave our grocery budget alone but slashed these categories:

  • eating out money
  • my personal money
  • all extra luxuries

It was as bare bones as I could go without also adding in a grocery challenge/pantry challenge. For us that was a big enough challenge!

Challenge Results

After a month I was pretty thrilled with the results and everything I learned from my no spend challenge.

My No Spend Challenge Month Recap

During my no spend month I realized that there was plenty of room for improvement.

I found lots of little daily expenses that weren’t expensive but definitely occurred without much thought. Even by adding in many free activities during my no spend challenge I had to fight the urge to spend money freely. It also was a challenge to think up no spend challenge ideas since I didn’t give myself a long enough list to start.

Lessons Learned

I learned several lessons from my no spend challenge:

  1. No spend challenges are very effective. Regardless of whether you like them or not, they work. We definitely saved money during our nor spend challenge.
  2. No spend challenges are useful for short term goals. These challenges work best for short term goals. If you want to save up money very quickly then it can be effective. However, it is not a way of life most people can sustain long term.
  3. Cutting spending is effective but you can only cut so much. You can only cut so much spending out before you are left with nothing else to cut. While spending challenges are effective, they can only be so effective due to the nature of cutting expenses.
  4. I’m happier increasing income than cutting expenses. Due to my personality, I like earning money. I prefer creating extra income more than working to minimize expenses. That is why I’m planning to work on increasing income with side hustles and online businesses more than cutting expenses. I still plan to be mindful of spending. But my main focus? I will spend my time earning more money on YouTube and making money on Etsy.

Overall I found the no spend challenge to be effective but not something I’ve implemented over and over. This is mostly due to preference and personality type because the challenge does work.

Tips For Completing Your Challenge

If you are thinking of giving a no spend month a try, here are are few tips:

  • Take an inventory before you begin the month.
  • Use a no spend challenge printable to organize your rule and goals.
  • Plan your meals. Look into ways to use the items you already have.
  • Find free fun activities in your area.
  • Make a list of free things to do that you can do during your no spend challenge.
  • Get creative in the kitchen with leftovers and pantry items.
  • Play around with ways to increase your income with side hustles without spending money.
  • Tell other people about your no spend month for extra accountability.
  • Learn frugal living habits that help people live well without spending money.
  • Make sure the whole family is on board with the plan and why behind why you are doing a no spend month.

No Spend Challenge Printables

When I was doing my no spend month during January, I used my free time to create printables that made the process more fun for me. Without shopping or eating out during the no spend month I had a lot of time to get creative and think about how different worksheets and techniques could help me get the most out of a no spend month.

Printables have been the easiest way for me to get organized in order to accomplish my goals during a challenge like a no spend month.

No Spend Month Challenge Printable PDF - Stop Spending Money Pennies Not Perfection
No Spend Month Challenge Printable

When I started the no spend month month I had just the basics – a no spend month tracker with the rules and exemptions and guidelines.

And I also had a no spend month recap page that would be waiting for me to fill out at the end of the no spend month.

During the month of my no spend challenge I really thought about the things I was trying to accomplish during my no spend month and how I could create tools to help myself and others achieve it.

My goals for the month were to cut back on spending of course but to also reset my spending habits. That meant working on finding free things to do and ways to make it more fun.

No Spend Month Challenge Printable PDF Spending Control - Pennies Not Perfection
No Spend Month Challenge Printable

I made myself lists of no spend activities, no spend bingo cards to fill out, and lists to make things more fun.