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.
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.
- Family movie night
- Binge watch a show on Netflix
- Go camping outside, even just the backyard
- Start a gratitude journal
- Play board games
- Hike local trails
- Listen to a new podcast
- Read a book
- Learn a new language with free resources
- Walk in the park
- Go to the playground
- Walk around your neighborhood
- Start a side hustle
- Play games on your phone
- Build an indoor fort
- Have a fun dance party
- Play with your kids and their toys
- Visit a local farmer’s market and just browse
- Visit the library
- Set a goal or vision for the year with your partner
- Plan a date night or four
- Plan a future trip with your family
- Walk dogs at the animal shelter or local rescue
- Have a garage sale to declutter and make money
- Deep clean your house
- Declutter your belongings throughout the house
- Play in the garden or backyard
- Take surveys (you can earn money for this!)
- Take a long nap or two
- Inventory your pantry and meal plan
- Tackle something on your to do list
- Start a blog by writing some blog posts
- Practice yoga with free videos
- Go for a bike ride
- Go for a run through a new neighborhood
- Bake cookies from scratch
- Have a picnic and eat lunch outside
- Create a scrapbook of a time period
- Volunteer locally
- Make coffee at home and invite a friend over
- Explore a new to you part of your city
- Take a hot bath and relax
- Write a kind note to someone
- Write emails to people praising something they have done
- People watch in a crowded place
- Watch the stars at night in a secluded place
- Attend a free festival
- Rearrange all your furniture at home
- Have a craft night
- Attend a free class at your local store or library
- Watch some exercise dance videos on youtube
- Organize your stockpile of supplies
- Lay in the sun for vitamin D exposure
- Collect rocks
- Take photographs around your city
- Go geocaching in your city
- Plan a staycation for your city in the future
- Cuddle on the couch under a blanket
- Call a friend you haven’t talked to in a while
- Set up a video hangout with friends or family far away
- Host a neighborhood potluck to get to know your neighbors
- Attend a free church function
- Attend church on Sunday morning
- Have a home spa day to treat your body
- Read a book you’ve been wanting to read
- Read a book too your kids
- Play with bubbles outside
- Make a budget for planning your next paycheck
- Find more ways to save money
- Write out your goals for the rest of the year
- Tour a local museum with free entry
- Watch educational videos on YouTube
- Learn how to make YouTube videos for money
- Visit your family and catch up with each other
- Collect recipe ideas for meals on Pinterest
- Plan out a remodel with a Pinterest board
- Make a vision board to represent your goals
- Host a themed dinner party
- Rewatch your favorite movie
- Listen to a free audio book with a trial membership
- Have a themed movie marathon
- Research a topic that interests you online
- Have a tea party at your house
- Play an instrument (or start learning how)
- Challenge your brain with online games and puzzles
- Play lawn games with what you have already
- Do something artistic or try coloring pages
- Try doing as many pushups and squats as you can
- Learn how to be more frugal
- Learn a new skill
- Teach your kids a new skill
- Go fishing if you have the supplies
- Clean out the garage
- Go fly a kite
- Write a letter to a friend or loved one
- Clean out your email inbox to hit inbox zero
- Make a video with your smartphone
- Find a nice place to watch a sunset
- Go on a mural hunt and find the murals in your city
- 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.
The only real rules of a no spend challenge are:
- Set your own no spend challenge rules.
- 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.
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!
After a month I was pretty thrilled with the results and everything I learned from my no spend challenge.
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.
I learned several lessons from my no spend challenge:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
I made myself lists of no spend activities, no spend bingo cards to fill out, and lists to make things more fun.
Mary is the founder of Pennies Not Perfection where she shares her journey to build wealth through online income. She quit her day job in 2021 after she paid off her debt and doubled her 9-5 salary.
Mary's favorite free financial tool is Personal Capital. She uses their free tools to track net worth and work toward to financial freedom.