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no spend January challenge

The No-Spend January Challenge

One of the best ways you can start the new year off right financially is with a no-spend January challenge! Are you game?

With the holidays now firmly behind us, it is a perfect time to turbocharge your savings or debt payoff! Read on and I will explain how to save money fast with a no-spend January challenge!

Note: Do you want to save even more money? Or maybe you heard about doing a January no spend challenge a little late in the month? You may also be interested in doing a February no-spend challenge! You can learn all about how to do a successful February no-spend challenge here!



Tip: Save the image above to Pinterest so that you can easily refer to this article on how to do a no spend January challenge later!


How to Do a No-Spend January Challenge to Save Money Fast!

There are a lot of great benefits to doing a no-spend January challenge. One of the main ones is that it can allow you to pay off debt or save money quickly! Do you have debt from Christmas? Get it paid off by participating in the no-spend January challenge!

Note: Learn how to save for a debt-free Christmas for this year and avoid a holiday debt hangover! 🙂

By participating in the no-spend January challenge, you can save a lot of money that you can use toward things like:

  • Saving the $1,000 for your starter emergency fund
  • Starting a savings account and putting money toward a down payment on a home, the purchase of a car, paying cash for this year’s summer vacation, and more (find 9 savings accounts every family should have)
  • Purchasing a larger item with cash, such as a piece of furniture, an appliance, or an inexpensive car
  • Paying off credit card debt
  • Paying down student loans or car loans
  • Paying off debt from Christmas

A no-spend January challenge has the potential to not only help you save money (sometimes a lot of money) but it can also really help you change the way you look at money and potentially even change your whole financial future. So let’s talk about a no-spend challenge and how to accomplish it.



What is a no-spend challenge?

A no-spend challenge is where you go for a week, two weeks, or even a month or more either without spending any money at all or without spending money on anything besides the bare essentials or without spending money in a particular category such as groceries.

When doing a typical no-spend challenge, you could start with a one-week no-spend challenge the first time, and then do two weeks, and then go for a whole month. Or if you really want to turbocharge your savings and short-circuit your spending habits, you could go all in and start with a one-month no-spend challenge. And that is what I am hoping you will do for January!

Or, as mentioned earlier, you could do a no-spend challenge in just a particular category, if you have a particular budget-busting area such as clothing or entertainment or eating out.

For this January no-spend challenge, do you think you could go until the end of the month without spending money on anything but the necessities? So use food from your cupboards, pantry, fridge, and freezer. Don’t buy any clothes or toys. Don’t eat at any restaurants or order pizza or takeout. Don’t spend any money on entertainment; so no movies or bowling or basketball games or other sports events. Don’t spend any money that you don’t absolutely have to (such as for a necessary car repair).


How do I participate in the no-spend January challenge?

For this no-spend January challenge, if you are all in, let’s see if you can go all month without spending money on anything but the necessities. So use food from your cupboards, pantry, fridge, and freezer. Don’t buy any clothes or toys. Don’t eat at any restaurants or order pizza or takeout. Don’t spend any money on entertainment. Don’t spend any money that you don’t absolutely have to.

Need some ideas for free activities for you and the kids? Read this article with more than 70 ideas for family fun.

And then see the savings start to add up. If you want to save money toward a specific goal such as purchasing a car with cash or buying an appliance or furniture with cash, set up a specific savings account for that purpose. If you don’t have a bank or credit union that lets you easily open multiple savings accounts to save toward specific goals and purposes, then check out an online bank like Capital One 360. We’ve been banking with Capital One 360 for close to 15 years (since they were still ING Direct), and even after the purchase by Cap One, they’ve still been a great bank. We’ve never had any problems with them, and the couple of times when I’ve had a minor issue with an account (due to my user error 😊) they’ve resolved it in a matter of minutes with a simple phone call. They also have one of the best savings interest rates around.

If you want to grow your savings or pay off debt even faster, look for things around the house that you can sell. You might have sports equipment, electronics, toys, clothes, cookware, an extra vehicle, or other items that you could sell at a garage sale, through the online classifieds or Craigslist, or on eBay, for example.


What are the benefits of a no-spend money challenge?

One big benefit of a no-spend challenge, of course, is that doing it can you save a significant amount of money. But an even bigger benefit is that it can also help you to break money habits that you want to give up.

Say, for example, that you have gotten into the habit of buying clothes every week online at Target. Or toys for the kids. Or you’ve gotten into the habit of stopping at the grocery store nearly every day after work for just “one or two things,” and then you inevitably leave the supermarket or big box store with more than you planned. All of that frequent or maybe even nearly constant shopping, even if it’s not a bunch of money at one time, will really bust your budget. But you can change your financial course more quickly than you think if you’ll get serious. And a great way to do that is with a no-spend challenge.

Are you ready to really reset your financial habits? Then do the no-spend money challenge and begin to change your life today!

How much money can I save during the no-spend January challenge?

The amount of money you can save during a no-spend challenge depends on how long you choose to do the no-spend challenge for and how much you normally spend during that time. But let’s imagine that you’ve decided to go all in, and so you’re going to reduce all spending except for monthly bills like rent or mortgage and utilities and cell phone and fuel for your cars and such, as well as maybe some food like fresh produce.

And let’s say you’re a family of four and that in a given month that you typically spend $600 on groceries, $200 on gas, $200 on entertainment, $100 on clothes, $100 on eating out, and $100 on stuff for the kids and other miscellaneous household items or other purchases.

Now, let’s say that you decide to eat what’s in your fridge, freezer, and cupboards and pantry and save $400 on groceries, you cut down on your driving to save $100 on gas, and then you spend nothing on entertainment, clothes, or eating out for the month. So you could save $1,000 during that no-spend month! And that awesome amount of money you just saved can become your starter emergency fund. Love it!


How can I succeed at doing a no-spend January challenge?

It probably won’t be as hard as you might think to be able to succeed at your no-spend January challenge. First, if you do a full no-spend challenge, you will need to get organized and do some meal planning. (But you should do that anyway! Get my super handy meal planning worksheet and other helpful meal planning resources by signing up below! :))

And you will probably need to get creative with your meal planning, if you decide (as I would recommend you do) to cut your grocery budget during this time. You can of course search online for some great ideas for recipes that have the ingredients you have on hand that you are trying to use up, or you can just wing it and see what concoctions you can create. You might even find some new family favorites!

You can even make the no-spend challenge into a game, to help keep things from getting too serious. With your family, once you have determined a goal for how much you want to plan to save, see how quickly you can do it or if you can even exceed your savings goal!

And then maybe give yourselves an inexpensive reward when you reach your goal or complete the no-spend challenge—like going out for inexpensive ice cream, or buying a variety of toppings and making homemade banana splits. Or if your no-spend challenge helps you reach a really big financial goal, then maybe splurge a little more. 🙂

Other than that, being successful at a no-spend challenge mostly means just staying out of stores and restaurants and movie theaters and so forth and staying offline. Figure out what your triggers are for spending money, and then set yourself up for success by avoiding those trigger points.

Setting and then working toward financial goals and dreams will also help you stay on track to reduce your spending and complete your no-spend January challenge. When you know what your financial priorities and goals are, it’s easier to stay the course and keep your resolve to go for a time without spending because you know that whatever you might be giving up now is a small sacrifice compared to the big financial goals you can reach if you will stay strong and follow through.

Also work on finding new hobbies and activities that don’t cost money or that don’t cost a lot of money. For ideas, see this huge list of more than 70 fun free and cheap activities you can do. (And during the challenge, stick to the free ones!)


What else can I do to start to get a handle on my financial situation or start to save money?

In addition to doing a no-spend challenge, you should create and start to follow a budget or spending plan. I know that sometimes budgets have negative emotions attached to them, but a spending plan or budget is simply where you tell your money where you want it to go. It’s that simple. You control the budget, so that your spending won’t control you. See this article for more information on how to create your first budget. And learn how to stick to a budget here.

To learn how to start getting control of your finances and really start winning with money, get my free Save Your Money, Change Your Life ebook. Sign up below! This book will teach you how to earn more, save more, spend less, and invest more in order to right your financial ship, gain financial stability, and work toward building prosperity and wealth and reaching ultimate financial freedom.

As you work to get your financial life in order, you should also start tracking your spending. You can track your spending with the free worksheet and simple budget available when you sign up below.

A great free app to help you track your spending is Personal Capital. With Personal Capital, you can see not only all of your bank checking and savings accounts and even your credit cards and other finance accounts, but you can also link your retirement and regular nonretirement brokerage accounts. This allows you to have a complete, overall picture of your current financial situation. And you can also view your account history to see how your accounts and overall portfolio have done over time. I love this very helpful tool and use it regularly! Sign up for your free Personal Capital account here.



Maybe the idea of doing a no-spend January challenge is a little daunting—but you can do it! And when you do, it really could change the way you look at money and even change your whole life. It will strengthen your resolve to make positive financial changes in your life. Most things in life that are worth achieving require a little hard work or sacrifice, or both, and winning with your money is no different. But the rewards are so worth it! 

Changing your money habits so that you really succeed with your finances will have a bigger impact than many other things in your life. And the sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll reach the finish line! Get ready, get set, go! And I’m here to help you all along the way!

Are you ready to join the no-spend January challenge?! Leave a comment below (and post a comment in our new, closed Facebook group!). I can’t wait to see the great things that you will accomplish with the money you are able to save!

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