How to Use A No-Spend Month To Reset Your Budget

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How many times do I remember realizing that our budget had gotten out of control? I hate to admit it at all, but it was quite a few times. When this happens, one way to reset your budget is to have a No-Spend Month.

After setting up a budget, we all feel very determined to stick with it and reach all of the financial goals that we’ve set. Unfortunately, life happens. Whether a car or appliance needs replacing or medical bills come suddenly, money must be spent.

Sometimes the budget gets busted by lots of small things that can pile up without our notice. Maybe we just haven’t been paying attention, and things can get bad. There are many ways to address the budget problems. But, one way that can work is to have a no-spend month.

What is a no-spend month? It just means we don’t spend any money. Now, I know you’re thinking that this is impossible. Don’t worry. I don’t mean you can’t pay those regular bills. You have to pay the mortgage, utilities and such. But, many things aren’t necessary.

You can make your own list that works for you. Here are some ideas that we’ve used and learned over the years:

  • Don’t eat out. Instead of eating out, try to plan your meals around what you have in the pantry and freezer.
  • Don’t go to the movies, amusement parks, concerts, etc.
  • Skip the coffee shops and make coffee at home.
  • Don’t go shopping. Plan other free activities.
  • Stay off Amazon or other websites that tempt you to shop.
  • Keep a journal of everything you spend….everything.
  • Don’t attend “parties” where friends are selling makeup, jewelry, etc.
  • Take your own lunch and snacks to work, so you won’t grab lunch out or hit the snack machines.

Can you actually do this? Of course you can! You don’t need to feel deprived during your No-Spend Month. This can be an adventure or a challenge. You can (and should) get the entire family involved. When one of your children says “I want…”, make it a family challenge to come up with a free alternative.

There are always many things to do in every town that are totally free. Search them out, ask your friends for ideas, and try something that is new.

You can use some of your time to work on the budget and see what ways you might be able to tweak it. There are usually adjustments that can be made to save more money. You can think about whether or not you need every single thing on your spending list.

Another helpful idea is to use this month to sell things that you no longer need. Using Craiglist or a yardsale, cash can come in handy to pay down the extra bills.

Using a meal planner and changing some unhealthy spending habits should improve your ability to keep the budget tight. Try to learn some new frugal-living methods to use from now on.

A No-Spending Month is a great way to learn about yourself. Look at it as positive time and not a punishment. As you learn new things, decide which of these things can be carried over into your every-month budget. Then, it will be totally worth it to have a month of no-spending.

@2020, copyright Lisa Ehrman


Lisa Ehrman

Lisa has been blogging since 2013, and loves sharing resources and ideas for living a simple life. To get free printables, bonus words, and more - sign up for the newsletter.

40 Comments

Lynne · March 8, 2020 at 12:26 pm

I’ve been really bearing down in 2020, trying to eliminate unnecessary spending. We have cut down on eating out, and I’ve been able to find a local Buy Nothing facebook group – members post things that they want to get out of their house, and then choose a recipient from those who respond to the post. I’d encourage everyone to check it out – I’ve been able to get some clothing from this site that really helped spruce up my wardrobe, and kept me from being tempted to go to a store to buy new clothing.

    Lisa Ehrman · March 8, 2020 at 12:33 pm

    Wow! That sounds fantastic 🙂 I’ll be checking it out. Thanks for sharing your success 🙂

Tamra Phelps · March 8, 2020 at 3:02 pm

For me, the most difficult thing would be staying off online sites, like Amazon. They’re just too dang convenient, lol. Actually, I’ve done pretty well staying off them lately.

    Lisa Ehrman · March 8, 2020 at 3:21 pm

    I know what you mean. Many times I just buy without thinking it over. Sometimes, waiting a little while wouldn’t be so bad. 🙂

Michele Morin · March 8, 2020 at 3:48 pm

Thank you, Lisa, for this practical encouragement. It reminded me that my husband and I used to declare spending freezes in the earlier days of our marriage, and they were always very helpful in getting us back on track.

Lisa Ehrman · March 8, 2020 at 4:20 pm

That’s good, Michele. It’s helpful for me to remember what was tough at the time, and to share how it can help others, too.

Joanne · March 8, 2020 at 5:42 pm

Whenever I wanted to make a concerted effort to cut back our spending I made sure to leave my credit cards at home and only brought enough money to the store to pick up those supplies that we NEEDED and were on my list. These are great suggestions for being more mindful of spending.

    Lisa Ehrman · March 8, 2020 at 7:50 pm

    Great tip for leaving the credit cards at home! That really prevents extra spending 🙂

Dana Rodriguez · March 9, 2020 at 4:49 pm

This is a great list of ideas. I do most of these already!

    Lisa Ehrman · March 9, 2020 at 7:34 pm

    Thanks! I can tell that you’re a serious budget-boss 🙂

Calvin · March 11, 2020 at 3:23 pm

Always good to stick to a budget, I have met most of my goals!

    Lisa Ehrman · March 11, 2020 at 3:44 pm

    That’s awesome!

    Kimberly R · April 7, 2020 at 3:37 pm

    Thanks for the tips, especially since 2020 is a really tough year so far.

      Lisa Ehrman · April 7, 2020 at 6:42 pm

      I’m so glad to be helpful 🙂 Stay safe 🙂

Edna Williams · March 12, 2020 at 1:53 am

I’ve done great leaving credit cards at home, but I do so appreciate your other tips! Thank you for sharing!

    Lisa Ehrman · March 12, 2020 at 11:43 am

    You’re very welcome, Edna! Sounds like you’re being wise with those credit cards 🙂

Kari B · March 17, 2020 at 12:43 pm

This is great advice, especially with the downturn of the economy.

    Lisa Ehrman · March 17, 2020 at 2:14 pm

    Thanks! I certainly hope and pray that we get through this soon.

Jodi Hunter · March 17, 2020 at 3:19 pm

Thanks for this.

Deb Pelletier · March 19, 2020 at 12:22 am

Thank you for the information. 🙂

Mishelle G · March 20, 2020 at 6:01 pm

Timely advice for me, with COVID-19 at my door I could use this for this month with forced closures ahead for me. No or little income.

Mishelle G

    Lisa Ehrman · March 21, 2020 at 11:52 am

    It’s such a sad time. I’m sorry. I hope and pray that this ends soon for all of us.

Molli Taylor · March 27, 2020 at 2:57 pm

this is exactly what i have been doing. it’s a good opportnity.

    Lisa Ehrman · March 27, 2020 at 3:08 pm

    Yes, it may be easier or necessary to do it during this time of quarantine.

Nerlande · April 1, 2020 at 3:58 pm

This is such helpful post thank you for posting this

Rena Walter · April 3, 2020 at 1:52 pm

Yes, this is a grate idea!

beth shepherd · April 17, 2020 at 12:54 pm

Great tips!

Deb Pelletier · April 20, 2020 at 4:41 pm

Some great ideas, I do some of them already.

    Lisa Ehrman · April 21, 2020 at 11:30 am

    Sounds like you’re really on top of your budget 🙂

Julie Justice Book · May 13, 2020 at 6:25 pm

Hi Lisa, thank you for the great tips! Two things I might add to this list are first: to get your money back on items that need to be returned. The other is to watch for those sneaky budget busters: late fees. Plan to use the calendar on you device to add in when rentals are coming due. Julie

    Lisa Ehrman · May 14, 2020 at 11:56 am

    Great tips! When my child rented books online we made plenty of calendar notices, but it would be so easy to miss one of these deadlines. We sure didn’t want to pay those late fees 🙂

Michael Coovert · October 27, 2020 at 7:44 am

This is so hard these days with so many people running so far behind.

Tina Alexander · January 10, 2021 at 6:36 pm

I haven’t been out to eat or to the movies since we started social distancing. I do order pizza delivery several times a month and the prime benefits at Amazon makes that my go-to for almost everything. I can truly admit I need to do better in some areas. Thanks for the tips!

gloria patterson · July 5, 2021 at 1:06 pm

No-Spending Month what a great ideal!! I will be in the store and see something and think I need it………….. BUT I really don’t! this is something I am going to start right now .

Ronald Gagnon · September 2, 2021 at 6:49 pm

This is very informative. I shall add the ideas to my already familiar budgeting

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