10 Key Things to Know Before You Start a No-Spend Year

As promised, I wanted to film a video about the things you should know before starting a no-spend or low-spend year. Here are the things that you need to know. Let’s get started.

1. Understand what it is

First of all, during a no-spend year, you are still paying your bills, like rent and groceries. You aren’t spending no money whatsoever.

The other thing about a no-spend or low-spend year is that you make the rules. For me, there were several things I knew I wanted to spend money on, for example, travel.

I was ok with spending money on going out to eat because I don’t do it often anyways. You can still do a no-spend year and follow your own path.

2. Create a plan

That means making your own rules. Decide what you aren't allowing yourself to spend money on. It’s important to have your rules set and to keep them in mind the whole year because it’s easy to forget.

3. Is it the right time?

Ask yourself if it’s the right time for you to do this. 2020 was a good year for me because I had everything that I needed. In 2019, I moved into my own apartment and I had no furniture.

You can still do a no-spend or low-spend year during a move, but, you would just budget for the furniture and decide what else it is that you don’t want to spend money on.

Tips for a no-spend year

Still, if you are going into a year where you expect to have to spend a lot of money, it may not be the best time to do a no-spend or low-spend year. You could still do one, and just budget those areas, or do a few no-spend months throughout the year.

Honestly, I think no-spend months are kind of pointless depending on how you are as a person. You might plan to do a no-spend March, find things you want to purchase, purchase them all in April, and end up spending a lot of money anyways.

4. Determine your problem areas including problem stores

Go through your spending and track where your money went. You need to try and eliminate that problem area from your life.

If your problem area is Target, you need to avoid going to Target the whole year and make a plan for that. If your problem area is Amazon, get rid of your Amazon Prime. Maybe block the website if you need to. Unfollow those things on social media, so you don’t see them and aren’t tempted.

5. These challenges may not be for everyone

On social media and in the financial blogging community, I’ve seen people say bad things about no-spend months and years, and I think it's unnecessary. Some people have a different perspective and see no-spend years as a burden or a negative, but I never saw it that way.

If you would struggle and get into a negative mind space around money, this isn’t best for you. If you are seeing this as a challenge you want to overcome and get through it, reach your financial goals in the end, and feel good about yourself, this is for you.

Instead of thinking, “I can’t afford that,” I think “it’s not my priority now and I’m choosing not to spend money on it.”

How to do a no-spend year

6. Determine your “why”

My “why” was obviously to be more minimalist, have a simpler lifestyle and prioritize my debt and savings. Defining your “why” is a huge step and something you should do before going into this because it will help you follow through and stay committed.

When you see something that relates to your no-spend year, you can remind yourself of your “why.” Make sure it's a big “why,” so you will listen to it, and not the devil on your shoulder telling you to purchase it.

7. Tell people close to you

It’s very important to tell people in your life that you are doing this. Obviously, I have been documenting my journey, which is helpful because all of you hold me accountable. I also told my boyfriend, my sister, and the important people in my life that I’m around the most.

If you are used to going out with friends a lot, I suggest telling them. You can say, “I have financial goals in my life, so, right now, I’m not going to be able to spend on that.” Sometimes people in your life will ask you about those goals and you can do this as a team and hold each other accountable.

8. Curate your social media

I followed the hashtag on Instagram “no-spend year,” and it was pretty inspiring to see other people doing this, and to watch people on Youtube who have done this before, and see the benefits they experienced.

Following these accounts will help you stop watching and following high spenders. If there are accounts that make you want to buy things, stop following them.

Things to know before doing a no-spend year

9. Look for free alternatives

As you go through the year, you will definitely find different options for things. A big thing for me is books. I went on so many walks this year, that I discovered all the free libraries in my city. Oftentimes you can even find free events.

There are also free things to do. My boyfriend and I enjoy picnics and walks, for example. There are free things and things you can borrow. If you absolutely need it, you can ask for it for Christmas, or your birthday, or wait until next year.

10. Expect things to come up

You may have to deal with an emergency, or with something minor that you want to replace. My table broke and literally wouldn’t stand anymore. I had to purchase some Gorilla Glue. That’s not a huge deal, but technically was breaking a no-spend rule. Since it was important to me, I made the decision when it happened.

Things to know before doing a no-spend year

Let me know if you are trying a no-spend year. It is worth it. It will change your life. I’m so proud of myself for doing it. If you want to try a no-spend year, drop a comment and let us know.

Join the conversation
2 of 9 comments
  • Jul50435034 Jul50435034 on Dec 05, 2023

    I've been doing this since September of this year 2023 and my credit scores n availability to have hope in a land purchase are coming to fruition. It's hard, lonely at times but when staying focused on your main goal it gives a sense of accountability and strength to oneself and possibly others.

  • Alyssa Thornburg Alyssa Thornburg on Dec 05, 2023

    I am inspired and planning this for 2024. I want to retire, but to do so, I have to spend less on groceries, TV and activities. Doing it!!!