No-spend November – can we do it?

It’s time for a no-spend November. I had hoped to do this back in October, however, that is the month when we do our big pre-winter stock-up trip to the city. This is a necessary yearly event to get what we need that isn’t easily available in town before the winter weather hits. So, I pushed it back to November. This is not our first time doing a no-spend month. Last year we successfully completed a few no-spend months and we really enjoyed them. It was amazing to see just how easily we could go with minimal purchases over the course of a full month. Though we have been meaning to do these again, this is the first one we have done in almost a year. Adding these as a regular occurrence throughout the year would be truly beneficial.

No-spend November

What is a no spend month?

This is a challenge to limit your spending for an entire month. Those trips to the store just because you’re bored and thus inevitably come out with something? Not allowed. All those dinners at a restaurant? Nope, those are out. Basically, anything that would be classified as unnecessary spending is out for the month.

But what if you really want a new sweater, or to go see that new movie? Well, that will have to wait. Write down that thing you are desiring to purchase and if you still feel that way once the month is over, then you can go out and buy it. If not, then you have just saved yourself even more money.

Why are we doing it?

To be honest, no-spend months are great to do every now and then. They really make you reevaluate your thinking toward purchases. I had wanted to join in on the October no-spend challenge, however, as I mentioned above that wasn’t really an option for us. But the biggest reason is that October was incredibly expensive for us. Winter stock-up is always expensive, as we are doing our best to buy things to make it through the 6 months of winter. Add in the fact that the prices in the city are significantly cheaper than in town, and it means we save more in the long run, even though there is that initial shell shock of seeing all those recipes after the shopping trip.

How to make it successful

Having completed a few no-spend months before, the biggest tip I have for making it successful is to plan ahead. Don’t decide on October 31 that you will do a no-spend November. You likely won’t make it. Take into consideration the month and see if there are any events, birthdays, or other things that may interrupt your spending freeze. If a month looks busy, then it’s probably not the best one to pick for a no-spend challenge. Once you have a month picked out, then it’s time to do a bit of planning. A big step is making the rules for the month. What is allowed and what isn’t.

Rules of no-spend November

There is no one perfect set of rules when it comes to a no-spend challenge. A lot of it will depend on what an individual or family is capable or willing to do. It’s important to establish these rules before starting the month; otherwise, there is a good chance that you will continue to buy things whenever you are out, thus defeating the purpose.

For our family, it comes down to avoiding unnecessary purchases. That means, that bills will get paid as per usual, grocery shopping will still happen on a weekly basis and our trucks will still be filled up with gas when they are running low. These are all necessary purchases. Things like new shoes, clothes, or video games are not a necessity, and thus we are not allowed to buy them.

Bonus: Pantry Challenge

On top of this no-spend period, we will also be doing our best to eat out of our pantry and freezers. Between canning, freezer meals, and a large stock-up trip, we have plenty of food in the house. However, I don’t want to use it all, after all, we want to stretch those things out over the winter. Putting the focus on eating out of the pantry and freezers, and supplementing with the grocery store, will go a long way in reducing our grocery bills. Having a monthly meal plan also helps to use up those items in a timely manner and reduce food waste.

When doing a no-spend month, take a look in your own pantry. Chances are there is already plenty of food in your house. That means you can save even more by having limited grocery purchases. This is also a part of planning ahead, knowing what you have in your house, food and otherwise, can really help you see how you don’t need to spend money.

The exceptions

Thanks to a slight lack of foresight, we do have a few things that we need to buy this month that break the no-spend rule. However, we are making exceptions for these items. Our kitchen, dining room, and entryway have been in need of a fresh coat of paint for some time now. This was a task that probably should have been done over the summer, but life sometimes gets in the way. So here we are in November, trying to get it done. I had hoped to get the paint bought at the end of October. However, I had a sudden change of heart about the color and didn’t want to buy a color I wouldn’t love. So this meant putting the purchase off until the beginning of November and getting a color I could live with. We also need to get some brushes and rollers for the task.

Have you ever tried a no-spend challenge? Was it successful? If you haven’t, why not give it a try? It can really benefit everyone.


  1. Good luck! This is such a good month to do this. We are trying to cut back this month as well, and do things like eat what we have in the house (it seems like we suddenly have a ton of food in our freezer and pantry). One of these days I am going to get organized, and make a firmer commitment, and say we are actually doing a no-spend month. I will be reading to see how it goes!

    1. Thanks. It’s funny how a full pantry and freezer can sneak up on us. But it’s good to take time to go through it all and use up what you have before replenishing your stock. That sounds like a great idea, you definitely want to do a bit of planning ahead of time before doing a no spend month.

  2. Oh wow good luck! i’m in awe of anyone who does this. I really enjoyed Andrea’s updates on her no spend month and i’m so tempted to do one in January.

    1. I don’t know if I will be regular updates or one big one at the end, but I’ll definitely post how it went. Give it a try in January, you’d be amazed at how easy it is, especially if you take the time now to plan ahead for it.

  3. Good luck the holidays I spend to much especially on food!!

    1. It’s so easy to go spend crazy around the holidays.

  4. No Spend November is awesome! I wish I could do it but I buy my Christmas presents in November. Maybe I could do it in January!

    1. A no spend January would be great to try. Plus what better way to start the new year than to save a bunch of money.

  5. I was thinking about doing a No Spend November also… then a whole bunch of “life” happened. Trying to be extra grocery frugal this month but we are more likely to reset in January/February (or maybe both). Good luck!

  6. Hope it’s going well! I’ve been thinking about doing this – I’m aiming for January or March at this point. November would have been difficult with Thanksgiving here and December is also a wash.

    Thanks for the insight!

    1. It’s been going pretty well. I can understand pushing it back until then, doing it around the holidays is tough.

  7. Your tips are great! I should definitely consider doing a no spend month, at least on food items. Our freezers and pantry are starting to fill up.

    1. It is absolutely worth giving it a try. It’s surprising what you can go without buying when you remind yourself that it’s a no-spend month.

  8. No spend monthly challenges are so hard to do, but they really help to expand your creativity and strengthen your budget.

    1. They are hard but absolutely worth it.

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