Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links. If you click a link and purchase an item I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions are my opinion. Read the full disclosure here.

What is a no spend/low spend year?

Well, first off you still have to pay for your bills, debt, groceries, etc. I know that’s pretty obvious, but I just wanted to clarify!

Basically, you create a plan for the things you don’t want to spend money on in the year. There are no set rules.

You can read my plan/ budget for the year from when I did my no spend year here.

Create a plan

To create your plan, it helps to look back at the last year or so and see where you spend the most money.

Then, you can determine if you want to completely cut something out of your budget or reduce how much you spend in those areas.

You can also determine what things you will “allow.”

For example, I was OK with spending on travel and experiences.

I do suggest you create a detailed plan, get clear on your goals, write everything down, and put it somewhere you will see it.

*Something to consider: Ask if this year is the right time for you to do this. I knew 2020 was a good year for me to try a no spend year because I had more than everything I needed.
However, 2019 wouldn’t have worked well for me because I moved out on my own and had to buy furniture and home decor.
You still can try a low spend year by creating a budget for areas you need stuff in and limiting other purchases though!

Determine your problem areas/stores

The best way to do this is to look at all of your spending for the last few months. If you find you are spending too much on Amazon, it may be best for you to get rid of Prime and possibly even block the website.

If you spent too much money at Target, it will help tremendously to avoid going to Target at throughout the year.

A no spend year may not be for you

I went into my no spend year looking at it as a challenge, not a burden. I knew it would be tough, but I was eager for it.

I also did this from a place of abundance/enoughness. I knew I had enough and didn’t do this from a place of scarcity at all. It was just to get me closer to my goals.

Some people see a no spend year as unhealthy or bad, but it’s all about your perspective and mindset.

If you are the type of person who would struggle with their money mindset doing this, it may not be best for you.

If you want to take on a challenge and something you want to get through to reach your other goals, this is for you.

Determine your why

I know that is cliche but your why is very important to get clear on and write down.

My ‘why’ was to simplify my life, prioritize my debt/savings, and follow through on something I said I would.

Defining your why will help you to stay committed. If you’re tempted to buy something, you can remind yourself of it and push through it.

Tell people close to you

I decided to tell everyone on the internet which actually helped a TON, but obviously not everyone wants to do that.

Outside of that, I told the people around me who I spend the most time with so they were aware and could help hold me accountable.

It’s also helpful to tell your friends because you may be saying ‘no’ to them more often. You don’t have to tell them your business, but you could say, “I’m working on some financial goals so I won’t be doing ___.”

And you never know, they too may want to work on their financial goals and you can start working together!

Find No Spend community/Follow relevant hashtags

When I first started it was very helpful to watch videos on YouTube from people who had already completed a no spend year.

I also followed the hashtags #NoSpendYear and #NoSpendChallenge on Instagram. This motivated and inspired me to see people following a similar journey.

It also can be helpful to avoid watching/following people who shop often or have influenced you heavily in the past.

Look for free alternatives

Look for free or low cost alternative for the things you want and enjoy before you start. You will also find options throughout the year.

For example, I really love buying books to read and collect. During my no spend year I actually found several little free libraries around my city. I found SO many amazing books to read that I probably wouldn’t have picked up otherwise.

There are free events out there, but I really started to enjoy taking walks, playing board games, and cooking with my boyfriend.

Another option is to borrow things from family/friends, I did this quite often!

Expect things to come up

Things will probably come up during your no spend year.

That is normal and completely OK. It could be a big emergency or it may just be minor things you didn’t plan for.

What I’m trying to say is that things will come up and you’ll decide what to do then.

I had a couple of things break that I needed to replace and/or fix, so I did! I wanted those things to work in my life so I spent the money to do that.

Those are my main tips before going into a no spend year!

I am so glad I completed a no spend year and it was so worth it!

If you have any further questions, please let me know.