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7 Secrets for a Successful No Spend November

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Learn how to plan a successful no spend November to save cash in time for the holidays!

And if you need a quick and easy way to make some extra money, get paid to take surveys with Swagbucks and Survey Junkie!

Could you use some extra money to pay for Christmas this year?

Having some extra money to pay for the holidays can be a financial stress-reliever, especially if you’re struggling with how to afford Christmas right now. At least a third of Americans say they plan to spend less on Christmas this year. 

There are different ways to get the money you need to pay for the holidays.

For example, you could try starting a side hustle. Or check out some free money hacks

But a simpler way to save money for Christmas could be trying a no spend November instead. 

Read this post for some easy ways to make extra money for the holidays:

27 Easy Side Hustles You Can Do to Earn Extra Cash for the Holidays

Piggy bank with fall leaves

What Is No Spend November Anyway?

I’ve written about money-saving challenges here before and that’s pretty much what a no spend November is.

It’s you challenging yourself to not spend money on anything that’s nonessential for the entire month of November. 

It’s all about being frugal and saving money during a season when advertisers are telling you to spend, spend, spend!

You can go on a spending diet any time of year but November makes it an extra interesting challenge. It’s a way to test your money willpower and get super clear on the difference between wants and needs.

But do I really have to commit to not spending any money for the whole month?

Well, ideally yes.

This is the best way to squeeze the most savings possible out of a no spend month. 

But it’s totally up to you to decide how long your no spend November is going to last.

For example, you could do it for just the first two weeks of November or the last two weeks of the month. Or you could commit to no spending over the Black Friday weekend and steering clear of the stores.

That’s the beauty of it! You can figure out exactly what works for you and your family, then go for it.

Read this post for ideas on how to save money on holiday shopping:

7 Essential Holiday Shopping Tips for Black Friday and Beyond

7 Tips for Making a No Spend November Work

piggy bank with autumn leaves

If you’re serious about locking down your spending for November, then high five!

You’re already one step closer to saving money.

The next step is coming up with a foolproof plan for making it work. That’s where these tips can help. 

1. Set your spending ground rules

A no spend November is all about being intentional with how you spend. So the first thing you have to do is separate your spending needs and wants. 

For example, the things you have to spend money on might include:

  • Mortgage or rent payments
  • Electric, water and other utilities
  • Gas and necessary transportation costs
  • Groceries
  • Internet and cell phone service 
  • Insurance premiums and out of pocket health care expenses
  • Pet food and supplies
  • Childcare if you and your spouse both work outside the home
  • Debt payments

You might also include tithing here if that’s a regular part of your budget.

The way to put this list in perspective is to think about all the expenses you need to pay to maintain a basic standard of living.

Now, there’s a whole other list of things that you might be tempted to spend money on. But the point of a no spend November is to avoid doing that.

The list of expenses you might cut out for the month includes things like:

  • Holiday shopping
  • Dinner out
  • Trips to the movies or other paid entertainment
  • New clothes
  • Non-essential personal care (like getting your hair or nails done)
  • Travel
  • Hobbies and recreation
  • Non-essential extracurricular activities for kids (This one’s tough–my son’s a soccer player so it’s hard to not spend money on something he loves.)

Remember, this is your list and no one else’s.

As you’re going through your expenses keep in mind that what you do or don’t include as essential spending is entirely up to you. So there may be some things on your must-have list that might be a “want” for someone else.

And that’s totally fine. But the more you can cut out, the more money you could potentially save.

Read this post for a super simple hack to save money on bills:

Billshark Review: Can It Really Help You Save Money on Bills?

2. Set a target for saving

If you’re not spending as much as usual, that should add up to some savings, right?

So here’s what you need to do next: decide how much money you want to save and what you plan to do with it.

For example, say your regular monthly budget is $4,000. Could you cut out $500 of that using a no spend challenge? $1,000? More?

This is where it’s really helpful to go over your expenses carefully before you get started with a no spend month. That way, you can have a savings goal to work toward.

Once you have a dollar amount you want to save, decide what it’s going to be used for.

For example, will you use it to pay for holiday purchases? Pay down debt? Add it to your emergency fund?

Giving those dollars a purpose helps you to make sure that once your spending ban is lifted, you don’t fritter that extra cash away.

Bonus tip: Keep your no spend savings in the right place.

For me, it doesn’t make sense to save money if you’re not earning a great interest rate on it. That’s why I stick with online banks for savings accounts since they can offer much higher rates than brick-and-mortar banks.

If you’re looking for an online savings option, try CIT Bank. The Savings Builder account earns an amazing rate and you just need $100 to start saving!

Read this post to learn more about CIT Bank’s savings accounts:

CIT Bank Review: Is It the Best Online Savings Account for Your Money?

3. Make it a team effort

autumn piggy bank

Okay, so any time I tell my kids we’re not spending money for a while, I’m instantly met with moaning and groaning.

(From my son, at least. My daughter is a dyed in the wool saver–making mama proud!)

If you’re planning to tackle a no spend month to get your family finances under control, then it has to be a family effort. Otherwise, it just won’t work.

So schedule a money meeting and lay down the ground rules for everyone about what you will and won’t spend money on. Talk to your kids about why you’re doing a spending fast and what the goal is.

You want this to be a positive thing for everybody so don’t let your kids assume that no spending equals no fun.

It just takes a little more creativity when you can’t spend money.

And if you need a little inspo, I’ve got 43 fun fall activities you can do that cost little to no cash!

no spend november

4. Plan ahead as much as possible.

Hopefully, you’re reading this post in October or even September, and not waiting until the last minute to try and plan a no spend November.

But regardless of how much (or how little) time you have to plan, make the most of it!

You can minimize your chances of having to spend money during by checking these items off your list:

  • Plan your meals for the month and stock up the pantry ahead of time. (Try $5 Meal Plan for some super frugal meal planning ideas.)
  • Purchase any necessary cleaning supplies you might need for the month. 
  • Pay up some or all of your bills in advance if you’re able to.
  • Take your credit cards out of your wallet and consider switching to cash-only if you can.
  • Plan out some ways to spend your time as a family that don’t cost money.
  • Take care of any necessary clothing or personal hygiene purchases before the month starts.

The more you can plan ahead, the better.

But even if you’re reading this on November 1st (or later), just do what you can with the time you have.

Even small steps can make a big difference in cutting down what you spend!

Read this post for an EPIC list of ways to save money:

220+ Realistic Ways to Save Money on a Tight Budget (on Almost Everything!)

5. Track your spending

Sticking with a no spend challenge is tough and you need a way to stay accountable as a family. An easy way to do that is to track your spending.

There’s no right or wrong way to do it.

You can use a budgeting app that links to your debit card to record purchases, record it in an expense tracking spreadsheet or just write it down in a notebook.

The point is to keep a running tab on what you spend to make sure you’re staying within those boundaries you set for yourself way back in step one.

Review your spending weekly to see how you’re doing. (And if you’re doing a no spend November for less than the full month, you might do this daily.)

The upside is that if you’re sticking with your plan, you’ll get a nice motivational boost from seeing how well you’re doing!

And if you’re not, then reviewing your spending can help you figure out what you need to change to get back on track.

6. Resist temptation

saving money in the fall

I won’t lie to you–a no spend challenge, in November or any other time, isn’t always easy.

And when there are sales everywhere, it’s so hard to just say no to spending!

This is especially true if you’ve got family in town for the holidays. I’ve fought the Black Friday crowds more than once to appease my mother who just can’t pass up a sale.

But here’s something I want you to remember. You don’t have to spend.

Really. I mean it. Just because your favorite store is running a super-awesome-amazing-can’t-pass-this-up deal doesn’t mean you have to buy in.

So, here are some of my best tips for resisting temptation:

  • Unsubscribe from your favorite stores’ email lists so you’re not bombarded with sale ads.
  • Take a break from watching TV. No TV = no commercials trying to lure you into breaking your no spend vow.
  • Tell people you’re doing a no spend November and say “no, thanks” to friendly invitations that could lead to spending.
  • Toss the sale papers that come in the mail in the trash. (Or better yet, find a way to repurpose them.)
  • Turn off notifications from shopping apps or websites.

If you need some help staying on track, give yourself some motivation.

Create a money mantra as a reminder of how much you want to save. Promise yourself that once the no spend month is up, you’ll enjoy a small, frugal treat.

Bottom line, give yourself something to look forward to so that you have a reason to keep going.

Read this post for more ideas on how to save money this fall:

39 Clever Ways Families Can Save Money This Fall

7. Leave room for the unexpected

Sometimes, life happens. And when it does, that might require you to spend money.

November and the holiday season, in general, can get hectic. A few Novembers ago, I had to spend $5,500 to replace my HVAC system two days before Thanksgiving. Super fun.

So yeah, I get that things might not always work out the way you planned. But you can make any bumps you might run into smoother by being prepared.

The best way to do that is by having some cash savings you can draw on just in case. But how much do you need?

At a minimum, I’d say $500 to $1,000. That should be enough to cover any minor blips that pop up.

If you don’t have that much cash on hand, then here’s the second-best thing you can do: find ways to make some extra money just for emergencies.

As always, I’ve got you covered if you need some ideas. Check out these posts to help you get started with a money-making side hustle!

20+ Extra Income Ideas to Help You Make Money This Fall (or Any Time!)

How to Make $2000 a Month From Home With Flexible Side Hustles

40 High-Paying Side Hustles for Moms Who Want to Make Extra Money

117 Legitimate Side Hustle Ideas to Make Extra Money

 

how to plan a no spend november

Are You Ready to Rock a No Spend November?

By now, you should be well on your way to planning a successful spending freeze for November.

And once you get that first no spend challenge under your belt, you’ll be ready for the next one!

Do you have an amazing no spend tip or story to share? Head to the comments and tell me about it. 

Then please show this post some love and share it if it helped you!

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Comments

  1. Not spending is an awesome way to save and get ahead . I love this concept especially during a time when everyone is spending like CRAZY .

    I am definitely doing this in November to get a head start on my moving expenses since I plan on moving soon haha

    • That’s great that you’re willing to give no spend November a try! It’s probably one of the hardest times of year to try it because there is so much urging to spend. But even if you only do it for a week or a weekend, you can still save big!

    • You should definitely give it a try! The goal of no spend November is to go the whole month without spending anything extra but even if you only do it for Black Friday weekend or one week, it can make a huge difference to your budget.

  2. This is fabulous! We definitely need to put the break on things that are not necessities! My kids live in comparisonville every day, so I always need to be conscious about teaching them how to spend less!

    • Thanks, Kate! My son is definitely the spender of my two kids and I’m constantly trying to teach him the importance and value of saving. My daughter, on the other hand, I have to beg to spend her money–she’d rather save! A no spend November is a good experiment to try as a family if you’ve got a mix of spenders and savers.

  3. Great Idea Rebecca! I like the creativity aspect of this challenge and it’s perfect timing as my wife and I were chatting about our expenses over the weekend! In a way, for the past 4 months (since launching my blog), I’ve personally been on a no frills journey so this is a natural extension. Looking forward!

    • Thanks! A no spend November is a great way to get ready for the holidays, especially if you’re like me and you always end up spending money at the last minute. It’s a good way to prepare to end the year strong, financially.

  4. This is such an interesting and informative post, Rebecca!. November is always a shopping month for me lol so it’s hard not to spend money. So many deals to grab! You have offered great tips here though. I really liked #4, 5 and 7 above. Unexpected expenses are the worst! Just like your AC broke down, last November, I had to spend thousands to replace all the tires on my car (totally didn’t see that expense coming during the holidays!).

    Great post,
    Amira at ASelfGuru

    • Thanks, Amira! November is hard for everyone I think, especially if you love getting deals on holiday shopping. And those unexpected expenses are just terrible, especially near the holidays. No spend November is a good incentive to start an emergency savings fund so those out of the blue expenses don’t get you.

  5. Great idea, I totally need to try this! I love the idea of getting the kids on board too. As they get older, my kids need to start understanding that money doesn’t grow on trees – a concept they don’t quite understand yet 🙂 Altogether, it would feel nice to reign in the spending a bit before the holiday season.

    • It’s hard to get the kids on board sometimes, especially if you have a spender. But a no spend November is a good way to introduce the idea of saving and only spending money on needs, not wants. My son is 10 and he definitely still doesn’t get it. And taking a break from spending before December is always good–I know I always spend way more in December than I planned.

  6. Great post! This is such a nice way to save money. I agree that one should plan ahead of time to successfully implement this idea. Involving the entire family would definitely make this thing more interesting and helpful. Thank you for sharing this information. 🙂

    • Thanks, Saskhi! Planning ahead really helps to make a no spend November work but even if you start at the last minute, you can still be successful. And making it a family affair definitely helps, too!

  7. Thank you for these tips! We’re moving into our first place at the end of this month and so no spend November will be very real for us! 😃 Up until now whenever I’ve wanted to buy something I chant ‘Need a home not new clothes’ 🤣xx

    • You’re welcome, Liz! This is a great time of year to move because you can save money but the trick is not spending money in the process! That’s a great mantra you’ve got going–I’ve been using something similar as we search for a new home.

    • Thanks, Rachel! A no spend November could help you reset your budget if nothing else. And if you need some extra income ideas in the meantime, take a look at some of my posts on side hustles!

  8. Great post with a great concept. Saving money at any time of the year is difficult but if you can save then you can probably save all year through. Going to give it a try.

    • Thanks, Kathy! I agree, if you can save money with a no spend November when the holiday shopping really kicks off then you can save any time of year. It’s good practice!

  9. I can do this. Except, my entire family will be at the house for Thanksgiving. That is not cheap! I can do this until the week of Thanksgiving. These are all ideas we should be putting into practice year round. Practical and actionable. I can do this!

    • The thing about no spend November or no spend any time is that how long you do it isn’t as important as committing to it for whatever time you can. Thanksgiving week will probably be a wash for me too since my mom will be here and that lady isn’t satisfied unless we hit all the Black Friday sales. So just do what you can! Every penny you can save makes a difference, even if you don’t do it the whole month.

  10. I love this idea and I could cut down on expenses in November. However, Thanksgiving dinner is a big expense. Maybe, I could try to look for grocery sales in November.

    • Thanksgiving is always a killer for anybody I think, budget-wise. That’s where planning can help. Our grocery stores around here already have turkey and all the other fixings on sale so if you buy the week before November starts, then you might be able to get through Thanksgiving without spending. And you can always allocate $50 or so in your budget to pick up last-minute stuff you need for dinner.

  11. Not gonna lie I got a bit sweaty and dizzy just thinking about trying this with the family haha. I think because money is tight for us all year we really aim to do Christmas during the sale season. That being said we are pretty careful about our spending. This might be the perfect January idea for our family! Really love your great tips, I hope one day we can give this a try for us!

    • Oh, me too! I am not a spender by nature but my mother is and any time she comes to visit for the holidays, she expects me to drive her around Miss Daisy style to all the sales. January is a great time to try this too if you’re coming off a spending hangover from the holidays. It’s a nice way to hit reset on your budget and start planning your money goals for the year.

    • November is really hard and that’s why the no spend November is so challenging. But if you can save money in November when everybody else is spending, then you can save money any time.

  12. We have never tried something like this, although it is a very interesting idea. One thing I think we are pretty good at is not spending tons of money on holiday shopping during November. We aren’t super into buying a lot of gifts, so I am more likely to have a specific list and see if those items go on sale rather than go to the sales and say hey that looks good I need that. And I stay off Amazon as much as possible, because it is so tempting.

    • A no spend November is something to try at least once just to see how long you can stick with it, amid the holiday spending temptation. Amazon is a tough one for me because I pretty much buy everything online these days (hard to Christmas shop when at least one kid is with me 24/7). I try not to buy anything until after the Black Friday mania has passed so I don’t get suckered into so-called “deals”.

  13. Oh yes! I need to unsubscribe to stores and salesy websites on my email! I occasionally find myself clicking on them and then either wasting time browsing the site or wasting money on something I wasn’t looking for anyways! Thanks for the tips!

    • Unsubscribing, at least during the holiday season, can definitely be a money-saver. I’m guilty of opening up emails that advertise flash sales or “exclusive” deals just to see what’s there, then I end up spending money. Getting off those lists is a good strategy for sticking to your no spend November plan!

    • I hope you found them useful, Annie! November is a hard time to try and go no spend but it can pay off if you’re able to save money instead of joining in with the shopping rush.

  14. This is a great idea! I need to save some money, so I think I will try to tackle this challenge. Thanks for sharing this info!

    • Thanks, Jessica! A no spend November can help you start your holiday savings or just add money to what you already have set aside for holiday spending.

  15. Such a great way to get prepared for the holiday season and all the additional costs that come with it. I’m certainly going to be working through your list and seeing how I can reduce my spending in November – thank you.

    • A no spend November can be helpful for saving money ahead of the holiday season, or at the very least, not blowing your holiday budget. I hope these tips help!

    • A no spend November can definitely put spending in perspective and what really counts as a want or a need. I hope he does a great job with your hair! I just trim my ends at home and that saves me a few dollars every month.

  16. I do a no spend month every once in a while but I just can’t do it for November. We’re moving into a new home in the beginning of December so I’m counting on those Black Friday sales for savings. I do love having a reason or plan on how to spend the savings once the month is done.

    • November is a hard month but if you’re shopping on Black Friday, you could still save some money that way. You can always try no spend weeks or weekends in December or other times of the year to make up for it!

  17. Oh how I love a no spend challenge Rebecca. In fact, it’s a way of life for me. I only spend when I ‘need’ to. Great for people who need to save some money though. Great idea!

    Anne xx

    • Me too, Anne! No spend is hard sometimes but it’s a great way to save money. And if you can do a no spend November when everyone else is shopping, that’s a major accomplishment!

    • I hear you, Tyler! It’s all about figuring out your needs vs. wants. And finding ways to have free fun at home can help with planning a no spend November.

  18. These tips for saving efforts are excellent, but everyone in the family must be in agreement. That way things get easier. Thanks for the post!

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