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7 Secrets for a Successful No Spend November

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Are you interested in trying a no spend November money challenge?

I’ve written about no spend challenges here before and if you haven’t done one yet, the month of November is a great time to give it a shot!

But wait…November is when you’re supposed to spend money, right? After all, you might have your holiday budget ready to go and of course, those Black Friday sales are calling.

Not so fast!

Taking a break from spending is a great way to hit reset on your budget. And when you’re not spending money, you could be saving it instead!

If that sounds good to you, then keep reading because I’m going to explain everything you need to know to pull off a successful no spend November.

What Is No Spend November Anyway?

no spend novemberIn a nutshell, it means putting the brakes on unnecessary purchases and only spending money on things your family truly needs.

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 have to commit to not spending any money for the whole month?

Well, ideally yes 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 Thanksgiving 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.

7 Tips for Making a No Spend November Work

If you’re serious about locking down your spending for November, then high five! These tips can help you come up with a foolproof plan for making it work.

1. Set your spending ground rules

First things first, you have to sort out what counts as essential spending for November and what doesn’t.

So, the things you have to spend money on might include things like:

  • Mortgage or rent payments
  • Electric, water and other utilities
  • Gas and necessary transportation costs
  • Groceries
  • Internet and cell phone service (I count these as essential expenses in my budget because I can’t run my business without them.)
  • 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.

2. Set a target for saving

If you’re not spending as much as usual, then 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!

(For more on CIT Bank, read my in-depth review!)

3. Make it a team effort

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 November 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. (Or better yet, make your own with ingredients you have at home!)
  • 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.

5. Track your spending

Sticking with a no spend November 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!

no spend novemberI will not 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.

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. Three 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 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!

9 Extra Income Ideas That Are Perfect for Fall

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

5 Online Side Hustles Introverted and Shy Moms Will Love

12 Profitable Side Hustles That Are Perfect for Single Moms

7 Ways to Get Paid to Write Online That Can Earn You Thousands Each Month

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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Hi there, I'm Rebecca, homeschooling single mom of two. I built a six-figure freelance writing business from home and now I teach people like you how to start side hustles, build profitable businesses online, manage money and be more productive! Follow me on Pinterest and Twitter and don't forget to check out the Resource Library--it's packed with tons of free tools to help you manage your money, business and life!

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!

    • 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!

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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”.

  12. 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.

  13. 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!

  14. 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!

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