No-Spend November: A 30-Day Money Saving Challenge

No-Spend November: a 30-day money saving challenge

George and I are taking our first overseas trip in December and we all know what December means… present-buying season. In years past I’ve done a handmade holiday challenge and a $100 holiday challenge. This year, before the holidays begin, I’m going to challenge myself to spend no money in the month of November. I’m calling it “No-Spend November.” Clever, eh? Of course, I can’t literally spend no money at all. I have bills to pay and food to eat, but I will be spending no money on non-essentials in November. We paid for our plane tickets and our hotel on our credit card, so the money that I save in November will go to paying that off. I also plan to buy Christmas presents when I am overseas, so I don’t have to plan holiday gifts far in advance this year. It’s win-win all around. Anyway… here’s the rules.

No Spend November Rules

The rules may vary from person-to-person depending on your life situation, but rule #1 is the same for everyone:

  • Only spend money on essentials! This is by far the most important rule. Throughout the month I’ll be asking myself: is this essential?
    • Essentials include doctor’s appointments, prescriptions, gas for car, bills. Not much else!
  • Shop for groceries before the month begins.
    • For items that expire quickly (milk, fresh produce, etc.) I am using CSA share that comes once a week and costs $25 per week.
  • Leave credit and debit cards at home. This will help me avoid temptation.
  • On November 1st I’ll pull $100 out of an ATM for gas money and gas money only.
  • Bring lunch to work every day.
  • No online shopping!
    • Delete saved passwords and credit card info to make online shopping harder.

That’s it. Those are the rules. It’s easier said than done, but I’m excited to get one step closer to our first overseas excursion.

How are you saving for the holidays? Will you join me for the No Spend November challenge? Talk to me in the comments!


10 thoughts on “No-Spend November: A 30-Day Money Saving Challenge

  1. Liz

    Hi Melanie,

    I hope your challenge is a success..though I can’t imagine participating in it myself. In the past, when I’ve been strict with my spending to the point of ONLY spending $ on things that are “essential” I end up over-indulging when I have money again to spend as a result of depriving myself of things I truly need to be happy and healthy while being so “strict”. I believe saving is essential, but one shouldn’t deprive oneself of the basic pleasures of life…for me, those include eating out occasionally and maybe even a massage (which does in fact keep me healthy and happy). Perhaps you don’t feel that only spending money on “essentials” causes a feeling of deprivation, and I completely understand wanting to save for the holidays-but for me, life (and money) is all about balance and abundance…which means I won’t over-spend during the holidays, and I won’t deprive myself of things that may seem non-essential, but truly are.

    I love your blog and the links you send out on a regular basis, but I DO caution you on encouraging people to truly live in deprivation, just so they can then spend and indulge the next month…as some may run into trouble with this, and even accumulate debt (I speak from experience on that one!) as opposed to being fiscally responsible.


    1. melanie Post author

      Hi Liz, thanks for your concern. I appreciate your opinion, but I have done a spending fast– a whole year where I only let myself spend $100 on unessential items. (You can read more about it on I did that so I would have money for small splurges. But in this case, it is just a month challenge, so I don’t feel like I’m depriving myself at all. I think it’s good to take breaks from spending and it’s helped me realize that I don’t need things to be happy and healthy.

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  3. Raissomat

    Yeah,’tis the time for challenges! I for one challenge myself to have all christmas gifts ready to go by the end of november. So I have two full salaries to cover end of year expenses like yearly insurances, and taxes. That’s what I need. I look forward to crafting afternoons with friends to make candles with old wax in porcelain tea cups, sew banners for the new babies and building a new coat hook intstallation for the husband 😀
    Good luck on your challenge!! Food prep!!

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  5. Heather

    Goodness! It is that time of year again already isn’t it? Shame I can’t participate in this as I would live to up my savings game again. But sinve we have a baby coming the beginning of December we have to stock up on all the things we don’t ave yet. Not a whole lot mind you, since we have 2 other kiddos and still have some of their stuff we can use. Just the little stuff that really adds up. Good luck on your challenge and enjoy your trip!

  6. Elisabeth

    I love this idea! I am going to try it myself… I just need to plan in the next few days before November 1st hits. I am not worried about Christmas gifts as we don’t typically buy them for anyone other than the immediate 3 people that live in our house. 🙂 But that is a personal choice we made years ago. Anyway! Thank you for sharing this challenge, it will be good! Kind of makes me think of doing the Whole 30, that forced me food wise, to only buy what was needed but in this case, it will be buying only what is needed in everything. Have fun on your travels!!

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