I Survived A No-Spend Week For Two Weeks In A Row: Here Are The Eight Things I Learned

My previous post listed some tips and tricks for how to survive a no-spend week. I decided that I shouldn’t be giving advice unless I was willing to take on the challenge for myself, so I did. I’ve done many no-spend weeks in my life, but only because I didn’t have any money and not because I was being intentional about it. This was different than the other times. As I mentioned in my previous post, a no-spend week doesn’t actually mean not spending any money at all—but rather, only spending money on the essentials (e.g. groceries, bills, and maybe gas for the car), and being mindful about those grocery purchases and getting only what is needed. I was only going to participate originally for one week, but the person I live with also wanted to do a no-spend week so I did so for another week for solidarity. My first week I managed to save $147, even with a hiccup or two. The second week I saved $53. Here’s a play by play of the first week and a rundown and what I learned over these two weeks.

Sunday—This day was easy because I stayed home. I had two back-to-back social things the day before—and this introvert was exhausted. I rested and recharged and watched way too much Schitt’s Creek on Netflix…which you should totally watch, btw!

Monday—I took this day to actually think about my no-spend goals. I decided that I would use the money I save from these two weeks to beef up my savings. My second goal was to complete this challenge for this blog post, tbh. There were no temptations to spend any money on this day so it didn’t seem like this would be that difficult.

Tuesday—Coworker #1 asked me if I wanted to go get an iced coffee from Dunkin’, which is my biggest weakness. I actually said “yes” initially because I still had money left on my gift card and wouldn’t technically be spending any new money—however, when it was time to actually go, I decided to decline. Later, Coworker #2 asked whether I wanted to get carryout from a local restaurant. I did forget to pack my lunch, but I still declined. Luckily, I keep my Dymatize Protein powder at work and I just had a scoop of that to help me make it through the end of the day. I went to the grocery store to cover meals for the rest of the week, including lunches. Groceries for the rest of the week: $80 (that’s $50 less than my household’s usual weekly spend).


Lesson Learned #1: Don’t forget to pack your lunch.


Money Saved: Dunkin’: +$4.75; Restaurant I don’t like but would have still gotten food from: +$15 with tip.

Wednesday—I remembered to pack food and I was happy about that. Coworker #1 asked if I wanted to do carry out from one of my favorite Pho restaurants. It was really tempting to say yes, but the food I packed would have been sad if I didn’t eat it, right? I don’t like wasting food. Also—one of my first pieces of advice in my “how to survive a no-spend week” post was to tell other’s what you’re doing… I finally told my coworkers because the temptation to say yes was out of control.

Money Saved from Pho Place: +$15 with tip.

Lesson Learned #2: Don’t forget to tell others your plan.

Thursday—Before I even got out of bed, I found myself browsing through my Amazon app trying to purchase a set of hair clippers. This matters because I currently have the side of my head shaved, and it’s been a couple weeks and I need to do some maintenance. I didn’t even realize what I was doing until I almost selected “Proceed to check out.” I promptly stopped what I was doing and deleted the app. I managed to pay the power bill and gas bill before I headed to work, so at least I was winning in that department.

Money Saved from not making Amazon Purchase: $29

Lesson Learned #3: Delete those shopping apps and unsubscribe from those retailer emails.

Friday–Today was a day when several unexpected things popped up. At first I was really overwhelmed at the thought of spending money–not because I didn’t have it, but because I didn’t want my no-spend week to be a failure. But like I said in my previous post, that all-or-nothing way of thinking is the exact thing that creates a culture of failure…so after a minute of being frustrated that my plans to not spend at all needed to shift, I adjusted my expectation.

First, I realized I forgot to sign up for a 5k that I promised my friend I’d go to, and this is a one of a kind 5k for this area. We get to run on the runway at the airport, and all the proceeds go to help a charity for veterans. Because I was supposed to sign up for this more than a week ago, before the start of my no-spend two weeks, I signed up. The race turned out amazing, by the way.

I managed to say no to carry-out again at lunch, but that’s also because the crew wanted to do happy hour and I know I would spend money later that evening. So that $15 I saved by not doing carry out at lunch, I spent on happy hour (well, with tip I spent $19 at happy hour). For this, I cashed out my Ibotta money to Paypal that I had on my account, so this happy hour did not require that I spend any new money, so that left me in the positive column as far as I’m concerned. My mom also texted me that evening needing a new Fitbit band since hers broke. My mom doesn’t do online shopping, so I quickly went to the Amazon website (since I deleted the app) and bought her one.

Cost of 5k: -$35.
Cost of Happy Hour: +$19 in Ibotta money
Cost of Fitbit replacement band: -$7.50
Money Saved from not doing carryout: +$15

Lesson Learned #4: Ditch the all-or-nothing thinking about spending.

Saturday–Today would have been the end of my no-spend week, had I decided to just do one week. Because I decided to take on a second week, meal planning was essential for the following week. Groceries at Aldi purchased: $29, Dog food, toiletries, a couple more food ingredients, and allergy meds at Kroger that were purchased on Sunday: $62; Gas for the car: $25.

My second week looked a lot like the first week…I said “no” to a bunch of opportunities for Dunkin’, Grubhub, or other carryout; I also said “yes” to doing more social things that didn’t require money. I saved a little less money on this week because I was running out of what I already had at home and needed additional essential items. I did manage to play with my dogs more, look at my phone a little less, and find creative ways to spend my time that didn’t involve online window shopping (like writing this blog post). I won’t bore you with every little detail, but I will continue to share the lessons I learned along the way…and FYI, I did go to Dunkin’ on the second Friday. I had $2.32 left that I loaded on my card a month ago and I stuck to my $2 budget.

Picture from the 5K on the Runway. It was a lot of fun!

Lesson Learned #5: Learn to be flexible because something will always come up that requires your attention.

Lesson Learned #6: Don’t waste your resources. Appreciate your own cooking and the ability to control the ingredients.

Lesson Learned #7: Sometimes you just have to get that Dunkin’ (or whatever small thing it is that you love). Just don’t make it a habit so you view it as a treat rather than as a necessity.

Lesson Learned #8: Spend money on experiences (my 5k, for example) rather than stuff. Those memories will outlast whatever random item (not essential item) you were going to buy.

All in all, I really learned a lot over these last two weeks. I managed to save around $200 in cash, but most of all, I learned how to be a more mindful spender…something I’m aiming to take with me during the other weeks of the year.

5 comments

  1. So on board with all these takeaways! It’s ALWAYS better to spend on experiences rather than stuff, in my opinion. We’ve been inadvertently having no-spend weeks sprinkled throughout our summer, mostly because it’s become so routine to us to do a lot of the things you mentioned: we’ve learned to love cooking in, get creative with date night, and plan activities with friends that don’t require money (like boogie boarding at the beach!). The more you do it, the easier it gets. But yes, I agree – if you desperately want that Dunkin’, it is totally okay to indulge every once in a while!

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