One of the best ways to save extra money is to stop spending. But, that’s often easier said than done. So sometimes, it’s important to plan ahead. Instead of just trying to halt your spending on a whim, a no spend weekend may be a better idea.
No spend weekends are just what they sound like. You try not to spend any extra cash during Saturday and Sunday. And, if you’re up to it, you can start on Friday afternoon as well.
The goal of doing a no spend weekend is to save money. But, it also helps you learn more about yourself and your spending habits. More importantly, it gives you an idea of what you can do when you put your mind to it.
Taking two or two and a half days off from your usual spending habits is a good way to start saving extra money each month. However, you’re not limited to weekends. You can bring that down to no spend days. Or, push it up a few notches to an entire week or month.
While it sounds fairly simple and straightforward, make no mistake that no spend weekends require discipline and planning. I learned that the hard way the first time I tried doing it by foolishly jumping in without any clue of what was in store for me.
So, if you’re looking to save some extra cash, here’s how to go on a no spend weekend. And, some fun things you can do for free to enjoy it.
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No Spend Weekend Ground Rules
Before Anything Else, Set Some Ground Rules for Your No-Spend Weekend
One of the most important things to do before embarking on a no spend weekend is to set your ground rules first.
This makes sure that you know what to expect from it. And, you also know when to call “time out” because there are special exceptions.
For example, emergency cases like an accident or if something suddenly happens should be enough to call off the weekend, or at least interrupt your no spending rule.
Once you have some basic ground rules set, here are other things to consider.
Small wins will help you gain some experience and confidence.
While it’s a great feeling to try to jump straight into a no spend weekend, it might be a better idea to try to curb spending for a day initially.
Doing a no spend weekday is typically easier because you have work which keeps you busy. Free time always brings temptation especially if you’re not doing anything important at the moment.
Know Your Goals
What do you intend to get out of this no spend weekend?
The simple answer here is to save some money over the next 48 hours that you may otherwise have spent.
But, there should be something deeper. That’s your “WHY”.
Exactly why are you doing a no spend weekend?
Are you trying to get rid of some vices like eating out too often on weekends or doing too much shopping when you have free time on your hands?
It’s important to be aware of what you’re trying to do. This way, you’re not mindlessly doing something. Instead, your no spend weekend has a purpose or a goal it aims to achieve.
In addition to the immediate goal, you may also have a longer-term goal.
For example, you want to save for a vacation. And, you’ve noticed from your budget that a bigger chunk of your expenses occurs during the weekends.
So, a no spend weekend is a great way to significantly cut spending in order to save for your vacation faster.
Decide How Long the No Spend Period Will Last
Are you planning to not spend for a day, weekend, week or month?
The length of time really depends on your preference and to a point, your tolerance.
It’s important to remember that there’s no right or wrong answer here. It’s all about doing something that makes your life better, not make it miserable.
Here are a few things to consider as well.
- No spend weekends, weeks or months may not be for everyone. As you probably know, life can sometimes get in the way of your plans. If you can’t do it long term, you may want to try more frequent no spend days instead.
- You need to assess whether no spend weekends suit your lifestyle. I know some people who prefer saving on a few things every day as opposed to lumping all their savings into a few days straight. Think of it like dieting, where you can eat moderately healthy every meal or diet for a week with a cheat day on Sunday.
Get everything ready. The longer the no spend period will, the more things you’ll need to have ready.
Things like groceries as well as home essentials like toilet paper and other smaller items may cause you to mess up your no spend weekend if you don’t stock them in advance or have enough of them at home.
This takes a bit of planning ahead since you’ll need to have the necessities available on hand before you begin your no spend period.
How to Save Money If You Can’t Do a No Spend Weekend
As mentioned, implementing a no spend weekend requires planning, especially in the beginning. Once you’ve gotten through a few of them, you’ll be able to get by without as much planning ahead of time.
That said, there are times when no spend weekends can be hard to do. Holidays, special occasions like anniversaries and birthdays are some instances where it’s just not a wise move to try a no spend weekend.
Doing so only makes you miss out on the best things in life. And, that’s not what saving money is all about. It’s always about putting you and your family first, and money after that.
After all, the money is there to serve you. Not the other way around.
So, in case you happen to be in this situation, how can you make the best of it?
- The answer: find other simple ways to save money or do some ahead of time preparations for your next no spend weekend.
Ways to Save Money If You Can’t Do A No Spend Weekend
If it’s hard to fit an entire weekend of not spending into your schedule, a good alternative is to find other ways to save money. This works out just the same as you’ll be able to reduce expenses. But, you’ll just be doing it in a different way.
Here are some ways to save money without going on a no-spend weekend.
- Get paid for surveys. If you have some free time, visit a few survey for money sites like Swagbucks, Survey Junkie, MyPoints, Vindale Research, and Inbox Dollars. They’ll pay you for each survey you fill out. What’s easier than that?
- Fill your coupon binder. Coupons are a great way to save extra cash on items you already use. The key is knowing where to find them and not get enticed to buy products you don’t need just because they’re offered at a steep discount.
- Make or redo your budget. This is something you want to do regularly. It makes sure your budget is up to date. If there are any new expenses that have come up recently, make sure to include them.
- Meal plan for the upcoming week. Planning your meals for the week ahead of time helps you save money on groceries because you only buy things you’ll need for the next 7 days. And, it prevents you from purchasing any other unnecessary items.
- Make your meals ahead. This is an amazing time saver. By setting aside some time to make your meals ahead of time and freezing them, you’ll be able to save time and the hassle of thinking of what to serve during weeknights.
- Plan your financial future. What are your short-term and long-term goals? If you don’t have them, take some time to figure out what are the most important things you want to achieve in the next month, 6 months and 12 months. These are your short-term goals. For your medium-term goals, think of a few broader things you want to achieve in 18 months and 3 years from now. Finally, set about 3 general long term goals. All these goals will serve to guide you in how you save money, what your career plans are and how you’ll achieve these goals.
- List some stuff on eBay or Craigslist. We all have a lot of useless things we don’t need anymore. These items take up space in the attic, basement or storage. Plus, they also clutter things up and make your home more disorganized. Selling them lets you clear them out and earn some cash along the way.
- List an extra room in your home on Airbnb. If you have extra space at home you don’t use, why not rent it out? Airbnb lets you easily list the room and get paid if someone wants to stay there for a while.
- Make a vision board. If you are better are interpreting and remembering things visually, try a vision board. Put together a vision board that shows all your wishes and goals. This helps you keep things in perspective. And, it will help motivate you towards achieving them.
- Listen to a podcast or TED talk. TED talks are an incredible way to learn things from people who are experts in their fields. They’re great because you can do them while on your daily commute or doing something else.
- Make a to-do list for the upcoming week. My to-do list is one of the most important things that helps me prioritize everything that needs to get done. I have a to-do list for the next day which I update the night before. Plus, I also have weekly and monthly to-do lists.
Fun and Creative Things to Do for a No Spend Weekend
Okay, now we get to the fun part, how to enjoy a no spend weekend. The key is to find things you like to do that won’t make things too boring or make you miserable.
Here are some great ideas to help inspire you.
Food for Your Mind, Body And Soul
Let’s start with the things that will be good for your mind, body, and soul. These things make you feel better, let you relax and in many cases are very fulfilling.
Best of all they’re free. You don’t have to spend anything to do them. And, you’ll be rewarded for it.
- Volunteer. Spend a few hours volunteering at a shelter, food bank or children’s hospital.
- Meditate. This is great for your mind. It makes you smarter, prevents age-related brain illness and lets you de-stress. All it takes it 5 minutes at a time. As you get better slowly increase each session until you get to 15-30 minutes.
- Do some yoga. Meditation is technically one aspect of a holistic yoga program. Adding the yoga poses or asanas will help you feel better physically. Plus, it helps relieve stress and back pain.
- Work out. Not a fan of yoga, then just exercise. Brisk walking, hiking, jogging or swimming are all free alternatives to going to the gym.
- Read a book. Pick up a book and relax in your backyard.
- Take a home spa day. Pamper yourself at home with a nice warm bath and home spa treatment.
- Get a massage from your partner. This is both romantic and relaxing.
- Visit the library and spend time learning something that you’re curious about or interests you.
- Enjoy some tai chi in the park. Attending morning or afternoon tai chi sessions are great for overall health and very relaxing as well.
- Go out for a walk or take a hike. If you have a dog, take it for a nice leisurely stroll with them. If you have green areas around like forests or parks, even better.
- Try to recreate a dish or follow a Gordon Ramsey recipe.
- Get in touch with your loved ones. Pick up the phone and call mom, your sister or best friend just to catch up.
Have Some Fun
If you want to get some time off for yourself or enjoy some rest and relaxation, here are some great suggestions. They’ll let you have fun while you’re on your no spend weekend and return to work on Monday fully recharged.
- Start a garden. If you have a green thumb, work on your garden. You can also save more money by starting your own edible garden to grow vegetables and herbs including tomatoes, basil, and thyme.
- Try a new hobby.
- Play board games with friends or your family. This is a great way to bond and enjoy quality time.
- Go to the park and just relax.
- Hang out with friends.
- Have a picnic. Fix up some quick snacks and sandwiches and spend an afternoon at the park.
- Have a movie marathon at home. Invite some friends while you’re at it.
- Bring out the crayons and start coloring. I love doing this because I enjoy art. Drawing and coloring are not only relaxing, but they also help you be more creative.
- Call friends over for a potluck. This is a nice free way to enjoy different dishes all at once.
- Karaoke at home. it doesn’t matter if you’re good at singing or not. The goal of karaoke is to enjoy time with good friends.
- Go fishing.
- Visit a part of town you’ve never been to. This is a great way to explore and find new things you didn’t know was just near where you live.
- Enjoy a free concert or play at the park.
- Go to the beach and spend some time enjoying the water and sun.
- Visit a museum when it’s offering free admissions. You’ll have to figure out when this happens because each museum has its own schedule.
Do the Chores
This may not be as fun as the other things above. But, they’ll let you make productive use of your time. And, in many instances make you feel really good about yourself because you’ve finally gotten them out of the way.
- Clean the house. Pull out the vacuum and start cleaning. You’ll get good exercise. And, you’ll be able to get everything organized at home.
- Wash the car. Save some cash and wash the car yourself instead of bringing it to the car wash.
- Declutter your home. Studies show that clutter increases stress levels. It also makes it harder to work because your mind sees so many things happen at the same time. Get rid of the clutter so you can work and think better.
- Clear your email inbox. Instead of spending time on your workday to check email, use this free time to do so. This lets you use work time more productively instead of wasting half an hour on email.
- Delete some files or reorganize hard drive folders. If you’re like me, after a while your folders accumulate with files that you don’t need anymore. Organize things by deleting useless files and moving all related files into specific folders.
What About You?
What are your favorite things to do on a no spend weekend? I’d love to know how you spend this time.