‘No-Spend Week’ Challenges and Temptations

As an avid reader of ‘frugal living’ and ‘non consumerism’ focused blogs I have been following many journeys of a ‘no-spend month’. Now, I bet you know what I am talking about. The idea is simple, basically one is supposed to spend money only on ‘needs’ such as rent, utilities, prescriptions, and whatever else one agrees a ‘need’ for that given month is. Some ‘exceptions’ apply such as already pre-planned BDay gifts or a date night, etc. Everyone is setting their own rules.

'No-Spend Week' Challenges and Temptations

Last week, on the 2nd of the month I decided I could absolutely do it, for the entire first week of May and then see how I go. Easy peasy. One week without spending money. Spending ZERO dollars. Come on, our fridge is FULL, bills just got paid, what else do I need to spend money on? I mean, after all, no matter how frugal I think I am, I AM spending money on something each day without fail. Even if it is $1, $1.5 or $1.99. I love clearance section at Duane Reade, cheap deli coffee at the M subway stop, ciabatta bread from Dean & Deluca.

I remember times when I still lived in Poland, we would do grocery shopping twice a month, paid bills and we were done for the month. It never occurred to me to spend money on something daily. Sometimes I would not even bring money with me to work at all. There was no need for it. (I shall also mention I biked to work so no last moment, unexpected gas refills). Here, while I live in NYC? I have my wallet with me everywhere. My wallet is my beating heart (and so is my phone). The money is just too easily accessible.

No-spend week? This will be easy.

I’ve kept track of each day this past week and this is how I did:

Rules I set up for myself (T. was not joining):

  1. No grocery shopping (I am prepping all the meals so basically this one is all on me to manage). T. is happy to eat whatever I make. This makes me realize that I have a LOT of power in cutting grocery bill if need be.
  2. Since I am doing the no-spend week (rather than a no-spend month) I am aiming to have no ‘spending exceptions’. I am planning to spend absolutely $0.
Day 1, Monday:

Excited for this project. The only temptation? I was near Jack’s discount store on the 32nd street (2nd and 3rd floor always have amazing deals on basically everything). I never miss to walk inside if I am in the area. I managed to just walk by. Seriously, just by not going in I saved at least $5-$7. I ALWAYS buy something if I walk into that store.

$0 spent

Day 2, Tuesday:

Going strong. Ate free lunch at work and was able to bring leftovers for T. for dinner. My day at work was 8:30am-7pm, I was so busy I wouldn’t have been able to spend any money even if I wanted to.

$0 spent

Day 3, Wednesday:

I knew it would be challenging not to ‘grab’ something as I was staying at work late and leaving directly for a (free) Broadway show. In anticipation of that I brought double amount of lunch food so I could eat around 6pm just before leaving office. I trusted I shall be all set but did not anticipate that once I get to the theatre T. would be calling me crying how hungry he was. He had not eaten since 1pm that day (talk about poor planning). To save my sanity and watch the musical without him being cranky, I got him a sandwich.

$6.15 spent

Day 4, Thursday:

The no-spend week is easy so far (the above mentioned sandwich aside). I actually feel silly making it a bit of a big deal. IT IS NOT A BIG DEAL. It is very much normal to pay for groceries and necessities and not spend any of the ‘leftover’ money. Come on, I did that for years while in Poland and my parents have done it their entire lives. Today I feel sightly ashamed, to be honest, I feel that even having an idea of a no-spend week would be silly if I shared it with my sister or my dad. Except groceries and bills, ALL of their weeks are very much no-spend weeks still. Today I feel like I definitely got a little spoiled here in the US. I am having doubts if I live my life in a way grateful enough.

$0 spent

Day 5, Friday:

Today I took The PG Girl to a Broadway Musical as her birthday gift (same show as I already saw on Wednesday ;). The tickets were free through my work and the show was great. To avoid spending any money before the show, I just worked late, meeting with The PG Girl half an hour before the show. Next week we will continue her birthday celebrations when we have birthday lunch so I did not want to spend anything on top of it today.

$0 spent

Day 6, Saturday:

I made no plans with friends today, which definitely makes it easier not to spend any cash, I tell ya ;). I slept in, dropped off EBay package at post office (making me $28), cleaned, cooked and finally got to watch some of the Craftsy tutorials that I saved last week. The gloomy weather made it easy to enjoy just staying home and doing ‘homey’ things.

$0 spent

Day 7, Sunday:

Well, today I was planning to use my Starbucks gift card credit or one of my remaining CUPS while ‘outing’ with a girlfriend but since she canceled on me it turned out I am having an entire weekend ‘friend free’ :/ T. and I went on a sort of a ‘day date’ so I did end up using one of my CUPS and got a huge macha tea which we split. It was basically free as I had a lot of credit in my account (thanks to a friend who used my promotional code – we both got $10 off  of CUPS coffee ‘plan’). On top of it we enjoyed an absolutely gorgeous day in Ridgewood, just walking around, people watching and enjoying being carefree.

$0 spent


So there you have it. A week passed, and I did manage to have some self control. We ate, we paid the bills and we still had fun. Not sure of actual savings, probably around $20 since I am quite frugal already. But hey, $20 bucks is $20. I cannot think of anything that I have not bought that I am missing and wish I had.

Doing a ‘no-spend’ month is ‘a big project’, doing a ‘no-spend’ week? You won’t even notice. It was THAT easy. I am thinking of making every other (or every third) week a ‘no-spend’ week.

Have YOU ever done the ‘no-spend’ month/week? Was it hard or easy to do?


One comment

  1. Kathy says:

    Mariana, You were a trooper last week, only buying a sandwich for T. I am inspired by you. I gleened your post tp just keep busy & stay away from trigger stores that prompt us to buy. Way to go and thank you.

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