No Spend Challenge Recap – NSC Series

No Spend Challenge Recap

This past month (January) my wife and I, along with many of our blog followers / readers completed an awesome challenge known as the No Spend Challenge (NSC). Now that it’s all said and done, it’s time for us to give you a full No Spend Challenge Recap to let you know how it went!

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If you are new to our NSC Series, start here!
-If not, you can skip this section-

The short story is that my wife and I racked up a ton of debt (read how HERE) and want to pay it off as quickly as possible so that we can live our dream lives (read about our goals HERE). The goal of the challenge was to help us learn about living frugal, saving money, and paying off our debt faster.

Visit our post, Frugal Living at its Finest: the No Spend Challenge, to view why we are doing the challenge, what the challenge entails, and the rules.

If you would like to do your own No Spend Challenge, sign up for our e-newsletter below! We’ll send you tips and tricks to complete the challenge. Don’t forget to visit our No Spend Challenge page (CLICK HERE) to see what we did each day of the challenge!

Follow our rules or make your own! Join for one week or the entire month! We know that not everyone is in the same situation we are in. Stick with the No Spend Challenge for as much or as little as you are able in your situation and don’t be afraid to hop on at any point (it’s never too late to join in on the fun!).

This will be the single, greatest choice you make to jump start the New Year.

No Spend Challenge Recap

As the end of January approached, my wife and I started thinking about how the month went. There were hard days – days that all we wanted was a sub sandwich or some fast food – and other days we barely noticed that the challenge was happening. Let’s start by delving into a brief overview of each week before we do a full-on No Spend Challenge Recap – here goes!

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Week 1 – No Spend Challenge Recap

During week one we had to spend around $5 for a bottle of medication. If you all remember, I was suffering quite the migraine that week and it was HORRIBLE. We also spent $30.12 on gas which we had decided from the start didn’t count toward our NSC. Overall, week one went very well and we were surprised at how well we were able to eat.

Most eye-opening piece of week one? The food thing. There were a couple of nights where we came home and were hungry, tired, etc. from work. We didn’t want to cook, we didn’t want to pick food, and nothing at all sounded good. Normally we would have eaten out on those nights, but since we can’t, we realized how we have tons of food and we’re lucky to have this problem. So, we will definitely be more conscious of this going forward after the challenge.

To read the full Week 1 Update click HERE.

Week 2 – No Spend Challenge Recap

Week two went super well. I remember feeling on top of the world as I finished week two – thinking we could do this forever. It was easy. Cake! We had extra money being thrown at our debt, our food was getting used up, and we were on our way to paying off our credit card debt! It was a great week. My favorite food of this week was the homemade soft pretzels. YUM.

Most eye-opening piece of week two? I think it has to be the fact that we still have so much food leftover and we are no where near emptying our cupboards, pantry, freezer, or fridge. In fact, we have so much food that we are trying to figure out how to store it soon so that it doesn’t go bad. Go figure, right?

To read the full Week 2 Update click HERE.

Week 3 – No Spend Challenge Recap

By this point we had just paid off our credit card debt and were on top of the world as far as debt repayment goes! However, this week was also a struggle. There were a few days where all we wanted was to buy some food that wasn’t leftover. We were struggling. We were tired. But we held our own and for that I am proud of us. My favorite food from this week was the homemade minestrone-like soup – definitely going to be using this recipe more often!

Most eye-opening piece of week three? I think the thing that has surprised me most is how much money we allotted for ourselves in our budget unnecessarily. Even with another gas purchase this week, we will probably only use $60 for gas for the month (rather than the allotted $120), groceries we normally allot around $250 and we clearly don’t need that much – as can be told by the fact that we haven’t bought any all month, and as for fun money? I will say that fun money is a necessity. We need to be able to leave home and get a dinner out once in a while. That being said, we normally allot around $100 for this each month (or more sometimes!). We are going to cut that down to $20 every two weeks while we are living frugally and paying off our debt.

To read the full Week 3 Update click HERE.

Week 4 – No Spend Challenge Recap

This week we ended up spending again, but not on anything that went against our spending goals / rules for the challenge. We spent $27.68 on gas and another $5.52 on medication. Again, both acceptable so I would say that we did pretty damn well. This week was hard again in that by the end of the challenge we were so ready to be done. All we wanted was to go out and buy some food that wasn’t what was in our freezer. My favorite food from this week was homemade Chinese lo mein and beef teriyaki! So Good!

Most eye-opening piece of week three? How surprisingly hard it can be at times. We are caught between two mindsets – one of wanting to be happy, living a life where we aren’t so “stuck” and aren’t so unbelievably stressed so often. The other of wanting to be debt free. I guess for us it can be hard to choose priorities at times because we like to dream so freely, but we are learning to live a quieter life.

To read the full Week 4 Update click HERE.

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Funds – No Spend Challenge Recap

So, what was our total spending for the month of January?


WOW! Can you believe that we ONLY spent a little under $70 for the entire month of January? Since 2015 we have spent $68.32.

How is this different from what we normally spend? Well, let’s see. Normally, we budget around $400 per month for “needs” and use other money for payments on things that we pay every month. Now, we also don’t always stick to that $400 budget, but even if we did, that saves us a total of over $330 in one month that we got to put toward debt!

There’s more though! In December our budget included money for Hulu, Progressive (car insurance), and Advocare (Spark energy drink). For January, we took these services out. No, we didn’t get rid of car insurance, but we did switch to Geiko and lower our monthly payment by over $40 (plus we have better coverage now!). So with these payments included we saved about $500 – which isn’t even including the extras we would have spent beyond our budgeting!

I would say that saving $500 is well worth the hassle of a No Spend Challenge!

Debt Repayment – No Spend Challenge Recap

We paid off a TON of debt in January and are super excited that we no longer have credit card debt!!!! Thanks to a lump sum check put entirely toward debt, we no longer have to ever worry about credit card debt again. Now, we did not close our accounts because we didn’t want to jeopardize our credit score, but we definitely we only be using them to pay them off entirely in the future!

Other than the lump sum check, which I won’t count in this because it was not directly caused by the NSC, we were able to put a total of $2,918.58 toward our debt! I don’t know what you think, but that’s a lot of money! $$

I had many questions about how much of this was minimum payments and how much was “extra” so here’s a little breakdown of how our debt budget works: At the beginning of January we had a minimum payment due:

  • $66 Credit Card
  • $130 Credit Card
  • $40 Student Loan
  • $467.92 Student Loan
  • $139.04 Car

We also have other debts that are in deferment.

That being said, our minimum payments for January were a total of $842.96. Therefore, we were able to put a total of $2075.62 toward our debt! While the NSC saved us about $500, we were able to scrounge up EVEN MORE extra funds than we thought possible due to the challenge.

Would you stop spending for an entire month to save $2075.62?!

To read our full Debt Repayment Update and see how much we ACTUALLY put toward debt, click HERE.

Food – No Spend Challenge Recap

We still have a LOT of food in our cupboards and we desperately want to use it all up. That’s all I want. Empty cupboards, fridge, pantry. Why? Because then we can restock it with foods we will truly enjoy and actually eat – and by doing so, save money in the long-run.

We had a lot of yummy food in January. We learned how to bake a ton of different types of bread, make a millions kinds of pasta, and learned so much about canning and growing foods. We tested new recipes, we used up milk to make ricotta cheese, and we got super domestic and frugal in our attempts to have people over and feed them despite not being able to spend any money.

It was such a great lesson for us to learn, but it also means that since we still have food in our house we can’t stop going. We have made the decision to continue the NSC on through some of February (until all our food is GONE!). We are getting closer, but we are still thinking that we have until the 15th before we use up our food. That being said, we are allowing ourselves to buy things such as milk, eggs, and butter since those are staples and we are basically out.

I’ll update you guys around the middle of the month as to how it’s going! Wish us luck!

Lessons Learned – No Spend Challenge Recap

We learned SO much during our No Spend Challenge – it’s hard to think of what all I can put here (and perhaps I’ll need to write a separate post devoted to sharing these lessons in more detail). Regardless, here is a little bit about what we learned during our month of no spending:

  1. You don’t need money to be happy. 
  2. Getting out of the house once and awhile, even if you don’t HAVE to go somewhere, is an essential part of life.
  3. If you tell your friends you aren’t able to spend money, they’re more than likely going to support you.
  4. You probably have more food than you think you do.
  5. There are so many items that I thought were necessities when it turns out they were only luxuries.
  6. Before you buy anything, do some research and see what you can make yourself: you would be surprised what you find.
  7. First World Problems are for real. I complain about so many things, but in reality, I’m so lucky.
  8. Helping others comes first. When people are around and they need food, that’s priority. All else can wait.
  9. There are some things I don’t think are worth skimping on (case in point: toothbrushes)
  10. Saving money doesn’t have to be hard, but in either case, it’s worth it in the long run.

Facebook Group – No Spend Challenge Recap

During our NSC, we had a group of challengers helping us along (and doing it themselves)! They were ROCKSTARS and I hope that they enjoyed it (though I’d love to hear some testimonials to the fact).

We started a Facebook group, but it wasn’t a huge success. That being said, I’d love to MAKE it a huge success. So, if any of you are interested in joining our No Spend Challenge Facebook group – head on over by clicking HERE. You’ll get tips on saving money, living frugally, paying off debt, and a built-in community to help you along the way.

Share it with your friends! Let’s build this community up!

No Spend Challenge Recap

Would we do it again? Yes, yes we would. The funds alone speak for themselves. My wife and I are considering implementing a “No Spend Week” every month until our debt is paid off entirely. We are even considering a big scary goal of $50,000 of debt gone this year! We’ll see if we can make that happen.

In any case, this challenge was exactly what we needed to build up our mindset of paying off debt, to get us started, and to push us past our comfort zones. We paid off a ton of debt, saved a lot of money, and learned SO much more than we ever expected.

I’m ready to do it all again. Are you with me?

What have you done so far this year to push you out of your comfort zone?

Leave your responses in the comments below!

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11 Replies to “No Spend Challenge Recap – NSC Series”

    1. That’s so great, Iman!! You did a fantastic job!!! I’m so glad you tried a spending cut as well. 🙂 Thank you for commenting / supporting. We really appreciate it!

  1. I’m going to try this is March. February isn’t really feasible since it’s my son’s and mom’s birthday and Valentine’s Day!! I will get my hubby on board too. Thanks for sharing!

    1. That’s so great, Chantale! We will be sending out plenty of email-newsletters to help people along in their No Spend Challenges – if you sign up you can get them too! Don’t forget to join the Facebook group too, for extra support. I’m excited to hear how your challenge goes in March! Keep us updated! 🙂 Thanks for your comment

  2. Again, congratulations! reduction of the assurance gave money for your goal; these are easiest gained 500 dollars! Negotiate negotiate negotiate the bills 😉

    Small remarks – to think at this:
    1. because you have enough food stored, think that funny budget could be used for experiences, and not to eat out. Yes, you can go to outdoor activities/a movie/theater / concert /museum/massage etc and have food as sandwiches + water prepared from home.
    2. extra food that you don’t like it donate/sell with low price on the facebook groups. The food is loosing proprieties in time -but you can help someone in real need.
    3. don’t replace anymore the storage of food. Think in the future to have storage food for maximum 2-4 weeks, to refresh it monthly. The storage products = money blocked ( did you estimate how much you paid this food and could be the cause of credit cards depths? ); storage products needs time to buy it, time to bring it home, space to clean etc. I have now food for one week, because… we change the menu and the ideas weekly.

    As from my part, my biggest effort for frugality was to keep the minimum clothes and chemicals, minimum items to bring in my house. I have 1 jeans and several skirts(homemade) , I have 7-8 combination: no time and money spent on it, 2 bed lingeries, a product to wash clothes, one to wash hair and body, and one for dishes. After the financial balance I will relax these rules, but not too much because… I don’t feel any restrictions, just at the fun area.
    I still recommend a weekly menu and buy the ingredients exactly quantity, and to have Friday evening the fridge empty (perfect to wash it). I buy only if it is a real bargain and I consume next weeks – the spring is coming and I want to take as much and fresh products as possible. And why not, to have the chance to keep a period with juicy local fresh products ( a movie impressed me , and plus a friend that keep it and just eliminate his 30 pounds and the diabete pills so… I think I will feel better without several pounds and more energy)

    1. Thank you for such a thoughtful comment, as always! I love waking up to read your comments. Negotiating bills is DEFINITELY a great way to gain $500. We will be doing more of that these coming months! 🙂

      1. I love this idea and I definitely think we’ll be doing that. We want to go watch a movie at the theater – haven’t done that in a while. It’ll be a good use of our money instead of for food since we already have so much! 🙂
      2. It’s a great idea to donate or sell food if you don’t like it. Our biggest problem is that most of it is frozen (like we cooked it already and froze it). Mostly we are bored with it (go figure, lol!). We are getting close though! Hopefully it’ll be gone within the next ten or so days! We’ll see.

      Clothes and chemicals at a minimum makes a big difference. You’re absolutely right. I’m so glad that it went well for you!!! We are definitely switching to following a weekly menu and that will certainly help our food costs as we move forward. 🙂

      I’ll go watch that video now. Thank you for your continued support!! 🙂

  3. I am beyond beyond beyond impressed right now! BEYOND!!!!!! I spend money all day every day – UGH! Okay, well I buy food, that’s pretty much all I spend money on! lol — I love food so so so much.

    1. That’s my biggest problem too! I LOVE food. I want to buy food all the time. That’s why we started the challenge, actually. 🙂 Thank you for your comment, GiGi!

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