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No Spend November What are the rules

No Spend November: What Are the Rules?

No Spend November started as a financial challenge that encourages the participant to limit or eliminate unnecessary spending for the entire month of November. The idea behind No Spend November is to raise awareness about spending habits, encourage individuals to save more, pay off debt, and take control of their finances. It’s encouraging to read all the success stories about what people are able to save, but also what they learned from this intentional time. There are lots of different reasons why you might want to participate in No Spend November, and one person’s No Spend November probably won’t look like another person’s, so let’s break it down.

In this blog: 

  • Rules for a No Spend November
  • Who Should Participate in No Spend November?

Rules for a No Spend November 

Define Your Essentials 

This is the biggest factor that will differentiate one person’s No Spend November from another. It’s time to determine which expenses are essential. For most people, essentials might include rent or mortgage payments, utilities, groceries, transportation for work, and necessary medical expenses. As of the time of writing this blog, student loan payments should also be considered. 

If you want to get even more granular, you can set guidelines for how much you spend in some of these categories, like gas and groceries. Do you save money and stick to the basic grocery staples? Or do you take this opportunity to try out new recipes? It’s your No Spend November, so those choices are up to you and your goals. 

Set a Budget

Once you have your necessary and unnecessary expenses sorted, you should set a budget for your month. It would be helpful to allocate specific amounts to your essential categories and decide on a daily or weekly spending limit. 

If you are curious about budgeting, there are some more tips in this free guide. 

No Impulse Purchases

If you love a good sale, this might be the most challenging part of your month. But since it’s No Spend November, that means no impulse purchases. If you know at the start of the month that there is something you really need to buy and that it will be going on sale, consider making that part of your budget for the month. But to really experience the benefits of No Spend November, it’s a good rule to have no impulse buying for the month. 

Meal Planning

Planning your meals for each week will greatly improve your ability to control your spending for the month. If you want to, you can map out how much each meal costs to make, but even if you don’t want to get that detailed, planning your meals will helpy eliminate food waste and increase your intentionality when you are grocery shopping. This can also curb unwanted impulse food spending purchases. 

No Dining Out

It’s a good thing you made that meal plan, because most people consider dining out an unnecessary expense and therefore not in the approved budget for No Spend November. This is a great time to brush up on your cooking skills, get out those family recipes, and enjoy the simple act of preparing meals you love at home. 

Cancel Unnecessary Subscriptions 

Part of No Spend November is limiting or eliminating all unnecessary spending. If you want to take full advantage of this month, go ahead and cancel any unnecessary subscriptions. An easy place to start is streaming service– do you really need 5 different platforms, or would one suffice for the month? This will require personal discretion as to what is “necessary” and “unnecessary”, but it’s encouraging to remember that it’s just one month! If your goal is to save as much money as possible, it would be to your benefit to be ruthless in what you choose to cut.  

Avoid Online Shopping 

If you haven’t been keeping a budget up until this point, I recommend looking back on your last three bank statements and tallying up how much you spent on online shopping. There is something about spending money online that can feel like “you’re not actually spending money”. Plus, there is the high of having packages show up on your doorstep every few days. But if you want to reach your goals for No Spend November, online shopping should be limited, if not completely avoided during this month. 

There are some more tips on how to stop online shopping here. 

Free and Low-Cost Entertainment 

Just because you are participating in No Spend November doesn’t mean that you can’t have a fun month. Depending on where you live, there are lots of free or low-cost options to fill your time with. Something to keep in mind is that if you are looking for free entertainment, it might take a bit more planning ahead than you usually account for. It’s easy to make plans on the fly when you have cash to burn, but if you want to have a full social calendar this month, take some time to research and create a list of free options you are looking forward to. Make sure to check your community’s free events, as often this time of year there are free performances, concerts, and more!

This could be a great time to read and research topics you know you want to learn more about. If you are excited about building wealth and want to learn more about taking action for your financial future, you are going to love this. 

Repair Instead of Replace 

Oh no– you are halfway through your month and your favorite shirt got a hole in it! No spend November is a great time to reflect on ways that you can repair your belongings, instead of being quick to replace them. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, but try your best this month to find ways to replace items instead of buying something new. 

Track Your Spending 

One of the rules for No Spend November that might be easily looked over is tracking your spending. This is like a reward for all your hard work! Not only is tracking your spending going to help you know if you completed your goals for the month or not, but it will help you build self-trust. Documenting your process is a great way to feel encouraged by your hard work and stay motivated to keep going. Think about all that extra cash you will have come December! 

Emergency Fund Exception

While the rules of No Spend November are pretty clear on not spending, it’s important to note that actual emergencies might arise during the challenge. Allow yourself to be flexible if something arises that requires you to spend money above and beyond your existing emergency fund. 

Donate or Sell Unused Items 

Okay– this might not technically be a rule for No Spend November, but it’s definitely an added bonus! It’s likely you will have some extra time on your hands this month (it’s amazing how much time spending money can take up), so why not use it as a chance to clear out your house and start December anew? Plus, you might even be able to make some extra cash by selling your items on Facebook Marketplace, Poshmark, or other similar platforms. 

Reflect and Learn 

Lastly, don’t forget to reflect and implement what you have learned from this experience. It’s cool to be able to say you completed a full month of not spending on unnecessary expenses, but an experience like this can be transformative if you take time to really reflect on your experience. Is there an area you realized you enjoyed not spending money on? Did you take up a new hobby that you want to keep making space for once the month is over? Take some time to journal and reflect. Make a game plan for how you want to implement the lessons you learned. 

Who should participate in No Spend November? 

Those wanting more awareness around their spending 

No Spend November is an ideal challenge for anyone seeking to gain greater awareness of their spending habits. If you simply want to develop a clearer picture of your financial priorities, this challenge is for you. It’s amazing the clarity that can come when we quit the noise of spending and focus on one thing at a time! 

It’s particularly beneficial for individuals who may struggle with impulse buying, impulsive eating out or are just getting started in their budgeting journey. By participating in No Spend November, you can hit a pause button on discretionary spending, allowing you to reflect on your financial choices and redirect your resources toward potentially more meaningful goals. It’s a powerful tool to help you understand your financial patterns, identify areas for improvement, and ultimately gain better control over your finances, leading to a healthier and more secure financial future. 

Those wanting to save for the holidays 

On average, Americans plan to spend over $800 on holiday shopping. The expected total overall holiday spending is expected to be over $960 billion. If you find yourself wanting to prepare for the holiday season, No Spend November is for you. 

By participating in this challenge, you can save what you would normally spend on discretionary items and experiences, and use that money directly for holiday shopping and experiences. This can help you focus on the being present and enjoying the season with the people you love, instead of being stressed about finances. 

Those wanting to invest extra 

If you have an investing goal for the year (or want to before the year ends!) No Spend November is for you! This is a great opportunity to free up some extra funds to go directly into your brokerage account. In fact, you can think of this as a different type of shopping spree, one where you get to buy stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. 

If you want to learn more about invest, this class has all you need to get started. Already investing? No worries, there are tips for you too! Plus a live Q&A at the end to answer your burning investing questions. (Hey, look! This is also a free entertainment option for you during your No Spend November!)

Those transitioning jobs

Did you just get a new job? Congratulations! While starting a new job can be full of so many positives, oftentimes it also means a lapse in paychecks. If you find yourself a little short on cash flow this month, a no-spend challenge is a great option for you. By eliminating unnecessary expenses, you will have additional resources to put towards what you need to pay for this month. 

Final Thoughts

If you want to participate in No Spend November, it’s important to remember that you can set your own rules. Typically, the rules for No Spend November include avoiding non-essential purchases like dining out, entertainment expenses, clothing shopping, or impulse buys. Some people take it a step further by committing to not spend any money on anything other than essential bills and groceries. The great thing about this challenge is that there is a spectrum for how you can participate! However, remember that it’s exactly that– a CHALLENGE. You are wanting to participate in No Spend November for a reason, so make sure when you are setting your rules that you challenge yourself and align your map with your goals. 

Most importantly, keep note of what you learn along the way! Challenges like this can be transformational for your relationship with money. You’ll be thankful later that you took notes when it comes time to reflect on the process and make a new budget for December. 

As always, there are tons of free money resources waiting for you here to help you with your No Spend month and your greater financial goals. 

Good luck and have fun!

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