No Spend Year Challenge!

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Yep, you read that right. Partner’s in Fire is doing a No Spend Year! Ok, so maybe the catchy headline is a tad bit misleading. Maybe we should call it a “No Frivolous Spend Year”. That doesn’t sound nearly as exciting though, does it?

What a No Spend Year means to us

The main point of our no spend year is to stay away from unnecessary spending all year. Our goals are to pay off our debt and recoup our savings. We also decided now, in January, what we will be spending money on this year, and the challenge is to not deviate from that decision, for the whole entire year!

What we Can Spend Money on this Year

Obviously, it’s impossible to go an entire year without spending any money. We need to eat, we need to live somewhere, we need utilities, and we need to drive to work. We also aren’t complete fuddy duddies, so we need to have a bit of fun. The important thing is to decide now what that fun will be and to not deviate from it.

Mandatory spending

We’ve all got bills to pay. Our mandatory spending this year is the same as it will be every year. We need to pay our taxes, utilities, gas, and food. This mandatory spending category covers all of our monthly bills. This is what we will spend each month on bills:


Taxes PA house 150
Home insurance PA House 100
Georgia house mortgage 1200
Georgia house maintenance 200
HBs Car 300
Stupid Decision Car 300
Car Insurance (all three cars) 300
Phones 300
Utilities 300
Groceries 800
Total Monthly Bills 3950


4k per month seems like an awful lot, but remember we are renting our house in Georgia out, so the tenets are paying the costs of that, and sometimes my ex pays for the stupid decision car and insurance (though not always). Also, these bills are for two people, four cats, and two giant dogs (hence the slightly high grocery bill).

New House Spending

Our biggest purchase during our no spend year is undoubtedly the new house in Pennsylvania. We are paying cash, so it’s going to wipe out the majority of our cash holdings (reason number one why rebuilding that this year is of utmost importance!). The house itself was a steal – 52K for a huge Victorian Style home. It’s a fixer upper, so we will need to put some money into renovations this year. We just got the inspection completed, and there don’t seem to be any major problems that make the home unsafe or unlivable, but there are a lot of cosmetic problems and a few things that will cause major problems down the road if they aren’t addressed soon. We are expecting the renovations to cost about 20K.

On the plus side, we thing that if we put that money into the home and make it nice, we will greatly increase the value, and we will most likely make money on it when we decide to resell it. We are also going to save money by doing a lot of the renovations ourselves!


We aren’t going to be total fuddy duddies during our no spend year. We’ve already decided that we will take two trips this year – one to Los Angeles to visit my friends and family, and another to Savannah to visit his. Both of those locations offer us free places to stay, and we can drive to Savannah to save even more money.

We decided that we can budget some money for these trips this year because personal relationships are the most important things in the world, and we don’t want to lose sight of that while trying to save money.


We are going to severely limit the amount of money that we spend on having fun this year, but we can’t have zero fun. Therefore, we decided to talk now about what are “fun” spending will be. Brian really loves video games, and he’s going to go back to streaming on Twitch as soon as we get settled into the new house. So, we decided that he can buy four new video games over the course of the year. This isn’t a lot at all for an active gamer, but he’s willing to make the huge sacrifice to ensure that we get all our stuff paid off.

We are also going to buy a Nintendo 64 and some of the old school games (especially Mario 64!). This console will provide us with hours of inside the house entertainment, so we won’t be crazy bored.

The final fun spending thing that we are allowing ourselves this year is a few day trips. We are definitely going to take Brian’s daughter to the Hershey theme park and Philadelphia, but we are also considering heading to New York City or Boston for a quick get-away. We want to take advantage of all the awesome stuff that super close to our new location!

Eating Out

Ok, we are realists. We know that it’s basically impossible to not eat out for an entire freaking year. That’s just not going to happen. Therefore, we allowed ourselves two nights a month for eating whatever we want. The BF really sucks at not eating out, so this is going to be a huge struggle for him. Getting him to bring a lunch to work every day rather than go to whatever fast food place is closest is going to be a huge struggle for me. But I think we will get there.

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What we Can’t Spend Money on this Year


Travel is one of my biggest budget busters. I’ve been on at least one international trip every year for the past five years. I’ve spent close to ten grand every year on it! I love to travel, to explore new cities, foods, and cultures, so this limitation is going to be really hard on me. But it will be worth it to ensure that I’ll have the opportunity to travel even more in the years to come.


No new clothes, no new shoes, no new toys. This is going to be rough for both of us! The majority of our unnecessary spending has been on frivolous stuff that we find at malls (who remembers the crappy Zelda chest from My Boyfriend Sucks with Money?). If we are going to succeed at this no spend year and achieve our budget goals, we need to totally eliminate this type of spending. It will be easier for me than for him, but hopefully giving him the four games will help. It’s going to be a rough year!

Eating out

Yes, we are giving ourselves a little leeway here, but for the most part our no spend year includes no eating out. That means bag lunches, dinners at home, and learning how to cook. Thankfully I have the Healthy Eating Ultimate Bundle which will help me plan out or meals and learn how to cook tasty delicious meals. Maybe we can even start cooking as a couple’s activity! That would be fun!

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Going Out

I’m a homebody, so this is way easier for me. But the BF loves going out to bars for tasty adult beverages. This is a huge budget buster! One tasty adult beverage costs almost eight bucks! And who (other than me) has just one? One night on the town can easily cost over fifty bucks, and that’s just unnecessary.

We are also going to severely limit other types of going out. Movies, bowling, mini-golf, arcades, coffee shops, malls, and anything else entertaining are all on our no-no list. Sure, we may do one or two of these things this year, but they will be few and far between. Instead, we will have free fun at parks, hiking trails, and at home.

Who’s with me?

So who is with me on the No Spend Year Challenge? Lets all work together and keep each other accountable for sticking to our plans! We can do it!

12 thoughts on “No Spend Year Challenge!”

  1. I’m on a No Spend Year as well! Actually, I started it 6 months ago, so it’s an 18-month challenge for me. 2019 is my first full year! Also, my Ban began as a Shopping Ban but I realized I was still frittering too much money beyond “shopping” I amped up the Ban to a full-blown Spending Ban by December 2018. So I’m in this with you!

  2. Our family did a no spend “year” in 2018, and I was able to pay off my 2018 goal student loan in October! We finished early and were able to spend freely for November, December, and especially Christmas with no new debt added. We are now on track for round 2 in 2019 to pay off a vehicle. And round 3 in 2020 to buy a new vehicle with cash. The thought of that “free money” at the end of the year was a great mental incentive to stick to it until the goal is complete.

  3. I’m trying lily you. I’ve managed to cut credit card spending by half however 300 per month I need to work on this as I could be saving it. Maybe not so many cinema trips 10 per visit I take my own food. Go cinema every few weeks maybe change this to few months. I’m saving for an deposit on a house years wages & 3 month contingency fund aaaaarrrrrgggg

    1. Oh man movies are crazy expensive! My bf loves them, but at 10 bucks a ticket, then snacks and drinks,it really adds up. There’s so much more I could be doing with that fifty bucks! And you can see the movie on redbox a few months later for way cheaper. I get that going to the movies is an experience for some though, so if it’s your favorite thing you can cut back a little but leave room in your budget to see your favorites.

  4. Started 11/1/18 and got DH to agree to no purchasing meat for 6 months. Our freezers are so full, we are spilling into YD’s home freezer. My no spend means no buying anything we don’t need. For me that means no clothes, shoes, etc. No fabric or anything else having to do with crafts. I am planting seeds for my front yard flower garden. No expensive ready to plant purchases from the local nursery. And the biggest no spend… We are very generous and spend a LOT on gifts. We spend over $6000 in gifts in 2018! I have to admit about $3000 was for diamond stud earrings for all three daughters since the last daughter was getting married (at age 37) and it was kind of now or never, so we bit the bullet and did it. The family knows we are doing this and the reward will be a trip to Disneyland for Christmas 2019 with us paying for the VRBO for all 11 of us, 3 daughters, 3 son-in-laws and 3 granddaughters!

    1. Yeah, meat is crazy expensive! Cutting out that has saved me tons of money in grocery bills. I think having an awesome trip as an award for the no spend challenge is an amazing idea! What a great family activity.

  5. Hi Melanie!
    I caught this piece on Rockstar Finance and thought you may live near me since you mention Hershey and Philly. I live in York, Pa and am always looking to connect with FIRE folks in the area, which has been pretty challenging!
    Welcome to PA! And drop me a line if you’d like.

    1. Hi Barbara! I’d love to connect with other like minded folks near me! I don’t know where York is, but I just moved to the pottsville area. I’ll send you an email:)

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