Planning a No Spend – our rules

After Christmas    Sam and I decided that we would  try a ‘No Spend’ year. Yep – not spending anything for the entire of 2020.  However there have to be some rules to follow, and exceptions to be made  – because of course we need to eat!


So here is how we think it will work:

No Unnecessary Spending

  • Unnecessary online purchases. Spent an evening scrolling through and end up ordering  £14 of stuff you didn’t know you needed until you saw  it? Not any more!
  • Out in town and fancy a hot drink and a slice of cake? Not if you have to pay for it!  Vodafone sometimes send me codes for costa or greggs –  using these is okay!
  • We currently run two cars,  but definitely could manage with just one (which we did for years before we got the second one)  BUT the tax is current on the smaller car so we will make a decision on that when it runs out. It’s a small, old car so isn’t that expensive to run but could still save us money.
  • Clothes: No  new clothes (apart from some uniform and underwear)  First instance we attempt to repair something  (if it has a hole but is still otherwise working okay) and second instance we source a replacement second hand from ebay or a charity shop.  The majority of the kids clothes come from ebay already, as well as many of mine – it’s harder for Sam as he is ‘big & tall’  and its harder to know if things will be the right length.  I also have some clothes in each kid’s next size up stockpiled from previous sales.
  • Entertainment: We are keeping our National Trust family membership because it easily pays for itself after just a few visits. We tend to use it twice monthly and much more in the school holidays. Other days out will be on a case by case basis but we will always try and do free things where possible.  Sometimes I’m lucky enough to be invited to  review somewhere  which means we get the experience in exchange for a review and publicity.
  • Hair/Beauty: I won’t be paying for a haircut for the whole year, and have recently dyed it at home with a box-dye that I bought last year. I have two more stashed away too. Sam & Arlo will continue going to the barbers because I am not brave enough to attempt to cut their hair!  After my holiday I’ll be getting my acrylic  nails  removed (boo!) and will go back to  doing gel manicures at home as I have the lamp etc.  I rarely went to an expensive hairdresser anyway but my nails were costing £16 every 3 weeks or so!
  • Meals Out: No more ‘just because’ meals   but if we’re invited out for a friends birthday (for example) we will try and make it work.

Reduce or cancel subscriptions

  • We have cancelled our Amazon Prime account – because we won’t be buying anything!   Well, that was the main reason but also because we  watch Amazon Prime less than Netflix and we also get  a tivo box included with our internet package.
  • I have also cancelled my Kindle Unlimited subscription,  and my Times  online subscription.
  • We are keeping  Spotify  because without that our Alexa’s wouldn’t have music to play, and we both listen to it when driving and to keep the kids entertained with kids podcasts etc
  • I have a  few work related subscriptions I am taking to the lowest level or cancelling – but these are expenses for my business anyway.
  • We both have gym subscriptions but they’re under £20 a month for a gym that is open 24/7 – if we were to cancel and then resubscribe it would be double.

What ARE you allowed to spend money on?

If something vital to  our  lifestyle breaks – we will attempt to repair or replace it with something second hand, if after a discussion we don’t think we’ll manage without it.  This covers things like   equipment in the kitchen, tech to a certain degree , ie I need a phone and a laptop to work.

Groceries – we have been meal planning and have already brought down our food bill so we will continue to do this as well as doing more batch cooking and freezing. No elaborate  extras, no daily puddings and limited alcohol – neither of us really drink  at home anyway  so this isn’t going to be hard.

Toys & Games  if they’re birthday/Christmas presents (either for our kids or others) but we will obviously not go overboard (we generally don’t anyway)  and we also promised  Arlo a birthday party this year as he’s not had one before so that will happen.   We used to go to a car-boot sale in the summer and end up spending money   (admittedly not much!) on toys and books for the kids so depending on any specific needs  for the kids we might set a small budget and go to a couple of car boots to replenish the  toy box and bookshelves!

Anything pre -booked: We have already booked and paid for 2 holidays this year, to America this month  and to Budapest with the kids at Easter. We’re obviously going to be careful of our spending on both trips but won’t be miserly and ruin the holidays for anyone by  not going to attractions and taking a packed lunch everywhere!

How do we feel about the No Spend Year?

So that’s  how  it works, but how do we feel about doing it?  A bit reluctant but it’s important to us not only to bring our expenditure down but also to contribute less to the  unnecessary manufacturing that goes on. We’ve never shied away from buying second hand but it hasn’t always been our first thought. I’ll write an update post every couple of months so you can see how we get on!

We’re also a little worried about the effect it might have on the kids, for example if we’re always saying no to them – but we’re potentially going to work out some kind of chores for rewards  scheme for them that we’re all happy with – watch this space!

I have a couple more posts planned on books /resources to help you plan a no spend month/year and on ways to manage your money  .

Have you done similar? Any questions for us?


One thought on “Planning a No Spend – our rules

  1. I like this as it is pretty much what we are doing! It’s not too extreme but just a reminder that it’s so easy to spend a few £s here and there but not so easy to make those pounds! Will be following your journey with interest!

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