How Long Can You Go Without Spending Money?

Posted: March 27th, 2009 | 12 Comments »

Keeping money in your bank or wallet is a sure way of living simply; but just how long can you go? One day? Three days? I have trouble, to be honest, even going one day without finding something to spend a buck on. As much as I try to not spend money, somehow I end up doing so anyway! I am not talking about bills that get paid on certain dates and stuff like that; rather, I am talking about a person’s own version of “petty cash”. Take today, for instance. All I did was head out to pick up the mail and buy some gas, as there is a winter storm arriving right now. (Gas doesn’t count in this equation, it’s a necessity) I was not planning on spending any money today at all…and then I saw him – the guy selling the paper on the side of the road. I normally buy from the same kid every week, so I automatically drove over to him and gave him my $1. So much for not spending any money!

Somehow, someway, money finds its way out of my pocket almost every day, even if it is only in tiny amounts like the newspaper example. Basically, I feel as though I have to stay in my house in order to avoid spending any money! I always read about people doing experiments in not spending money for X amount of days and I wonder how they do it. Are you able to go days without spending any cash at all, other than on absolute necessities?

I want to hear from you guys about this. Do you do it? Can you do it? Have you tried and failed miserably? Any tips and advice you can give me (and other readers) on getting through a few days in a row without spending a dime would be really helpful. I am not thinking about this because I need the money; but rather I see it as a challenge for myself. Any help you can offer would be great!

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12 Comments on “How Long Can You Go Without Spending Money?”

  1. 1 renee @ FIMBY said at 8:04 am on March 27th, 2009:

    Not very long! Although I find the less I go out, the less I spend.

  2. 2 Jesse said at 9:14 am on March 27th, 2009:

    It’s taken months, but yeah, I can go a week without any petty cash leaving my pockets. I shop every weekend, stocking up for the week at the farmers market and a bulk item stop at WholePaycheck. I brownbag(actually it’s a small cooler from REI) lunch all week. And my only regular stop in the evenings is the dog park for a romp…I don’t stop for coffee(my office has tea and coffee available) anymore, having given up caffeine, and I don’t eat out(several reasons).
    There you go…no cash needed all week. I’ve still got a $20 in my wallet from last month…

    It just takes practice, for starters, stop buying the paper…go online for news.

    You can always force the matter, take your cash and debit card out of your wallet when you leave the house. Just take whatever card you put gas on…

  3. 3 Kristen said at 9:37 am on March 27th, 2009:

    It depends on the situation. There are times where I’ve gone for several days without spending anything. Then there are times when I get bored and spend away. I think it’s all about willpower and how much you have. The best thing to do to avoid spending is not to carry any cash or debit card with you. Of course that’s dangerous too because you could get into a situation where you really do need cash and don’t have it …

  4. 4 SavvyChristine said at 10:58 am on March 27th, 2009:

    I’ve gone as long as two weeks without spending on anything besides groceries and gas. For me, the trick was to cut back my grocery store trips.

    I also convinced myself that our current savings goal (the wedding) was going to be so awesome that I wouldn’t care about whatever I was thinking about buying. As in: it would be nice to have a new pair of earrings, but it would be a hundred times nicer to have a wedding with really great food. Or I could look into a new laptop, but I’d rather have those ten extra guests at the wedding.

  5. 5 Kaz said at 4:24 pm on March 29th, 2009:

    I can easily go for days without spending money. We do a weekly grocery shop and make our lunches for work days. I gave up coffee a couple of years back and have hebral tea at work (and at home). We don’t buy a newspaper anymore – we read our news online. We don’t eat out or have takeaway food. One thing that helps me is to not carry any cash with me. And with all of this…… we are happy. It doesn’t feel like some huge sacrifice. We are still eating well – probably better than ever. I have got over the mindset that spending money makes me happy.

  6. 6 Sandra said at 9:33 am on April 17th, 2009:

    I got this idea from Everyday Cheapskate: I only keep big bills on me like a 20 or 100. I find it hard to break the bills for something that is not absolutely necessary. If I break the large bills, I put any 1s and 5s in a savings stash at home. We use this as spending cash when we go on vacation.

  7. 7 David said at 10:24 am on April 17th, 2009:

    Interesting idea, I might try that one!

  8. 8 Allison said at 3:31 pm on February 15th, 2010:

    I’ve been reading these backlogs, so I’m sorry for posting this so late.

    I’m one of those people who don’t spend money. Other than writing my monthly rent check and buying groceries (I don’t drive my car, although I own one, since I live in the city) my account unhappily states “$0 spent” this month.

    I started this habit in high school when my mother made me buy my own school lunches. I had the option to make my own or buy it. At first I loved spending the money, but then I found out that I’d end up spending $20-30 a week (when I was *maybe* making $75) on lunch. It had to stop.

    So, I stopped carrying around cash and I only used my atm card. Then, after awhile, I started alternating how much money I’d put in my checkings account compared to my savings. I decided that I only wanted to have $100 in checkings at all times in case I needed gas, or like, I was totally starving and I was 1000 miles from home. I put all my money into my savings account where I’d have to call the bank, go to the bank, or go online in order to switch accounts. This worked. Pretty soon the idea of watching my $100 in my checking account go down made me a bit paranoid, so I developed the habit of not spending money.

    In college I started carrying around my credit cards, but I never activated them until I needed to spend a large purchase (like a car broke down). After I activated my card, or if I found that I used it more than I should have, I would destroy the card and order a new one – waiting until I needed it to activate it. Trust me, it makes you think twice about spending!

  9. 9 Ellie said at 8:52 am on September 21st, 2011:

    I have two main strategies for getting by another day without spending:
    1) If I’m having a ‘craving day’ (like craving chocolate or crisps except craving to buy something particular – usually books for me) I’ll stay out of harm’s way. If I decide to wander past a bookshop or a charity shop, I’m not going to resist on a craving day… so I make sure I DON’T wander past.
    2) Recognising my triggers. Like your newspaper guy – if I can spot a trigger a mile off and say ‘whoah, not going there’ then I’ll be fine. Speeding firmly past tin-jiggling charity collectors and the chocolate stall on the market I walk through sometimes, that kind of thing…

  10. 10 David said at 10:47 am on September 21st, 2011:

    I’m right there with you Ellie!

  11. 11 Carly said at 2:13 am on June 4th, 2012:

    I am terrible at this! The thing I always ended up spending a few bucks a day is on soft drink! I don’t like to keep cans at home because I end up drinking too many of them but then at work I end up getting one. What I really need to do is just cut soft drink out all together but .. not today ..

  12. 12 Angela said at 10:05 am on March 20th, 2013:

    I can usually go an entire week or two without spending. I never carry cash/debit/credit cards on me so that takes care of spur of the moment spending. I pack my lunch and snacks for work. And now that we are getting more daylight, I walk back and forth to work saving money on bus fare. Its tough sometimes, but neccessary for cutting expenses.

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