September 5, 2023

How my ‘no spending’ times have changed.

Phase 1

Ever since I have had a family, I have had periods of time when I have intentionally not spent any money. These are called ‘no spend’ weeks, or months.  In the old days it would be out of necessity because my wage would have been paid at the start of the week, or later  at the beginning of the month, and at some point I would have run out of money before I was due to be paid again.  I would therefore go a few days, or even weeks, with no money to spend.  I had no choice.  This was before the days when credit was easy to obtain.  We would just eat what we already had in, walk if we could not afford bus fare or petrol, and occupy ourselves at home until the next pay day.


Some grocery shops would offer ‘tick’ and allow people to pay when they got paid but there was a stigma to this, and people gossiped, and so I never did this. I can remember having just eggs, bread, a tin of mandarins, some sugar, spices, and a cabbage to last three of us for 3 days when I was at my poorest. Luckily, I knew a few things I could forage and it was black berry season. As supermarkets became more popular, and available where I lived, I realised that if I wrote a cheque for food, it would take 3 days before it was processed through my bank, and so I could buy food 3 days before my monthly pay date.  There were times when we would have to have more than one ‘no spend’ week.  This was usually after Christmas or when I had needed extra child care during the summer holidays.  I would plan for these times, making sure that I had extra food available to cover this period.   Although these times were a reaction to events, I had started to be proactive by putting some planning in place, as I knew that they were going to happen.

Phase 2

As my wage increased with promotions, my spending habits were bad and I would still run out of money before the end of the month, but I was budgeting at this point and was making sure that my bills were being paid and that we had enough food to last us until pay day.  I just had some days when my purse and bank were empty and I could not spend spontaneously.  When I retired, my income was a tenth of my salary.  At this time, I was living on my own and so I had to change my spending habits drastically (though I had been practising and saving for a few years before hand).

Phase 3

For the next six years I had 3 no spend months a year.  These would usually be in February, July, and November, though the months were not set in stone.  I picked months that I knew I had no large outlays, there would not be bargains in the shops (January and after Easter always has bargains), or that I knew I would have an abundance of food growing in the garden or stored in the freezer.  Not spending in February meant we used up Christmas bargains and allowed me to save for Easter, not spending in July meant there was money for cheap breaks away, and not spending in November helped me save for Christmas or winter bills.  When I say that the month was ‘no spend’, my direct debits for utilities etc would still go out, and I would also pay for milk and petrol each week, if it was needed.  However, there would be no food shopping as I would use food from my freezer and my store cupboards, and I would not spend any other money on leisure or anything that month.  This meant that I had to be organised.  If I knew it was someone’s birthday, I would have had to buy a card and a present in a previous month.  If I knew I needed to meet someone for a coffee that month, I would have had to buy a card or voucher from a previous month’s budget.  We also asked for vouchers for Christmas or birthday from family so that we could have a meal out if on a break in July, and we would take all our food with us on our self-catering holidays.  We had an old transit van that we had converted into a camper van and so we often went away and wild camped in hidden coves and laybys.


Having ‘no spend’ months was not only good for my bank balance, but it was great for training the brain to only spend intentionally and to get out of bad habits of spending spontaneously.  It also helped me to rotate my food in my freezer and cupboards.  The November ‘no spend’ meant that there was room by the end of the month in the freezer for Christmas bakes and New Year bargains.  The July no spend meant that there was room in the freezer for my harvests from the garden and autumn foraging.  The February no spend meant that there was room for Easter baking.  I also used up those tins that were lurking at the back of my cupboard, and those unmarked items at the bottom of my freezer.


This last few years as the rise in the cost of living has taken hold, I have changed how I do my ‘no spending’.  Prices are rising every month and so it makes no sense to do as I did before. If I went a month with out buying food it would cost more when I bought it the next month.  I therefore no longer have ‘no spend’ months as I did before.  Each month I try to have as many ‘no spend’ days as I can.  I make it a challenge and try to have more than the last month.  I make sure that I have a minimum of 3 days a week.  I buy food every month now, but buy it when I need it, or more usually, when I see it on offer.  This summer when I have been mainly living on produce from my garden, I have been building up food supplies for winter.  I have also been preserving food so that I will be able to spend as little as possible over the coming months but keep my food stocks full.  I still rotate my food as all the new food goes into storage in a separate cupboard or drawer in the freezer, and I have to live on old stock and what is in the kitchen cupboards and chest freezer, as usual.


So far, I have found this change really useful.  Surprisingly I have been able to stick to my same food budget and not increase it, and I feel more food secure this year.  Having a stock of food has meant that I have been able to buy more things when I have seen them on offer rather than having to pay the price that day when they have run out. I have also been able to keep an eye on world news and stock up on things that I know there will be shortages of, or will increase in price, like rice recently as some countries like India have stopped their exports.  Having at least 3 days when I can not spend each week is also helping me to not spend spontaneously.  All my budgets are on track and I am living within my means. My food harvesting has been brilliant this year which has really helped, and I just feel more organised.

My Philosophy

Has the way that you do your ‘no spending’ changed recently? Are you adapting to this new normal of higher prices and tighter budgets? I believe that we can’t just stick to old habits and do things how we used to do them, as times have changed.  Strategies that worked during the great depression or even during the 70s and 80s, do not work now.  The world is different and we need to adapt as this ‘global market’ changes.  I have friends who are living in hope for the day that prices come down.  They may never do that and so we need to change what we are doing now to survive and thrive during these troubled times.  Next year I might have to change my strategy again as this one might stop working, but I will adapt.  I have found that planning, evaluating what I am doing, learning new skills, making changes, and staying one step ahead, helps me to keep living my simple, frugal lifestyle without feeling deprived or fearful.  We have got this!







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  1. Kathryn Naden September 5, 2023 at 10:21 pm - Reply

    Hi I love the idea of no spend days & I think I naturally do this . The biggest change for me is the Food club where we buy food for £5 per Wk that otherwise would go to landfill . I have more tins & jars & dried goods in stock & have a good handle on the stock in my larder & freezer . I rarely buy meat on a wkly basis it’s usually on a monthly basis & is bulked out with veg & pulses . I only make a menu after the wkly foodclub day & am flexible Esp if I’ve fresh home grown things to use . I will def look out for large oil teabags & rice given your advise . Thank you for all your incredible knowledge & the skills you share .

    • ToniG September 10, 2023 at 6:50 am - Reply

      Great frugal planning there. Yes the Company Shop has made a big difference to us, though we only go once a month. It has added more variety and luxury to our shopping. No worries. I appreciate your support and it has been nice to watch your frugal confidence thrive x

  2. CurlyTop September 5, 2023 at 10:41 pm - Reply

    Such a true post and truly reflective of the times we find ourselves in.

    I used to buy food as though I was buying for a siege. There has only ever been two of us, although over the years we have had nieces and nephews and now great nephews and grand daughter dining with us, whilst we’ve doing babysitting duty. My hubby has never been able to get over the volume of food we had in. It is only in the last year, I’ve looked at supplies and seen them as £s sat on the shelf. As much as I stock rotated, supplies never went down, mainly because I had gotten into the habit of buying food automatically. Just because one tin had been used, I would buy two to replace it or, ignore the fact that there were 11 tins still in stock.

    The rise in prices has made me re-evaluate where my money goes. Whilst I would like to do refill shops, for household goods unfortunately, there aren’t any near where I live. Buying in larger quantities, whilst it may reduce the volume of plastic containers, I’ve seen a large increase in prices in general, so have to be creative where I can.

    Growing of food is something I may revisit next year because ill health ruled it out this year but, if it doesn’t happen I won’t beat myself up about it. I remain off work on long term sick and am awaiting the result of my appeal (not confident of any success there). What will be, will be. In the words of that Gloria Gaynor song ‘I will survive’ from learning from sites such as yours. I’ve learnt so much from your good self and others. Thank you Toni and fellow frugallers x

    • ToniG September 10, 2023 at 6:48 am - Reply

      I hope that your appeal goes well. Even if you just grow some salad leaves, spring onions and small things in a couple of tubs or cress on a window sill it will all help. You can only do what you can do. Yes I used to hoard food at one time as have had times of extreme poverty, but now, even though I stock up, I am better at rotating it and not wasting anything. Except for pulses I don’t really shop in bulk. I do feel better when I have some food stocked in case SHTF. I will survive is one of my favourite songs and one I have sung out loud in my car after various events in my life. Thanks for sharing x

  3. Georgie Peters September 5, 2023 at 10:56 pm - Reply

    We only shop once a month now, using Costco for meat, we noticed the price of butter rocket in Morrison’s and Asda £2.50+ for 250gm, in Costco the bigger blocks of 500gm were £3.49 so l bought two and froze them, the next month l bought two more even though l hadn’t used the frozen blocks, l but teabags in bulk, the sacks last me many months. We do buy milk during the week and bread, we divide the loaf up and freeze slices in freezer bags, my biggest saving over the whole of the past year has been on laundry detergents and fabric softeners, l bought an EcoEgg and l have only refilled it once, to soften fabrics on the occasions l need to use the tumble dryer (l line dry most of the time) l have six wooly balls and just a short tumble with those works really well.

    • ToniG September 10, 2023 at 6:42 am - Reply

      Great ways to make savings there. Thanks for sharing x

  4. Julie Barton September 6, 2023 at 9:11 am - Reply

    Wow 🤩 loving this inspiring blog, thank you Toni I feel like I have just been given back the reigns xxx

    • ToniG September 10, 2023 at 6:41 am - Reply

      Aww thanks for your feedback. I think we all let go of the reins some times. x

  5. Lynne Finnis September 6, 2023 at 10:33 pm - Reply

    My firm allows us 1%of our yearly salary to be spent on buying vouchers for major shops. I have a Tesco card that I load with £100 (costs me £96) every couple of months or so. I use it to purchase goods that are half price like toothpaste, deodorant, shower gel etc. This week Tesco had 4 laundry items for the price of 3 and also a club card discount. I pay separately from my “weekly” shop. Savings this Saturday just over £56 added to my £4 so £60 saved which is 2 weeks “free” petrol 🤗 Must admit I do get a few odd looks unloading 10 shower gels and countless tubes of toothpaste 🤣

    • ToniG September 10, 2023 at 6:40 am - Reply

      That is brilliant, and a good way to stock up and save money. I like the world food aisle in Tesco and stock up with spice and pulses there. They do have some good discounts some times as well, though I wouldn’t shop weekly there (if I did a weekly shop, which I don’t). Thanks for sharing x

  6. Moira Sutherland September 9, 2023 at 7:56 pm - Reply

    I have never done no spend days months etc, but have cut my budget from time to time, to finance other projects. My mother used to have just over a shilling to feed us on a Thursday, this was in the late fifties and I will never forget that. I have never been poor but due to my husband strict fiscal policy 😃❤️ I keep an account of how much I spend. We are now pensioners and are frugal so we can continue to travel. I used to tell my daughters we earn so much a month and we must decide how to get the best value for our money. Apart from when I was a child I have not been poor but neither have I been rich, but we do a lot with what we have. If you are a compulsive spender no spend days weeks months are good, but if you are disciplined with your money it is budgeting that matters.

    • ToniG September 10, 2023 at 6:33 am - Reply

      I agree. No spend weeks do help me be more creative with what I have, though, and reinforce the mindset that that I do not need much money to be happy. They also helped me initially to get out of debt a number of years ago, and like you, cut my budget if I am saving up for something. Thanks for sharing x

  7. Jane Cartmale September 17, 2023 at 1:15 am - Reply

    Hi there, I don’t really have no spend days or months but draw the whole household budget after I have been paid (not bill money as it goes straight out of the bank). Any money left is allocated to something else at the moment it is going towards Xmas, I give my daughters lump cash sums to spend on their families as they wish for Xmas, so that may be presents or days out and over the last two months I’ve nearly saved enough for both families by cutting down on groceries etc and squirrelling it away 🙂 it works for me but we all have to find what works best for each of us. I have little virtual pots attached to my bank account as well and it makes me feel good even if I only put £1 away in each one!! It’s the little things I do that work best for me 😀 . Janex

    • ToniG September 17, 2023 at 4:55 am - Reply

      That sounds like brilliant planning. You are right. It is all the little frugal habits that help us be frugal so that we can save the money to spend on what we want. Thanks for sharing x

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