Cash Fasting Round 4: A No-Spend Challenge

It’s about time I did an actual no-spend challenge. After all, a fast isn’t truly a fast if I’m not abstaining.

For one whole week, both Ian and I attempted to not spend a single dollar. After a visit from his parents left us with a full fridge, we decided that it was the perfect time to start a no spend challenge.


Jane’s No-Spend Challenge:

Day 1: Breakfast: oatmeal. Lunch: leftover lasagna. Dinner: leftover Indian food. Since the day before I went ham at a grocery store in Chinatown, we had some snacks to satisfy sweet & sugar cravings that kept me strong through the workday. A friend of ours asked if we wanted to meet up for lunch but willingly rescheduled to the following week once we told him about our challenge. A co-worker gave me a bag of plantain chips; they were delicious.

Day 2: Breakfast: oatmeal. Second breakfast: office cereal (I found a stash and couldn’t resist!). Lunch: leftover lasagna. Dinner: Falafel at Mamoun’s! A friend was visiting the city for work and treated us out to dinner on her per diem. I did end up paying a $15 copay for a doctor’s visit that had been on the calendar for a month. I also discovered that my prescribed medications would have an additional $75 copay (wtf). I think the spirit of the no spend challenge is still intact, even if money left my wallet for that.

Day 3: Breakfast: two eggs. Second breakfast: office snacks. Lunch: leftover lasagna. Dinner: hummus (I wasn’t very hungry because I snacked so much during the day).

Day 4: There was so much snow, I didn’t leave the house! I was only tempted to shop online once and I didn’t buy anything.

Day 5: Another snowy day, so I worked from home. Ian whipped up a giant batch of noodle soup the night before which lasted quite well for me throughout the day.

Day 6: For the first time in my life, I made rice porridge! I grew up eating this as a kid and I feel like successfully making it marks off an invisible checklist somewhere. Ian and I also went to go see a movie (The Lego Batman Movie, if you’re curious), but we used a pair of movie vouchers so it was free.

Day 7: After six (sort of) successful days of not spending money, the last day was a breeze. I made more porridge and also finished off the last of the groceries from the fridge.

Total spent: $0, or $90 if you include healthcare expenses.

Ian’s No-Spend Challenge:

Days 1-4: Pretty much the same as Jane regarding breakfast and dinners, but I lucked out on a lot of my lunches by getting them free from work.

Day 5: A friend suggested we go snowboarding after a big snowstorm. I hadn’t gone since high school so I didn’t resist the opportunity. The first expenditure of the week: $120 for gas, rental, and lift ticket. Another $16 for dinner on the way home.

Day 6: Snowy Saturday without spending money!

Day 7: Jane and I spent the day indoors and as a treat (read: I caved) I bought some Insomnia Cookies to wrap up our weekend. $21 for a six-pack and cookie sandwich. Judge all you want—it was delicious. 😜

Total Spent: $157. Challenge failed 😓


While Ian didn’t fully participate in this cash fast, it was nice to work towards a common financial goal. Some parts of it were less than ideal – for example, we were running quite low on toilet paper, and I wouldn’t let Ian purchase more until after the 7 days were complete. On the other hand, we really did a good job clearing out leftovers. Every so often, it’s nice to have an empty fridge. On occasion, I still find things that are long expired hiding in the back of a shelf, so it’s nice to know what is and isn’t available every once in a while. (Less wasteful, too.)

I took on this challenge in particular because I made a very large purchase of a pair of new boots in the first few days of the month that essentially wiped out my miscellaneous expenses budget for the month. Because I recognize my dance and rent expenses on the first of each month, I panicked when I saw that 70% of my budget had been used up by the 5th. That number hasn’t changed, but I’m much closer to the end of the month now and would like to keep up my budget success. After the unexpected cost of my doctor’s visit this past week, I have even less leeway than I would like. This rest of the month shall be spent very frugally, indeed.

Enjoyed this post? You can read all the completed Cash Fasting Challenges here.


  1. Nice work on the challenge Ian and Jane! Sounds like a fun week. This would be a fun challenge for me to try… I usually grab something for lunch each day at work; this would force me to pack a lunch!!

    I didn’t spend any money this Saturday if that counts for anything! Ended up reading, working out, and writing a post instead! 🙂

  2. Trying to spend $0 for a whole week is very challenging! I’m very impressed that you hit it if you ignore medical expenses. The best I did was $31 in January where I spent $11 on Netflix, and $20 on transportation / food when participated in the Women’s March in Washington, D.C.

    I call days when you spend $0 “zero days,” and try to maximize the number of them I have per month. Its definitely working so far!

    1. Author

      That’s such a good idea, David! It’s definitely much easier to focus on having as many “zero days” as possible than it is to spend zero dollars over a period of time, I think.

  3. Ian, buddy….. Jane ditch this guy his spending is out of control! 😉 I kid I kid! I would have gone snowboarding too.

    This is a great challenge, I need to do this soon.

    Jane did you accidentally start online shopping and caught yourself or did you purposely go browsing, keeping in mind that you weren’t going to buy anything?

    David, great idea on counting “zero days” and trying to maximize the number of them in a month. I think I might add this to my spending metrics that I track.

    1. Author

      Haha I don’t blame Ian for going snowboarding; I just know it’s not an expense I’m willing to pay.
      As for shopping, I don’t know! I like browsing the sale sections of my favorite stores, but when I was doing this challenge the sale items actually seemed less appealing than usual to me because I knew that I would be failing a challenge on top of spending the money. Now, if only I could treat every day like a challenge… that gets kind of draining though!

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