Could 'No-Spend' Challenges Be Damaging Your Relationship With Money?

Everyone has a unique relationship with money, but one thing that most people have in common is wanting to have a healthy and positive relationship with it. Having a positive relationship with money can affect many aspects of your life including your wellbeing, health, sleep, and relationships with others (via Forbes). An unhealthy relationship with money is a major cause of stress and anxiety for many. According to a survey, 90% of Americans say "that money has an impact on their stress levels" (via Thrive Global).


Many people are taking on a new viral challenge  the no-spend challenge — to help get a better handle on their finances. The no-spend challenge is when you cut out all non-necessity spending for a period of time — most people try for a month. This challenge has become a popular way for people to get on top of their finances and stop spending on unnecessary things. While a no-spend challenge can help you reach your financial goals, pay off debts, and get your finances in order, it can do more harm than good in the long run.

The dangers of the no-spend challenge

With inflation, countless layoffs, and the current unstable economic climate, doing a no-spend challenge may sound like a great way to help ease the financial burden that many are facing right now. But, this trend can be damaging to your long-term relationship with money and how you view money in your life. Although some people praise no-spending challenges for helping them fix and better manage their finances, others have found they end up spending a lot more money once their no-spend period is finally over, or they develop strong feelings of guilty over all of their purchases (via Refinery29).


The no-spend challenge approach is an all or nothing, cold turkey approach that can cause a tumultuous relationship with money for some. It can promote a cycle of overspending and underspending and cause people to feel shame about their spending habits, especially when they don't succeed in the challenge. Instead of becoming caught up in a cycle of unhealthy financial habits, work towards finding balance by practicing mindful spending.

How to practice mindful spending

Mindfulness isn't just a practice you can add to your morning routine, it's also practice you can incorporate into your spending habits to help strengthen your relationship with money. According to HSBC UK, "Mindful spending is about being more conscious about what you buy and how you spend your money." Rather than completely removing the option to spend outside of essentials in your life, try to practice observing your spending habits and being aware of what you need to change about them.


To start practicing mindful spending, do a big spring clean of your home and sift through all of your things including clothing, dishware, books, and accessories. Get rid of what you no longer need. This will help to declutter so that you can be aware of what you have. Knowing what you have at home can make all the difference in what you choose to spend your money on. When you're out shopping, always pause before swiping your credit card. Ask yourself if this is something you really need and can benefit from. If the answer is yes, you can make the purchase without feeling guilt or regret. This will help yourself develop a positive, healthy relationship with money.