A spending ban (cutting out spending on non-essential items) can be a great way to reduce your expenses so you can pay off debt, build savings, or break bad spending habits.

A spending ban can be for a weekend, seven days, a month, or even a year (or longer). I’m currently on a three year spending ban while my husband and I work on paying off $117,000 of student loan debt (only $26,000 left to go). Here are a few tips for making your spending ban as successful as possible!

Be realistic.

The idea behind a spending ban is to cut out buying ALL non-essentials, but realistically, most of us aren’t going to do that.  I still pay for Netflix, makeup, and other items that I could live without.

Before you begin your spending ban, make a list of items that you are allowed to buy – and things you aren’t allowed to purchase.  For example, I stopped spending money on salon appointments, outings with friends, books, and numerous other items.

Related Post: My 3 Year Spending Ban: 25 Things I Stopped Buying

Find free things to do for fun.

If you stay home every night binge watching Netflix until you’re bored out of your mind, it might be tough to stick with a spending ban. Instead, find some free things to do for fun.

You could try going hiking, getting some sun at the beach, or having a board game night with friends. Need some other ideas?

Check out these posts:

20 Free Things to Do This Weekend
15 Frugal Fall Activities
10 Cheap & Fun Winter Activities to Beat the Winter Blues

Communicate and be firm.

Other people may have trouble understanding your spending ban.  Your friends may like spending money or they may have no idea what it’s like to be broke or in debt. They don’t need to understand your journey, but they do need to be respectful.

You don’t need anyone pressuring you to go out and spend money when you’re working hard to save. Be firm with them and explain why you’re doing a spending ban.

Invite them to some free outings so they know that you aren’t being rude or avoiding them – you just want to save money! There are plenty of fun things that can be done for free.

Forgive yourself if you slip up.

You might slip up and spend money during your spending ban.  That’s okay!  We’re all human.  Don’t give up just because you made one mistake (or a few).

Forgive yourself, learn from it, and try again. You can do it! Have you ever tried a spending ban?  What did you learn from the experience?