Money Challenge: Spend Less in 21 Days

By Natalie Bacon

| Photographs By JANIFEST

What is the ONE thing that you spend too much money on? For me, it’s clothes. I love a good old-fashioned shopping trip. In fact, I have to be intentional about not browsing online because clothes are my weakness. It takes great commitment and it’s not perfect, but it’s something I constantly work on.

Spend Less In 21 Days

I’m here to challenge you to spend less on your own weakness for 21 days. By cutting out your weakness for 21 days, you’ll reset your spending patterns. This can be a great way to get back on track financially—especially if you’re spending too much in one area of your life.

The rules

Choose one thing to spend less on for 21 days. Spending less means that you don’t have to cut out your spending completely, but you should make it a challenge for yourself. The point is to make it a positive and healthy experience.

You can give yourself “cheat days,” or adjust however you need to. However, it’s important to set the rules for yourself before you start. You shouldn’t make exceptions during the challenge based on how you feel—instead, plan ahead. Make it fair for you so it’s a positive experience.

So, here’s what you need to do …

Step 1: Decide what you’re going to cut down on

Think about your spending habits and decide what you want to cut down on for 21 days. Think about how this will positively affect your financial health (and help you create better spending habits).

If you don’t care much for shopping, then it makes no sense to cut out shopping. On the other hand, if you regret how much you spend going out on the weekends, then cutting down your eating-out budget for 21 days may be perfect for you.

Step 2: Organize your calendar for the next 21 days

Start by putting your “start date” and “end date” on your calendar to keep yourself accountable.

If you are not cutting out your spending completely, indicate when you will allow yourself a “cheat day.” If you’re cutting out Starbucks, then maybe every Sunday you allow yourself one Starbucks cup of coffee.

You’ll also want to put on your calendar “check-in” times where you can track your progress. I suggest checking in every evening at a specific time. This will help you create a habit of reflecting on the day and holding yourself accountable.

If every day is too frequent for you, then schedule time every few days or at a minimum once a week to think about how you’re progressing on the challenge.

Step 3: Start the challenge and journal your progress

Start your challenge and journal your progress on the days that you’ve elected to reflect. By writing down your progress, you should find that you’re processing the experience and truly reflecting on your progress.

Journaling is an excellent way to track how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking during the challenge. Additionally, you’ll have these writings to look back on after the challenge is over. If you are thinking about doing another challenge in the future, your journal will be a great reminder of what the experience was like (much better than your memory).

If you want to go even further, you can create a budget journal that holds your thoughts and financial plan for more than just this 21-day challenge.

Step 4: Evaluate how you did

The day after you finish your challenge, take some time to evaluate yourself. Here are some questions to get you thinking:

  1. Did you succeed?
  2. How did you feel in the beginning of the challenge compared with how you feel now?
  3. Do you miss what you gave up?
  4. How did the challenge affect your budget (do you have more money left this month)?
  5. What did you learn from the challenge?

Step 5: Celebrate!

After you’ve completed your challenge and reflected, it’s time to celebrate. You should be proud of yourself for accomplishing the challenge—tackling your weakness is no small feat.

Give yourself a reward (this is important because it will reinforce positive behavior) and congratulate yourself.


Spending less on your biggest vice can be difficult, but it’ll also save you more money than you probably realize. If you can make spending less more fun, you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.


The views expressed in content distributed by Newstex and its re-distributors (collectively, “Newstex Authoritative Content”) are solely those of the respective author(s) and not necessarily the views of Newstex et al. It is provided as general information only on an “AS IS” basis, without warranties and conferring no rights, which should not be relied upon as professional advice. Newstex et al. make no claims, promises or guarantees regarding its accuracy or completeness, nor as to the quality of the opinions and commentary contained therein.

Licensed content is provided for informational purposes only, and is not intended to represent any endorsement, expressed or implied, by USAA or any affiliates.

This article was written by Natalie Bacon from Money Under 30 and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

Tags - Saving, Spending


The Trouble with Joint Bank Accounts ‘Just ...


How to Pay Yourself First and Grow ...


5 Tricks to Actually Saving Money