The no-spend challenge A financial writer set out to spend no extra money for a year. Michelle McGagh and her husband vowed to pay bills, but not to buy coffee, clothes, or a beer at a pub. They didn't eat out or even buy gas. Instead she rode her bike everywhere all the time. She spent only $35 on food every week, so she had to plan cheap meals. What happened? At the end of one year she saved $23,000. She admits the effort was not easy. She missed having face cream and fresh flowers. She missed socializing with friends at a pub. And they missed her. On the other hand, she also found new ways to have fun for free and she realized how much money she frittered away. McGagh wrote about her extreme challenge in her book, "The No Spend Year: How you can spend less and live more." McGagh's challenge was extreme--but what if you could spend nothing extra for just one month. Could you save money? Definitely. According to Bankrate.com, the first thing to do is decide why. It could be to pay off a big bill that is coming or pad your savings account, but the goal should mean something to you. Next steps: - Eliminate any optional expense that comes out of your checking account such as subscriptions. They will take your money next month. - Eliminate luxuries and start thinking of some things as luxuries. For example, cable TV. You could get rid of Netflix for $10 a month or cable for $120, or both. - Make a barebones food plan and stick to it. No prepared foods. Make your own cookies. This is nearly its own challenge. Can you spend $100 a week or less on food? - Cellphone: No extra overages or get rid of the plan, if you can. - No restaurants or pubs. Plan some things to do that are free. Then count your cash at the end of the month!