The Ultimate Frugal Weekend: A 48-Hour Spending Fast

I recently embarked on another weight-loss plan (I know, I know – here we go again) and in my research on various nutrition plans I found several that advocated fasting for a short period of time in the beginning to get things jump started. Aside from religious fasts, I’m not sure I agree with their effectiveness, in terms of metabolic enhancement. However, it did remind me of another idea that worked for me in the past.

For those living paycheck to paycheck, or struggling with some other aspect of their finances, a “spending fast” could help break the addictive behaviors costing you money.

Most people are paid biweekly, and spend the weekend between paychecks living like paupers. I was no exception. Back when I earned very little money, and my wife and I had our first child, we used credit cards to float until the next weekend. This invariably led to the accumulation of credit card debt which took some time to work down.

The answer to our problem, which unfortunately was not evident to us at the time, was that we were continuing to spend money when we didn’t have any. And when we did manage to save back a little from each paycheck for the next weekend, it was all gone by Saturday afternoon.

What helped us break this cycle?

We started declaring “no-spend” weekends and putting ourselves on a spending fast from Friday evening to Monday morning. The trick to this was to initiate the fast when we had money, beginning on payday. This forced us to learn to delay purchasing things we really wanted, and prepare by only buying things we really needed.

After trying a no-spend weekend for a couple pay cycles we discovered that it was a nice feeling to still have cash a week after payday and not have to rely on credit cards. We also found that our unplanned spending decreased as we became more discriminating in our purchases.

Here’s the fun part – Calculate your savings on Sunday evening. At the end of our spending fast weekend we reflected on all the things we used to do that took money. Eating out, going to movies, and shopping out of boredom really add up! We started looking for more frugal ways to spend our weekends and discovered that the greatest things in life really are free.

Along with the end of these frugal weekend purchases we also saw a drop in our credit card balances. If you are currently stuck in the paycheck-to-paycheck routine I highly recommend going on a diet – a spending diet. Use this 48-hour weekend spending fast to get you started.


  1. I’ve tried “spending fasts”, or, as Mrs. Stupid and I call them, credit card freezes. The problem is that they inevitably lead to a spending binge after the fasting is over.

    I think the more prudent approach, whether you’re living paycheck to paycheck or living comfortably, is to follow a budget.

    But that’s another trick I haven’t mastered.

    -mr. stupid

  2. I really need to do this!!! The weekend is when I usually spend the most “mindless” money. Unfortunately, we’re traveling for the next couple of weekends so some spending (gasoline, etc.) will be required, but I can’t wait to try it out!

  3. We’ve never tried the spending freeze on purpose. At one point, not too long ago, we didn’t spend any money for several weekends because we didn’t have any left over money after our bills were paid. These forced spending freezes made us realize that any money we had ever spent before on the weekend was probably being wasted. We’re now on a budget and barely spend any money that isn’t accounted for well in advance in our budget.

  4. As far as the food diet goes, just eliminate anything that is processed or refined in any way. Eat fresh fruit, vegetables, and meat. It will seem more expensive at first, but once your body realizes that the “value” of the food is much better, you’ll actually eat much less.

    As far as the credit card freeze/spending freeze goes, all you have to do is leave your wallet at home when you go anywere – carry your drivers license in case you get pulled over 🙂 I found that if I don’t have access to my money, I don’t spend it. The only items I carry during the work week are 1-Drivers License, 2-Employee ID, 3-Buss Pass. I don’t miss it and end up drinking water from the fountain instead of soda from the machine. Works great.

  5. I’ve seen the “no spending weekend” on blogs before. Funny thing is, I hardly spend any money EXCEPT on weekends. I always do all of my errands on Saturday, and that is pretty much all of my spending besides a couple of monthly bills. The only thing I might buy during the week is a lunch out maybe every two weeks.

    I blame it on lack of energy. After working all day, the last thing I want to do is go out and buy something. Honestly I don’t understand how people who are parents find the energy.

  6. The best things in life really are free, or very inexpensive. Any idiot can go out and spend money. The true treasures in life are the ones that no amount of money can ever buy. When you have that, you really are rich.

    @Frugal Bachelor – You just do it. It’s one of those things that changes when you have children. When you have teenagers, you can sometimes convert exasperation and anger into some energy. 🙂

  7. This is funny, but my husband and I did this for the first time this past weekend! It actually felt really good, and we were so proud of ourselves for going a whole weekend without spending any money at all. We both love eating out, and usually do at least once during a normal weekend, so it was a big deal for us! 🙂

  8. I have tried this concept and carried it over for longer “fasts”, and it’s been incredibly helpful. Sometimes I go for “No Spend Weeks”, or set a goal for each month of 20 No Spend days.

    It works well for a lot of reasons – it also forces me to plan my trips and errands, so I’m wasting a lot less gas if I’m suddenly jetting to the store to grab that spice I’m missing from the cupboard. And saving on gas these days is much needed, too.

  9. this is a good idea…. at my house we call it “sitting on our hands” – and personally, I find it more productive to do this all week, and then have a little fun on the weekend. My wife does not like to cook, especially dinner, and would rather eat out even if its cheap pizza, which I personally find disgusting…. so I plan cheap easy meals to prepare after work, let her off the hook, and we spend very little all week…. and have some weekend fun.