Close this search box.

How to Live Life Without Spending Money


There are many reasons why you cannot or are choosing not to spend money right now. No matter the reason, it can feel daunting and even impossible to figure out how to continue to live life without spending money. And while you can’t live forever without spending money, there are tactics you can use to curb or completely stop your spending now.

By spending your time for free, investing in yourself for free, and covering your basic necessities for free, you can continue to live life when you can’t spend money. Experiencing a spending freeze intentionally or out of necessity doesn’t have to interrupt your daily routine.

Consider the following ways to spend your time, invest in yourself, and provide for basic necessities without spending money. 

Spending Time To Avoid Spending Money: Leisure Time, Investing in Yourself, and Providing for Needs

You can still participate in many of the activities you normally do when you’re choosing not to spend any money. The average American has around 4.5 hours of leisure time a day, and you can use that time cost-free by spending time in nature, attending free services or events, practicing a hobby, improving meaningful relationships, or being a tourist in your own city.

Sometimes personal time is the best kind of time, and time invested in your future (and your future money-making capabilities) can help you stay focused during a spending freeze. Learning new skills on Youtube, exercising and taking care of your body, enjoying self-care routines, cleaning your physical space (i.e. vacuuming) and mental space (i.e goal writing), and networking are all no-cost ways to invest in your future.

The biggest question of all might be how you’re going to pay for things when you can’t spend money. Simple ways to meet your needs include eating what’s in your pantry to cover food costs, taking advantage of commuter perks or carpooling to cover transportation costs, hosting a clothing swap to cover your clothing costs, and making money by selling unused goods from around your home to cover any additional payments.

For more details on these strategies to avoid spending money, read on.

How to Keep Your Time (Not Money) Well Spent

When you think about spending a free afternoon, chances are you think about going to the movies, going out to eat, or maybe attending a sports game or visiting a museum — all which cost you money. Fortunately, with a little creativity and a friend or two, you’ll come away with a full schedule of free activities to enjoy when you can’t spend any money (that are fun to boot!). 

Spend Time Outdoors

One of the easiest ways to spend time without spending money is to enjoy the great outdoors. Whether you live in a city or in a coastal suburb, you can find ways to connect with nature without spending a dime, including strolling down a beach or boardwalk, picnicking in a park, participating in outdoor recreation such as hiking or surfing, and even appreciating a walk around the block. 

Find Free Events

Another way to fill the waking hours without making a purchase it to take advantage of free services or events. If you don’t have a public library card, spend tonight getting one (day one of no spending — check!)! With a library card, you can download [[Amazon’s Kindle]] app and audio book apps to listen to and read free books without even leaving home. If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can visit the library to rent a variety of movies and TV shows to watch later. In addition to the plethora of resources your local library provides, it probably also offers a range of free activities like lectures, art or hobby classes, or film screenings. If your local library doesn’t offer events, check Facebook or other city websites to figure out what free events are happening around you. 

Develop a Hobby

When staying in sounds more appealing to you, consider developing or picking up a hobby. While some hobbies require purchasing equipment, chances are that you already have what you need at home to improve your skillset, and if not, many purchases are one-time only (like a musical instrument).

Build Relationships

Spending time for free doesn’t have to be solo time — make any time you spend fulfilling by inviting a friend or family member to join you. If your loved ones live far, you can easily connect by FaceTiming, Skyping, talking on the phone, or hopping on a Zoom call, all for free (or at least included in the cost of your internet or phone). And if your loved ones happen to have fur and make barking sounds (or meowing), combine the opportunity to spend quality time with them in nature by taking them for a walk or nearby pet park.

Explore Locally

Finding free ways to enjoy your city or town is another way to use your time. Be a tourist at home! Explore your mall or local shopping center by window shopping and assess what you’d like to spend money on when you can or choose to spend money again. If you’re not a big shopper, don some sunglasses and plop yourself down on a bench or near an outdoor dining area and spend time people watching. You never know who you’ll see — or end up meeting!

Investing in Yourself With No Money Required

Because you’re experiencing a spending freeze, you might be interested in investing in yourself so you can make more money for the future. Though traditional forms of self-investment such as education, coaching, or other types of training often come with a monetary cost, there are plenty of ways to build a better you without spending money at all.

Develop New Skills

To develop a new skill or simply learn more about a topic, consider turning to Youtube to invest in your education without spending anything. You can find millions of videos on everything from computer science to botany to pastry making. YouTube is an excellent and free testing ground to figure out what you’re interesting in learning more about (and if you’re a student, a no-expense way to quickly research an assortment of majors or career opportunities). 

Physical Exercise

You can’t be a successful person in any aspect of your life without being balanced physically. Consider investing in yourself for free by exercising, practicing yoga, or meditating, all from within the walls of your apartment or home. You can use Youtube, as mentioned above, to try different types of exercise or an upbeat playlist to put on while doing some pilates. Household items such as water bottles, canned food, kitchen chairs, and towels can all be subbed for workout equipment without any extra cost to you.


When you’re not spending any money, you can still benefit from a self-care or at-home pampering routine. Pull out that nail polish in your favorite shade or the new razor you bought (that’s still sitting in the box) and take care of your body! Relish in a hot bath or shower, and make the experience extra special by lighting candles and playing relaxing music.

Organize Your space

Perhaps cleaning your house won’t be the first item you think of when you’re trying to invest in yourself, but organizing and cleaning your living space can completely transform your productivity and outlook (and it doesn’t cost a dime). So blast your favorite band and spend the afternoon dusting, sweeping, and putting your possessions away. You’ll feel happier and fulfilled when you’re through.

Declutter Mental Space

If you can’t spend any money, think about investing in yourself by taking the time to write down what’s been on your mind. Make a list of short-term and long-term goals, journal about an important event in your life, or compile a list of your blessings and what you’re grateful for. Use introspection to declutter your mental space, just like cleaning your home to declutter your physical space. Prioritizing and assessing your goals will help you determine how you want to spend money when you are able to again.


If none of the above ideas have appealed to you, but you’re interesting in self-development without the price tag, practice networking. Reconnect with old classmates or friends on LinkedIn and see where life has taken them. You never know if someone has an opportunity that’s just right for you! If you’re looking to broaden your network, research a professional in your field of work or study and send them a message. See if you could talk with them over the phone or in person for a half hour and ask them for advice or learn more about their story. If you do, make sure you are willing to return the favor and be a resource for others and help the professional out in any way you can. Contemplate volunteering in your community as a way to grow both your relationships and your abilities.

How to Cover Your Basic Needs Without Spending Money

The number one thing you’re probably wondering is how to cover your basic needs if you’re currently not spending any money (by choice or by financial necessity). There are easy, no-cost, and engaging ways to take care of the things you require in your everyday life.

Shop Your Pantry

When you’re considering what you’ll eat when on a spending freeze, first go shopping in your pantry. With a little creativity and the help of Google, you can come up with new recipes to make with ingredients you already have on hand. If you’re missing a few things, ask a neighbor to borrow small items to fill in the gaps. After thoroughly assessing your kitchen cupboards, perform a gift card round-up. According to CNBC, the average American has $167 sitting around in unused gift cards. Just because you’re not spending from your bank account doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a meal out! With a little planning, you can cover your food needs without spending extra money.


Another concern you might have when experiencing a spending freeze is transportation. If you’re a student, make sure you’re taking advantage of any discounted or free passes for your local transit system, and if you’re in the workforce, check to see if your benefits include any transportation assistance. Also think about utilizing ride sharing platform discounts, such as the ones offered by Uber. If you live near a coworker or fellow student and they drive, ask if you can ride with them in exchange for a non-monetary good such as mowing their lawn.

Clothing Swap

If you’re used to purchasing new items of clothing and you find yourself unable to spend money, you wonder how you can continue to enjoy new clothes. This is the perfect time to organize a clothing swap! Invite a bunch of friends over and have them bring some pieces that either don’t fit anymore or don’t match their current style. You might find a whole new wardrobe — for free!

Find Ways to Make Money

In order to take care of payments, such rent, when you can’t spend money, find ways to make money. If you decided to clean your home, as suggested above in ways to invest in yourself without spending money, you might have been surprised by some of the treasures you found. List those items for sale on Craigslist or host a yard sale. Make sure to also comb through your closet for items in good shape you can sell on clothing apps or to local vintage/second-hand stores. When finding items to sell, you might have also found items that were still unused and in their boxes! Return anything you still can and use that money to pay for the things you actually need.


Whether you can’t spend money by choice or out of necessity, you can still find many ways to live life normally, including spending time in fulfilling ways, investing in your self and your future, and covering your needs.  

Climb on, Finbase.


Picture of Bethany


Bethany works in technology when the sun is shining, but when the stars come out, she writes about personal finance, financial independence, and holistic living. She enjoys cooking, playing tennis, skiing, and floral design.
Join the Climb

Subscribe for tips on your journey towards financial independence.

Reach Your Summit