No Spend Year Book Review

The No Spend Year by Michelle McGagh | Book Review

The No Spend Year by Michelle McGagh | Book Review

One of my 2019 Bookish Resolutions is to review every single of my reads this year. That doesn’t necessarily mean a single review for each book on my blog, but it does mean more round-ups and adding reviews to Amazon. Today though I thought I would write a review of my first read of 2019: The No Spend Year by Michelle McGagh

About The No Spend Year

This is a non-fiction book about Michelle’s self-set challenge to not spend any money on anything besides her household bills and food for one whole year.

This includes not spending any money on transport, gifts, holidays, or takeaways.

From November 2016 to November 2017 she did this challenge and completed it with brilliant success. All in the hope of overpaying her mortgage to get out from underneath that umbrella of debt.

Michelle is a freelance journalist, known for her finance journalism. She lives in London, is married to Frank, and has no children.

The No Spend Year Book Review

I first saw this book in the library and then a few days later saw it again on sale in a charity shop. To me, that was a sign.

I bought it and began reading it on the tube.

To say I got a little addicted to it probably isn’t an overstretch. For my first read of 2019, I was hooked straight away and quoted it before I had even got halfway through.

This won’t be the reaction for everybody. It resonated with me because I’m a woman in her twenties, living in London and in a financially stable position in life yet still with debts to pay and dreams to life. Similarly to the author.

Each chapter revolves focuses on a section of troubles and solutions that Michelle faced during her one-off no-spend challenge:

  • Food
  • Social Lives
  • Holidays
  • Beauty
  • Mental Health

Plus her reasons for why she chose to undertake the challenge and the ultimate chapter on what happened as she approached the end. Plus an epilogue of the months afterwards.

Each chapter was open and honest with useful and real-life advice for saving money and finding alternatives to spending that I am already utilising.


In the food section, Michelle looks at her past bank statements to determine how much money she has spent on food and she is shocked by the amount. Having done this myself recently, I felt her pain.

Using these numbers she and her husband set down to make a plan and train themselves into creating meal plans, which I now do too.


The social life chapter was an interesting one because I hadn’t really thought about what it would be like to put myself on a strict financial diet and have to tell my friends or colleagues. But also, how to still socialise with them. Sure there are plenty of free museums and sightseeing places in London but who really wants to meet up there on a cold February afternoon?

Mental Health

The book also deals a lot with self-doubt and mental health, taking a look at Michelle’s sense of failure, guilt, and loneliness throughout the challenge as well as the positives to it as well. She devotes a whole chapter to how it is possible to feel happy whilst skint and that a lot of us actually don’t have as much money as it may appear.

Sometimes being honest about money, as Michelle is in the book, is extremely helpful and reminded me that I wasn’t alone in my need to budget for laundry detergent and the electricity bill.

Overall, I gave this book five stars.

If I had read it two years ago I probably would have given it a four as it wouldn’t have resonated with me so much, but now it’s perfect.

The writing is strong, almost like a one-sided conversation, and I didn’t want to put it down which is unusual for a non-fiction book about finance.

If you’re interested in saving, learning more about your own finances, and ways to budget in the future then definitely check this book out. It also includes snippets of helpful information regarding pensions, investing, budgeting, and morbid financial issues like wills and insurance. A lot of which I didn’t know the ins and outs about.

I hope Michelle McGagh writes another book because I’ll be sure to buy it.

Love Ellie x

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The No Spend Year by Michelle McGagh

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