No Spend Month Update: Week 1


This week was a First. We went an entire week without spending any money! We’ve never done that before. We hadn’t planned to, but after five days we thought, “what’s two more days?”

watching-fireworksWe stayed busy and the days flew by quickly. A few conversations started with “Let’s go to… nevermind.” Since we couldn’t go out to spend money, we stayed home, rested, and also got quite a bit accomplished.

We watched fireworks from our balcony.

Experimented with waffle recipes.

I painted my nails.

I even cleaned my room, which usually remains neglected in favor of the family room.

mantel-previewWe worked on some home projects, like refinishing the antique iron mantel for the nursery. Really, Doug fixed it, while all I fixed was a snack. (More photos coming later.) We have many more projects waiting for us this month.

Some of our meals and snacks this week: leftover chili, homemade pizza, hummus, scrambled eggs, and waffles. We’re being careful to save leftovers and use up what’s in the fridge.

If we had the money to spend, Doug would buy a book he can’t find at the library, and I would buy new plants to fill my empty flower pots. We’re obviously not having to go without much if that’s what we can think of.

Maybe we could even go a few more days before spending that first dollar, but I’d rather go to the grocery store and not try to find out. Cherries are on sale, and I’m sure not skipping that!

How about you? Did you have any saving money successes this week?
About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. I have a pot of those exact same flowers sitting on my desk. My father sent them to me in May as a birthday gift. I didn’t have the heart to tell him my birthday was in February. He is a wonderfully quirky man.

    Shannon´s last blog post..Five Tips For Inspiring Productivity In The Home

  2. Hi! You were mentioning the challenge for you with no spend month will be your grocery bill. I have a couple ideas for you of stretching food. You may already do these things, but if not, here you go. My goal is to buy food that can have more than one purpose.

    1. If you eat meat, buy whole chickens instead of breasts. You can roast a whole chicken (follow the package instructions) with just a little oil salt and pepper and it’s delish! Then if you have just a little meat leftover, but not enough for a second meal, mix it with some BBQ sauce to make a BBQ chicken pizza (do you have a recipe for a gluten free crust?). I add cheese, cilantro and onions to my BBQ pizza. Then I take the whole carcass of the chicken and put it in a soup pot, cover it with water and boil away for about 2 hours. I remove the carcass, skim the fat off the broth I just made and add veggies and noodles for chicken noodle soup (or maybe you’d prefer rice?). I just made 3 meals out of 1 chicken (and whole chickens go on sale for as low as 79 cents per pound if you aren’t using organic).

    2. If you have citrus fruits (I’ve tried with oranges and lemons) grate all the zest off to add to a basic muffin recipe. It’s a yummy way to give your fruit a second use.

    3. Whole turkeys are usually reasonably priced for the poundage. They make a ton of meals for my husband and me. After roasting the turkey for one meal I make broth from the carcass (see above) and use the broth to make white chili using dried white beans and adding cumin, white pepper, green chilies, etc. The white chili makes several meals for us. Then I use all the leftover meat and some of the broth to make turkey pot pies. I can usually get at least 1 roast turkey meal, 2 pot pies, 1 pot of chili and a few sandwiches from 1 8-10 pound turkey.

    Sara´s last blog post..Mexican Hot Chocolate Throw Down

    • Hi! I just remembered a couple other things.

      1. I have yet to try it, but I read an idea on a blog I plan to start trying. Before composting veggies, the girl saves peels, etc. from peppers, onions, celery and carrots. When she has a few cups worth she covers it all with water and boils it for a couple hours to make her own veggie stock. Whatever is left of the veggies she composts.

      2. I also make dried beans regularly. I sort and rinse the beans, cover them with 6-8 cups water and bring them to a boil for 5 minutes. Then I turn the heat off and keep them vented to soak all day. The next day I replace the water with chicken stock, 1 cup of jalapeno juice, 1 diced onion and salt to taste. I boil them for 40 minutes and then transfer them to my crockpot for 10+ hours. The result is delicious tender beans. To make the meal go farther, you can also make a batch of rice. When it’s cooked squeeze a lime over it, add in some chopped cilantro and salt to taste. Spoon the bean soup over the rice for a cheap filling meal that will make several (8+) servings for $2-3.

      Sara´s last blog post..Mexican Hot Chocolate Throw Down

  3. Great job! We did a no-spend pay period (2 weeks) in February. It went really well.

    Right now we are working on stockpiling to save money!

  4. I am so impressed. (I wouldn’t skip the cherries either!! yum!)

    mrs. e´s last blog post..Summer Simple Pleasures

  5. That’s amazing! The best things in life really are free, aren’t they?


    steadymom´s last blog post..Just Relax

  6. You get a gold star this week! I love that iron mantle; can’t wait to see photos of it in the finished nursery.

    Nancy´s last blog post..Summer Fare | Homemade Ice Cream

  7. Re: the book your husband couldn’t find at the library. I’m a librarian so here’s your insider tip of the day. Go back to the library and talk to a librarian. Tell them that you’d like to Inter Library Loan the book because it is not in the collection. Depending on the library, this will be either free or a dollar or two (I know it’s no spend month!) to pay for shipping. Libraries across the country share resources via this system and nearly any book can be borrowed this way.

    Good luck!


    gothmom´s last blog post..Leather Tooled Scraps

    • Depending on the title, my library will sometimes also buy it for their collection.

    • I love ILL, and have never had to pay for it for a book (only ordering journal articles). We are able to put in ILL requests online too, which saves a trip in to the library.

    • If its been out less than 1 year most libraries will not allow you to ILL it.

    • I love ILL. The Dallas Library does a great job with this, and I checked and they do not have it, I’m dying here. But i do sneak out to the Barnes and Noble and read some of it for free, I hate to admit this but I’ll get through the book in a few weeks this way, and pick up the 2nd and 3rd book from a used book site like Amazon for a buck plus shipping.

      I look at this as a Barnes and Noble’s sponsorship of our no spend month.

  8. Nicole W. says:

    Congratulations, and thanks for the inspiration!

    My husband cannot fix anything without many, many trips to the hardware store – LOL. Your husband is a rock star (iron star?)!

  9. I’ve been waiting for an update! This is so exciting and inspiring for me as a reader. I LOVE the mantle and cannot wait to see photos!

    This week I am saving money by hosting a mexican night at our house (instead of going out). I have everything we need and our guests are bringing dessert and some homemade salsa.
    I have also made the conscious effort to not buy my lunch at all this week. I usually buy at least once during the week, but not this week!
    Other things I have adapted just from reading include Craigslist, Amazon, and searching the cabinets and freezer for meals. I love using my crockpot and finding new recipes.

    ~Paige :)

  10. So far, so good for us. We’ve spent $7.25 in the first week. :D

    Sally Parrott Ashbrook´s last blog post..Deliciously Stale Bread (& a BLT Salad)

  11. We did almost the same thing! We were just trying to use up ingrediants on hand!
    It does feel good to have a fridge full of grocries now though!
    Thanks for the encouragment!

    Tarena´s last blog post..

  12. Great job- just curious, what waffle recipes did you like?

    Elizabeth´s last blog post..I Did It!

    • Elizabeth, we’re trying to make up our own so we don’t need to buy the gluten-free frozen waffles. So far the best-tasting combination of ingredients includes buckwheat, potato starch, and apple sauce, but we’re not quite there yet.

  13. Great job! I have some questions . . . (for the next time I want to try this) Did you fill up your gas tank? Does your husband have far to drive to work? Do you work outside the home at all? Can you walk to stores?

    I realize everyone is different with this challenge, so it makes it hard for me to figure out what amount would work for our family. When I tried this in June, I failed miserably with the amount I had chosen. But with 4 kids and all of their “needs” for food, and misc., it made it quite the challenge! $250.00 is a very low amount even for 3, so KUDOS to you, and I hope your second week is just as successful!

    Sharon´s last blog post..Consistency…

    • We did start with a full tank of gas. Doug has a helpful commuting situation, so we’re mainly funding gas for my car. I’m trying to combine my errands so that I only drive a couple of days a week to save money. A quick trip to the store can cost a dollar or two in gas, so I’m trying to keep gas prices in mind.

  14. How cool! I want us to do a No-Spend September and wonder if we can pull it off. You are really good! It is so easy to spend, so the challenge of not spending almost seems like fun. We’ll see.

    Kim´s last blog post..Grace

  15. Shoot, I wish I could join y’all this month, but, well, we have the county fair right now, and Nordic Fest at the end of the month. I’ll have to pick another month (or pay period, as someone else pointed out). Sara gave some great tips for stretching food–I cook my chickens in the crock-pot, and in the summer, make chicken salad with the leftovers.

  16. Great job – we finished our first week within our budget – and I am pretty proud about that result. But you are doing awesome.

    Looking forward to next week – best regards from Germany

    Nimmi´s last blog post..No-Spend-Month – First Review

  17. My biggest challenge is groceries… I used to be a passionate cook who read recipes & experimented happily in the kitchen. But somewhere along the way, I’ve lost the fine art of being creative in the kitchen. I shop for groceries but then have nothing to fix for dinner! Love the roast chicken & whole turkey suggestions… feeling a tad inspired, so maybe I can get my kitchen mojo back!

  18. Wow, that is impressive!
    I ended my first week too, but we spent a ton. Groceries, gas, a much needed mattress pad, printer ink, and more groceries. Plus puppy food, cat food, and more groceries. Ugh.

    Kelly´s last blog post..fraud alert!

  19. Wellp, my mom sent me $20 of Kohl’s cash, so I got myself some free new sunglasses! The front of my old ones came apart, so I was excited to have a new pair.

    Minnesotamom´s last blog post..Amazima

    • I can relate! My sunglasses just came apart yesterday. I’m trying to figure out how to get the little screws back in without buying a new tool!

      • Maybe you could borrow the tool from a friend or something? Ask around. Its probably not something you would use regularly if you did buy it anyway.

  20. So excited to hear about the rest of the month! We’re on track too, but had to budget some extra for 2 wedding gifts we’ll need to buy. I don’t want to get something cheap-y for that!

    Anna´s last blog post..Short and sweet– A buying guide for chunky necklaces.

    • I feel the same way. We purposefully exclude gifts from our budget this month. We want to be disciplined with ourselves, but still generous with others.

    • Danielle says:

      I had to get a wedding gift on a short budget, and found myself not being able to afford anything on their registry that i liked. I ended up finding some picture frames that were floor models and had a scratch on the back. They were they exact ones the couple wanted, so I asked the sales person at Bloomies for an aditional % off. It turned out that I got 25% off on the frames! It never hurts to ask!

  21. This is so inspirational. I just can’t manage to do it this summer. I do plan to try it a different time of the year when life is more calm. So far we’ve had a sewer break and had to get a new floor for the living room/dining room. I’d have to say this is probably or worst spending month. A no spend month would do us some good!

    Andrea´s last blog post..6 pack reusable produce bags with storage bag jewel mosiac

  22. You are doing awesome! It seems like whenever I try to not spend money, I spend more than I usually do. Something always comes up or the pressure of not spending gets too much and I end up hitting the drive thru or a jewelry sale! It was kind of like when my friends were all talking about the movie “Supersize me” and how they were never going to eat McDonald’s again. It just made me really want a big mac!!

    Marci@OvercomingBusy´s last blog post..Photography Book Review and Giveaway!!!!

  23. Mulator says:

    I have been watching this blog and finally decided to get going. So far, it’s the 10th of July, and I haven’t spent a dime! My wife keeps asking me “Why don’t you just go and buy your lunch? Why are you eating all the vegetables from the garden? Why are you looking for those free lunch coupons (I received two of them for returning an uncooked meal at a great restaurant). I have really taken a look at the money I spend each month, and it is pitiful. I could secure my retirement with this plan, but there has to be a middle ground…can’t always be nothing, nothing, nothing. The real trick is to convince my wife that the money not being spent is not her disposable income!


  24. Wow, an entire no spend week! That is super impressive! Congrats!!! Between buying gas and groceries, plus both having nights out with friends already scheduled, we put a nice dent into our budgeted amount.

    Simplelivin’´s last blog post..Day 8 of LSM – July 8th

  25. Slackerjo says:

    Where I work (technical support), oh lets call my employer, Puppy, they want us to sell stuff to the customers. Sadly they really don’t get that the no spend/frugal/borrow from the library folks are a tough sell. The product has to be really really really awesome for us to depart with our money. The concept of no spend month would make their heads explode into a messy pile of marketing goo.

    Rachel I would be interested when the month is over, what places (besides food and gas) actually got you to fork over some money in exchange for their goods and services. I’d like to think that these companies provided a good product at a reasonable price.

    Sadly, at Puppy, many of our services are a waste of money and don’t work very well in the first place.

  26. Rachel, a few suggestions :) For the sunglasses, next time you’re at a store with a glasses department (wal-mart, costco, the mall) ask to borrow a small screwdriver. Usually they’ll fix it free and adjust your glasses as well. I always thank the manager and note good customer service when I’m planning on buying a new pair.

    As for those who would “like” to join a No Spend Month but have this or that going on I’ll offer an alternative. I like to call mine Conscious Spending Month. I know some people do this without planning but I need lots of reminders. My gift budget is x so I need to stay within that each month whether it be not contributing to a group gift, downgrading my gift ideas or finding better deals. Instead of going out to dinner or to the store to pick up this or that I will finish up leftovers or get more creative with dinners.

    Sometimes spending a little more now saves later. Today my Mom and I assembled 60 enchiladas. A few hours of work and we’re both set on quick and healthy dinners for awhile. Next month we’re making lasagna.

    A great part of a No Spend Month is learning to delay gratification. It sounds like Rachel doesn’t want for much – how great is that! Imagine how truly rewarding it will be for Doug to get that book he’s looking forward to. In an instant gratification society it’s a nice change of pace to want and anticipate something.

    Kelly´s last blog post..working title

  27. excellent challenge, rachel. late last year, i was fascinated by a blog of a woman whose family was planning a no spend year! they got through nearly 6 months and met so many goals, they scaled it back (and i believe she deleted the blog). it inspired us to try our own challenge of a no-buying-new year.

    it is amazing how the mental challenge can so signficantly change ones habits.

    i have some posts to catch up on here. i hope you are feeling well!

    nicola´s last blog post..DIY library and link round-up

  28. p.s. can you get the book on interlibrary loan and the plans through freecycle?

    nicola´s last blog post..DIY library and link round-up

  29. I have become a HUGE fan of the ILL system.