No Spend Month Challenge: Update 2

No money needed to enjoy this: Zenguy and R watching planes at San Francisco Bay

Our family is doing voluntarily No Spend Month Challenge in July. Actually No Spend month is misleading in a way, as it should be called minimum spending on bare essentials month, because that is what we are doing.

I first heard about No Spend July month last year at Rachel’s blog called Small Notebook and I have been hooked to the concept. Last year I did it unofficially, only for our eyes. Here is our journey of little financial adventure of No Spend Month in July for sharing with all of you.


Our budget for the whole month is $300 for groceries, eating out, gas, entertainment and misc expenses. Other expenses such as rent/mortgage, utility, charity, savings and investment, and education and job related expenses are not included in the $300 budget. Thank god for that!

So far I almost blew off our budget by already spending over $100 in first 4 days of the month, as we went to visit Yosemite National Park during July 4th weekend. The trip and experience was great and I might not change anything if given a choice today.

Check out my previous posts for more details;

No spend July Month: Introduction Total Budget: $300.00
No Spend Month: July – Update 1 Total Spent this week: $104. 73

What are we started with past week

We have $195.27 budget left for the remaining month as we had spent $104.73 already. This week started off easy, as we stayed home on Monday relaxing after our big weekend trip. So we did not spend anything. We had still plenty of gas, enough groceries left over so did not have to buy much.

What We did this week?

We unpacked from our trip, relaxed at home, and basically took a laid back approach. Knowing we have to work hard to keep our budget, we stayed away from Malls, Shopping center and my personal love, a bookstore. I hardly come out empty handed from a bookstore, something I need to work on.

We cooked at home often as we usually do. However, we also love to hang out at couple of our favorite food place. We have a few favorites such as In and Out (For those of you live or have visited California will know this place very well), This place cooks fresh french fries from scratch and has secret menu items that you can order, we love this place along with a few Indian restaurants such as Udipi Restaurant and Chaat Cafe and eat there often. I am what some call foodie and love cooking and love eating out.

We were so good at not spending money this whole week, I almost wanted to celebrate by eating out but R said Mummy, you can make noodles at home as you make it so well! So I got flattered and made noodles with peanuts that everyone loved including little P. So thanks to my wise R, we saved us money and ate healthy meal at home. And interesting thing is R does not even know we are on budget this month, he simply wanted to eat home cooked meal.

We had buy a few items that could have waited until next month such as R wanted to build a periscope. He wanted to make one himself so we tried but finding two small mirrors in right size created a huge problem, finally we found a kit from ebay and used our gift card that was unused from Christmas time instead. Without this month’s challenge, I would not have thought of gift card easily. I am not counting gift cards in this budget as I pointed out in introduction post.

We had a enough of soy milk, groceries at home so we did not buy anything last week.

We had to fill out Zenguy’s hybrid car this week as we had not filled it before. We used lot of gas for our Van last week when we went to Yosemite.

We also attended radio controlled model plane show and Japanese Udon festival, both were free to attend with free parking. During summer time, many cities have free indoor and outdoor festivals and events, check your area newspaper or magazine for information. We took our snacks and munchies from home and we had a great time!

Total Money Spent this week

Gas for Hybrid: $32.72
Raffle ticket: $1.00

Total: $33.72

So we have spent total from July 1st through July 11th – $138.45
Total remaining for the rest of the month: $161.55 left

So, what is the point of No Spend Month at Heart and Mind?

While Heart and Mind blog is more about personal development and life improvement, why talk about being frugal and money here?

The reason and point are actually three folds;

  1. One of the reason is to push my own comfort zone of doing out of ordinary. If we are too comfortable in our small comfort area, we can not grow.
  2. Without our finance in order, none of us can improve our life or mind. Money is not the important aspect of life, but if we have messed up finances, I will guaranty that improving our self will not be on our top agenda. Money is part of 6 areas of balance that I talked about earlier.
  3. Right now, we want to minimize our personal expenses due to lack of income and other reasons. This is not about creating scarcity in life, it is about doing and living life we meant to live. It is minimalist living my way.


Check out my following post No Spend month challenge: update 3 here.

There are a few others who have joined No spend month, on their own ways. Even if you do not join, you can spend money more wisely in your life and spend or save for something that is important to you.


  1. Jean Sarauer says:

    You’re doing so great! I’m proud of you. And you’re right that finances are a part of your blogging topic if one looks at the big picture. Financial problems are a big stumbling block for many. Thanks for showing people what it’s like to make the most of what you have!

  2. rob white says:

    Hi Preeti,
    I especially loved your re-cap at the end of exactly why you are doing this. One might think it has nothing to do with personal development or spirituality… but it has everything to do with it. I often say; If it ain’t practical, it ain’t spiritual. If we don’t have our finances in order it is impossible to live a deliberate and sincere life.

  3. Angela Artemis says:

    Hi Preeti,
    I know how you feel about not being able to walk out of a bookstore with out buying something!

    I think you’re doing a fantastic job. As I said before I’m so impressed. It just goes to show you that spending money is not the key to happiness – which by the way is a huge personal development lesson that you are teaching all of us!

    Thank you.

  4. ZenGirl says:


    Thank you for being proud of me, but this is something anyone can do, conscious spending. In order for me live simple and rational minimalist (having necessary stuff as a family) this step is necessary. I have realized that living life to fullest does not have all or nothing approach, we can do bit and pieces of our favorite things and spend money on things we love still.

  5. ZenGirl says:


    Thank you, as the end re-cap is core of my doing this whole No Spend month experiment and why I am doing it openly. In USA, we are spending crazily, myself included. I wanted all of us to do mindful spending and get handle on our finances in order to improve out life quality in return. I agree with you on practical and spiritual connection!

    We can still spend money on things that really matter and not some stuff that sits on closet gathering dust!

  6. ZenGirl says:


    Yes, Books are my biggest strength and weakness! I donated and gave away a lot, I still have lot and like to buy!

    Many of my happiest memories in life has nothing to do with money, it is always have been with people and new experience. I am still getting to spend money on things that matter so I do not feel deprived. Again, this is voluntary experiment after all. I am no one to teach anyone here anything as many of my readers are very intelligent, I am only here to share my knowledge and learn from everyone.

  7. mark says:

    Hey Preeti,

    I am still amazed that you are doing so well on this. Money may not be important all by itself, but it can become a problem if we rely upon it for too much. I think that is why I am so impressed with what you are doing.

    Have a great day!

  8. Betsy Bargain says:


    It sounds like you got right back on track after that first week of spending a little more than you would have liked. I think you will definitely be able to stay under your budget for the month!

  9. Marko -- Calm Growth says:

    “I hardly come out empty handed from a bookstore, something I need to work on.” — I know that feeling… 🙂

    I’m glad you had success with spending less money Preeti, it’s nice to hear that, I hope that your family and you will be equally successful in the future…

  10. ZenGirl says:


    Yep, why start on something that we are not passionate about and I am passionate about simplifying my financial life so I can live more zen-life and truly be Zengirl the calmest person!

    Thank you for being impressed but I am sure all of us do some type of money savings regardless of how rich or poor we maybe, right? Let’s see how I do for rest of the weeks though. It gets harder towards to end for me.

  11. ZenGirl says:


    Yes, I finally got back on track and almost blew it again, if it was not for my preschooler who wanted a home cooked meal. I am easily swayed when it comes to books and eating out.

    I hope to continue spending in budget as there are still 3 more weeks. Yikes! Now I am worried.

  12. ZenGirl says:


    🙂 I can see you are book lover too. I had a vision when I was younger that I would have a big library room with comfy sofa chairs to go and read in quite and comfort of my own home. While I do not have personal room for it, I have many books, despite giving it away many. There are too many great writers and I like to re-read some books again and again like Jane Austen, P G Wodehouse, my grandfather’s novels and so on.

    I hope we do all right in upcoming few weeks! Let’s see, if I make it or fail? only time will tell. I am going to try to make it though.

  13. ZenGirl says:


    🙂 I can see you are book lover too. I had a vision when I was younger that I would have a big library room with comfy sofa chairs to go and read in quite and comfort of my own home. While I do not have personal room for it, I have many books, despite giving it away many. There are too many great writers and I like to re-read some books again and again like Jane Austen, P G Wodehouse, my grandfather’s novels and so on.

    I hope we do all right in upcoming few weeks! Let’s see, if I make it or fail? only time will tell. I am going to try to make it though.

  14. Marko -- Calm Growth says:

    Big library room with sofa chairs… Beautiful vision Preeti… who knows, maybe you achieve it one day… 🙂
    You prefer novels? Many people do not realize it’s a great and fun hobby… In youth, I was reading more novels, now my interests are a little different… 😉

  15. ZenGirl says:


    Yes, may be I can, I love reading since I was a child and even now with my life, I read about 2 books or more each month. Maybe I should write about my books obsession here.

    I love many types of books, fiction and non fiction, cookbooks, short stories, personal development, humorous and many other types. Only thing is writer has to be engaging, I have come to realize not all authors even their books are created equally.

    What type of books you like?

  16. Marko -- Calm Growth says:

    Well, currently my interests are business, marketing, psychology, philosophy, investing and personal-development and such books I read. 🙂 I also love biographies and historical books.

    And as you said, an important condition is that the writer is engaging… without that I can hardly remember anything from the book…

    I think you should definitely write about your “books obsession” here, if you choose… You love interesting types of books and you certainly are interested in that. 🙂

  17. ayo says:

    hello preeti
    how are you today?
    it’s great to see how events unfold in your no spend month challenge and i’m cheering you on.
    you’ve drawn up an important conclusion which is: spend money more wisely in your life and spend or save for something that is important to you
    take care and enjoy the rest of the day.

  18. Vaishali says:

    Good job, Priti! You’re doing really well, and it’s great that you took a trip to Yosemite because there are some experiences that are well worth spending on.
    I think living frugally has a lot to do with life improvement– giving up attachment to stuff frees you up to enjoy life, instead of working at something you don’t love so you can enjoy buying stuff you don’t really need. Does that make sense? 🙂

  19. ZenGirl says:


    Sounds great! I like all these type of books too. I think I will share it, maybe you should too, as I think you will have a great information to share as well. Looking forward to it.

    Thanks for continued support here.

  20. ZenGirl says:


    I am doing fine and how are you?

    Yes, that what keeps things interesting for me as I do not know how each day will be with expense and so I am doing with caution yet open mind. It is not easy but can be done (I think) 😉

    Take care.

  21. ZenGirl says:


    It is good to see you and thanks for the comment. Yes, we love Yosemite is very beautiful park and it was first time visit for little P who is year now, so it was special.

    I am using some of your tips. Yes you make perfect sense to me, as I want free time and money to be spent on things I enjoy and not for others to impress.

  22. Justin Dupre says:


    Thank you for dropping by my site, this challenge is way cool. I also think it’s great to see how your no spend month challenge with a budget unfold. Someone once told me the other day… Work smart and learn to spend = profit. I believe you can do it! Good luck.

  23. S. Ali Myers - Soulful Body & Mind says:

    Preeti, I am amazed. A little over $30.00 in one week! Amazing.

    It’s nice to read about you and your family. It’s also nice to hear about your family doing activities with little to no money. People need to learn from that.

    As far as the bookstore goes, you’re suppose to leave with a book. That IS the right thing to do, Preeti. Ha Ha! I understand what you said but just want to let you know that it’s a good thing.

    Get ’em the rest of the month!

  24. ZenGirl says:


    You are welcome. We’ll see how months budget will fold. I guess based on that quote I am not working smart so I can not spend. Suite me well. 🙂

  25. ZenGirl says:


    Actually there are so many free activities and things we can do in summer, I never realized it until I had kids.

    You are right, I was bookworm since I was a kid and love reading many types of books. It helps me learn more about interesting things. I also use library too, but sometimes the book is so great, you want to read it again and again like my Jane Austen books, so buying it makes sense!

    Do you love reading too? I am seeing there are lot of us who love books, great to know.

  26. S. Ali Myers - Soulful Body & Mind says:

    I HEART books! I read a lot as a kid and it just carried over. I prefer Non-fiction, though. But yeah, I love to read.

  27. ZenGirl says:


    It is great to know another book reader! I like all types of books as long as write is engaging. I am my Gemini nature of master of none and Jack of all, comes in play here! but I love it.

    I love watching documentary and movies that are based on books too! 🙂 But in most cases book is always better than any movies, except some rare occasion.

  28. ZenGirl says:


    Yes, I am happy for that. If you see my update 1, you will see we tried to be frugal but 4 hour long drive (one way) took a toll on gas spending. It harder to save and easy to spend 🙂

    We have been living simple for sometime but this month we have to make little extra effort to do more of conscious spending! It can be done. Thank you for the inspiration.

  29. Aileen says:

    I love reading about your no spend month! It’s exciting! I call my version zero dollar days, it’s spending only whats been budgeted for and it really helps get the mind to see spending differently and see “necessary spending” differently – it’s a big challenge,YAY for you and your creativity finding ways to get it on track after Yosemite

  30. ZenGirl says:


    Great, many of us are spending money wisely now a days to go green and save at the same time. Where I live in California gas is one of the highest and so are some of the organic groceries but I am trying to see how we can make it. It sure makes me realize how easy is to spend but harder to save. Thanks for the comment Aileen, and support.

  31. Jess says:

    I’ve been reading your entries on No-spend month, sounds like it’s working out well for you and your family.
    I wish I had some of your recipes! My family also eats vegetarian meals, and I would love to know what your family is eating for dinners and lunches during your no-spend month.

  32. ZenGirl says:


    Thanks for stopping by. We love variety of food, so we ate Indian Daal, Pooris, Rice and Italian home made pizza, pastas, Chinese noodles and stir fries, Mexican burritos, quesedillas, and soups and salads throughout. We used up what we had in freezer and pantry, so our cooking was based on what we had at hand.

    I hope that helped.

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