No Spend Month Challenge: July

I have done one “no spend month” last July along with Rachel from Small Notebook, blog I admire a lot. However, I started off after one week in July and I was not blogging till end of July so did not share my findings here at the heart and mind . To see her story check out July – No spend month post here.

This year Rachel is not continuing with no spend month as they have achieved the spending balance in their life, I would have liked more of no-spend month as she is so good at explaining and motivating others but I do understand completely her reasoning behind it.

I am crazy enough to continue publicly on blog first time on Heart and Mind here, for all of you to see my achievement and failures. I have yet to achieve our life spending balance so I want to push myself by weekly sharing my spending habits here. Please join me if you like to in my no spending or less spending journey. I am bit nervous without support from Small Notebook, so more the merrier. I will put update every Monday afternoon for previous week to share with where we spent money and how we are doing.

Our situation:

We are family for 4 people, with 2 kids and 2 adults with occasional guests, friends and outing. We live in northern California where gas and groceries can add up the cost of living.

I stay home with kids and I do volunteer work (teaching and other) with no pay. Zenguy works as a consultant and right now he is without a job/project so our spending will have to come from savings or anything we sell from household clutter. More reasons to curb our spending.

We have budget of $300 total spending budget for the whole month. I have a little modified plan from Rachel’s 2009 July No spend month to fit our situation and where we live.

What is included?

  • Groceries
  • Eating out
  • Entertaining Guests and Friends
  • Clothing
  • Gas for cars
  • Any entertainment such as books, movies, dvds, museum etc
  • Household cleaning and toiletry items
  • Household repairs

What is not included in $300 budget?

  • Rent/Mortgage
  • Savings and investment (if any)
  • Health and doctor’s visit and medicines
  • Gifts, Charities (we do not want to skimp on it too much)
  • Job related expenses
  • Any unforeseen life emergency situation
  • Utility bills
  • Kids education related expenses
  • Any gifts card and cash gifts from family or friends
  • If we sell any household items on craigslist, it can be used for expense if needed.

What we are starting with?

  • I have little gas in cars but we have not filled it up
  • We may have little groceries but we have not stocked up
  • We actually buy things in weekend so we have not pre-bought anything that we may need
  • We live in a house, but we do not have huge pantry to stock up cans or any food either

What is our Game Plan?

  • Go to ATM or Bank today and take out $300 cash for whole month.
  • Leave credit/debit card home
  • Spend little as possible in the beginning while I am motivated to succeed
  • Keep some for end when I might be feeling deprived (although I am hoping not to)
  • Cook meals at home or take food from home when out with family
  • Sell some house items to make money and declutter the house at the same time
  • Tell everyone in house and family so no one forces you for eating dinner out or go for movies

How can you help or join?

  • Start with your family situation as it might be different for everyone. Do what works for you.
  • Even if you do not join officially, you can still watch your spending
  • Be supportive and read my weekly updates, I can use the support as I have not done this publicly before.
  • If you decide to join, let me know so I can share your story with link for others to see.
  • Have realistic and open mind going in.

Would like to join me in this journey of No-spend July month? Let’s get started.

No Spend Month Challenge: Update 1
No Spend Month Challenge: Update 2
No Spend Month Challenge: Update 3
No Spend Month Challenge: Update 4
No Spend Month Challenge: Final update and lessons learned .

Image source: Political cartoons by Tom Toles


  1. Farnoosh says:

    Hey Zen girl! I see you are on a very tight budget, that’s good – I really admire your determination and once you decide, that is the way to live, you will make it happen. I think our mind has a way of deciding and then doing. Best of luck rest of July!

  2. Rachel says:

    Selling clutter is a good idea for this month. It keeps you occupied, brings in cash, and somehow the more you sell, the less you want to buy. Good luck to you!

  3. ZenGirl says:


    I know I will not able to fill your shoes but you have inspired me to follow through with no-spend month. Let’s see how it goes. I am selling a few things on Craigslist but sometimes I feel I rather give it away as people are bargaining so much and hurting in down economy.

  4. ZenGirl says:


    Thanks for vote of confidence. I have not done such a public thing of my expenses before and I am not sure even if I can pull it off. But that will not stop me from trying. Let’s see. I am optimistic.

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

    Mrs. Zengirl,

    This is a wonderful idea. I will be watching your progress from afar. This seems like it would be very difficult to do but the will of the human is paramount! Best wishes!

    – Ali

  6. Sharon says:

    Hi Zengirl,

    I will enjoy following you as I will be doing the no spend with you! $300.00 is not very much, for sure, but I’m sure you’ll be able to achieve your goals!


  7. Marko -- Calm Growth says:

    A big challenge ZenGirl… So far, I have not heard of such a thing. I would wish you luck, but we both know luck has nothing to do with it. 😉

    I’ve read a post on “Small Notebook,” with each article the whole process began to interest me more and more…

    Of course, it will be difficult. You will need patience and determination. But obstacles are NOT a sign that you should quit, of course… This will have a major impact on you, because you’ll strengthen your self-discipline.

    I wish you all the luck with this challenge!

    Until next time :)… Marko

  8. Vaishali says:

    Zengirl, I wish you lots of luck, and although $300 may not seem like much, it is amazing how– with some determination and calculation– one can stretch it out. I have lived through some pretty tight times myself, and they taught me what stuff I could cut out without feeling the pinch.

  9. ZenGirl says:


    Thanks for stopping by, Great to have your company in No-spend month. We can support each other. I would really miss Rachel’s guidance, she is very inspirational.

  10. ZenGirl says:


    Yeah, it is a big challenge for sure. Once upon a time it would have been very tough when I and Zenguy were making very good money, now we do lot of volunteer work, we have been cutting down on our expenses slowly.

    I am glad you visited Small Notebook for no-spend month archives. It sure inspiring, isn’t it.

    Thank you for your good luck wishes. I sure can use it. and Stay tune for weekly update (next monday afternoon) to see how we are starting off.

  11. ZenGirl says:


    Thank you for wishes, yes it depends on how we will spend $300 whole month. It has a possibility or I can completely blow it off in one week. Not knowing and wanting succeed makes the whole experiment interesting for me. This is a more for me proving myself than anything else.

    If I succeed great, If I fail, I would have learned something from it. 🙂

  12. Angela Artemis says:

    Wow Preeti – you’ve taken on a lot! $300 for a family of four for a whole month? If you can pull this off – you’ll definitely deserve a medal. I’m going to be very interested in your progress! Good luck!
    Your friend,

  13. ZenGirl says:


    I have more reasons to succeed and I am motivated as Zenguy is also between project and I do not make anything by my volunteer work and busy job of handling 2 kids.

    I am sure many people are living in lot less, but not by choice. I am going to try this for myself, pushing my own comfort zone. I have been on other side, when I was making 6 figures and spending crazily.

  14. Betsy Bargain says:


    I wish you the best of luck with your spending challenge this month. I know you can do it. I will be following your updates, and will be participating in an informal way. I am on a very tight budget myself, so every month is an unofficial no-spend challenge for me!

  15. ZenGirl says:


    Thank you. I sure to be using your many frugal tips for sure now! I have been sort of having no frivolous spending for some time, but this will be very precise and specific goal.

    Your informal participation is always welcome. Thanks for constant support here.

  16. autumn says:

    We’re also on a spending freeze for July. We have a family of seven and our goal is $200 for our monthly spending. We’re taking $50 a week for gas, household expenses, and any 4-H spending. It’s a challenge but once the garden starts producing we’ll be set on produce and we barter for eggs and milk and some meat.
    WE’re also not including any money earned from selling things.

    Good luck on your spending freeze!!

  17. Abubakar Jamil says:


    It takes courage and good reasoning to commit yourself to something publicly and I am glad to know that, “You got it.”

    🙂 Best of luck with your endeavor.

  18. TheDropoutKid says:

    I that you call your husband zenguy is so cute. But i love the way your saving money, but isn’t that causing you to develop a poverty mindset rather than a wealth mindset? Tell me if I wrong? Will all the excess financial restrictions, how is abundance suppose to float your way?

  19. ZenGirl says:


    Welcome, 7 people and $200 per month, wow, I am impressed. I think you seemed to have gotten a good plan with you so it is possible. I am wishing you a great luck and will be reading your progress with much anticipation. Good luck, you can do it.

  20. ZenGirl says:


    Thank you so much. I am not sure if I got it or I will embarrass myself with the whole experience but I am going to push my fears aside and going for it, whatever outcome will be.

    I wanted to try this more for myself, I know lot of people are spending lot less than that in world and they do not even have a choice.

  21. ZenGirl says:


    No, I do not feel deprived as it is in mindset. In my mind I am still wealthy, I am still able to donate and give money to homeless and charity, my kids are not feeling deprived as well because our souls are filled with other things.

    Occasionally when these feeling do come then we change the course to undo the damage of feeling this way.

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