No Spend Month Challenge: Update 1

No Spend Month Update 1:

On month of July, we are doing No spend month challenge, which actually means not spending anything except on few essentials. We have a goal of $300 per month on necessities and more. To find more details about it how we are planning to do it, check out my introduction post on No Spend Month challenge: July .

What we started with

We did not stock up groceries on gas as we wanted to see and live normally as we could. Also, if we stock up, we are actually defeating the purpose of spending less on one month. We had to buy groceries and gas this weekend as scheduled normally. Plus having a month start with 3 day holidays weekend usually meant that some gathering and outing that could bust our budget, if we are not careful and we have just done that, almost blew off our budget.

Bad: What could be potential problem for budget breaker

July always begins with long weekend holiday here in the US. This weekend we had planned a trip to Yosemite National Park with family members while ago. Yosemite is very beautiful national park with waterfalls, plenty of hiking and nature to soak up and enjoy. Yosemite is 4.5 hours one way drive from our place and we drove increasing our gas budget and entertainment budget way over I would have liked.

Good: What worked: What could help keep our $300 budget

We brought snacks, and food from home (either pre-made or easily made there such as sandwiches) so we can not only save money but eat, healthy, nutritious and vegetarian meals that we want. (Note: we are vegetarians who limits our dairy products intake so often time eating out does not leave many choices for us), we did picnic lunch and dinner and spent money on coffee for us and small hot meal for kids once.

We took free shuttle bus tours inside the Yosemite park and other places we drove and hiked easy ones that we can do with little kids. We took everything kids might need or want from home such as kids and baby food, diapers, bugs spray, toys, books, crayons and paper to keep them entertained when nature was not enough to keep them occupy.

Kids loved outdoor and so did we. Eating our own food also made eating quicker and easier as July 4th time, Park was full and there were waiting to get in to some restaurants.

We saw fireworks while driving back at night and got to see many type of fireworks along the highway, costing us nothing. We sang songs, laughed and cried with kids when they did not sleep. Overall it was fun and tiring trip. Little P was bit cranky from heat and not napping and R got tired from one hiking walk to waterfall view. However R enjoyed looking for animal tracks and watching birds and squirrels and little P had a whole lot of space to run and climb everywhere.

On Monday today, we are planning to stay put in home and unpack rest of the stuff and getting much needed rest.

Total Spent this update:

Total spent with gas, groceries and other misc items Total: $ 104.73

Our plan going forward:

Since we spend about third of our total months budget already, we need to curb our other spending very much so. This Yosemite trip, even though was very budget planned still can break our whole month’s plan. This weekend blew up our budget and we have to work hard to get it back in control again.

We have less than $200 left for whole month. So, we are planning to use up what we have in our pantry and cabinet before buying more food. We will have to curb our eating out or gathering (unless it is potluck) for the remaining of month and enjoy true free and fun things to do without feeling deprived. That is a big challenge.

Writing in open form like this blog, keeps me check and makes me realize how easily we can spend and go over the budget if we are not careful.

Our next update will be on next Monday afternoon. Stay tuned.

Other people who are on No-spend month Journey:

The following bloggers are also on No-spend month journey like me; If you get a chance check them out and encourage them.

Sharon from Midlife mom Musing is also joined No-spend month plan and has a budget of $1500 per month and are family of 6 people. Check out her daily updates on her blog.

Autumn from Penny Pinching Momma who has 7 members in family and only $200 budget for the whole month. Wow, seems so much tougher but looks like she has a plan to achieve the goal.

If you know others who have officially joined let me know so that we can join and support each other.

Check out next in series: No spend Month July challenge: Update 2 to see if we did any better.

About Author: This post is written by Preeti who writes under name of Zengirl on Heart and Mind Blog. She writes articles about self improvement, stress free and slow living and believes in slow blogging.

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I am stay at home with 2 kids, married to my best friend zenguy. I am in to simplifying, slow and sustainable living, I am frugal, love reading, writing and watching romantic movies. I believe in family, friendship and community.

27 comments

  1. rob white says:

    Hi Preeti,
    I really admire this challenge. Abundance comes in so many forms and this article makes it clear that your family is really reaping life’s bounty with your trip to Yosemite. I really love that you appreciate your life and are sharing your many blessings with others. Living richly has nothing to do with spending extravagantly. It has everything to do with seeing yourself rightly and life brightly. Thank you for sharing.

  2. autumn says:

    I totally understand how one thing can blow your budget–even if you have planned for it. We’re running low on disposable diapers at our house so I’m trading some wheat berries for some of Charlie’s soap so I can strip our cloth diapers again. I also need to exchange a couple of things that have been on my to do list for awhile.

    Keep up the good work!

  3. Jean Sarauer says:

    Your trip sounded like so much fun. I would say that it’s totally worth it, even though you will now need to pull together to make ends meet. But, one thing I already see about you – you are a creative and resourceful woman. Okay, that was two things, but lucky for me I’m not on a word budget :)

  4. Marko -- Calm Growth says:

    Hi Preeti…

    Even if the original plan fails, do not be too strict to yourself… every challenge has its ups and downs… See what you can learn from both… I believe you’ll eventually succeed, the initial hurdles have always been a natural thing. But once you solve them, it all becomes much faster and easier. :)

    Of course, in time you and your family will become increasingly more skilled and disciplined.(Also one of the reasons for which I like this challenge that you took with your family is that you’ll provide your children a good lesson about life.)

  5. ZenGirl says:

    Rob,

    You are so right, there was a time when I was spending over $20K per month on expenses yet I was not feeling rich or wealthy now I kind of do. Our life style has its ups and down, mostly this challenge is for myself.

    Nature and sunlight (vitamin D) can refresh and recharge us, it sure did with us! Thank you for reading and your thoughtful comment.

  6. ZenGirl says:

    Autumn,

    I am simply amazed at your $200 challenge! I think bartering works great! I also use cloth diapers with little P, as disposables too. I have never used Charlie’s soap for washing clothes diapers, is that better?

    I am really looking forward to wishing openly that you meet your goal. Great job on no spend month challenge so far!

  7. ZenGirl says:

    Jean,

    I am so glad you are not on word budget, no one should be. This challenge will not only for saving money, it is also pushing my comfort zone a little.

    Let us see how it works as this is new for me to put my finances right where everyone can see it. You will soon find out how creative and resourceful I am (NOT). :-)

  8. ZenGirl says:

    Marco,

    Yes, I wanted to save more during early period but it did not happen. I would not change this still as we all had much fun at the Yosemite, that experience alone was worth $500.

    Like I said in my previous post comments, if I succeed, great, if I fail, I would have learned something that did not work and correct the path as needed.

  9. Farnoosh says:

    Preeti, where are the life lessons? :)! I am waiting for them….And in the meanwhile, I’ll have you know that you inspired me and my husband to start a strict budget expense-tracking system over the weekend. Thank you dear….(Good thing I purchased my cycling pass right before, wooh! ;))! You guys are doing great and I have NO DOUBT you can keep it up…..Bravo!

  10. ZenGirl says:

    S. Ali,

    I sure do, having spent already third of my budget in 4 days! I am optimistic though, let see what happens. I know budget busting won’t kill me, just my dignity in front of all you, that is all. But what is that between friends right? :-)

  11. ZenGirl says:

    Farnoosh,

    Life lessons are coming, coming in two parts as I have lot to say about life mistakes. :-) I am pro at mistakes!

    I am glad you are thinking about your finances but I hope that is not too strict. The key is to write down all expenses so you are aware how much we can spend in short time. Let me know how it goes.

    Have fun cycling. You have inspired me to take up cycling as I have forgotten how to bike. It has been a long time since I have ride on one.

  12. Katie says:

    Sounds like you are on track, Preeti. Tracking spending is always a great idea. It’s like a money diet. You can get off track so easily and spend at every whim, but if you tighten your belt a little, you can trim the fat and have money left over to spend on what really matters. I like your minimalist approach to holidays. Mindful spending. It’s great. Well done.

  13. Farnoosh says:

    Preeti,
    One never learns how to ride a bike; one simply stops to ride. Get back on that bike.
    So far so good on the budget but it’s early in the month – and yes the main purpose is awareness of where things are. Thank you again! So nice to inspire one another….is it not?

  14. Betsy Bargain says:

    Don’t worry, Zengirl. You spent a lot of your monthly budget during the holiday weekend, but you had planned to do so. It’s natural to spend more on vacation. I’m sure now that you are back home, you can make do mostly with what you already have at home, and get right back on track. Good luck!

  15. mark says:

    Wow Preeti. This is an amazing idea. I am continually amazed as I get older that I really don’t care so much about the ‘things’ that I have as I do the people who are in my life and the experiences we share.

    Even though you are talking primarily about not spending through most of this post, that idea comes across so clearly. I would love to try this, though it does sound VERY challenging. Really great idea & post. :)

    Have a great day!

  16. ZenGirl says:

    Farnoosh,

    I guess have stopped riding long ago that I can barely remember when was the last time. Yes, it is so good to inspire each other and I am lucky to have lot of good inspiring people around me and on net :-) Thank you.

  17. ZenGirl says:

    Katie,

    I have been tracking my spending for sometime and it always amazes me how we end up spending and what we usually spend money on.

    Limiting how much to spend is bit tougher but I wanted to do this, first not only to save money but push my comfort zone. Thank you for liking my other posts, I am in to slow life, non materialistic stuff, and inner joy of life and all that stuff. :-) But I do like my books and some DVDs, can you believe it. I am book buff! I need to curb spending my books this month.

  18. ZenGirl says:

    Betsy,

    I wish I was as confident as you in me. However, I am optimistic and trying to make best of out it. We do have gas in one car and some groceries and rest I am going to have to be more creative using some of your and my other friend’s ideas soon. Thank you for good luck, I know I need it.

  19. ZenGirl says:

    Mark,

    Welcome here and thanks for your first comment. When I was working and spending money as I wished, I was not living, just making living. Now I am in to experience, stopping to smell roses and slow life and hopefully not rush life, although it still happens occasionally. Controlling my spending gives me more freedom to not make living and actually LIVE.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  20. Tess The Bold Life says:

    Wow good for you. I remember when our kids were small traveling with bowls and spoons and cereal and we’d just stop and purchase milk. This is even good for snacks. Good luck for the rest of July. You can do it!

  21. ZenGirl says:

    Tess,

    Yep, that is our life right now. We actually carry what we think kids might need and also what they might want, so much for my simple and minimalist life but it saves lot of headaches when we are out, buying stuff when kids are hungry, cranky and sleepy.

    Familiar toys or books always brings familiarity of home where ever we are. It works not only for kids but also us! :-)

  22. Angela Artemis says:

    Preeti,
    You are so industrious! I can’t tell you how much I admire what you’re doing, and all that you’re doing on such a small budget. It’s incredible! You thought of everything ahead of time. That takes so much skill and coordination. I think you need to write a book about your techniques – really.

    Keep up updated. By the way I love the beautiful photograph you included.

  23. ZenGirl says:

    Angela,

    Thank you for kind words but I know this is nothing. I know some people are doing it on much less here and other countries.

    Writing a book about it? Humm, Let us see how this month goes, so far I have used up third of budget in 4 days, not a very good start is it?

    The picture is from upper Yosemite falls and some of the falls are there until end of August, isn’t it cool? I love Yosemite National Park and have been there a few times and beauty of nature there is simple breath taking.

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