No Spend Month Challenge: Update 3

R and Little P having fun playing with Sand at near by Park:

This is our third week of update on No Spend Month Challenge that I am openly doing and sharing my spending on Heart and Mind Blog . Now there are 18 days down and 13 days left to go in this challenge.

Check out my previous updates to see our progress so far, here No Spend month challenge: Update 2

I am not sure how I will do this month or even next day for the total budget of $300 for the whole month. I sometimes do not know how each day will bring the challenge for me. Some days are so easy and other days requires more conscious effort on my part.

When I told Zenguy about the whole challenge, he did not know much about it but agreed to be on budget with me right away. Without his support I would be not able to do this challenge. As far as kids are concerned nothing much has changed. they still gets to do usual stuff they normally do and so do we, up to a point!

We did not stock up on gas or groceries and bought things normally as we do generally. During summer I am not teaching and R is at home more along with little P. Zenguy is searching for a project and meanwhile, we are living frugally yet still managing a little fun life despite the lack of budget. Here are some of the challenges and fun we had past week;

Some of the challenges

We had to go to a retreat gathering where we had to bring a potluck dish to share for 40 people. This time determined to stay in budget, I got creative and looked within my freezer and pantry for inspiration and there were plenty. I used up some of frozen food and pantry food to make hearty dish to bring to a potluck and it was a great success and well liked by everyone, including us.

Our indoor grill that we got as a gift in June stopped working, so repairing was not easy and nor was replacement due to our no spend month challenge. But when we mentioned it to our relatives who bought the grill, they said they still receipt and warranty for it ( less than 30 days purchase), so we got a free replacement from the company and they took the defective one back. If we were not doing this challenge, we might have bought new one without exploring other ideas.

Things we did to entertain our selves

All these things were fun and cost us nothing but little time and lot of mess to clean up later. But, it was worth it.

  • We cleaned up our front and back yard that we neglected for some time
  • We played dress up with kids (early Halloween)
  • We saw a free animal related show at the library
  • We made food we generally eat at restaurant and Chef R helped a lot
  • We went to near by park and played with kids
  • We danced to old Micheal Jackson songs and tried to do moon walking unsuccessfully
  • We saw kids shows and movies from our collection and library
  • I am reading books from my own collection, I like to re-read some of my favorite ones
  • We tried to repair one broken chair, when I say we, I mean Zenguy did it ๐Ÿ™‚ I am not handy at all
  • I tried to learn sewing by reading a book from library (I am still clueless)
  • We have tried to make a game to see if we can see back wall of freezer by finding and using food inside it.
  • We actually were able to find some unopened boxed food to donate as we would not able to use it before expiring date.
  • R and Zenguy created story combining characters from toy story and cars (R’s favorite movies)
  • We saw our neighbor’s rabbit inside our yard again last week and fun giving her carrots and trying to help her find her home right next door. R and Little P were so excited, despite rabbit eating some of our new plants.

How much did we spent last week?

We did pretty well, from Last Monday till Saturday, we did not spent anything and I was quite feeling happy about it. I could have stretched buying to Monday afternoon and we would have been $0 for this week expenses. However this challenge is NOT for for vanity or showing off, it is all about conscious spending in our life. So we spent lot of money on needed stuff, all on Sunday! Here is the recap.

It has been over 2 weeks since we bought any groceries or filled a gas in our Van soย  it was much needed. We needed fresh fruits, bread, Juice and snacks for the kids.

Gas for Van, groceries and light meal is what we spent money on this week.

Total Spent this week:ย  $97.15

As you can see, major expense in California is gas for cars and it is expensive and we are generally not avid drivers. Even though we do have 2 cars, we drive often close by and choose errands on same time to save gas and time both.ย  I guess eating out was splurge this week, but we had very light meal, snacks, our first meal out so far in 18 days.

Grocery bill is less, not because it is cheaper here but because we bought ONLY the necessary stuff needed and trying to use up food from our pantry and freezer first. Although our diet is mostly wheat and rice based, we have tried to eat varied food, and also eaten home made pizza, quesedilla, nachos,and pasta this month.

So far total amount we spent from July 1st-July 19th (afternoon) is $235.60, leaving only $64.40 budget for the remaining 13 days. Can we make it? I can not say for sure, I am going to try my best to stay under the budget. If you see our expenses, most of it for the necessity but very little, if any on thoughtless spending.

Some the tips we are using to save money:

  • Zenguy and I do not need any new clothes right now, we have enough,. R has grown taller so he can use new pants but I am looking for a deals before buying some. Little P gets to reuse most of R’s old clothes to save money. All of us have also newer clothes too but at home we are much relaxed.
  • Zenguy cuts kids hair at home, saving money. He gets haircut from students, so the price is much reasonable yet professional enough. I cut my own hair and do not need much beauty care as I am in to natural products using what we have at home.
  • I love cooking, so I usually cook at home but I also love to eat out, so we are trying to be more conscious about it. Zenguy is also helps and when I am breaking point, he makes his special chai at home or something special to cheer me up.
  • R and little P have plenty of toys and we keep some extra in storage to rotate when new toy itch comes around. They both are very good kids, so that helps too. They like natural playing, park and riding on Zenguy’s back more.
  • Using up food from our pantry, canned food and freezer before buying any more groceries.
  • Using books, movies and library for reading, music and watching movies, shows from our own collection, from what we have, what we can borrow
  • Write down every expenses every day, including any cents to keep eye on budget. We have been doing this for a few years and it really has a huge impact on our life.
  • Some times, when we think we need some item, we stop and ask do we “NEED” it or “WANT” it before buying anything.
  • I am terrible at using coupons but that is another great idea for saving money on groceries.
  • I make baby food for little P at home and buy little of ready made Gerber stuff. Little P is moving quickly into table food anyways, making it much easier to cook for everyone
  • We supplement disposable diapers with cloth diapers
  • We stay away from commercial outings such as malls, kids stores and hang out more at parks, library and our back yard. Imagination is great with kids, our bed becomes a rocket to fly over a Jupiter or our backyard swing becomes a steam engine train when playing with kids.

What would I buy if money was not an issue?

  • I would buy a walking shoes for me, as I have none right now. My old ones are donated as they were not better fit for my feet.
  • We would buy a router as our current router is so antique and keeps breaking out internet connection often, not a good experience when I am on blog writing a draft.
  • I would buy some pants for P, as he has grown since January and his pants are becoming a Capri pants.

My struggles (or being human with desire):

I will admit, yes I some times it is harder to do all penny pinching and feel like splurging a bit, But those moments are very few and when I am feeling down I remind myself why I am doing this and having a support from Zenguy is huge blessing. Having a bigger purpose or goal sure helps me. I take one day at the time and take it slow.

Check out next update on following Monday here No Spend Month: Update 4

I am sure we all like to save money and/or make more money regardless of how rich or poor we might be. How do you save money? What are your tips, struggles?


  1. Sharon says:

    It looks like you are doing GREAT! I like that you gave so many ideas of things you have been doing that don’t cost money!

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


    Your commitment to this project should be commended!

    I wish you had pictures or a video of you guys doing the moonwalk! That would be great.

    My wifey is a coupon hound(o: It truly is an art!

    I cut my boys’ hair also. Big money saver!

    Sounds like you will stay within your budget (if you want to). I say reward yourself with a nice splurge at the end of the month!

    Take care!

  3. ZenGirl says:


    Thanks, we try to have fun without spending much money. When I decided to stay home and give up my six figure income, I have become much more conscious of my spending without losing important aspect of fun in life.

    I see you are doing well in your budget this month so far, I think you can do it! It is all about us being aware of our spending, right?

  4. ZenGirl says:


    Thank you, if I try something I usually put my mind and soul both it, otherwise why try it half-heartedly?

    Oh, video of us doing a moonwalk? That would have been great but we were having too much fun to remember taking pics or even video. Maybe next time, it will be in humor section as we were goofing up badly!

    I am glad you also cut hair, I could use some wisdom from your wife for using coupon as I have not gotten the art of using coupon properly, let me know if she has any tips for me.

  5. Kait Palmer says:

    Wow, I’m impressed! We have a hard time with it just being us two adults! Our biggest expense is gas since we both work full time and commute in opposite directions. Public transportation from where we live would take far too long and neither of us can carpool, so we’ll just have to deal with that for now.

    We live in the bottom floor of a house and so we share a full freezer in the garage with our housemates. Having that and a small fridge means we usually have to eat what we have anyways, so its not like last year where I’m finding a lot of expired canned food. Our CSA helps keep us full of fresh vegetables and I think I’ll head out to the farm on Saturday to pick some berries!

    Keep it up, we’re past the halfway point!

  6. ZenGirl says:


    Gas sure could add up, here is California is expensive. Yes, many cities that do not have a great public transportation also does not leave much choices.

    We have stuff in pantry and canned food area, plus we have dried beans, pulses and rice stock, that we are currently using up. We are vegetarian so we have plenty of tofu, lentils around. We have CSA but currently we get our veggies and fruits from local stores and farmer’s market.

    Yes, we are more than half way done but money spent is lot more ๐Ÿ™‚ I think it still doable. How are you both doing so far?

  7. Evelyn Lim says:

    Thanks for showing how you are doing such a great job in living within your budget. Thumbs up to demonstrating how it is possible to still have a good time without spending anything. My best tip is to adopt a prosperous mindset in order to attract more financial abundance into your life. Do it as a team with Zenguy.

  8. Abubakar Jamil says:

    It is interesting to to observe that how much fun one can have without spending a penny. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Jessica says:

    Hey Preeti!

    I just wanted to say thank you for your comment on my blog, and I absolutely love yours too! I’ve been browsing the archives for hours now, we totally have a lot in common ๐Ÿ™‚

    I looking forward to future posts, keep up the great work,

  10. Marko -- Calm Growth says:

    Of course, it is not easy. However, a single meaningful goal was not reached because it was easy.

    I like the tips for saving money at the end. I do my haircut at home. I like short hair, ะฐnd this is the fastest and cheapest way. I also like the idea of recording costs. This helped me when I wanted to save money. And I like “…stop and ask do we โ€œNEEDโ€ it or โ€œWANTโ€ it…” It’s also good to write that and put in the wallet. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Your commitment and willingness to achieve the goal is very inspiring Preeti. I look forward to reading your future posts. Continue the good work!

  11. Marion Anderson says:

    Well done Preeti. I love how you are doing free things as a family. I think that you are giving your children a priceless lesson. It cost nothing to love someone! What are “things” anyway? They turn so quickly into clutter.

    We live to our incomes. When we have more we spend more and it does not need to be like that.

    Inspirational post – Thank you

  12. Eric | Eden Journal says:

    Wow, I’ve not known many people able to stick to a budget like that. When I was unemployed for three months last year, we did do a lot of free entertainment, similar to what you have been doing. It’s amazing how many free activities there are if you just take the time to look. We spent time at the beach, the park, art shows, free concerts, free summer movies.

  13. ZenGirl says:


    It is very much possible to have a good time without spending anything as most of us like the experiences that we share with our family and friends.

    Evelyn, actually we are grateful for many abundance in out life as a family. I will look in to it more though.

  14. ZenGirl says:


    So true, if all of us looked back in our life for best memories, I bet it will have little to do with money and more with people.

  15. ZenGirl says:


    You are welcome, you do have nice subject on your blog. Wow you spent hours going through archives! You made my day! I am glad we have things in common, that what makes a good online friends.

    Thanks for stopping by and your comment here. Look forward to seeing you more.

  16. ZenGirl says:


    Many things in life are not easy but worth achieving, and doing this we are able to live within our means and still able to have little fun too.

    We also find that doing kids hair cut at home, saves lot of time, money and less crying, specially for little P. Thanks for the continued support and tips.

  17. ZenGirl says:


    Actually I am finding we are much closer now compared to when we (zenguy and I) both used to work as we hardly had any time left. But, frugality is must when I decided to stay home and right now zenguy also being without a project/job makes more important to live within our means.

    Thanks for your thoughtful comment here.

  18. ZenGirl says:


    Welcome and thank you for your comment here. I am glad you found a job soon, Zenguy has been without a job for more than a few months now but living below our means has enabled us to stretch our savings and still able to live relatively normal life.

    During summer time, there are many free things like you mentioned. Most of our fun memories have nothing to do with money anyways.

  19. Sibyl-alternaview says:

    Preeti: This challenge has really been interesting to hear about. Reading about your activities really reminded me of all the easy and free ways we can have fun and spend good time with our family. I think it is easy to become accustomed to always spending money on entertainment, but the reality is that there are other options that are just as satisfying, if not more. It is all about being creative. Thanks for the great list and story.

  20. ZenGirl says:


    Yes, many time during summer there are lot of free entertainment and concert happening which all of us can go to, regardless of how rich or poor we might be, but some times we forget it.

    Thanks I am glad you enjoyed it. I am learning a lot about myself too as I am sharing this experiment.

  21. ayo says:

    hello preeti,
    how are you?
    it’s great to read your updates on the challenge and you’ve listed some helpful and creative tips which one easily over looks.
    i agree with Ali on the video for the moon walk lol!!!
    take care of yourself and enjoy the rest of the day.

  22. ZenGirl says:


    I am fine, how are you? I am sure all of us these creative ideas for fun and entertainment. Next time I guess I would try to remember camera and video when we try moon walking! I guess often time, we are having too much fun to remember to take even pictures. Does that happen to you?

  23. Angela Artemis says:

    You’re doing so well. I hope you can make the rest of the month on $65. It’s a huge challenge. You’re teaching you children that they don’t need to buy things to be happy and that instead they can rely on their creativity to entertain them; and that’s a great lesson. I wish more parents would do that. I love that you were doing Michael Jackson’s Moon walk. Too cute!

  24. ZenGirl says:


    Thank you for encouraging words. I too hope I make it!

    I have found that kids are true minimalist when they are young, they learn materialism from us as they grow. Right now R and P, some times simply happy to play with dirt or cardboard boxes! Oh I wish I can go be child again!

    We do our crazy dance and song Jams, which are simply crazy but fun times.

  25. Betsy Bargain says:

    Zengirl, I still have faith that you will achieve your goal of staying under the $300 budget for the month. It looks like you are finding lots of inexpensive ways to entertain yourselves! Any chance Zenguy would share his special Chai recipe? I love Chai!

  26. ZenGirl says:


    I think so too, and we are finding some ways to have fun and live life without spending much! It is fun, your site have great tips.

    Sure, Zenguy will love to share his special Chai recipe soon! Look for it in future posts!

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