No Spend Month Challenge: Update 4

This is our fourth week of update on No Spend Month Challenge that I am  sharing my spending on Heart and Mind Blog . Now there are 26 days down and 5 more days left to go in this challenge.

In this challenge, we have a budget for $300 for the whole month of July, that includes, groceries, eating out, entertainment, clothing and accessories, books, movies, gas for cars, cleaning supplies, gardening supply, any household items, and any repairs if necessary.

What is not included in this budget is rent/mortgage, utilities, phone bills, medical, insurances, donations/charity money, savings (if any) for retirement or emergency fund. We are family of 4, living in northern California where gas and groceries prices can be high.

If you would like to know more about it, check out my previous update No Spend Month challenge : Update 3

Where we are started last week:

We have spent $235.60 already from total of $300 budget. Can we make it?

Our saving budget strategies

  1. Use food from our pantry, freezer first: We have been doing this, week before this one, I cook a potluck meal for 40 peoples from our food storage. This goes to show, we had too much food in our pantry.
  2. Use up canned food supply : We have been doing this quite well on.
  3. Use dried beans and rice staples : As an Indians we do tend to eat lot of rice and wheat based meals so having dried staple to help us is a great idea.
  4. Cook leftover in to another delicious meal: I learned this from my grandmother and my mom, making something new out of leftover food, a wonderful ways to eat same food in new way.
  5. Cook more at home, eat out less: I love cooking so it has been easy but I love eating out, so it has been a challenge a bit.
  6. Use garden vegetables if any available: This time our garden plants have eaten up by neighbor’s rabbit, and other reasons so we have barely a few tomatoes grown, not enough to make even salad.
  7. Eat Vegetarian diet: We are all vegetarian, including kids so this helps in our budget a lot, as vegetables tend to be cheaper compared to meat. We are also partial vegan and eat organic food as often so this becomes an added cost to our budget but so far we are managing.
  8. Do repairs by yourself: So far nothing major needed a repair but Zenguy fixed a chair and he does minor electric and gardening repairs by himself, learning as he goes in the process. That has helped a lot.
  9. No new Must “want” stuff of us: This usually means books and movies for me, new gadgets and computer parts for Zenguy and Toys for R. Little P is the most content, maybe because he is only one. So far, we have survived without must want buying.
  10. Drive less: We do have 2 cars, but to save gas and environment, we combined to errands together, shop near by, and generally drive less to not only save money but also an environment for future generation.

What did we do this week?

  • We cooked at home as usual more. Chef R loves to help and makes a huge mess but I guess that is part of life.
  • This time we moved on to MJ’s other songs as we failed miserably to “Billy Jean” and moon walking. Our current favorite dance song is “Macarena” and “Black and White”, a song DVD we already have in our collection. So we can see, listen and dance. Sorry no videos, I always forget as I am having too much fun.
  • We went for walk in neighbor hood, caught up and chatted with a few neighbors. That was great, it always good to talk to people and get to know them more
  • We all saw a few PBS shows, (only TV we watch), and selected DVD viewing. We went to park and played.
  • We also did imaginary trip and mission to Venus, as our bed in reality a secret rocket! Gosh our house has so many talents which I did not know until R (my preschooler) pointed out to me.

How much we spend last week?

Previous update we had about less than $65 left for 13 days, and I was getting worried. We have been cooking at home past week and emptying out freezer, dried grains and beans staples along with canned food. So we did not need any groceries or gas past week.

I was feeling bit down about breaking point, so to cheer myself up I bought a couple of used books from friends of library sale, which helped my mood and as well as library too. And I got 2 great used books for $1.50.

I have been not really able to sell anything on Craigslist but we gave it away a few stuff for free, that felt good even though we did not make money. Lately people have been flaking, not showing up when they said they would and wanting items for almost free. We also bought high chair for Little P from Craigslist for $10.

Total expense:
Groceries, used hih chair and books.

Total Spent last week: $18.50 (This is our one of the best spending amount so far)

Where are we on budget?

We are at $254.10 from about 26 days of spending. We have about 5 days more left before the month experiment is over. I think we may just make it! Next and final update will be on next Monday with an overview of whole month and what we learned from it.

Check out my previous money and sustainability posts, which might be useful.

12 ways to help your unemployed friends and family
Celebrating meaningful birthdays (without money)
Irony of recession

How are you all doing? Are you spending consciously?

Check out final update here No Spend Month Challenge: Final Take away .
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  1. rob white says:

    Hi Preeti,
    It is great that you were able to give away some things for free. After all we can not reap unless you sow 🙂 It is a great opportunity to work with the Law of Multiple Returns. Remember to make your claim: “This value that I am giving will return to me in multiples.” Mean it and feel it… It is all in the attitude.

  2. ZenGirl says:


    Yes, I actually like giving away stuff and helping people regardless of anything in return.

    However, I do like the sentence “this value that I am giving will return to me in multiples”. It actually has proved right, we are getting help from many people even non monetary has been a tremendous help.

  3. ZenGirl says:


    If you were in my shoes with my experience, you would have done same thing. Once upon a time, I used to spend lot of money when I was working, but now choosing to stay home with my kids, being frugal and living sustainable life was my choice and I am happier for it, mostly.

    I think you are doing great and saving more compared to other months, so it is a progress still. I am for one who is very proud of you, I think you can make it with $19 in next 5 days!

  4. Kamal says:

    Wow! I cannot believe that you got it under 20 bucks in a week. That is amazing.

    I have been following your No spend month and I wanted to comment at the end of the month. I really hope you can make it with another 5 days remaining. Maybe you can make it for two more weeks with they way you and your family can control. My hats off to you and your entire family.

  5. Jean Sarauer says:

    You are doing such a great job! Really, this is incredibly inspirational. It’s so easy to think we have to have a big pile of money to enjoy life, but that is SO not the case. Sure, money can buy many wonderful things, but when we get too focused on those we miss out on experiencing the joy of the many simple treasures and pleasures on this earth. Give my best to the kids and Zenguy too!

  6. ZenGirl says:


    We just lucky as we really did not need much this week! Thank you for the kind comment and following my no spend month experience. I think also that we may just make it. It does get easier some what when you know your goal.

  7. ZenGirl says:


    Thank you. I knew and heard that money does not make person happy, I know so now. If you also look back in your life for happiest memory, I bet it will have to do more with people or experience itself and not the money or things money can buy.

    I will surely give best to my family, and they will love it. Thanks.

  8. Mgirl says:


    This is simply amazing experiment. I have just read all other updates too in anticipation. I see some weeks you have high spending and this time almost nothing. As a college student, I almost live like that in similar budget. Inspiring post for sure. Thanks for writing it.

  9. Aileen says:

    WOW, you are doing amazing with this!!! Especially considering the first week went off budget with Yosemite and you were still able to get back on track WOW,WOW,WOW!! I am pretty frugal, but after following your series I want to see how much lower I can get my grocery bill now. That gas cost, that’s a tuff one (I’m California too) – but I think there’s some trimming I can do with grocery.

    This series is a wonderful inspiration!!

  10. Vaishali says:

    Preeti, Great job on meeting the challenge– you are almost there, and it seems as thought you might have change to spare! 🙂
    I love how you don’t seem to mind sharing your produce with the rabbits– it really makes me mad to hear people complain about the deer and other wildlife eating their precious flowers and vegetables when we humans are the ones robbing the animals of their land with our McMansions! It may sound strange, but I feel rather special when the deer eat up my hostas and lilies 🙂

  11. Marion Anderson says:


    You are really inspirational. I get the feeling this exercise is bringing the family really closer together.The mission to Venus really made me smile!

  12. ~Carla~ says:

    Wow!! That’s amazing that you’ve stayed under $300 for the month! I’ve definitely been watching my pennies as we’re moving soon and i’m doing a “quick” emergency fund, saving every spare cent we have! I think i’m going to do a “no spend” month for August! Seems like a perfect time for us to do it and build up our emergency fund! Good luck meeting your goal!

  13. ZenGirl says:


    Thanks. I agree, yes some weeks we have spend lot and other weeks very moderate. It is funny as a college student I lived very similar like you but it gets harder when your lifestyle changes as you work and have family. Now, I have to make a extra effort which I believe with students like you would be second nature right?

  14. ZenGirl says:


    Thank you. Yes California’s gas prices are same as Manhattan! It is almost impossible to budget gas prices, specially in summer when it is its highest during summer break.

    I thought I was pretty frugal, until this month experiment. I have lot to learn still. That is a start, right? Let me know how your budgeting goes.

  15. ZenGirl says:


    I am beginning to feel that I may have left over, but Zenguy will need gas in his hybrid before the month is over, so let us see.

    Yes we love to share and grow extra plans for other birds and animals such as squirrels. Rabbit was total surprised as we thought in urban area, we would have none. You are so right about we human taking over birds and animal’s natural habitat and food so often, this is least we can do.

    I think you are a kind soul and those deer must be happy to have your bounty to eat! we need more compassionate people like you in this world.

  16. ZenGirl says:


    Thank you. I think you are right, our family spend more time together. Mission to Venus is very special, as it is my preschooler’s favorite planet (I am not sure why), so we pretend visit there often and his imagination is beyond what I can think!

  17. ZenGirl says:


    Welcome and thank you for commenting. I still have 5 more days to go but I am hoping that I will make it under budget or right at budget.
    I think it is good practice to do conscious spending, this month has made me more aware that how much I spend without thinking. Good luck with your move and emergency fund, I think it is a great idea.

  18. RV says:

    Hi Preethi, Thank you! I am seriously waiting to know how you complete this challenge. I am completely amazed on how you whip up things with 2 kids at home. This is truly inspiring..

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

    Preeti, I’m amazed with every update! This is truly remarkable. I’m so simple but I know my family would really have to focus to accomplish this wonderful feat that your family is doing. Looks like you’re going to make it with flying colors. I commend you!

    More music and NO videos. You should be ashamed of yourself …. just joking! You rock!!

  20. Angela Artemis says:

    Dear, dear Preeti,
    You are so precious! I love reading your updates. I sort of feel like I’m part of the family when I hear so much detail about your life.

    I love that you used your bed as a rocket ship to Venus!

    You’re going to make it through the month~!

    I’m so proud of you!

  21. Hulbert Lee says:

    Whoa, now that’s what I call frugal spending. I think the average person in America spends more than $500 per month on the things you mentioned such as groceries and gas. It’s admirable that you and your family are trying to do it in $300 or less. Even though situations may be rough right now, at least you’ll be saving money in the long run. 🙂 I hope you can make it Preeti!

  22. ZenGirl says:


    Welcome and thanks for comment. Yes, I am waiting too, as I think we might have some leftover for fun stuff but Zenguy need gas in his hybrid. Let’s see 4 more days!

    I love cooking, I am just too lazy to take pictures of it. My preschooler also actually helps me cook, which makes cooking even longer but fun! I love your cooking blog!

  23. ZenGirl says:


    I can see you are simple and I bet you could do similar feat or better as you wife is good at couponing. I am still waiting for tips from her.

    My excuse for video watching is R need to see the moves 🙂 besides I love watching a video when we dance so no one know how bad we are as everyone would be looking at the screen !!

  24. ZenGirl says:

    Dear Angela,

    You are so sweet, yes you are already part of the family, I feel like my blog is an extension of my family and all of you are part of it.

    Bed as rocket idea belongs to R, as he loves Venus and I love his imagination! That was sure fun being an astronaut on our messed up bed.

    I hope and think I will make it! almost done.

  25. ZenGirl says:


    I missed your wisdom here, good to see you back! Our less than average condition makes us spend less than average budget for now! I hope I can make it too. I am sure there are lot of people like me or even better than me! I know this for a fact as there are quite a few people doing this no spend experiment this month.

  26. ZenGirl says:


    I have now about $45 left, but it is still possible to be make it under my budget. Thanks for believing in me, Justin.

    How is affiliate market treating you?

  27. Betsy Bargain says:


    You are doing so well with the No Spend Challenge! I have no doubt that you will reach your goal with only five days left. Just keep up the good work!

  28. ayo says:

    wow!! preeti
    at the time of posting this comment you have 2 days to go. you’ve stuck at it and more grease to your elbows. there are so many lessons to be learnt from this challenge of yours.
    thanks for sharing your updates
    enjoy the rest of the day

  29. Alien Ghost says:

    Hi Preeti,

    It brings so many memories reading your post. Being from Chile, South America, the 10 saving budget strategies are much known to my wife and me and even that our son has grown in the US since he was 2, he also knows and go by the South American way.

    The ones I can relate the most:

    # 4 “Cook leftover in to another delicious meal” – Is a tradition in our country.

    # 5 “Cook more at home, eat out less” – Eating out for very special occasions only; home cooking is the healthiest!

    # 8 “Do repairs by yourself” – I tease my wife: “Your mother told you never marry a handy man or you will never have anything new”

    # 9 “No new Must “want” stuff of us” – If we make an account of what we already have there’s plenty to enjoy without having to acquire more, at least for a while.

    # 10 is impossible for me since I work at nights on delivery and just the fuel budget is about $ 400 a month! But for all the other needs fuel can be a very small expense.

    This post I’m sure will show many people how easy can be to save money! 🙂


  30. ZenGirl says:


    There is weekend coming up which is always hard not to go out and spend money on, right now it is hitting so close to home, let’s see. I hope I make it too. You’ll know by Monday.

  31. ZenGirl says:


    Yep, 2 days to go, I am excited! final update coming on Monday after I tally everything and write up a summery of whole thing. Thanks for visiting here.

    Take care.

  32. ZenGirl says:


    Welcome and thank you for the comment. Yes, in India, we too live very similar to that and my parents here made sure we stayed frugal.
    I have to relearn some of the tips as I had forgotten and was spending a lot a few years ago.

    I am glad you are able to keep the tradition with you family. You work at night delivery? What do you do? Gas here is expensive too, we are working hard to not drive too much to stay under budget.

    It is good to know you and thanks for stopping by.

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