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No Spend Week Final Wrap-Up


Success! Today is pay day! We made it to the end of our No Spend Week, only spending the $13 I had planned for fresh produce and milk (though we ended up just making do and didn’t buy additional milk, the money got spent on produce, juice, and children’s medicine).

Thankfully, the girls were well enough to go to school today. It’s so odd because I was pretty worried about them on Wednesday afternoon/evening (they’d been sent home from school on Wednesday). They each had fevers of just over 102 degrees F!!! Super high! So I was quite surprised when they woke up Thursday morning acting totally normally! I had to keep them home because the rule is they must stay home until they are fever-free for 24-hours. But by lunchtime on Thursday they were running around acting totally wild. I was glad they weren’t feeling icky, but it made for an interesting day since I was trying to force them to rest and they were just bouncing off the walls with endless energy. Wish I could bottle up their energy and insert it into myself! Ha! I guess that’s what my homemade pumpkin spice latte is for, lol.

Anyway, I did get paid today (so I’ve got money!!!!) and that was my original goal of the No Spend Week – just make it until payday! But I’m going to try to make it a couple more days. I don’t want to spend any more money on groceries this month, so I’m going to wait until Sunday (October 1st) to do the weekly grocery trip. We still have plenty of food in our pantries and freezer and with hubs out of town and each child only eating the equivalent of ½ an adult portion (less food, overall), I think we’ll be able to make it just fine. I must admit I’d like to eat out just for convenience’s sake, but I’ll put on my big girl panties and hold out 2 more days until the new month begins.

I know I still haven’t really addressed the big elephant in the room: what caused us to take on more debt and put us in this situation to begin with. To that, I just ask you to be patient with me. I applaud Hope for putting herself out there, talking about the car (and the wreck!), etc. It’s tough to put yourself out there like that to the entire blog-world, especially when you know you’ve messed up (or instead of using the general “you” I’ll take ownership and say I. I have messed up.). I do have a post in the works with more information about all our over-spending, but I’m not ready to share it all yet. Bear with me. I promise I’ll share soon – when I’m ready.

In the meantime, I’ve been zeroing in on some areas where our spending has really become inflated. One big one is with FOOD! This week was such an eye-opener for me. Being able to get by just on food we already had on-hand (especially given that the no-spend-week was totally spontaneous and unplanned!). It’s been tough in terms of commitment. I have so many excuses (I’m tired, I don’t want to cook, The dinner I planned doesn’t sound good, etc. etc. etc.), but ultimately, when faced with the reality that WE HAVE NO MONEY, there’s really nothing to do other than zip my lip and figure it out. And it was surprisingly much easier than I’d expected.

I mentioned before I’ve started doing the cash envelope system again. I’ll write a whole post dedicated to that. I know my posts this week have been very food-heavy (given that it was all about what we’ve eaten during our No Spend Week). I’ll try to have more balance but I think there are probably a LOT of families out there like mine. Spending WAY too much money on food. Like…..over a thousand a month!!! EEEK!!! Can you imagine?! (< that figure was just from groceries, too – it doesn’t even include eating out!). The month of September I was determined to slash that number and I’ve done quite well with it so I’m proud. With any luck, next month will be just as successful!


How much do you budget for groceries in your family (and how many people do you feed)? When I first started blogging we were able to get our grocery bill to $100/week (but our kids were young toddlers, so the $100/week was really only feeding 2 adults). Now I’m aiming for $150/week, which is a HUGE decrease from our previous level of spending over the last year-ish. The $150/week is for 2 adults and 2 school-age children, and includes everything from the grocery store including non-food items (e.g., toilet paper, over the counter medicine, face cream/cosmetics, etc.)


Texan at heart; Arizonan on paper. Lover of running, cheese, camping, and family (fur-family included!). Blogger, motivated to get out of debt YESTERDAY! Follow along with my journey!

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  • Reply Katie |

    Congrats on making it through the no-spend week. It can be tough, but extending it a few days is a good idea. I’ve read other bloggers who work up to a no-spend month, with few exceptions (fresh produce & bread).

    For the four of us, we spend about $500/month on groceries. That’s two trips to Costco, and filling in on veggies and produce from Aldi. I’m pretty sure Aldi hasn’t made it your way yet, but I hope you have something equivalent. We got ours about a year ago, and it is shocking what a difference it has made in my food budget. Also, I plan out a lot of meals on our calendar. When I do that, I can see how I can re-purpose leftovers, or take shortcuts to save time (like browning 3 nights worth of ground beef on Monday, then using them in chili, spaghetti, shepherd’s pie, etc). This is the area where I’ve made the most cuts in the past year, and it’s helping us reach other financial goals. Good luck!

    • Reply Ashley |

      Yes! My inspiration was from another blogger (FunCheapOrFree.com) who did a full No Spend Month in September. They allotted $25/week for fresh stuff (milk, bread, produce), but didn’t even spend that much most weeks! Our situations aren’t necessarily the same (they have a huge garden and multiple refrigerators/freezers that had food stocked up in them), but it’s still a huge inspiration to see it can be done – and they have a big family, too (I think 5 kids? so 7 total people)
      I’ve read about Aldi in the blog-world and, sadly, they are not in our area yet. Sounds like it could be a total game-changer! I’m totally impressed that your $500/month includes 2 trips to Costco!!! I have a love-hate with Costco. I know they save me money buying in bulk, but I also can’t get out of there for under $100 (and typically more like $150ish) so I don’t know how I can incorporate in Costco trips with my normal grocery trips and still stick to our grocery budget. That will be an October goal, for sure!

      • Reply Nicole |

        Goodcheapeats.com is another good source of inspiration. She does a pantry challenge every year to use up what she has in the cupboards and freezer and spend a minimal amount for the month

  • Reply scarr |

    Thanks for sharing your reservations about opening up about your new debts. I understand why you are holding back for now. I hope you know so many of us support you!!

    We have two people in our household and we budget $200/month for food-related groceries and $100 for non-food related things (deodorant, cat food, etc.). Sometimes, we go over in either category but it’s usually within reason. We do not eat out, unless it is our birthday or our anniversary or a really good deal at Subway (we live near one hehe); we go out for coffee together maybe once every few months.

    You did such a good job sticking to your no-spend week plan!! AND you were able to make food that you enjoyed! I think a lot of people overspend on food or coffees without realizing it: $4/day adds up. Then it can become $12/day or maybe $20. I put a lot of emphasis on reducing take-out and coffees because people will find literally any excuse not to make food at home and they rack up debt or put off retirement savings, college savings or paid-in-cash vacations making those excuses. If eating out once a month or once every few weeks will help make things easier, that is great. But when it becomes a daily habit, I question how much it is helping in the long-run.

    I know you and your husband will figure this out. Mistakes happen, bad months happen but you are still awesome and we are here to cheer you on!

    • Reply Ashley |

      Thank you, I appreciate the words of encouragement! High five for such a low food budget, too! I can’t imagine being able to get our budget down to $200 (even if it were just me and hubs). Do you grow food in a garden? Or just super thrifty?

      • Reply scarr |

        We are lucky to live near several grocery stores that all have great prices on fresh produce. We probably save a lot of money by not eating meat. We occasionally have fresh fish, but only once a month or so. Also, once my husband and I became better cooks, it was easier to make food with what’s in our pantry. We still groan about what to make for dinner some nights, all while staring into a full fridge. We try to keep rice ready to eat in the fridge that way we can throw some sauted veggies over it, or make burritos.

  • Reply Margann34 |

    We have a family of 5. I budget $600/ month on groceries including household goods. I can usually stay within that budget. We buy 1/2 of a beef each year for an additional $1000 or so. We have 2 adults, 2 pre teen girls that eat as much as an adult and a toddler. We probably spend an additional $100/month eating out. Share your struggles when you are ready. There may be some harsh comments but you will also receive lots of support. Sometimes sharing our secrets is quite freeing!

  • Reply dh |

    I would eat out or get take out every night if I could afford it, because I don’t like cooking … but I can’t, so I suck it up LOL. To me cooking is a necessary evil. Yes of course I enjoy cooking sometimes, but we raised 4 kids (all adults now). I put a dinner on the table every night for 6 people for decades, so I am done LOL.

    I’ve posted this before, but here it is again. When you cook, cook big (even huge) portions, and freeze the rest. Soups, chili, lasagne, bolognaise sauce, meatballs, Olive Garden soup … those are the things my kids liked that were easy to cook in big batches and freeze.

    Later, when they were university students and even afterwards (ie no longer living at home FT), I still made the same big quantities when they came over for dinner. Instead of freezing the leftovers, they would take them home. In fact they still do!

    If you can be disciplined enough to make a big batch of two different meals every week (either on the same day or two different days), and freeze half (or even more since your girls are still little), you will always have a good stock of healthy, cheap, homemade food in the freezer. Maybe you can do one big batch of something on a night you get home earlier, and the other on the weekend.

    My family doesn’t like eating the same thing for several days in a row. So I preferred to freeze the leftovers rather than eat the same thing for 2 or 3 dinners in a row.

    The rest of the time we’d have quick meals, ie chicken breasts, steak, homemade or frozen pizza, tacos, etc.

    I also keep a variety of frozen veggies in the freezer.

    • Reply Ashley |

      This is a great idea! I’ll definitely start working my way toward some of this larger batch-sized cooking + freezing! I, too, do not enjoy cooking. I sometimes enjoy baking (breads or sweets) when it doesn’t feel like a “chore.” But I have NEVER enjoyed cooking. It’s just not my thing. I do it because, as you say, necessary evil. But I also try to pawn it off on hubs and/or plan meals that require grilling (his domain) as much as possible! 😉

  • Reply Laura |

    $600/month for 2 adults and a 7 year old who eats like an adult. Like Margann above we buy 1/4 cow each year and I am going to look into buying a pig next year. That includes household HBA and cleaning supplies. I do a rolling budget where if I’m under budget for groceries one month that money rolls over to the next month, which helps during the month we spend $300 or so on the beef.

      • Reply Ashley |

        This is such a great idea! I had a friend organize a “half a cow” buy-in a few months back. I bought in (only $100 – it was split several ways), but I couldn’t determine whether I thought it was actually cost-effective or not. We ended up with several cuts of beef that were kind of random and I wouldn’t normally buy. And I don’t think it was really any cheaper than store-bought (in fact, for some of the cuts of beef I know for a fact I could’ve bought cheaper at the grocery store). To me, I was thinking the big benefit was the cow we bought was a single animal (VS. when buying ground beef it’s really beef from 100s of different cows – all ground up together) and the animal was pasture-raised/grass-fed so it was more “high end” beef in that regard. Not cheaper, but higher-quality I guess? I don’t know. I like the idea of buying a pig! We love our pork! I’m curious how much a pig costs.

        • Reply Margann34 |

          We buy a 1/2 beef more for quality beef than cost. You can probably shop sales at the grocery store and get it cheaper in some cases. And you do end up with cuts you don’t necessarily like (beef short ribs). I live in rural NM where grocery store choice is limited but plenty of peoplee raise beef. So this is the best way for us to get quality beef. We have also bought pork in bulk.

          • Laura |

            I agree with this. If you stock up on sale prices it is usually cheaper to buy in the supermarket. I like the better quality and the convenience of having so much meat already packaged and frozen.

  • Reply Katie |

    For meat, also check out Zaycon. They have been running a lot of promotions lately with an extra discount. I just bought boneless, skinless chicken breast for $1.49/lb. We’ve only purchased chicken from them, but it is really, really good. It actually has flavor – something I’d forgotten about good chicken, and haven’t tasted since eating the poultry my family raised on a farm.

  • Reply Jasmine |

    I definitely second Zaycon Fresh. We now use it for most of our meat purchases. We’ve tried going vegetarian, but we’re hardcore carnivores, so ZF alleviates some of the cost. The only downside is having to process it, but the chicken breasts are huge. We’ve also had the breakfast sausage, hot dogs, and ground beef – all of which were delicious! The ground beef also now comes in 1 lb. packages, so much less processing to do with that.

So, what do you think ?