Friday, January 27, 2012

"31 Days of Nothing" Challenge-Week 4 Wrap-Up

This post is a part of Learning The Frugal Life's "31 Days Of Nothing" Challenge.  Along with many of you, I accepted the challenge and this is my weekly check-in to chart my family's progress! 

I'm both relieved and amazed at how well 31 Days of Nothing went for my family.  Here are some highlights of the month's achievements:

1.  I can't believe I went two whole weeks without filling up the tank!  I hate having it below a quarter of a tank, but I waited until Wednesday to fill up.  Sweet!  That means I only filled up THREE times this month - it's like a miracle!  Total Gas expenditure for the month:  $132.26

2.  My Grocery Spending total for the entire month was less than my usual spending for one week! I only spent a total of  $127.06 to feed my family breakfast, lunch & dinner for the entire month - no coupons used!  I am amazed!


3.  Although my pantry/freezer is pretty barren, I suspect that I could go another 2-3 weeks before everything was completely gone.  This month has been a lesson is what is "enough."  I always have anxiety about not having enough of this or that.  For example, at the beginning of this challenge, I discovered that I only had 6 garbage bags left - YIKES.  However, I discovered that living on much less results is much less trash!  I was also extra conscious of extending those bags by recycling more.   As I write this, I actually have 2 bags remaining!

4.  My habits have changed this month - so much that I am now getting extra picky about what I spend money on.  This week, I went to Michael's with a $25 gift card.  Normally, my mindset is that I have an "extra" $25 to spend, but this time I went determined to only spend within the gift card limit.  Balking at some of the prices in there, I ended up only spending $11 of my gift card!  For me, THAT is real change!


5.  We used up the remainder of the money from our "Just In Case" Jar when had to go on a day-long errand and we went out to lunch.  The "Just In Case" Jar is now going to be a permanent fixture in our home.  We will refill it at the 1st of every month with $100 in cash and limit ourselves to that amount in   Restaurant/Take-Out food.  If we don't spend the entire amount in a particular month, it can roll-over into the next month for something really special if we desire!

6.  We did our final calculations for the month and discovered that we saved $1000.00 by living extremely frugally this month.  AMAZING!  This challenge has definitely given me great insight into where and how my family can stretch our dollars and save even more than we have been!  Thanks so much to Learning The Frugal Life for the inspiration!

Meal Plan Week 4+*:
Sunday: Chicken Schnitzel & Cheese Spaetzel
Monday: Spaghetti Alfredo w/Mushrooms
Tuesday: Veggie Lo Mein (leftover spaghetti)
Wednesday: Hot Dogs & Mac n Cheese
Thursday: Stuffed Chicken Breast Casserole
Friday: Japanese Curry on Rice
Saturday: Turkey & Black Bean Tacos
Sunday: Fried Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Corn
Monday: Honey Mustard Chicken, Flavored Rice, Beans
Tuesday: Flounder, Mashed Potatoes (leftover), Dill Sauce

*With some variation, our other meals are typically:
Breakfast: Bagel/French Toast (husband), Buttered Toast/Crumpet (son), Yogurt/Cereal (me)
Lunch: Leftovers (husband), PB&J/Can Fruit/Chips (son), Soup/Egg on Toast (me)

Purchased at Aldi this week:
Applesauce Cups
Juice Boxes
Yogurt - 2
Ham Cold Cuts
Tuna - 2
Ground Turkey (frozen)
Fried Chicken (frozen)

Money Spent Week 4:  
Grocery: $25.27
Lunch Out:  $40.00
Gas: $48.66
Total $113.93

Week 1 Expenses: $96.28
Week 4 Expenses: $113.93
Running Total/Month:  $368.81

Month's Breakdown
Total Grocery/Month:  $127.06
Total Gas/Month:  $132.26
Total Dining & Takeout/Month: $77.00
Total Other:  $32.49

Feeling motivated?  You can always join in Learning The Frugal Life's "31 Days Of Nothing" Challenge!  Also, LTFL is hosting a weekly Link-Up on Fridays to see how others are living frugally through the month here!

Linking Up at Tip Junkie, Today's Creative Blog, The Frugal GirlsFunky Junk Interiors and these other Great Parties!


  1. Amazing how much you saved isn't it?? That is awesome! It really puts things into perspective and let's you know how much you really can cut out of your budget. Your family did a great job! I have enjoyed reading your weekly updates, thanks so much for linking up. I love having these kinds of challenges. I really learn a lot from others. Thanks again for participating.

  2. While I think this is great, if you used only what you had in the house and didnt buy more...where did the groceries come from? That means you had a good stash in the house which is great........but now they have to be replaced. :( I too stock up good, having several things of each thing I use alot of and always try to continue the same amt. of each in my stash. I shop sales on this stuff and keep track of it. But stashes have to be replaced now I wonder what will you do this next month?

    Im getting low on lots of things I used to have around now too. Ive had to be really frugal since we are both unemployed at the moment. And now after a few months of this, Im starting to have to do without some things that I really want to have in my stash. Dont get me wrong, Im not putting you down for this, its awesome and we all need to do this much more. But once the stash is almost gone, then what?

    1. Hi Seanymph,

      I'm so sorry to hear that you are in this situation right now. I hope that you'll be able to find a good job soon and that this worry will be far behind you.

      Yes, my stash will now begin to be replaced, but don't think I'm going to run out and fill my shelves in one run! I'm already planning out my strategy of a slow replacement of pantry items over the coming months.

      For me, this exercise was helpful because I realized that I only had enough in the pantry for a max of 2 months and I will rebuild my stash to make it enough for at least 3 months of eating the things that we enjoy. True, we ate from the stash knowing that it was going to be replaced.

      In the case of not being able to replace the stash, I think that I would probably modify those meals to maximize as much as possible - likely there'd be a lot of tuna sandwiches, pancakes and macaroni & cheese. It's not fact, it sucks, but that's when this exercise switches from a "fun" way to save money into survival mode.

      Again, best of luck to you.

    2. Maybe people rely too much on their hoards and stashes.I mean sure its good to purchase things when they are on sale to have on hand, and it should be part of the routine of "only" sendin X amount. I spent 125.00 (I rounded) on supplies this month but I am not "low" on things that I wouldn't normally be low on anyways: bananas, apples, lettuce, tp, flour, raisins.Once the stash is gone then *that* is the place to start living frugally.No more coat tails to ride on. Sounds like right now you are in a good place to re-evaluate your standards. Not to sound rude or anything. I think if more people re-evaluated their standards of what they think they Need to Have, Own & Live up to; our world would be better for all.

  3. Awesome job on this challenge. I'm actually participating in Frugal February hosted by Big Girls Browse ( and I'm ready to learn some new "tricks." Have a great weekend and again Awesome job!

  4. Iplan on continuingon into February. I'll be making my feb shopping trip today actually. I am buying a new book at the book store, a furnace filter, double A batteries so my keyboard works again, and partway through the month some cheddar cheese, but thats all I plan on "splurging" on that isn't a regular item on the list. I know I didn't save a $1000.00 in January because I don't take home that much to begin with, but I mighta saved 250.00

  5. when you want to build a good pantry or stash, plan on buying two of things for six months, go without some other things but if you buy shampoo get two, or razors, wipes etc. then at the end of that six months you will have six months. After that you can think about continuing, we began this back in 1994, over the years we used it all and gave some of it away, but didn't really need it until about three years ago. In January of 2008 my husband, who always works was affected by a downturn in the economy, a Master electrician he is always being used, but he sat at home 3 days a week most weeks for months, we did not miss a meal, we did this until April when he began to get work and we began to replace again by two. He worked again until about November and then went through the whole thing again. We were able to eat well, had medications and even pet food because long before we needed it we were able to "set back" a bit. even now the construction industry is not doing well and we know many who are still on the edge of losing their homes etc.

    when I was a girl you could tell what night of the week it was by what we ate, I always knew it was Monday because we had tuna casserole, Tuesday was golosh, Wednesday meatloaf, Thursday navy beans and fried potatoes, Friday fish sticks and mac and cheese, Saturday was Tacos and Sunday was something special, Fried chicken, roast or Pizza. Mom bought the same things all the time and we ate well, I love all the food, and even follow that to some degree, we have a months worth of menus we rotate. It makes life easy, we bake and have snacks as well and so have been able to keep living the same standard even though the money is more or less. I loved this challenge, it made me think of all the careful living I was taught as a child. By the way, mom stayed home, Dad was in the military reserves and worked a civil servant job at a Naval base, they raised 6 children. Frugal was the norm for the times.

  6. I have fed my family of 9 on $75-$100 a week regularly for years. People have a really hard rime believing this, but it's true. My husband gives me $100 cash every Friday and that is "house" money. We eat no processed foods. No packaged frozen convenience foods. I buy ingredients and make everything...bread, tortillas, fruit leather, potato and tortilla chips, English muffins, salad dressings, ketchup, BBQ sauce, salsa, etc...myself. We don't eat cold cereal on general principle (bowl full of sugar most of the time). Meat is a condiment in our house, not the star attraction. We eat casseroles, homemade soups and stews, pasta, lots of Mexican food. The $100 also covers cleaning supplies, tp, diapers if needed, lightbulbs, etc. We live abundantly and do not feel deprived. And my children aren't eating boxed stuff full of chemicals I can't pronounce. I stock up when things are on sale...sometimes using almost all of a weeks budget on what is a good deal, like chicken for .59 a pound. We draw from what we have and always have enough to share with others. I'm sure it's obvious that I am a SAHM which is why this works. I have TIME but little money. I plan carefully, spend judiciously, and feel that I am providing the best for my family that my resources allow. I want to add that most of my children have adult appetites now...the youngest is nine. The key for me was honing the skills needed. Noodles are water, salt, flour and eggs if you have them. Pennies. Biscuits are flour, fat, baking powder, salt, and milk. Pancakes the same. Bread: flour, yeast, water or milk, salt, a bit of fat and sugar and lots of elbow grease. I am blessed that I had a mom who taught me these skills and I never got caught in the convenience food trap. I am THANKFUL for my life and I know everyone operates within different parameters...what works for me may not work for everyone. This coming month is my personal "no spending" challenge. I will see if I can get through the month of Feb and still have all my house money. :) Blessings!!!!

  7. P.S. 4 of my five children are on their own now...3 married. We still live the same with the three remaining kids...maybe a bit better because we have more money per person per month. Our budget has stayed the same even though our family size has decreased in the last few months. (We went from 10...married son, wife and grandson moved out and 2 daughters married last 5.) Having the "extra" money has been fun. And I have been able to build up quite a food storage!!!! I do miss all the faces around the table and the happy chaos of family meals though. :)

    1. Beth, your account is inspiring! I am having my third son anytime now and we don't have plans on stopping. We get alot of nagetive feedback on having children on one income, but we love having our family and would love to be blessed a few times more!. We have always lived on very little and so far my largest expence is food. There are some months that I don't have grocery money due to somthing unexpected like this month, filling the propain tank ($600), we have never had to pay for propain before we moved to our new home. I am in my mid twenties and I make most things from scratch. My need for grocery money is already half of others I know with less kiddos. Just because we make almost everything ourselves! My household cost is nill to none 'cause I use apple cider vinigar and baking soda to clean almost everything! I believe it helps us keep life in perspective and be thankful for every little thing God gives. We have a happy, fulfilled life and we wouldn't change a thing!

  8. AMAZING! You have inspired me to try this too! :)

  9. When times are really bad there are usually food pantries. Contact local churches & food stamp office for resources as well as calling 211. This is the number for united way to connect people with resources in their area. I shop aldi's but there is also the angel food network. Google it and you can find a location near you. They have really good deals on food packages and the quality is much better now. More fresh veggies, lean proteins etc. My problem is that I have NO time as we our away from home 12 + hours a day. I could use some tips on how to be frugal and a working mom? I barely have time to heat food by the time we get home.

  10. When my job went from 40plus hrs to 28 to 32, I thought no problem. I make a good hourly wage. No go. I went from paying my credit cards off each month to not paying my credit cards off each month. In feb I took my credit card & atm out of my wallet (no cash either) with the intention of not using them at all until I got 'caught up' I had to use my atm only a few times but I for things I could not do with out (pet food). I thought back 20 years ago when I had no $ & live ok. I put myself on a budge and I.m much happier with no excessive bills. I did it once, I did do it again.

  11. I really like and appreciate your blog, thank you. I made the clorox spray and its great. I'm trying to teach my old school dad that we don't need to food shop every week and that we will be ok and not run out of food. I know it's the era he grew up in and I find that if I say to him, "Dad lets challenge ourselves and try to use what we have an make it smarter", that this motivates him more to spend less. It's nice to calculate the savings we would've spent on more and more food that we don't need. Thanks again and keep saving!


Compliments and Frugal Tips Only, Please!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...