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The No Spend Challenge in January

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Happy New Year!

I hope you all had a fabulous end to 2011 and are ready to get down to business in 2012. I am excited for the new year and the possibilities it brings. To get off on the right foot, my family is participating in several challenges other bloggers are hosting. They’re all related and have consistent themes – limit spending, save, use up what you already have.

Are you ready for the challenges?!

First, we’re doing an Eat from the Pantry Challenge with Good Cheap Eats.
We did this a couple of times in 2011 and I always love the bare cupboards at the end. It’s so nice to use up what we have and to find things I had forgotten about at the bottom of my pantry cupboards. I hate throwing out food and this challenge helps me use up things I probably wouldn’t otherwise.

I also love the different spins that different families put on this challenge. My goals are probably very different from a lot of other people’s, and that’s OK!

Here are my goals:

  • Spend $127 or less on dairy and produce for the entire month
  • Get back to baking more snacks
  • Eat at least one meatless meal per week
  • Eat soup at least once a week

With a $300 monthly food budget, this will save us roughly $175 for the month.

Next, we’re joining Learning the Frugal Life in her 31 Days of Nothing Challenge.


This challenge takes the pantry challenge one step further. I had been thinking of doing something like this before I knew about Sara’s challenge. See, we’re going to Florida in February and finding extra money for that trip would be swell!

At first, I thought this challenge would be really easy. It goes like this: only spend money on things we absolutely need. That doesn’t sound hard, does it? But then I started thinking about what I WILL need to spend money on in January. While I certainly don’t need to buy any clothes or toys, I have been meaning to order a new plastic dohicky for my Nutri-mill for some time. I have no idea how that thing got lost (well, actually I’m sure it has something to do with a 17 month old and a trash can). I don’t have to have that thing – I haven’t had it for about 3 months now, but not having it means that grinding flour makes my kitchen a big mess. And that deters me from grinding flour. And that’s counterproductive for baking. So, I’m going to have to think long and hard about that one.

Another thing I need is to renew our membership for the kid’s museums. Again, I don’t have to have this, but it could ultimately save a lot of money on our trip to Florida because of reciprocity with other museums. Hmmm…

And then there’s the kid activities and homeschooling. Dues for piano and dance lessons… bowling class and Gym & Swim. We’re also signed up to go tubing! Suddenly January is starting to sound expensive. But I still think we can take other steps to reduce spending in January.

And since we’re taking the 31 day challenge with Learning the Frugal Life, we may as well sign up for Frugally Sustainable’s 21 Day Challenge, right?


I love how Andrea says this is a challenge to redefine “enough.” Last February we moved into a smaller house and I have been living with a little less for a while now. What I’ve learned is that having fewer things is nice! There’s less to pick up, less to dust, less to clean. BUT, the things are creeping back in and taking over my house again.

Hip surgery for the 19 month old came with a lot of needed (and big) supplies. A bean bag chair, a spica table, new toys to take her mind off her cast. Three winter birthdays and Christmas have meant an influx of new toys. The kids’ rooms are cluttered and my living room is overflowing. So re-defining enough, purging and cleaning, is a great idea!

My goals for these spend nothing challenges:

  • No eating out
  • No buying new clothes or toys (get rid of some instead)
  • No buying books (that’s what the library’s for, right?)
  • And above all else, stay OUT of Goodwill!

Our monthly eating out budget isn’t huge, and the discretionary money I have to spend on things is also not a lot. But depending on how things go, and how involved my husband gets, we may be able to save another $200-400 in January doing those things.

Adding $400 – 600 to our vacation money would be awesome!

What do you think? Are you inspired to participate in any or all of these challenges? I hope you will join me in at least one. I’ll let you know in a couple of weeks how it’s going for us!

Linking up with: Good Cheap Eats,

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About Michelle Marine

Michelle Marine is the author of How to Raise Chickens for Meat, a long time green living enthusiast and rural Iowa mom of four. An avid traveler, Michelle has lived on three different continents and has driven all four kids across the entire USA (by herself!). She loves sharing farm-to-table recipes, their family travel adventures, and gardening and homesteading tips on her popular lifestyle blog, SimplifyLiveLove.com.


  1. blankJackie says

    These challenges sound interesting. I can see myself joining a couple of them. I will have to check out the links and join you in a few of them. Good luck to you.

  2. blankCara Ivey says

    Instead of the pantry clean out… Jon and I are cleaning out our systems! We started our 21 Day Cleanse today. We lived out of the pantry for about 2 weeks before we started though. The pantry and fridge was absolutely bare bones! That did feel really good.

  3. blankRobin says

    I will do the challenges vicariously through you, and you can shop at Goodwill vicariously through me. Deal? 🙂

  4. blankAlissa @ Fun Finds for Families says

    I love these challenges! And now I’m inspired to try one or two myself.

    One thing we usually do with the kids’ museum memberships is to intentionally not renew right away. We try and attend a few times during the last month of membership and then take a break for a month or so. I don’t know the timing of your trip, but I wonder if that could work for you?

    • blankMichelle says

      That’s a great idea, I’m pretty sure they are expired though. I will double check before shelling out money. Bad timing to have these things expire right around Christmas.

  5. blankJenny says

    I’m participating in the pantry challenge too. I love your goals. I’m hoping to put a little bit of money back in our pockets after the holidays too.

  6. blankThe Prudent Homemaker says

    I have $50 that my grandmother gave me for a Christmas gift. I am planning on using it to buy 50 pounds of oats ($30.70). The rest of the money will go towards purchasing cheese (probably parmesan, so that I can make alfredo sauce).

    I also have a $10 gift card for Target. I have coupons for several items, so I will see how far that can go (most should be free or close to it!)

    We have a birthday this month, at the end of the month. I have a couple of gifts already, and the dessert and decorations will come from what I already have on hand. Any other gifts will be homemade from items we already have.

    We eat soup usually every day or every other day, and we have several meatless meals each week. If you cut those some more, you could find more towards your museum membership.

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