Tag Archives: no-spend month

More Nap Mats

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More Nap Mats

Two years ago, we decided to do a no-spend month.  A third of the way into the month, God blessed me with a job opportunity, but that created a few challenges, since we had pledged to not spend any money, so I had to get creative with what I had.  I made the two little ones some nap mats for school using fabric that we had, and these worked well for that school year.  


Last summer, I sold one of the mats to a friend because my girls didn’t stay for rest time last school year.  This year, they need nap mats again, so I took the girls to the fabric store, and Sissy picked out Frozen fabric.  I had only planned to make one nap mat, since we still had one, but Little Sister got so excited about all the fabric that I couldn’t resist buying her some fabric too.  


I used Jenny Garland’s nap mat tutorial for all of the nap mats.  I always make just a few changes to her tutorial.

  • If using fleece instead of minky fabric, I only use one yard and don’t sew the blanket, which saves me a lot of time. 
  • For the strap, I cut a strip of fabric the full width (usually 45″) and 5″ wide.  I fold it in half with right sides together and stitch along the opening.  After turning right side out, I sew a seam 1/4 inch along each side of the tube before inserting the elastic.  
  • I only use 36″ of Velcro because that is how much comes in a package.  I go ahead and sew a 1/2 inch seam about 2″ long on the bottom and top of the open side.  I start the Velcro above the seam at the bottom of the open side.  
  • I also do the Velcro step before filling the pillow because it’s easier for me to sew the seams without the pillow stuffed.  


The girls are so excited about their new nap mats!  They have been carrying them around the house and snuggling up with their blankets.  

Now we have an extra nap mat (photo below) if anyone would like to buy it for $15.  I can also make custom nap mats if you are interested.  I charge $25 to make them plus the cost of the materials, which is usually around $25.  

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Reflections on Our No-Spend Month

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Reflections on Our No-Spend Month

First, I want to explain why I haven’t shared what my husband spent money on this past Friday.  A couple of times a year, my husband, son, and father-in-law go camping for a weekend.  They had planned several weeks ago (before we decided October would be a no-spend month) to go this past weekend.  My husband took $60 cash with them and spent $22 on groceries, $16 for the campsite, and $28 at a restaurant.  They always go to a buffet on Friday night.  My husband spent a little more than what he had in cash, but technically, some of the campsite fee and groceries were for Sunday, November 1st.  So why didn’t I share that sooner?  When I am home alone with my kids, I do not want the whole world to know.  I feel safe where we live, but I would rather not announce to everyone that my husband will not be home all weekend, especially on Halloween.  It’s just my overprotective nature.  

Our no-spend month is over, and we only spent money out of our checking account on gas (3 times), copays at the doctor’s office (3 kids), prescriptions (3 antibiotics), and whatever extra my guys spent this past weekend.  We think we saved close to $2000 by not spending in October.  We sat down Sunday and planned our spending for November and came up with amounts for groceries and household items, personal care (haircuts, makeup, etc.), dining out,  office supplies, and clothing.  Now if we could just get to the bank to get some cash, we could implement the envelope system.   

our pantry before our no-spend month

  

our pantry at the end of our no-spend month

 
We went a whole month without eating out, except for Saturday nights due to our church schedule and the days my husband had meetings or classes.  That alone saved us at least $200 and 5,000 calories!  We were already eating at home most of the time, but I had to be more intentional about planning and preparing things ahead of time to ensure that we wouldn’t end up eating out.

My makeup and all of our other personal hygiene and cosmetic items (miraculously) lasted all month.  I ordered new foundation and scheduled a haircut for myself as soon as November started.  We ran out of black ink for our printer on Thursday, so I printed everything in color for a few days.  We used all of the napkins, and had to use paper towels or cloth napkins for the last week.  We needed more dishwasher detergent, and my mother-in-law gave us more than enough to last the rest of the month.  

We not only survived–we succeeded.  We saved hundreds of dollars.  We made things last longer than we thought possible.  We made use of all of our resources and refused to spend unnecessary money.  We convinced ourselves and the kids (at least for one month) that we could live without many things.  We discussed needs and wants and taught our kids lessons about materialism and entitlement.  I think this was a good experience for our family, and I would like to do it again.  My children still need to learn some lessons because they never want to be deprived again, which means we definitely need to do it again.  

Big Sister thought we needed to go buy her a crazy hat to wear to AWANA Sunday night. We were able to make one using things we already had, and she decided what we made was even better than what we could have found at the store.

No-Spend Month: Day 31

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I just took the October calendar off our command center and put up the December calendar.  I had written “No-Spend Month” in bright, large letters across the top of the October sheet, and it just hit me that our no-spend month is really over now.  I’ll post some reflections tomorrow after I have had a chance to reflect.  Lol. 

  • We ate breakfast and lunch at home.  I made more multigrain rolls for breakfast.  I think they were even better this time!  I ran out of yeast last week, but my mother-in-law had plenty.  I used the last of the honey in the rolls today.  I’m glad I will be able to go grocery shopping next week because we definitely need a few things.  Of course, “need” is probably not the right word.  We have been able to survive just fine without many things, but it will be nice to be able to shop again. 
  • We went to church this evening and skipped trick-or-treating.  We took the kids to Culver’s and bought them treats there instead!  Actually, I had a coupon for Big Sister’s frozen custard, so her treat was free!  
  • No one came to pick up and pay for their online garage sale items, so I wasn’t sure what we would do for dinner until I noticed our “respect” jars on the counter and realized they contained $10 worth of dimes.  Then I remembered there was a $5 bill in a desk drawer, so we had plenty for dinner. 

No-Spend Month: Day 30

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We have just one more day of our no-spend month, and I’m not sure we will have enough cash to eat out after church tomorrow night.  I have posted several sale items in our online garage sale and reduced some items, trying to sell just a couple things to avoid dipping into our checking account.  I already had three items pending pick up, but I’m not holding my breath on those because I’ve been waiting for each of them for two weeks.  One new item is pending pick up, so maybe she will actually pick up promptly.  Maybe some of my other items will sell too.  We’ll see what happens tomorrow.  If not, I may be paying for dinner with a few dollar bills and $5 in coins.  Lol.

  • The kids and I took lunches to school.  They complained that we had nothing to eat, but we had string cheese, crackers, grapes, cereal bars, etc.  They are just tired of not being able to buy Lunchables whenever they want. 
  • My husband and son got haircuts this afternoon and spent $28.
  • My husband finally had to fill up the gas tank in his personal vehicle, and that was $49.
  • I made taco soup and corn bread for dinner this evening.  I’ll post my recipe soon. 
  • We had some other expenses today that I will discuss on Sunday, but that is what wiped out the rest of our cash.  Details coming soon. Lol. 

No-Spend Month: Day 29

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We are starting Dave Ramsey’s envelope system on Sunday to help us keep our spending in check after our no-spend month.  We will decide together how much we will spend out of each paycheck on groceries, eating out, clothing, etc. and adjust as needed (next payday) until we have amounts that will allow us to purchase what we need without blowing too much on what we want.  Each category will have an envelope with cash to be used for that purpose.  We haven’t ever used the envelope system before because neither of us remembers to carry cash, but I think this no-spend month has trained us not to use our debit cards.  I think the envelope system will be a tangible way to show our children how to stick to a budget.  When we always used our debit cards, they assumed we had a never-ending supply of money.  That mindset has to change.  We don’t want to raise entitled children who think they deserve to have everything they want when they want it.  I’m not planning to post everyday next month, but I’ll keep you updated from time to time on our progress.  Let me know if you have used an envelope system or something similar and how it worked/works for you.  I’d appreciate advice too!

I am planning to make a wallet like this one or at least some fabric envelopes.  I found the tutorial for this one on this site.

 

The kids and I stayed home all day, so we spent no money.  My husband came home for lunch, so he didn’t spend any money either.  I didn’t sell anything, so it was a boring day financially.  

No-Spend Month: Day 28

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We made it through another busy Wednesday.  We left the house this morning when it was still dark, came home for an hour and a half early this afternoon, and then came home again after dark.  I’m thankful that I don’t have to leave home tomorrow. 

  • I enjoyed lunch and desserts (yes, that is plural) at school with the teachers and staff.  Some friends asked about our no-spend month, so I shared a little of our adventure.  Everyone seems so shocked when I talk about it.  I guess we’ve been doing it so long now that it is not new or unfamiliar to us anymore.
  • The kids took lunches to school.  My husband had a granola bar.  He has lost six pounds this month!
  • We had a catered dinner and missions event at our church this evening, so we spent nothing on dinner.  
  • I sold something for $25 through our online garage sale today.  I left some other items at a friend’s house this evening, and she will mail me a check. 

With just three days left in the month and $100 cash left, I feel like eating out to celebrate, but I’m sure that would be defeating the purpose.  Maybe we can celebrate surviving our no-spend month with the return of Blue Bell ice cream at home next week. 

No-Spend Month: Day 27

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  • The kids and I stayed home all day and ate our meals at home.  I let Big Brother eat the leftovers I had planned to eat for lunch, and I made myself some nachos with diced tomatoes and jalapeño peppers from our garden.  I sure will miss having fresh vegetables.   I used up all of the sour cream and the girls helped me finish off my bag of Food Should Taste Good tortilla chips. 
  • My husband thinks he has a cold now, so he bought some more medicine today ($5).  If we could have kept everyone healthy this month, we could have saved even more money!
  • The kids ate shells and cheese for dinner.  I had leftovers, and my husband ate another corn dog.  He had a meeting this evening, so I didn’t try to cook dinner. 
  • Tomorrow, the teachers and staff at our school are having an “eat day,” where people sign up to bring various dishes or items to go with those dishes.  The theme this time is Mexican food, and I signed up to make a version of chicken tortilla soup.  I had all of the ingredients except the salsa verde, but I found a recipe for homemade salsa verde.  I only needed to buy tomatillos to make the recipe, and I had my husband buy those when he went shopping over the weekend.  I only spent a couple dollars to make enough soup to feed a dozen people!  I’m beginning to think I might still have too much food in my pantry and freezer.
  • I planned our menu for November this morning.  I tried to plan meals that require little to no extra ingredients, so that I can use up more of what we already have.  I’ll share my November menu as soon as I have time.  

No-Spend Month: Day 26

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Our family is counting down to November like we never have before.  You’d think November 1st was a holiday or something.  I do not plan to rush out and buy everything the kids want.  I think it would be neat to continue and see how long we could go without using our regular income, but I’m sure I would be outvoted.  We still have quite a bit of food in the pantry and freezer, so I will plan several meals that don’t require us to purchase many groceries.

The kids and I met my sister and her kids at her oldest daughter’s marching band competition this afternoon.  I had to pay $10 for Big Brother and me to get in, but my sister gave me $5, so it only cost me $5.
   It had been a long time since I watched a live performance by a marching band.  I got so emotional!  I am proud of my niece and her high school band, and just for those few minutes, I missed marching in the band.  My kids enjoyed hanging out with their cousins for awhile.

Sissy thinks her cousin is so much younger than her. Their birthdays are only six months apart. I love the way they are looking at each other.

Big Sister “cheesing” with her youngest cousin

I had a terrible time trying to get clear pictures of all the girls. At least one of them was blurry in each photo. Little Sister also adores her cousin.

I asked my sister to hold my phone while I went to the restroom. Later, I found over 20 selfies that she took on my phone! This one also contains her son with my son in the background.

  • We all went to school/work today and took our lunches.
  • I made Cajun chicken pasta, green beans, corn, and hot rolls for dinner.  I’ll eat the leftover rolls for breakfast the next three days.
  • I sold an item through our online garage sale for $3.  Two other women were supposed to come buy stuff but never showed.  One is coming tomorrow.

No-Spend Month: Day 25

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We finally got to sleep in this morning until 7:00!  Of course that was after Sissy woke us up at 2:30 am, so it didn’t feel like 7 am, but it was much better than our usual wake-up times.

The girls spent awhile this morning playing with the wooden train set.

Sissy was too busy with her trains to pose for a photo.

We bought this almost eight years ago for one of Big Brother’s Christmas gifts.  We found a train table, trains, and lots of track pieces on Craig’s List for a reasonable price.  Big Brother’s imagination was too big for the train table, so we sold it several years ago and have built huge tracks all over our gamerooms.

Big Sister happily posed with her trains. She loves showing off her missing teeth too.

I told my husband again this morning that this was the best toy purchase we ever made.

Little Sister only had three cars, but she had fun driving them all around the track.

All of our children and their friends have enjoyed this train set.  We have added a couple of new train cars and engines over the years and a train signal last year.  My son keeps asking for more track pieces for Christmas, but we can already build a track that goes around at least half of the gameroom.

  • The warm weather didn’t last the whole month, so I’m very thankful my cousin sent me some of her dress pants that she no longer needs.  She is a little taller than me and wore heels, so I had to figure out how to blind hem a pair of pants she sent me, so I can wear them tomorrow.  It took much trial and error, and they aren’t perfect, but I don’t think anyone will notice the hem.  If you happen to notice, just know that I spent no money on the pants or the alteration.
  • I love leftovers!  I finished off the blueberry muffins this morning, had leftover chili and cornbread for lunch, and ate leftover Southwest skillet chicken and rice for dinner.  My husband hates leftovers, so he had a Clif bar for breakfast and ate yet another corn dog for lunch.  He bought a box of them at Costco several months ago and didn’t like them as well as he thought he would, but he has been forced to clean out the freezer this month.  He finished the last frozen kolache last week and only has a few corn dogs left.  I’m fairly certain he won’t ever buy either of those in bulk again.
  • I sold some things through our online garage sale and made $25 today.  I’m glad to have a little extra cash in case something comes up this week.

We are down to the final week of our no-spend month!  I think we have only filled up with gas twice and paid for doctors’ visits and prescriptions with our debit card.  I’m very curious to see how much money we have not spent this month.

No-Spend Month: Day 24

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Since I jumped into teaching without much preparation, I have been using the textbook and publisher’s resources for everything.  I prefer to teach with less worksheets and more hands-on activities, but I felt like I could barely keep up with planning lessons and grading papers my first week or two.  Now I feel more comfortable and have had a chance to open up my box of math resources from when I taught many years ago.  I am excited about using some games and activities I found for my students to review place value and estimation this week.  I feel like I’m finding my groove in teaching math again.   

 

  • My husband went to the store this morning to get us a few groceries and some allergy medicine for himself.  He used $47.17 cash.
  • I made chili and cornbread for lunch and finally made use of my pressure cooker (see below).  My in-laws joined us for lunch, and I should have gotten a photo from my mother-in-law of my father-in-law playing with play-doh with the little girls.  It was sweet.  I should have taken a photo of one of our bowls of chili or the cornbread, but I don’t think of these things at the right time. 
  • We picked up fast food on the way home from church and spent $21.50.

A couple of years ago, I saw on Pinterest or somewhere that a pressure cooker would make my life better (ha ha), so I requested one for Christmas, and my mom obliged.  I read through the owner’s guide and felt intimidated.  Plus, I was in a state of disbelief.  This thing says it can cook beans in 10 to 12 minutes.  Seriously?!?  I used it once a few weeks after I received it, washed it, and stored it in my cabinet for the next year and a half (sorry, Mom).  I had planned to make chili today, and I usually add a can of kidney beans to mine, but I had bought a bag of red beans, thinking we would have red beans and rice this month, not realizing that most recipes call for meat that I don’t have.  Anyway, I had written myself a note on my paper menu for the month to cook the red beans for the chili, but I didn’t write that note on my menu board for the week, so I forgot until about 8:00 this morning.  No problem.  I could use my pressure cooker, right?  Well, first, I had to soak the beans for four hours.  Then, it took a good 15 minutes to get enough pressure built up to start the timer for 12 minutes.  After the cooking time ended, it took another 10 minutes for enough pressure to release to be able to remove the lid.  So the actual time in the pressure cooker was around 37 minutes, which is still considerably less than the traditional ways of cooking beans, so I think I will start using my pressure cooker more.  I am still a bit intimidated by it, but I think that I will get more comfortable with practice.

My Chili Recipe

2 lbs ground beef

6 oz can tomato paste

15 oz can diced tomatoes (I chop mine up a little more with a manual food processor.)

2 – 3 cups water

15 oz can of kidney beans (or 2 cups cooked red beans)

1 onion, chopped (or 1 TBSP onion powder)

1 clove garlic, pressed (or 1 tsp garlic powder)

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp cumin

1 1/2 tsp paprika

2 TBSP chili powder

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/2 – 1 tsp cayenne (optional)

In a large skillet (or a 4-quart pot), brown ground beef.  Add onions and cook until translucent.  Add garlic and cook 1 to 2 minutes.  Transfer to a 4-quart pot (if you started in a skillet).  Add tomatoes, tomato paste, water, beans, and seasonings; stir well to combine.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.  Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes to an hour.  Serve with cornbread and optional toppings:  shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, ketchup, diced onions, etc.  Makes six servings.