Money. Priorities. Decisions. 30 Days.

(Update below)

I’m going to be savoring these last few weeks of summer, but I did want to mention something I’m planning for September. I’ve been looking at the budget lately, and between rising food prices and recent medical bills, frankly, it would be really nice to find a little extra cash somewhere.

Two years ago my family, along with some others, did an experiment called 30 Days of Nothing.

For one month we drastically cut back on our spending, to see just how much we could live without. Different families played along to different degrees. But for our family that meant no new clothes, no books, no eating out, and only the absolute essentials when it came to groceries. We’re not talking starvation here, people. After all, September is a great month to eat out of the garden. When we ran out of something we really needed, I bought it. No one lost weight that month. But we did skip chips, coke, fish sticks, and a passel of other non-essential conveniences.

I was shocked at just how many times I had to resist the urge to buy. And I was gratified to see how the experiment got my whole family thinking. What could we do with money instead of squandering it?

We are fortunate to have so many choices. But just because we CAN buy almost anything our heart desires, doesn’t mean we SHOULD. In September we’re doing the experiment again and I’ll share my family’s experience with you.

I hope that some of you might decide to try this experiment for yourselves.

30 Days of Nothing.

Who’s in?

I’ll talk more about it later. But in the meantime, think about it.


Updated to add:

Just to clarify the ‘rules’, this is an extremely personal project. I’m not going to say you must do ‘xyz’ to be involved. The purpose of the month is to look at each and every decision and say, ‘Must I spend money for this? Can I live without it? Is there a cheaper option?”

Grappling with your own personal set of ‘rules’ IS the project.

When you scrutinize every penny coming out of your pocket it can get really complicated really quick. Is coffee creamer an essential? Sounds ridiculous, but I missed it dreadfully when we ran out last time.

School pictures? If buying is required by your child’s school, then it’s a no brainer. But the number of pictures you buy…that’s another thing…

Some people might decide to curtail all new clothes. Others might take a foray into thrift store shopping and be thrilled at the savings.

Last time around I opted to buy canning supplies when I ran out because that would benefit my family for the entire year. But I opted not to stock up when the grocery store ran some good sales that month. Fuzzy line? You bet. It made my head hurt a little.

But I also came away from the month with….well, I’ll have a whole month to talk about it. For now I’ll just encourage you to try it for yourself. Then you can tell me your impressions. I’ll put a Mr. Linky on my blog so we can all keep up with the people who decide to participate. This should be really interesting!


  1. I’d like to know more-and possibly try it. I agree with the garden thing-ours will be bursting by then. I wonder, though, what about the stuff like school pics? They always come up in Sept. and as much as I hate it to some degree we have to do it. Anyway-great food for thought, so to speak!

  2. What a great idea! I’d like to participate … and maybe I can convince the rest of my family to as well!

  3. We are definately doing this! Can you give a little more detail on your experience or perhaps some extra tips on how a newbie like our family can succeed?

  4. Last week I was just reviewing your posts from the first time! I’ll pray about it – and let you know!

  5. OH! I would SO love to try this with you this year but that’s, you know, the first full month with the new papoose and I have a feeling we’ll be ALLLLLLL about the convenience items. Probably won’t spend much money on entertainment though! Hee hee. I will enjoy reading about your experiences though, between snoring naps. (I hope.)

  6. Hmmm. Sounds good to me. We will be busy with school anyway. Thanks for the tips.

  7. Count me in! Sounds like a good way to jump start the budget (again) and get a clue about what is really needed and what is not. It is very easy to just “buy”.

  8. we’re in … Month of September.

  9. Hi, Mary! Delurking to say, “I’M IN!” My husband is starting his graduate degree program in August and although the military will pay for most of it, there is a cap on what they’ll pay per credit hour leaving us with some out-of-pocket expense. This was not an issue with undergraduate course fees, so it came as a surprise as it was just something we never thought of. So, this experiment could not have come at a better time…I can’t wait to hear of your experience. 🙂 Love your blog!

    How has your daughter been doing since being on the new medication?

  10. Rachel ( just did a “no spend month,” the name is a bit of a misnomer. I think you’ll enjoy her posts. I’ve been considering converting to a cash only/envelope based budget for our family. There’s something about having to part with the green stuff v. writing a check. I’ll be following you and your family on this venture.

  11. This is just what I needed to read today (especially after wrecking my car last night)- where money isn’t necessarily the MAIN issue, there is something about spending wisely.


  12. I’d like to do it, and will use August trying to figure out ways to cut back on what we spend. The hard thing will be convincing J that we should do this–he spends more on lunches out in a week than I spend in two months. It’s ridiculous.

  13. I came across your blog this week (from Because I Said So), and the first thing I read were your 30 Days of Nothing posts. I would love to try this out in September – not sure to what degree, but it’ll be something!

    Love your blog! Best to you and your family.

  14. i just can’t believe it’s been 2 years since you did the 30 days of nothing. that means i have been reading you for a seriously long time!

    love the food for thought, will have to consider it for sure.

    also — i completely sympathize with the medical bills. ouch, they are so painful.

  15. Great project. (RookieMom) Heather did something similar in February. Also good to tell yourself that it’s your challenge and you can play by your own rules. For any challenge!

    Nice to meet you at BlogHer.

  16. I’m gonna give it a try! Just when I need to buy school supplies…. but I suppose if I want my kids to color then that should be a no-brainer. I did hit a “Crayola crayons for .10” last year, so maybe I’ll be on the lookout for that.

  17. Okay… That was TWO YEARS ago?? Wow. Time flies when you’re having fun.

    This is definitely food for thought. I’ll have to discuss it with Daniel….


  18. I love the idea. I have been thinking about how to deal with the budget and this would be great motivation. I’m IN!!!

  19. Valley Mom says:

    Good post. Looking at some of the examples makes me think we live like this every month! lol… my DH is pretty frugal, even though we don’t really need to be, but in the long run it will be good for us I’m sure. But yeah, things like coffee creamer, magazines, new books, new clothes, music, movies, tv shows, eating out, etc… are not part of my monthly budget that’s for sure, they are just treats for now and then. I’m looking forward to reading about what the month is like for your family. I could see it being hard with lots of kids.

  20. I would also love to participate – but my blog is private – perhaps I will have to create a second Buy Nothing Blog. LOL

  21. Jeanne A says:

    This would be a really hard thing for a non-home schooler in September. We have a ton of school related expenses. When our middle schooler and high schoolers come home from school the first day there will be a list of materials that each teacher requires. (The elementary schooler got her list in June.) I do try to stock up on the basics but there are always things on that list that aren’t a part of what’s in the cupboard.

    When our list of must buys is so high – the things that are optional list don’t come home.

  22. that was two years ago already??? i can’t say i will play this time since i am having a baby that month…(and there are certain luxuries i have missed out on during this pregnancy) but i will for sure think about what i am spending and enjoy reading about everyone’s experiences.

  23. Great idea. We just bought a second home that will become our permanent home next year. We are living in the second home this summer on basics (air mattresses to sleep on!). I have to say it is liberating and refreshing to live with less. Amazing what you can cook with only a wok and cookie sheet! The kids just said tonight, “it sure is easy to clean the house now!” Oh so true 🙂

  24. Okey dokey, I’m here! Now to get the links changed over.

    Happy new domain! 😉

    Love and hugs,


    PS: I got the coupon today, and thanks for being so prompt in sending it!

  25. Ooh. It’s nice over here. Welcome home.

  26. Welcome to your new home!

  27. Hubby and I are in! I’ve read about variations on this on several blogs and have been wanting to give this a go, and we finally agree now is the time! We spent some time talking about what we’d forgo, and I’m going to be missing some stuff! But, I’m so excited to see what I can really do without, and which changes from the month will stick.

  28. I recently saw that Small Notebook did the same thing for July and I thought that was such a neat idea. Kudos to you for doing it as well. 🙂

    Love the new bloggy digs!

  29. Thanks for the extra info! It sounds like something our family would be wanting to do! I’ll join in with y’all in September!

  30. Ok I am here too. Now I am going to HAVE to sit down and do something about my links. Oh to have a blog make-over…. in my dreams.

    I meant to say that I am in too. For the 30 days thingy. As my sick pay may well cease, I am going to have to be very creative.

  31. We counted it a privilege to participate with the initial project… it would be a *joy* to join in again, Mary. Thank you for the encouragement.

    (And yes, a perfect new online abode for Mary and her clan! Lovely!)

  32. I’m really excited to see how this works. I’m a recent college grad, so saving money is on my to-do list!

  33. My family participated in this (with a late start) both the first year you did it and also last year in September. It was a great experience for us, especially as things are so tight and we had to work a bit harder for our “treats” such as making homemade goodies and no eating out, etc. We packed picnic lunches for soccer tournaments and spent extra time in family devotionals. We also blogged about it, even though I do not hve time to blog throughout the year. I would encourage others to join us in this “economic fast,” as it really helps children (and adults) to learn the difference between a “need” and a “want.” God provided for us (as He always does) in miraculous and surprising ways, and that was also quite a testimony for my children.
    Amy V.

  34. Definately in, a challenge sounds like great fun and a learning experience!

  35. Count me in. I’ve gone from being a penny pincher to the ultimate consumer. It’s time to get back to basics.

  36. To answer a question: I will try to look for good deals to stock up on, but I am not going to spend more money than I usually do on groceries in August. We’ll see how it goes!


  37. I followed your posts the first time you did this and I would like to join in. We live in an apt. with no space to grow anything so ours will be a little different but I always buy convience items and I need the motivation to change that. Count me in!

  38. I can’t believe its been 2 years. I’ve been thinking about doing this again too. It will be a good way for me to get out of automatic buying.

  39. hey i would love to try this… i will get back to you though

  40. I’m in. These sorts of challenges really open my eyes to “essential” v. “optional.”

    My husband would deem the coffee creamer as essential. I would just switch to tea with milk.

  41. I really like this idea. We have made some cutbacks ourselves because of a recent pay cut, but I’m up for trying to find new ways to save. So far I’ve mostly just changed my AC setting to 80-ish instead of 72. That was tough for a couple of weeks, but I’ve finally adjusted…I even find myself feeling cold when I walk under the ceiling fan!

  42. I like this idea too. I’m in! hopefully I can last until Dec, but i think i am dreaming. 🙂

  43. Great idea! I already try to this a great deal. But September is going to be the month where I only buy milk. Thanks for the great challenge.

  44. Hey! I found your link via two other blogs 🙂 I’ve been trying to do this for a while on my own…..but now that this challenge is open, Im gonna get it together and give it a good solid try!!!

  45. I love your blog! I just found it. I think you are going to save my sanity!! Happy birthday!

  46. This is a really, truly excellent idea. I’ve been having so much trouble lately with the amount of STUFF we have, how unnecessary so much of it is, and what to do about it all.

    Glad I stumbled on this post (found you through Kelli’s page), although I, of course, know of the legendary “Owlhaven”:)

  47. crackersandanimals says:

    I am so glad to have found this challenge. We found out this week that my husband was being overpaid by his company for almost a year. Now, they will be taking out the overpayments back all at once, of course.
    I think I can bear this if I have other people who are challenging themselves too.

  48. We’re doing it! I am actually excited about doing it. We’ll see how I feel after a week or two. :o) Thanks for the inspiration!!!

  49. I’m in for September!
    Spring at

  50. I’m in, albeit one day late!
    Check my progress at