A No-Spend Challenge-Summer fun for $0

Hello blog readers. Anyone up for a no-spend challenge?

Once again, that whole school thing got in the way. I was going to write more about my trip, then couldn’t figure out how to quickly upload zillions of pics to go with it, then spent many days just organizing those pics, then had to get the house in order for back to school, then went to Portland for a week, and then school started. All those people who told me that the first year is the hardest lied. The second year was so hard. Well, not hard, but insanely busy. But I survived, even got good grades, and have students who like me and turned to me for advice. That is a good feeling. It is now summer and I must write my thesis. Yay.

Since it is summer, I have no funding.

None. Current income-$0. I could try to get a job, but I need to write my thesis this summer. I am taking three classes in the fall, which is a heavy load. In the spring, I will be taking one class, studying for my giant qualifying exam (taken next summer) and packing to move. We will be moving back across the state to our “hometown” next July. I place that in quotes because it is not our hometown, we didn’t grow up there or anywhere near there. But it is the place that we think of when we think of home. When I take (and pass) my exam, I will be ABD, all but dissertation. I will finish that work over there, and The Dude will get a real grown up job, or will go to graduate school, or both. So, next school year will be packed and now is the time to write.

The Dude has graduated college.

Yay! But now we are living in a town that has a shortage of good jobs and an overage of qualified candidates. Therefore, he is at his old fallback-waiting tables. It is good but unsteady income. Overall our loan amount was much less in the spring-Dude had zero loans, since he graduated. I only took out the subsidized loan, and last year I took out both. So, we had quite a bit less money, but will owe less in the end. The Dude didn’t have a job for a few months, so that was a hit to our pocketbook as well. The tax return is pretty much spent. I splurged out and bought an iPad, which I still feel good about because it actually keeps all my notes in one place and I am terribly disorganized. I tried to do notes on my computer, but I failed. I like to write in handwriting. The iPad will pay for itself when I have successfully completed my degree. We also had some dental bills and bought the littlest dude his own computer for his birthday. The Dude’s student loan repayments have started. Whew. Money is tight right now.

How should we respond?

We are planning to do a no-spend summer! Here are the rules: no spending on anything not necessary. We will be food, shoes (if needed), gas, and pay bills. We also include some family outings as necessary to our family sanity. We will be going to Glacier National Park for a week.

Glacier National Park

We had planned to do a week in Yellowstone, but have decided to scale back. Now we are focusing on how we can get away for free. We live near some really pristine parts of the US, and for the past few years, we have been stocking up on backpacking gear. So, it occurred to me that maybe this year is the year to try out that equipment and do some backpacking. There are forests nearby that don’t require a pass, and there is free camping in those forests, so the only cost will be gas. Of course, gas is almost $4 a gallon, so that cost is not insignificant. I have a (free) app on my iPad, Cost2Drive. It is sobering and may help keep some of the trips in check. We are also close to some really nice bike trails, so biking is on the summer list.

As for the rest of it, we simply won’t buy it.

It will be a summer without garage sales or thrift shops. This will be difficult, because we love both of those things. But the less we spend elsewhere, the less stress we will have about bills, and the more we will have to spend on trips.

So far, we have had some interesting things happening. On Wednesday, we decided we should do this. Friday, June 1st, might as well start then. But we also thought we might as well jump start it on Thursday. Thursday we went grocery shopping. On the way, we saw three super cute chairs in a free pile by an apartment complex. We have the ugliest chairs known to man in our dining room. I have wanted to replace them, but chairs are spendy. 4 of our chairs were ripped up vinyl. 2 of them are vinyl and not great, but not ripped up. We have one other vinyl chair that is cute but had no home. So we brought home the 3 chairs, added the 4th, homeless chair, kept the 2 blue ones, and now have a cute, eclectic mix for nothing.

We did our shopping, nothing extra at all, just what we needed. Then we were heading home and The Dude went past a furniture making shop. They had a TON of good wood out front, for free. The Dude is a pretty accomplished, self taught carpenter with quite a few projects on the list. Now he will not need to buy the wood for them.

Friday we were going to go out on a bike ride.  The littlest dude couldn’t find his helmet and so wanted to do out and buy a new one. We found it but it turns out that he is outgrowing it and so he still needs a new one. Well, it just so happened that there was a safety fair this weekend and they were giving out free helmets for kids under 16. We went to it, and our kids are giant and have big heads to match, so there weren’t any large enough in stock. However, the woman working there gave us a coupon for a free helmet at the local bike shop. We went over today, got their heads measured and will have free helmets in 2 weeks.

No-spend fun: a boy and a dachshund wearing a paper cup as a hat
This is NOT a helmet!

I will post later about the many projects that are happening around our house. But I will give a glimpse at some of the ways we plan to entertain ourselves this summer for no money:

  • Swimming. We have an annual pass to our community pool. That will come in handy
  • Picnics in the park
  • Catching butterflies
  • Boffering with pool noodle boffers This is kind of a cheat because they aren’t no cost. We bought the material in May. But that was before we knew we were no-spend challenging. We got the noodles at the Dollar Tree and the PVC pipe for handles was less than $5, so the total cost is less than $10 for a family full of boffers,
  • Croquet and bocce on our lawn or at the park
  • Disc golf.  There is a course nearby
  • Games. We have lots of un-played board games
  • Stories by candlelight
  • Bonfires in the back yard
  • Blowing bubbles
  • Baking bread
  • Picking fruit
  • Biking
  • Hiking
  • Touring the campus
  • Making movies
  • Drawing
  • Painting
  • Nerf gun wars
  • Learning outdoor skills
  • Visiting local free events

In addition to a no spend challenge, we are limiting internet. The boys will not be using the internet during the day and there will be at least one day per week when the internet is turned off completely.

Kids skate free:

Free Milkweed seeds (bring monarchs to your yard):

Kids bowl free. Two games per day, all summer long:

Free Redbox movie rental codes:

Redbox text club:

Here are links to our progress:

No-spend challenge week 1
No-spend challenge week 2
No-spend challenge week 3
No-spend challenge week 4
No-spend challenge week 5
No-spend challenge week 6
No-spend challenge week 7
No-spend challenge week 8
No-spend challenge week 9
No-spend challenge weeks 10-13