No/Low Spend November – Week One

Hi All, and welcome back to low/no spend November! This is the challenge where we’re trying to spend as little as possible through the whole month of November. Today I’m going to report how Week 1 went, and talk about the others joining in on the challenge.

Why did I pick November as a low/no spend month? I’ve got some significant bills hitting me this month for new tires, an oven door repair, and some carpentry work around the house (thank you dog for breaking the stairs outside). On top of that, Christmas is coming! And I’ve got some significant financial goals I want to hit by year end. Keeping this months spending as low as possible will help me meet my goals.

Didn’t get in on the ground floor? No problem! It’s better to start now and have a low/no spend rest of the month than to throw in the towel. After all, we still have three weeks to go!

Rules? The only rule is there are no rules, only the ones you set for yourself. That’s why I categorized this as a “low or no” spend month. If you want to cut down on or cut out just one area of spending (looking at you, groceries, entertainment, and eating out!) or have a no-spend month outside of a specific event, go for it! Lets do this together.

Others Joining In The Challenge

After I put out the word last Friday, I quickly found others who wanted to join in the fun. If you’re listed below and you’re reading this, make sure to comment with how things are going for you!

Nilaja Mussa is looking to to plan for minimal unbudgeted spending.

Tamika G. hopes to join in for a week or two!

Karen is setting out to keep impulse spending in line, without triggering binge spending when the month is over (so important!)

Raina from Reading Richly is in, and last week had made $60 selling stuff to clear out her garage!

Melanie from Partners in FIRE is doing a no spend outside her Thanksgiving trip – and budgeting to make that as inexpensive as possible.

The Saving Journey is targeting her “low spend” month on not spending on clothes, at the shop on lunch break, and toiletries/miscellaneous items at the supermarket.

Lizzy is going for a “low spend” too, keeping necessary expenses as low as possible and not buying outside pre-planned purchases.

Free Time Finance over on Instagram is also joining in the fun, and going good so far!

Hannah Rounds is posting tips on Twitter about no-spend November. Make sure to stop by!

Holly Grosvenor is joining in, after budgeting for Thanksgiving. She’s saving for a vacation next summer, and visiting family in December.

This Weeks Report Card – No/Low Spend November

I decided to report out not only what I spent money on for discretionary spending, but also the various bills that hit the accounts during the week. As I mentioned last week, a low/no spend month is a great time to look at your recurring bills to see if any of them can be reduced, or eliminated! It’s not always an option but worth thinking about.

This will also give you a small glimpse into our lives here at CMO Central, and will probably make you hungry and/or jealous of all our homemade food. I’ll include recipes where applicable!

I started recording the details last Friday, so this is one entire week of spending and activities. Technically November started last Thursday, when I was returning from a business trip, but I didn’t record what I was doing that day. Too busy working and flying back to home!

Note – the links to Amazon below are affiliate links, and if you purchase something I’ll get a small commission at no cost to you. Thanks for helping keep CMO running!


On Fridays I typically work remotely. There’s only one person in my office I work with in person, and I commute to 45 minutes each way (so 1.5 hours a day). Especially after a week long business trip, a Friday remote day is a nice break! Plus it removes the temptation to spend.

Tiny waffle maker
Tiny waffle maker

We had homemade white whole wheat waffles for breakfast, with eggs and fruit. We’ve been making homemade white whole wheat baked goods for a while now, and they’re delicious! Throw in some blueberries, or a shreaded apple with cinnamon and nutmeg, and you have an amazing meal. I got this itty-bitty waffle maker a while back, and it’s a perfect size! And adorable.

We’ve also been replacing the sugar in the recipe with either honey or maple syrup. You can use about half the amount of liquid sugar as a dry sugar, and it’s still delicious! You just need to possibly add more flour to the recipe if there’s a lot of liquid sugar.

For this recipe, we use Fannie Farmer’s pancake recipe and turn it into waffles. Just use honey or maple syrup instead of the sugar, and white whole wheat flour instead of the white flour. It’s also good as pancakes, though! We add a teaspoon of vanilla for flavor, and as mentioned above sometimes toss fruit in.

Fridays are grocery day, so my husband went out grocery shopping with the little guy while I worked. He also got an oil change for his car.

Dinner was homemade pizza and garlic breadsticks – our Friday tradition! Same here, we’re making this with white whole wheat flour for some whole grain goodness. The breadsticks are the same recipe as pizza dough! You can find my recipe for homemade pizza here.

Today my husband informed me that it was our nephew’s thirteenth birthday. Luckily, I had birthday cards at home I had picked up from Walgreens a while back (10 cards for $5), and we had some leftover gift cards for iTunes we had originally planned to use for Christmas. No spend birthday gift!


Scouting For Food Drop Off
Scouting For Food Drop Off

The morning started out with heading out to drop bags for “Scouting for Food“, where the Boy Scouts (and Cub Scouts) collect non-perishable food for local food pantries. Tomorrow we’ll be heading out to pick them up, and drive the donations to the donation center.

My husband and I split up and each took one of the older boys to drop off the bags. The little guy went with me along with my Life Scout. You can learn more about my families adventures in Scouts at this post.

After that, we headed home and I started some weekend baking. We had a leftover roast chicken from earlier in the week, so I boiled the bones with a carrot and some chicken bouillon to make stock. I used that plus the leftover chicken, carrots, frozen corn, and barley to make chicken soup. Only problem – no noodles! And you can’t have chicken noodle soup without noodles.

Luckily making egg noodles is easy – it’s literally flour, eggs, and salt. I also have a pasta maker attachment for my Kitchen-Aid, as well as a pasta drying rack, both of which I received for Christmas one year. So I made my own noodles for the soup. Yum!

Homemade chicken soup Drying egg noodles Making egg noodles

I also whipped up a batch of white whole wheat English Muffins, which are amazing and delicious. I use this recipe but with honey instead of sugar, and that white wheat flour instead of bread flour.

Dinner was turkey meatloaf with mashed potatoes, peas, white whole wheat biscuits, and watermelon. Delicious!


Sunday was a baking day, which found me making even more English muffins so I could have a batch to freeze. I also made some whole wheat rolls (with all whole wheat flour instead of white wheat flour) and some cheesy chicken broccoli hand pies. The hand pies weren’t really a hit – I had used pizza dough rather than a crispier crust. They tasted fine, though!  The boys suggested making pizza hand pies next time.

I also watched most of the “new” (read: old) series on Netflix for the Great British Bake Off. I rarely watch TV, and this is the only show I’ll binge watch. So I put it on to watch while baking. No better inspiration to bake a ton than to watch people pumping out amazing, beautiful baked goods of every type.


Back to the grind today! Breakfast was oats (rolled oats) with apple, cinnamon and nutmeg, as well as homemade granola. I make this granola, but using whatever nuts and seeds I have, and it lasts for weeks!

Lunch was leftover chicken soup, with veggies and a roll. We had leftover turkey loaf for dinner. Leftovers are amazing!

The older boys get a packed lunch every day for school, and my husband and the little guy have lunch at home. My older boys have had exactly one hot lunch in all their years of school (they’re a high school sophomore and a middle schooler), because they don’t like the hot lunch. This week they had either homemade waffles or English muffins for breakfast, along with an egg and fruit.

French pressI brought in coffee grounds to brew coffee in my work french press. I picked up an inexpensive french press from Target a while back (it was this one, actually), and keep it at work. I can just bring in coffee grounds in a Ziploc bag, get hot water, and presto! amazing coffee. You can read more here about how we do amazing coffee on the cheap.

Bill today – preschool for Alex. No way to reduce this one, other than not send him to preschool. Unfortunately there aren’t any free ones near us. He goes twice a week for a few hours, and enjoys the socialization with other little kids.


Same breakfast and lunch as Monday – we usually keep work days pretty simple. Dinner was baked “popcorn chicken”, which is actually made with popcore, and is a take on this recipe. We use white wheat flour instead of ground oats, and soak the chicken in buttermilk/sour milk instead of the yogurt. Also, we use garlic powder in the popcorn to give it a nice taste. It came out delicious! Along with the popcorn chicken, we had oven baked “fries” and broccoli.

After dinner we headed to the library, where we picked up tons of books and a few movies for the boys. Alex also got a nice preschool backpack, filled with all kinds of learning toys! Our library lets you take out these backpacks full of toys, which is a great way to get new toys every few weeks without buying anything.

Bill today – winter coat repair and dry cleaning for me. Now my coat is ready for winter! It was missing a few buttons, and was messy as heck, and in desperate need of a cleaning


Same meals as Monday, and I also brought my coffee grounds to brew fresh, amazing coffee. Yum. When I got home at 6:25, my husband reminded me I had a 6:45 eye appointment! Oops, I totally forgot about it. I wolfed down “taco bowls”, which are homemade tortillas baked at high head wrapped around the backsides of a muffin tin to make them into bowls.  Spray the back of the muffin tin with spray oil first, though.

We use this recipe for tortillas, which is so simple and delicious. We picked up an amazing tortilla press a while back, and get masa harina in big bags from the grocery store. It took practice and trial and error, but now my husband can whip up these tortillas quickly. You could use them as regular tortillas too, but baking them into taco bowls takes them to the next level.

Bill today: Eye exam and new contact lenses, because I’m literally down to my last pair. Luckily most of this is covered by insurance, but I still had to pay a bit. I wanted to get new lenses for my old glasses, but they wanted $150, so I said no way. Then I asked if they can give me my “pupilary distance”, thinking I could pick up a cheap pair online. I only use my glasses evenings, after all, and it’s not worth a ton of money to me to have them updated. They refused to give me the information, but offered to sell it to me for $45. No way! I found out through research that can not only replace lenses for only $49, but will measure your PD from your existing glasses. Next month, after no spend month is over, I’m going to give this a try.


I took a half day today to run some errands (thanks banks, only open until 4 PM!) and spend some time at home. I’ve been traveling a lot for work lately, and still have a bunch of time off to use up, so I took a little break today. It would be nice to take Friday off, but I have some key meetings on Fridays that make it tricky. I worked from home in the morning to take off to the bank as soon as work was done. I even got to pick up the little guy from preschool, which is a very rare treat for me.

The reason I had to go to the bank is that my existing bank branch is closing, and I had to move my safe deposit box to another bank. Luckily they gave me a years free safe deposit box for my trouble! That was nice.

Ginger cookiesHad mustard-baked salmon and spinach, along with spicy oven baked fries, for lunch. I also made a batch of white whole wheat ginger cookies, which were amazing. You’d never guess these were whole wheat! I did substitute the 3/4 cup of shortening with 1/4 cup of butter and 1/2 cup coconut oil as well.

Dinner was breakfast dinner! Thursdays are breakfast dinner night here at CMO Central. We had white whole wheat waffles, carrots (steamed for the boys, spicy baked ones for the adults), oven baked fries, and turkey sausage (hubby and I) or eggs (everyone else). Everyone looks forward to breakfast dinner night.

Bills today: None, thankfully.

Week One Is In The Bag!

How did your first week go? Any comments on my week one? Want to start joining in the challenge and get a shout-out in next weeks post? Comment below, or on social media! Lets do this together.

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7 thoughts on “No/Low Spend November – Week One”

  1. Thanks for all the great detailsI just cannot hey past the fact that the drs office would not give you your PD!! You paid for the eye exam and the information and prescription is now yours! I feel like that should ben illegal since you paid for the eye exam!

    I have never ever had an eye dr not give me that info, and I just use it to go buy my son new eye glasses at Eye Buy Direct for about $13 each including shipping. So, find a new eye dr!!! 🙂

    1. chiefmomofficer

      Yep, that was my reaction too. I asked why they won’t give me my own information, and they said “that’s not your information. It’s needed for glasses and you’re not getting glasses here.” Definitely planning to switch. It’s just ridiculous

  2. Raina - Reading Richly

    So far so good!
    Week one we’ve paid mortgage and phone bill, otherwise just a few groceries.
    I figured this was a good time to use up pantry items. Charro beans one night and lentil soup planned for tonight with random veggies from fridge to use up. Maybe some homemade bread.

    Thanks for sharing the English muffin recipe! I was totally intrigued when I saw those on instagram.

    We did have one purchase this week that was not on the exception list but I feel good about.
    Our next door neighbor’s father died suddenly this week. She lives alone and has no family in the states. We took her dinner two nights, but then the third day we brought her a cupcake in her favorite flavor from her favorite bakery. It was my daughters idea, and a simple thing ($4) but it meant a lot to her. I hope I never loose sight of the larger purpose of money (people), even on no spend months 🙂

    1. chiefmomofficer

      Love it! Sounds like a great week for you so far, and it’s important to know when to make an exception. 😃

  3. So far so good, no eating out, no online shopping. Our boiler needed a repair-it’s rather new and had just had its’ annual cleaning—for that reason I argued the cost of the repair (which involves cleaning out a small U shaped pipe). I invested a lot of time calling and making my case to the company. No answer yet whether we will be reimbursed—but proud for arguing and taking time to advocate—that’s the kind of thing I used to just shrug and say oh well. I’ll let you know if we get reimbursed.

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