The $14 Challenge.




That’s what we have left in our budget until Friday.




We stick to an all cash budget most weeks, but honestly, if we go a wee bit over and need to use our debit card to get us by, most weeks we just let that go.


But this week, I’m determined to make it until Friday morning (at exactly 9AM Eastern Time) with no more than the $14 I have right here.


Will you join me?


(Misery loves company, you know.) 🙂


Hop up.


Yup, step away from the computer.


Or your phone.


Go get your wallet right this very minute.


See how much cash really is in there.


And decide to use that.


Only that.


For the next 96 hours.

Really, it’s NINETY SIX  HOURS. We can do this.


As I shared in today’s Facebook live video this morning (scroll to minute 15 of the video to watch ~ I’ll update you on Stitch Fix shortly), we’re in a way different season today than we were 20 years ago when we first started penny pinching 20 years ago. 


And (thank heavens!) if we spent an extra bit of money this week it really wouldn’t break the bank.


But we can so quickly blow through $20, or $50, or $100 if we’re not careful.


Most importantly though, we have a 16 year old, 13 year old, and 9 year old who are watching closely right now how we choose to spend our money.




So we’re choosing to stay on track.


Here’s what we’re sacrificing this week to stick to our goal:

1. Trash Bags.


We’re completely out of trash bags, but rather than going and spending $5-$10 on a big box of bags (these are the ones I normally buy), we’re going to use grocery sacks for the week.


2. Paper Towels.


For years (and years and years), I pretty much refused to buy trash bags because those were simply not a luxury we could afford while paying off debt. In the last few years I’ve splurged on paper towels (and I’ve got to admit, they’re glorious!) but when I realized we’re almost out this week I knew I could go back to using plain old rags.


This is such a tiny savings, but if it keeps me at home and away from the grocery store when I’ll probably buy more, I’m taking it as a win for the week.


3. Eating out.


As I’ve shared (a bunch!) this last month, eating out is probably one of the easiest places to bust your budget each week. So, like we did last month, we’ll be eating at home (I’m using the Whole Foods Menu Plan from Eat at Home Cooks), and choosing to skip the drive thru this week.


(Note – I did spend $60 on groceries yesterday for the weekly menu plan, and we already had a decent stash of produce, milk and snacks to get us through the week. That helps!)


4. Our piggy bank.


Like many folks, my husband collects his change in a jar each day, so IF we absolutely need some extra moo-lah, I may have to count some coins to pay. As I shared in today’s video my kids are usually the ones who ask for money (not all that often, but occasionally), so if I absolutely think they need it (which is doubtful), I’ll give them the option of the raiding the piggy jar.


While this would still be technically considered “spending money”, I guarantee we won’t spend as much change as we would if we went to the ATM and took out more cash (or pulled out a credit card – eek), but I think this will help us have a “no excuses” week this week.


Do you need to join me?


Go ahead.


Count up your cash.


Hunt down your coins.


Take stock of what’s in your pantry, fridge and freezer.


And determine for the next 96 hours to stick with me. 



We can totally do this, and watching what we save today will make our long term goals come just a little bit closer.


Happy penny pinching! 😉


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  1. I have a question about your budget.
    How do you buget in food for your kids lunches? Do they eat at school or take their lunch? I have 4 boys and they all take their lunch most days. That can get expensive. I do a menu plan,and that works for the most part. It’s buying for everyones lunch that is getting me.

  2. I so need to take that challenge myself! One frugal thing my mom still does and always has is save her bread bags. I know it sounds strange but she saves the bags from bread and rolls and uses them as storage bags instead of a zip lock bag.

  3. I have $66 to left until the 15th…next household payday. So grocery shopping this week will be slim especially hard with Spring Break next week and both boys home. I have been creative before and I can do it again!

  4. I’ll join you, i have a piggy bank..and three dollars cash on me…i will only use what i have in the house to make dinners… splurging on anything else….really need to buckle down….my car needs some work done..and i broke my glasses so need new ones thank you for the push..right now making a menu for the week..maybe rest of the month

  5. Laura Justus says:

    I will do it too!! It is easy for me to rationalize a quick drive thru meal for myself since i am in my car a lot and doing home visit during dinner time. The next 2 nights I will refrain from spending one dime!!! It is real easy to waste money a little bit at a time. I keep no cash on me but as you all know, it is real easy to swipe that card and not even realize how much money you just spent. We are actually considering going to the cash envelope system for the grocery/food (includes eating out) budget. For me?? Yikes this is SOOO scary and inconvenient for me. I am the biggest tight wod in the world except when it comes to food (and my waist line is here to prove it). My goal is to spend zero until Friday morning. If we don’t have it, we can do with out it for now!!! Like what Laurie said, you grocery bags instead of trash bags, my mom did that the entire time I was growing up, heck she still does and she is 75 yrs old. She uses paper bags instead of plastic though.

  6. Kimberly Cannon says:

    I really struggle with menu planing recently became single with a teen age daughter we are rarely home at the same time and she only eats chicken. any help would be appreciated . when i was cooking for a lot of people it was fairly easy but i just can’t seem to get it together now.

    • Hi Kimberly! It is SOOOO hard when there’s just two of you (on nights when it’s just one of my children home with me, we end up with cereal way too often!) I would try to think about different easy options that kids (usually?) like. (I have only chicken eaters too.) 🙂 Grilled chicken wraps, grilled chicken salads, nachos, quesadillas, baked potato bar, tacos, breakfast for dinner, soup and sandwiches. Remember there is NOTHING wrong with simple meals (at all!), and you may even consider doing lunch as your main meal and lighter dinners (I would choose to eat that way all the time if I could!) Hope that helps at least a little – you’re doing a great job! 🙂

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