The No Money Challenge: My 7-Day Journey

Last week, I shared with you all that I decided to do a challenge that was daring for me. I decided to spend no money for 7 days. If you missed the first post, you can read it here. Today I share how my week went. Will I stay the course of the challenge? What were my biggest temptations? Could I complete projects on time, create great content, and be intentional with friends and community without spending a dime?

Day 1 | Can I do it?

I started doing this challenge without really thinking about it. It wasn’t planned and so I’m in pretty good shape. (Honest moment, I totally have a full tank of gas in my car and my fridge is full of groceries that were purchased two days ago.) In light of this, it should be an easy week, right?

With lunch, comes the constant lure of eating out. Most days I can subside the urge to go walk to a downtown eatery. Today, I have a salad made in the fridge. It’s my favorite. But those cheesy nachos down the street. At $5 a plate, they are delicious and fill the woes you may have on the given day. That and the melted cheese and sour cream. It’s perfect. Instead, I choose to find satisfaction in kale. Here we go!

Usually my night is filled with errands or meeting up with friends. It might mean a coffee out or going to grab a bite of dinner. Today I have errands I really should do and things I should pick up from the store. However, that’s a no-go with this challenge. Hopefully, I’ll have enough to make it the next 6 days. I spend my evening working and watching Netflix. Not glamourous, but it’s the life of an entrepreneur.

Day 2 | Hello Routine, Welcome Back

This morning I’ve found myself embracing the challenge. With it has come engaging in the routines that used to fill my day. It is something I’ve neglected this summer and it hasn’t been good. Take care of yourself. Seriously. This morning in under an hour I was able to fit in a workout, making coffee, having some quiet time and a phone call with my brother, and leaving for work. On another note, my toiletries are super low. I’ve found myself shifting to travel size items where things have been running low. Toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo. It’s a real thing. It’s going to be one of those weeks where hair only gets washed every other day. Breakfast consisted of homemade cold brew, a granola bar, and piece of fruit on the go.

As the morning went on, I found myself regretting not eating before I left the house. After a meeting at 11, I still hadn’t stopped to eat. I was super hungry and tempted to go eat anything in site. Around the office, we’ve been sharing about our challenge with one another. We’ve definitely gotten some mixed responses. In a business meeting, we found one of our partners thought about the challenge and its application for his family of four. Does it have applications across the board? Could it be applied to a family? With another coworker, he found it interesting and is excited to check in on the progress throughout the week. I think for me the biggest challenge may be the weekend and creating content for next week’s blog posts. The past two days have been filled with loads of tasks, keeping my focus and attention. At the office, I may have been offered a bite of tuna and sour cream. Maybe it was the hunger talking, but it tasted pretty good.

I came home from the office to receive a furniture delivery (unfortunately it arrived damaged and didn’t make it off the truck). It allowed for time to do work for clients, to write, and make a great dinner. It had been a while I prepared something other than frozen food or a smoothie to eat. (Last night’s dinner might have consisted of a brownie and hummus and chips. Glamorous, I know.) The kitchen has always been a happy place for me and it was good to be back. Tonight I made a shrimp linguine pasta. I used up some older tomatoes and frozen spinach that needed to be used. With a glass of wine, it was a great way to relax and find some downtime in the day.

I started reading a book for school and all I could want is a great latte as I was flipping the pages. My usual setting for school reading is a favorite coffee shop. As I was reading, I notice my attention was drawn to everything that isn’t in my living room. The blank space where a couch should be, the airplants that should be replaced, and the desperate need for storage. When I’m in a season of roommate transition, I’m wanting to purchase, decorate, and fix everything. Fast. Maybe it’s trying to silence the uneasiness of change and transition within or just my love of interior design, but it is something innate within me. With furniture taking another week to arrive, I found myself trolling Craigslist to find a more immediate solution. I’m telling myself I only have to hold off five days and am creating amazing content while spending absolutely nothing on this challenge. Throughout the day, my business partner, Sidney, kept saying, “Nothing feels better than saving money.” Let’s see if I feel the same way on day 7.

Day 3 | No Money, No Problems?

Today has posed an interesting challenge. Throughout the week, thus far my nights have been filled with work and Netflix in the background. I’ve unintentionally isolated myself from others due to busyness and this challenge. While bringing back routine in my morning has been healthy and much needed, the quiet nights at home are something I’m trying to curb. Today I sent out a few text messages connecting with friends and hoping to have some people over for dinner tonight. Unfortunately my text messages have been too late, but it looks like people are going to be able to make it tomorrow. When my business partner and challenge starter showed up with a fresh cup of drip coffee and Trader Joe’s bag, I felt strangely satisfied. (I’m highly competitive.) I’m in day three and my will power is going strong. This morning’s breakfast was simple. I used burnished strawberries and frozen blueberries to make a smoothie. I had forgotten to make cold brew last night, so I opted to make an Aero Press latte instead. Lunch was a peach and protein packed granola bar. Maybe it was the task for the afternoon, (coding in Mailchimp is never a favorite for me), but I found myself restless. I left the office and headed across town to pick up a coffee order. It was beyond tempting to purchase that cup of coffee I normally do. I came home hoping to do a blog post for a collaboration due on Friday. However, after hours of research, I found that every flavor pairing I liked and found, I had missing ingredients. It left me frustrated and feeling like my deadline might be missed. It looks like the recipe research and shoot is being moved until tomorrow. For dinner, I opted for something quick and easy. A florentine bagel sandwich with basil and heirloom tomatoes. The rest of the evening was spent working on client revisions, designing a Mailchimp campaign, and Facetiming my parents. Looks like I found that connection I was looking for after all, even if it has come through my iPad.

Day 4 | Can you create Content without Money?

I’m beginning to think that with day 4, I’m almost over the hump struggling with this no money challenge. As the day goes on I’m becoming aware of the ways I mindlessly spend money. Whether it’s coffee, eating out, clothes, or entertainment, money goes out. Tonight I’m working on an upcoming blog post and to be honest, it’s something that I’ve been dreading. Like I had mentioned yesterday, It has a lot of specifics. Tonight I’m fully diving in to recipe testing and creation. While I purchase groceries for the given week, there are always additional items I need to purchase the same day of the shoot, keeping ingredients fresh. As I develop recipes I focus on flavor pairings, technique, and execution. (With food photography, you typically always use fresh ingredients, herbs, and flowers, it style photos and make it look amazing for the camera.) For this shoot, I had a strict criteria. This recipe had to be inspired by the regional flavors of Oakland, an original take on a football favorite, and made on a grill. Add my no spending money challenge and it seemed nearly impossible. As I began this challenge, I wanted to push myself. Could I create content that was beautiful and inspiring without spending loads of money? Today I’m proud to say, I was able to meet my recipe deadline, using the items in my fridge. I’ve been taking more images this week, and have found myself writing more than the past few weeks. The challenge is producing some really good results.

Day 5 | The Big Temptation- Long Work Days

I think for most of us the temptation to spend money doesn’t come with the desire to spend loads of money, but rather not stopping or paying for convenience. Over the past three months of starting a business, establishing it in the community, and upping my personal business game, it has meant long, long days. As an entrepreneur, you tend to live and breathe what you do. You love and are committed to it. If I don’t prepare for the day, I can find myself staying busy to the point I forget to eat or only eat out. After having a great workout on one of my favorite trails and getting ready for the day, I looked in the fridge and discovered that everything needed to be cooked. There was nothing that was grab and go, quick, nor anything leftover that could be eaten for lunch. I opted to go with a coffee, an apple, and made a smoothie loaded with yogurt for lunch. (I’m definitely ready for more fresh food to be back in my life and my fridge.) As the day carried on, I knew my focus was lacking due to hunger. After standard work hours, I needed to prepare for an event and complete an event walkthrough. I focused my restless energy into styling. There’s something that makes me come alive, when it means playing with wood, bright copper, and foraged greenery. I absolutely loved styling this event and am excited for people to enjoy the space for the workshop tomorrow morning. From there, I headed to a launch party and pop-up for some friends of mine. Hosted at a women’s boutique in town, I usually am not one to head directly to the food table when I walk in, but found myself in some serious hunger pains. Bring on the crackers, goat cheese, and gouda! It hit the spot, allowing me to be social and celebrate growth in their businesses. Well done Hadley Frances Jewelry, The Lion and The Lamb Co, and Twin Sparrow! It was great celebrating with you guys! At the end of the night, I was wiped. I can’t tell you as I drove home, how incredibly tempting everything looked. (I live on the street where most restaurants are in Redding.) Chipotle. In-N-Out. The Habit. Champa Garden. These are usual spots for me, but I didn’t do it regardless of the gnawing going on in my stomach. As I pulled into the garage, I felt victorious. I may have raised my arms and done a happy dance. Dinner was some frozen potstickers from the freezer. They headed to the stove, while I made a sauce. (It kind of elevated the flavor from the otherwise sad potstickers.) Topped with some fresh green onion, my dinner was complete. I finished up my night watching Netflix and relaxing. Around 10, I was wiped and headed to bed for another long day tomorrow.

Day 6 | Fun for free?

The morning began early. I got up, worked out again on a favorite trail, and got ready for a morning event at WORK. I knew I had a few hours of shooting ahead and was still really tired from the day before. Luckily, I remembered that I had a coffee reward at one of my favorite local shops. While I was short on time, I made the drive to Shasta Lake and was able to get to the space, without spending a dime. Yes, I might have been beaming, smiling ear to ear, with a large caramel iced latte in hand. 3 hours of styling and shooting later, the workshop was complete and I closed down the space and headed home. (I was able to eat the leftover breakfast treats from the workshop, so I had a boost of energy.) I knew today was the only free day I had before a new roommate began moving items in. It was time to deep clean. With loads of energy from my iced latte and breakfast sweets, I cleaned the kitchen from top to bottom. After that came cleaning up the patio space, watering plants, and the upstairs. After all the chores were complete, I knew I needed to shoot blog posts for next week. Another recipe post it was. This time I was creating a shrimp linguine pasta recipe (same recipe as Day 2, but I had natural light to shoot it this time). In 15 minutes (plus 30 of photographing), I had some hearty food in my stomach and was ready for some rest. Naps are some of my favorite things. I headed upstairs to my (now) spotless room and rested for a bit.

One of the things that I wanted to push the boundaries of with this challenge, was revisiting the idea of community. Can you have community, hang out with friends, and not spend money? I think  going out to coffee or to eat with friends is the common way to connect with others, show investment, and spend intentional time with friends. It doesn’t require commitment, can be done pretty last minute, and provides us with something that feels luxurious. Somewhere along the road, it becomes the main way we build relationships. While that’s part of it, I wanted to showcase ways you can hangout with people without spending money. When I’ve lived in larger areas, it seemed this was a bit easier. There was always a place with live music, outdoor festivals, or outdoor recreation to fill summer days with friends. To be honest, much of this week has been filled with tasks and long hours. I’ve not been able to to spend loads of intentional time with community. Tonight, it’s time to change that. I’ve been invited to go out with a group to the lake. Normally, the lake, while beautiful, is a commonplace activity. Once a year, it becomes far more magical. With a symphony on the beach and luminaries floating on the lake, I take my kayak on its maiden voyage. With great company, a delicious drink in hand, and floating on the water, I’m surrounded by the mountains, pine trees, and under the stars, I couldn’t have come up with a better way to have fun. It was a refreshing big sigh of what could be on this challenge. These are the adventures I love to capture and the kinds that fill my Instagram feed. But more than anything, it was essential to what I was wanted to discover while doing this challenge. It is doing more while living on nothing. Can you live a beautiful, amazing life without spending anything? Can you live ridiculously well? After tonight, I say an emphatic “Yes.”

Day 7 | Finding Victory in the Finish

Today was a relaxed one. I spent my morning at church, and headed home for lunch. Lunch was a  Greek pasta salad. After that I spent the afternoon resting, blogging, and catching up on a few assignments. Initially I had slated some last-minute DIYs before our home transitions from a house of two to a house of three next week. Feeling a bit off, I decided to postpone the furniture project to tomorrow. For dinner, I made a delicious bruschetta. (It was a simple five ingredient favorite in college and one I’m just beginning to make again.) I sit here on my laptop typing away and I’m thrilled that the week is over. It feels like a big victory for me. More than anything, I wanted to prove to myself that I can do it.

Stay tuned next week for the last part of the series.

Past posts in the series:
Introducing the No Money Challenge
Are You In? The No Money Challenge Continues (free digital download!)

We’ve loved following along with you! Continue to let us know how it goes using #glistenandgracenomoneychallenge.

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