No Money for a Weekend

No one I know has ever done it. I would never dream of doing it. Going an entire weekend without spending money. The idea seemed absurd and completely terrifying. But that’s exactly what my seven year old daughter challenged me to do.

It was Saturday morning and we had just finished eating breakfast. Then out of nowhere, my daughter asked me if it’s possible to have fun without spending money.

Mom: “Of course we could find ways to have fun.”

Lolli: “So, then why don’t we try it.”

Mom: “What do you mean? Like not spend money for a whole day? Easy peasy lemon squeezey. That’s not very hard.”

Lolli: “No, mom. I mean not spend money for an entire weekend.”

Long pause.

I didn’t know how to respond. I was stunned by her proposition. Why on earth would my daughter want to give up spending money for an entire weekend? Doesn’t she understand this would mean giving up fun. Giving up designer lattes. I couldn’t bare to think of it.

Imagine being locked up in the house with your husband and children for 48 hours. There would be no outlet, no way to take the edge off. We could get cabin fever.

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But that little girl got me thinking.

What if I actually did decide to give up money for a weekend? Would the fasting begin Friday night or Saturday morning? I wanted to know. I’d needed all the details before I could give a definitive response.

Okay, let’s just say I hypothetically agreed to this experiment. I would start by making a list. Here’s a sample tabulation of my “money free” weekend:

48 Hours Without Money

1. Definitely no Starbucks. I’d have to make my own coffee. Takes 5 minutes to brew but feels like an eternity.

2. Rearrange the furniture. Enlist my husband’s help with the couch. Kids could help me direct and pick up dust bunnies. Not sure how to allocate time for this one. We tend to work in small doses so it could easily take up to 4 hours.

3. Iron my husband’s dress shirts since I can’t drop them off at the dry cleaners. Who am I kidding? I can’t stand ironing. Save it for Monday.

4. Family dance off. Rather use my kitchen for dancing than cooking anyway. This could last 1 hour depending on our energy level. May the best wiggle worm win!

5. Ransack my pantry for dinner. Can’t run to the the grocery store so it’s slim pickins. Food prep and time spent eating my cupboard creation about 2 -3 hours.

6. Blow bubbles. My three year old son would love this one. If we ran out of solution I could just use dish soap.

7. Makeshift movie theater in living room. DVD of choice, buttered popcorn, lights out and kids out. They usually fall asleep before the movie ends. This activity would be 1.5 hours tops.

8. Sleep over the course of two days roughly 16 hours for my brood. As for me, I’d be lucky to squeeze in 12 hours. But whose counting.


Total: 25.5 hours out of 48 hours

Sounds like an exciting two days. But in my estimation, I came up short. My worst fear. I failed to find enough fun things to do for free. According to my calculations, almost a whole day’s worth. There were huge blocks of time that needed to be filled.

The uncertainty makes me nervous. Real fidgety. Real unsettled. Spending money somehow releases the tension from my body. It closes the gaps for me.

I’m not sure I could ever relinquish this sense of power, the high I get from swiping my debit card. It’s a source of security. Albeit a false one, I am conditioned to think money gives me options. But then I am reminded, however cliche it sounds, money does not by you time. It does not buy you love.

Would it really crush me to give up shopping and social dining for one weekend? No, probably not. Would there be a greater payout if I chose to lay low with my family instead? Yes, maybe yes.

My daughter certainly thinks so.

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  1. Your daughter is insightful! Can’t wait to hear how it goes.

    • From the mouths of babes, right? Kids can really teach us grown ups a thing or two. Even so, the “money free” weekend idea still scares me.

  2. You can do this! It will take some planning but you can do it. Don’t forget that parks are free. And this is a great time of year, depending on where you live, to walk some trails and look for fallen leaves or big acorns. Think of something unusual for dinner. I look forward to eating out on the weekends too but maybe let the kids pick the menu one night? Looking forward to seeing what happens. You may just inspire more families to do the same. ;)

    • The park is a great idea! Fresh air, free, and wide open spaces to play. I admit the dinner thing is going to be hard. We love eating out on weekends. But allowing the kids to roll up their sleeves and get creative in the kitchen would be super liberating for them. I will have to do a follow-up post to this experiment. Just means leaving my comfort zone for a couple of days! :)

  3. Really smart, wonderful daughter and really great challenge that I want to try myself! I guess I will have to grocery shop on another day, because that is my biggest weekend expense. Ironing–I am with you on this one, so dry cleaners has to be done another day. But…it’s the idea of not spending money on the kazillion things that I can find to spend money on over the weekend once the basics of food shopping are met. . . whether that is must have mums from Home Depot, or movie tickets or “extra” something/anything. Thanks for an enlightening post and thank your daughter for me too! Hugs.

    • My daughter was born with an old soul. She is always internalizing her environment. A “money free” weekend is an interesting proposition. Like you said, there are a “kazillion things” we could buy over the course of one weekend. The challenge is to reel ourselves in. Sounds more difficult than it probably really is. We’ll see how it goes . . . Hugs to you too!

  4. I always TRY to not spend money on the weekend, but I don’t think that I’ve ever succeeded. Not once, in the history of EVER.

    • Glad to hear that I’m not the only one who thinks it’s impossible! Just doesn’t seem natural to have a “money free” weekend but I am curious to try it. Wonder if my family could really last 48 hours??

      • mylifeisthebestlife

         /  October 15, 2012

        If Husbandio could last 48 MINUTES, I’d die of shock.

  5. Since quitting my job (I was the “breadwinner” of the family) to stay home with my 3 year old twins, this has been a constant struggle. How could I not buy the clothes they want or the toys we see at the store? Not to mention my clothes shopping! Ugh! Torture, right?
    We have been pretty good at finding free things to do. Some museum’s usually have free days. We like to make big messes whenever possible. We build forts in the house or make a spider web with string by wrapping it all over the furniture etc. Make paper plate pumpkins.
    Make a kite and fly it in the park. Feed the ducks with old bread or crackers.
    Even with all of this we still don’t seem to make it through a weekend without spending money of some sort. It must be impossible!

    • Leaving your job to stay at home with your twins was probably a major adjustment in terms of budgeting. But it sure sounds like you aren’t skimping on fun! Love the spider web idea and how could I forget about flying kites. But like you said, a weekend without money seems darn near impossible. I wonder if anyone could have real success??

  6. Cynthia Matos-Medina

     /  October 15, 2012

    This is great. Your daughter is so amazing.
    I totally understand the feeling of panic that comes with a decision like that. (No eating out on the weekend!?, that I means I have to cook! NOOOOOO)
    Here,in America, we are addicted to spending money. Your lovely daughter might be on to something here ;)

    • We’re addicted to spending money amongst many other things. Eating out is just soooooo much easier! And that feeling of “panic” you get around dinner time, I get it too. Still, I might be up for the challenge. I’m sure a weekend without money would be very humbling and enlightening!

      • Cynthia Matos-Medina

         /  October 15, 2012

        You are absolutely right. Maybe you can buy everything you need on Thursday LOL.
        In all seriousness, I can’t wait to hear how it goes ;)

      • keepingitreal

         /  October 15, 2012

        Definitely try to stock up on food before the weekend. Hope that’s not considered cheating. Let’s just call it exercising wisdom. Now, if I can only find a weekend that is not filled with prior commitments, like soccer games, birthday parties, and fall festivals . . .

      • Cynthia Matos-Medina

         /  October 15, 2012

        LOL, I love that “exercising wisdom”.

  7. We’ve been doing this quite often actually! In order to boost up or savings account to buy a new house – we’ve been cutting back on everything we can and finding new ways to entertain ourselves. There’s tons of ideas and things to do around the house for free – pinterest and google could keep you covered for a year ;)

    • Ha! Love that line, “pinterest and google could keep me covered for a year.” You’re absolutely right! And may I just say “congratulations” on your ability to conserve. The sacrifice you make now will be so worth it later. Sounds like you have your eye on the prize. :)

  8. What an awesome and original challenge! Kudos to your daughter and kudos to you and your family for thinking about taking it on. Let us know how it goes.

    • Thanks! I will definitely do a post follow-up to see how we survived. Just a matter of finding the most opportune weekend to do this experiment.

  9. Love it! Definitely need to plan ahead though. Grocery shopping…and I would have to brew a couple pots of coffee so my iced coffee would be available…Oh and can’t forget to make sure the wine rack is stocked.
    No spending money doesn’t mean you have to be trapped in the house. Hiking, raking leaves into piles to jump in…maybe a bike ride. Sounds exhausting actually :)

    • For some reason I equate no money with no outdoor activity. Of course, I wouldn’t have to be trapped in my house the entire 48 hours. But if I absolutely had to be confined, I love the idea of stocking up on wine. That could make it reeeeally fun! :)

      • I would actually think the opposite – that spending no money meant having to find other things to do to entertain us, mostly outside. So – long walks with kids and dogs. Taking the bikes to the park for lessons without stablisers. Cleaning the car (usually a fun activity with bubbles and lots of water). Then indoors for wine, hot chocolate, movies and log fires. Ice cream and board games.
        We often spend weekends without spending money, but we spend too much time working, cleaning, sorting cupboards and not enough playing, or doing all of those things I just mentioned! Maybe, the weekend you try out not spending, we will try playing.

      • Sounds like a plan! Let me know how it goes. Hope my family has enough resolve to do this experiment.

  10. DaydreamsinWonderland

     /  October 16, 2012

    I’m aware that my comment may get spammed because I’m sending you 3 links but, hopefully you’ll catch it before your weekend.
    Below are some posts I’ve made about fun activities for kids that require no money. :) I think you’ll find these useful considering this adorable post.

    Hope you enjoy!

  11. I think this would be a great idea, but I am afraid I couldn’t do it for the entire weekend! It would take a lot of planning on my part to make it work (I never realized until now how often I run to the grocery store to pick up this and that). Great post! :)

    • Me too! I feel like I should park it at the grocery store and just wait for the call. We are constantly forgetting things. I think one day without spending money is more realistic for my family.

  12. so did you do it? I’m curious! I’d love to see how it went. I think I spend the most money on the weekends, only b/c that’s the time we have for things like food shopping and runs to Costco.

    • No, I haven’t been able to find a free weekend yet. We are always on the go. Soccer games, birthday parties, so that inevitably means spending money. Like you, our big shopping trips are saved for the weekend. I hope to do it before the holidays. Otherwise I’ll have to wait until January when things slow down.

      • you could always save it for “spring cleaning” weekend! or “mid-winter snowed in cleaning” weekend!


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