MMM Save $100 This Week Challenge: Update

Good Morning Mustachian Trainees.

I posted the $100 Challenge last Wednesday Night, which made Thursday the first day. The post got an unusually large number of reads last week, and again today due to a valued reader who posted it to her facebook page – thanks a lot!

But have you actually been challenging yourself? Or did you just read it and have a chuckle and then head out in the Mercedes ML500 for pints and steaks at the brew pub?

I must admit I was feeling a bit casual myself when I wrote it. I was secretly thinking, “Listen up, we already the Triple M’z, Yo /  We runnin’ so lean, nobody could shave a dolla’ from the routine”.

But once I published the challenge, a little change came over me. And it happened to Mrs. Money Mustache too, since she is a very close participant in this blog. Even though none of you are actually watching us to check for cheating, we really felt motivated to see what we could do. I stuck a piece of scrap paper onto the breakfast bar and started writing down the results – including all our spending and transportation – each day. Here’s where we’re at so far:

Bike Miles: 7, Car Miles: 0, Spending: $54 on groceries
Challenge Savings:  I made a point of looking over my grocery bill to check for mistakes. It turns out when you buy a lot of organic produce as I do, mistakes are very common (1 in 4 receipts perhaps). Today I found that my $5.00/5 lb bag of organic Gala apples was billed at $12.00. I asked the service guy and he very apologetically handed over the full $12.00 as a compensation. Free apples – sweet! Deliberately decided to skip buying beer and wine this week to save some money and also give my fitness training a boost. We normally have about 3 drinks each per week at $1.50 each: Credit: $12.00 for apples and for $9.00 for beer and wine = $21.00.

Bike Miles: 7, Car Miles: 0, Spending: $0 – no unusual challenge savings today, the wife and I just worked at home while the lad was in preschool.

Saturday: Bike Miles: 11, Car Miles: 0, Spending: $0.
Challenge Savings: Wife normally would have driven to CrossFit class due to unusually chilly weather, but she toughed up for the challenge, saving 1 car trip. Also, I was trimming the grass with my old inherited corded weed eater. The piece of crap finally gave out and shot broken plastic parts all over the lawn. I smashed it up in rage and threw it into the metal recycling bin, and ALMOST hopped on the bike to head to Home Depot to pick out a new cordless one. Then a bubble appeared over my head and Barney from the Simpsons started calling “Chaaaaalllenge Weeeek!”. So I went to the shed and grabbed the long manual shears instead. I had never tried using these for lawn and weed edging before, but surprise, they are shockingly fast, silent, and I also got a bit of added workout for free! I don’t think I’ll even buy a weed-eater again. So I’ll award myself $60 for the day.

Sunday: Bike Miles: 2, Car Miles: 0, Spending: $0. Raining part of the day. Played in and around the house. No unusual Savings, but you can’t complain about a day where you spent zero dollars!

Monday: Bike Miles: 8, Car Miles: 0, Spending: $95 ($25 insurance copayfor the boy’s 5-year checkup and immunizations, $70 for wife’s first experimental visit to chiropractor which we later decided was a total waste of money). Wife took son to the doctor’s office in the bike trailer instead of the car, for which we get $10 according to the scoring system.

Perhaps a little more detail than you wanted. But it’s interesting to me to note that we haven’t even started the car in almost a week, and we have spent only $54+$95 even on a week with very unusual medical bills. But of course, other random expenses come up in other weeks like school supplies or clothing.

So so far, with an honest accounting of savings directly because of MMM challenge week, I’m up $91.00 in five days! This is pretty significant since as a family that lives on about $40k, our average spending is normally $547 on the typical five-day period. We’ve cut it by a further one sixth just because of this savings game!

Imagine how much cutting could be done for a family that is currently living on $50, 70, or 100+ thousand per year!

Any stories of your own savings to share?

  • herbert salisbury May 3, 2011, 5:00 pm

    Whoa there MMM, you only saved $5 on apples…. I’d say you are at $86. Still almost there, though.

    • herbert salisbury May 3, 2011, 5:09 pm

      ok, my math is off too. $84.

      • MMM May 3, 2011, 5:26 pm

        Herbert Again!

        Thanks for checking up on my accuracy. I definitely appreciate people calling me out if they don’t believe my figures, because in order for people to make some sacrifices to do this shit, they have to believe it’s true.

        For the apples, I credited myself $12.00 because it was MMM Challenge week that gave me the motivation to actually check over my grocery receipt as I rolled the cart out of the store. When I found the error, I was expecting to only get a $7 refund, but instead the King Sooper’s service guy surprised me with a full $12.00 in cash. Without doing this check, I would be $12.00 poorer than I am today, so I figured 12 is the right number to credit.

  • Heather May 3, 2011, 5:23 pm

    I bought lunch for $2.85, because I forgot my wallet and had to work from pocket change. It was a good hearty lunch: 1 sweet potato, 1 package of ramen noodles, and 1 apple. It was cooked in the microwave at work, so the power was free. I drove to the store though, completely negating any virtue points.

    • MMM May 3, 2011, 5:35 pm

      Haha.. a tragic story but at least you did not starve.

      As an office worker with an inconsistent grocery shopping and lunch packing problem, my solution to forgotten lunches was always the Secret Mini Fridge Under The Desk In The Cube.

      In this fridge, I kept several jars of kickass organic natural peanut butter, raspberry jam, a loaf of whole wheat bread, a big brick of cheddar cheese, containers of yogurt, a jar of jalapenos, and assorted fruits, vegetables, and nuts. And a few good beers. Then it was Gourmet Time all day, every day. Man, that fridge surely saved me thousands in restaurant lunches.. hundreds of thousands if you count gained productivity from not worrying about food and from the networking bonds built with fellow workers when I got to be the one who unexpectedly whipped out beers at 5’o’clock. I think I’ll have to crib this comment as the foundation for a future frugality post for office workers.

      • Laurie March 1, 2013, 7:02 am

        I did that too because I was always too lazy to make lunch at home. I discovered quickly thought that if I didn’t leave the office, people didn’t think I was on lunch, and I would get more work assigned to me. So I had to make my lunch quickly and run outside with it. To make eating outside more fun, I took walks everyday. Healthy meals and exercise during lunch? Darn right!

      • Isabela January 15, 2014, 4:19 pm

        Late post but whatever, just catching up… I can’t have so many carbs, so what I do, is I keep bags of frozen veggies in the fridge at the office. Broccoli, asparagus, and my favorites, brussel sprouts. Also, a pack of butter in the fridge, some cheese, or yogurt, also in my desk I have salmon cans and nuts. Canned salmon and steamed broccoli with butter works pretty well.

  • Steve May 11, 2011, 9:44 am

    Back in February we did a dollar fast, and I found it to be a good exercise. Basically, it consisted of the only cutting expenses to bare necessities like milk, eggs, and fresh vegetables, gas to go to and from work, electric, mortgage, etc.

    We are pretty frugal compared to most of the people we know. Clothes from thrift stores and purchases from yard sales and craigslist. Even so, we go out twice a week to eat and we go to thrift stores even when we don’t specifically NEED something. When you have to cut that out, all of a sudden have to come face to face with the fact that in many cases we spend money for the purpose of spending money…because it feels good.

  • Acorn May 25, 2011, 12:04 pm

    Would love to see a post on your weekly grocery shopping – the bill, what you buy/cook.

    • MMM May 25, 2011, 9:45 pm

      Good idea! An article like this is definitely in the near future. I’d like to learn from readers too.

  • Chris May 24, 2012, 2:12 pm

    Why not make your own beer and wine? It’s relatively to very inexpensive in the long run, even if you always rely on kits. The startup cost will run you about 100-150 dollars, even if you buy new, and each batch of 50 bottles (beer) 30 bottles (wine) will cost you around $30. Grow your own hops, make it all-grain, etc. and the costs drop even further

    • Mr. Money Mustache May 24, 2012, 2:37 pm

      Keep reading! You’ll soon get to the post where I started making beer (June 3, 2011 – http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/06/03/a-mustachian-microbrewery-is-born/)

      It has been a HUGE success – we’ve made 10-12 big batches of the stuff since then, following all sorts of different recipes. It’s remarkably easy to make good alcoholic beverages – I wish I had known this in high school! And the knowledge is even more powerful for those who live in the province of BC, Canada: up there, beer is taxed to double its normal price, making home-brewing absolutely essential.

      In fact, it has now been over a year since I bought beer in a regular store (with a few exceptions, like during road trips, camping, vacations, etc.).

  • Alex September 9, 2012, 9:34 am

    I’m still catching up on your blog, and try to read all comments on all posts. You may have already posted on this question further in time, but I was wondering. I am in a situation similar as yours, family-wize: wife and one kid. Our groceries bill, however, always seem to be off the hook. I know I can save tons of monies there, but don’t know exactly how, with baby products and such (diapers, wipes, etc).

    You talk a lot about organic produce and groceries, which I would like to buy more of, but they are always more expensive (especially here in Ottawa, for some reason). How do you pull it off?

    Looking forward to your groceries post later.

    • Mr. Money Mustache September 10, 2012, 5:03 pm

      Read on, Alex! The fast answer for you is that in Ottawa, Costco is an absolute essential for groceries.

      You’ll find several more grocery articles as you go through the series, including these two:

      • Alex September 11, 2012, 11:02 am

        Costco eh? So bulk buying, but essentially calculating the costs over time rather than on the spot?

        • Gina November 4, 2012, 8:16 am

          Hi Alex, I’m in Ottawa too. Heres a ‘recipe’ for baby wipes. When I was given this recipe I thought making your own baby wipes was daft but I became a convert. I had twins & these home-made wipes were great!

          1 package good quality (sturdy) paper towels (bounty worked well)
          2 cups hot water (boiled)
          1 tablespoon liquid baby wash
          1 tablespoon baby oil
          1 tablespoon baby lotion
          A round container with lid (a big ice-cream container could work. I used a round Tupperware container)

          -Cut the paper towel in half with a serrated kitchen knife (for efficiency cut a few for later use)
          -Put the baby wash, oil & lotion in the container, add the hot water & mix (I used a small wisk)
          -Put the half roll in (shredded side up) in the container. Let about half of the water absorb, then turn over. Pull the cardboard tube out & pull out the wipes from the centre. That’s it.

          Make these as need – don’t make extra as they can get moldy, since you aren’t using a ton of chemicals. I have taken these wipes on trips- transferred to zip-lock bags to save space.

          We used a diaper service (cloth diapers) for the first year, its not for everybody but it worked great for us.

          • Wallace February 1, 2013, 4:06 pm

            Try adding a little salt to delay the onset of strange growths.

          • Grant March 25, 2013, 4:01 am

            chux wipes and water work equally well – no need to go to such extremes.

            Then you just chuck them in with the cloth nappies to wash.

            Cloth nappies do need to be changed more often that disposables, but we found generally there was less nappy rash and whatnot (more breathable, and not sitting in their own wee for extended periods…)

            Arguably, for a single child there may not be much cost advantage, but using with subsequenet children (or buying secondhand, or as we did, get a number of loaners from friends) definitely compounds the savings.

          • Karen December 8, 2013, 11:25 am

            Like Hertz and other car-rental companies that routinely take their cars “out of rotation” to then sell them, DIAPER companies do the same thing.

            I would buy 5 lbs of diapers for $2.00. Diaper companies often sell them as “polishing rags”, but they were no different (to my eye) than any other clean, fresh, blindingly white, thick, cotton, cloth diapers.

  • langston drew March 31, 2013, 4:03 pm

    All that biking and a chiro is needed? Odd. Try a PT, skills are based in actual science. Check out chirobase.org.

    • Chase May 31, 2013, 8:34 pm

      Agreed. Everything you do seems to be very heavily evidence-based, which is fantastic. Do a few searches for “chiropractic skeptic” and check out the significant lack of clinical evidence for everything chiropractic, especially Simon Singh’s encounter with the British Chiropractic Association in 2008.

      • Kristen June 10, 2013, 5:44 pm

        Ditto on the chiropractors, I would be careful. I work in a hospital, and we’ve seen our share of vertebral artery injuries in people who have had chiropractic manipulations to their cervical spine.

      • Etana June 21, 2014, 7:57 pm

        I know this is pretty late, but my 2 cents on chiropractors is sometimes they are out of this world and just the thing needed. My T12 was out of place thanks to my own fault for working out HIIT without stretching or warming up enough. I just wish I had gone to the chiro earlier!
        But, they don’t know everything. He can’t fix my locked jaw. But I think there is a lot more evidence to support them than otherwise. There are a few people who would have been in lasting pain if it weren’t for getting an adjustment.

    • Beard 'N Bones March 29, 2016, 3:33 pm

      Almost 5 years after this post was published, almost 3 years after this comment was made, and two quite ignorant and complanypantsish comments are made without contest. (Apparently chiropractors aren’t Mustachians!) I will bring a sense of reason to this off-base comment and discussion.

      First, for the sake of transparency, I will disclose that I am a chiropractor. My father is also a chiropractor. My mother is a pharmacist. My brother is a medical doctor.
      Second, when it comes to modern day education, medical school and chiropractic college are VERY similar in depth and quality (comparing Canadian Chiropractic College to Canadian Med School.) Comparing my education to my brothers education – the first two years (the foundation-type info needed to be learned to be a knowledgeable health care practitioner ie anatomy, physiology, histology, etc etc) were almost identical. Both were 4 year programs, with pre-med or pre-chiro degrees completed. However, while MDs go on to specialize in a particular field of work, chiropractors don’t. All this to say that there is much study, education, and “actual science” involved in being a chiropractor – and practicing as a chiropractor. I would say that I am as evidence-based as any medical doctor or PT out there (see Sackett’s “Evidence Based Medicine” book).

      What chiros have in their scope of practice that physical therapists do not (at least here in Canada):
      – The ability and duty to diagnose.
      – The ability and duty to manage conditions appropriately (including referral and necessary imaging.)
      In other words, we are the “captain of our own ship.” We don’t need MDs or specialists telling us what to do like PTs.

      A link for those that want more info/evidence on stroke and chiropractic: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2271108/ Chase & Kristen’s comments are certainly off the mark.

      Finally, I’m sorry to hear you found your “experimental visit” to the chiropractor was a waste of money Mrs. MM! No question that happens to all health care practitioner in all health care fields. I hear that in my practice about visits to MD’s, PT’s, RMTs, ortho surgeons, even those that see my chiropractor – my father! But just because one doesn’t help, don’t throw the whole profession out the window. My dad says that, “just because you eat a bad tasting pizza once, you don’t stop eating other pizzas.”

      • Shani March 9, 2017, 4:57 pm

        I love going to my chiro, ESPECIALLY for pre and post natal care, for me and the baby. I have had some shoddy jobs, though, and am willing to travel to visit mine because I trust her. I’m sorry Mrs MMM didn’t have a good experience, but if you decide to continue searching, finding a good one can work wonders.

      • J.H. January 27, 2021, 9:13 pm

        A chiropractor is why I’m still able to walk today. I’m sorry they take the flack they do. For back injuries, there’s nothing better, and I’ve tried everything, including PTs.

  • Troy Donahue June 23, 2013, 12:34 pm

    I just started MMM, and my life has already become much better. I switched from two energy drinks for $3 each day to a box of green tea @ $3 each week. I stopped eating out entirely. Instead of buying chicken broth for my rice @ $2, I bought a ten cent pack of Ramen and used the powder inside for flavor. I parked my car and only use it for trips out of the city now. Instead of buying $80 bucks worth of weed, I got $20 and am rationing it for my sleep time. Also, my boss noticed my new passion for life and I’ve received 3 raises in the last two months and my relationship with my boss has improved drastically. Also, my relationships with family and friends has improved do to my enlightened sense of spending. Thank you MMM!

    • Mars Bar October 18, 2013, 7:29 am

      No!!!!11!! Frugality should never be an excuse to eat garbage. Cook chicken remains (bones) with some vinegar and you get REAL chicken broth with bone building gelatin and calcium!! Not cancer from garbage industrial byproducts!

      • KF September 29, 2014, 9:06 pm

        Or even just buy some really good quality bouillon – personally I like the “Better Than Bouillon” jars. $7 gets you about 38 cups of organic broth, so that’s approximately $0.18 per cup, and all ingredients that I recognize and can pronounce. :)

  • Jessa April 10, 2014, 11:42 am

    I’m doing this challenge years down the line as I reread some of your old blog posts! Began yesterday and instead of driving to work I took the bus. Then I walked to my doc appointment and the farmer’s market. = $5

    We use a cash allowance so I took out $20 less than I normally do, which will translate to less spending because we only spend what is in the wallet = $20

    I didn’t get my usual farmer’s market treat of a delicious arepa and instead went home and had a salad from the garden! = $5.

    No cost savings today because I work all day, but I’m excited to see how much I can save in the next 5 days! Thanks for the challenge!

  • Kellisa January 3, 2015, 6:48 pm

    I love the blog.

    Years ago, my husband and I were inspired by a similar writer, who put out the ‘Thriftwad Gazette.”

    We were considering a new car just recently, for the pure and simple purpose of putting my son’s friends into a bigger car (still a small, econo-model – a Mazda6) but now, since I began reading your column, we’ve decided to stay with our 1996 Toyota for another year and save some money. Plus, we could rent the bigger car on the one or two yearly occasions when we need more room, as you pointed out.

    My husband does all our car repairs – we also have a Matrix bought secondhand – and he rides to work, usually. You have inspired me to also start riding, as I did until a year or so ago when my job got stressful and I lost sight of my goals.

    Thanks for the reminders.

  • Kellisa January 3, 2015, 6:50 pm

    Oh, and I wanted to say that I always felt really good about disposing of my son’s solid waste in the proper receptacle :), which has to happen with cloth diapers, rather than folding the entire thing up and tossing it, as I see happening a lot with disposables….

    That was 12 years ago and used diapers and accessories are a lot more available now, which makes them even more economical.

  • Michelle April 1, 2015, 9:55 pm

    I read an early post stating that your target audience is primarily those who are making over $100k/yr, but I think you could help many lower income families as well. We have learned so much about living a minimalist lifestyle in recent years and even at only an average income of $38k/yr (family of 5) we have started putting about $6-10k of that away each year. We’re not debt free (I have a large student loan debt we’re trying to pay down), but we finally decided that having a savings fund was equally as important as putting any extra money into this old debt (now we do a little to both). Thank you for the time you take to get your ideas out there. We’re appreciating reading about your experiences and seeing how they may benefit us too!! Happy Spring!:D

  • Ashley October 1, 2015, 12:26 pm

    I am new to your site so I’m starting at the beginning of the blog. I cannot believe how simple saving money can be and retiring in 10 years! My fiance and I both make a reasonable living but never understand how we don’t have extra money. We will be starting to trim down on spending immediately. Looking through our finances we notified that the majority of our money is going towards food shopping including formula and diapers for our little one. We love to cook and eat wholesome organic food but it comes at a price. We can’t seem to spend under $150 at each supermarket visit. We live in Denver, CO and would love to know your tricks and tips to eating organic and clean without breaking the budget. Thanks! I can’t wait to read through the rest of the blog and finally gain financial independence!

    • Jonathan June 14, 2017, 11:54 am

      How often do you supermarket shop? My fiancee and I spend about $150-175 per supermarket visit as well. But we typically only go to BJ’s once a month. If you were spending that much every week, that would be a bigger concern.

  • STBJ December 28, 2015, 1:54 pm

    MMM thanks for reminding me of my dad born 12-18-1918 died 11-30-2002. WWII vet, original recycler, original organic home gardener. I think he was able to provide for my mom for 9 years after passing by not spending a lot of money while he lived. He was a laborer in a steelmill. These articles, and his teachings that I apparently ignore each day, make me really uncomfortable, but I have figured out a few things at the age of 57. In 2016 I can quickly amass enough money to finance a rental, find a home that fits our aging lifestyle, buy it, refurbish it, recover form the transaction by 2017 and get back on the 25% minimum savings treadmill. I have not gotten past 25% savings but found that even at that rate I can see doing whatever I want comfortably. Thoughts on these crazy goals:
    1 Save 12 K to have working capital to move into short term rental to get off busy street in house with no garage.
    2 Buy fixer upper/foreclosure for approx 300-360 to get what I want in current community (house/driveway/garage/no busy street/small yard/room for bistro table and chairs/small veggie garden).
    3 Fix house as needed to be last home purchased.
    4 Return to savings plan with 25% minimum goal.
    5 Work as long as health allows or til 66th BD.
    6 Retire on minimum of 50K yearly from Pension/401k/SSI/continued PT work.
    The 50 K figure is a projection based on conversations with a financial planner and accounts for the house purchase. His projection does not include paying the house off early but with my newly acquired MMM skills I might be able to pull it off. I also will have to replace one or two cars if I live another 20 years but if I buy them used life is wonderful and smart. OK now what are your thoughts?

  • Kevin October 6, 2016, 11:45 am

    Fellow Mustachians,

    I see I am very late to the game.

    Though I feel so fortunate to have been recommended this blog by a friend.

    It is funny because I actually discovered this blog one week ago. Since then, my wife and I have listed every expenditure we have, and talked about how we can save money.

    For example:
    -canceled our $10/month Netflix account.
    -not shopping at vons or sprouts (shopping at food for less within walking distance instead).
    -not eating out more than once a week. And if eating out, not buying drinks or desert. We have those at home!

    Those are just a few things we came up with.

    I added up how much we spent last month (September) eating out, including coffee and little snacks.

    $800 !!!!

    I was horrified!

    How was that possible? Then I added up for Aufust.


    This is more than half of our tent per month spent on eating out, coffee, and snacks.

    We are completely reorienting our perspective and thinking long term. Thank you so much for the blunt, brutal honesty.

    We have saved $200 in one week! And not sacrificing on enjoying life and each other’s company.

    Thanks MMM!

  • Claire January 3, 2017, 9:23 am

    I like to revisit this challenge every month or so just to try and lower my spending but this week was different, my husband joined in this week. We ended up saving $160 instead of $200 but it has made him interested in saving and trying the challenge again.

  • Cabert January 4, 2017, 1:11 pm

    New reader, old post.

    Question about the bike commuting: I have a baby. How do I take my baby to the grocery store on a bike and carry everything back? Also, we have no shed or garage. What do we do to protect bikes from the weather (if anything)?

  • Melissa January 10, 2017, 6:51 am

    So I am late to the game and catching up on posts. I just read the $100 challenge on Sunday and now that it is Tuesday I figured I’d share at least the tiny victories I’ve had thus far.
    I read the article late Sunday night but Sunday afternoon I decided to make breakfast for the week – I do this by cooking oatmeal and portioning it into 1 cup containers, taking it to work, re-heating it adding some goodies like raisins and enjoy while I’m reading my emails getting my to-do’s started for the day. I also packed my lunch. Total normally spent on breakfast for the week, $16!?!?, Lunch = $25. Granted I have to continue to make my lunch to realize my savings but I made my breakfast and lunch with food I already had in the house so no grocery bill for the week yet either. So that would bring my inital savings for the week up to $41 in 1 day!

    Then my husband and I were driving home from dropping a car off to get fixed last night (hit at the mall (getting jewelry inspected not buying!), body work needed luckily the person that hit me waited for me in the parking lot so it’s off her insurance not mine!) we were contemplating dinner plans and instead of just stopping at one of the dozen fast food places we pass along the way we ate leftovers from the fridge. I call that a cost savings because without reading your article I would have said screw it let’s get something from *INSERT FAST FOOD CHAIN HERE*. Typically for the two of us we spend $20 when we do this so I’m already up to a $61 savings for the week and it’s only Tuesday!

  • Jonathan June 14, 2017, 12:02 pm

    I saw your post about spending $40K per year on average or $547 every 5 days. My finacee and I are spending about that as well, maybe slightly less. Interestingly almost half of our cost is the condo. So once we are able to pay that off, we will really be moving toward retirement status. Also, the thoughts of HOA fees that we currently pay will be shed, once we move to a house in the next few years. But this thought on Housing cost as to overall living expenses has really got me motivated to pay it down!

  • Steve P. June 20, 2018, 9:50 am

    Started riding my bicycle to work and riding bike/bussing blend for the home trip. 16 miles riding one way, 4 miles of riding the return trip. At $.50/mile that’s $80/wk savings plus a consistent bicycle workout of 100 miles/wk. Off to a good start, we’ll see how I’m doing next week.

    MMM, thanks for being a bicycle commuter advocate not only saving my wallet but my health as well!


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