(just a quick note- I started this challenge before beginning this blog, so the dates are posted at the top of each blog in the text until I catch up with today)
August 1st, 2014
Today our family started a 31 day no spend challenge. This actually started a couple of weeks ago preparing for this month.
First, we looked over what the rules of the challenge were and discussed them with our family. (2 boys ages 11 & 16) Pretty basic: Don’t spend anything that is not necessary and set ground rules for what is. We decided that fresh produce is a necessity, so we allowed $50/paycheck to spend ($150 total since it is a 3 paycheck month). Technically, the food part will actually extend into Sept since the last check of the month will be so close to the beginning of the next month.
Second, we allowed for any expenses that may not be normal or necessary, but would interrupt the flow of our budget or life in the positive direction, such as our Friends of the Library card, which is due in August, but is good for the entire year and saves us A LOT on gas by not needing to drive from one library branch to another to pick up books. It also saves the fee to have them shipped to the library of our choice, so I can sit at home, order the books I want online through the library website and when they are available, I am notified by email and we have 8 days to pick them up. We also get $3 off in the library bookstore, which allows us to shop their once a year book sale and get quite a few books for free. The other expense is our YMCA membership. This I do view as a necessity and would have been not worth our time or money to cancel for one month, only to sign back up next month and have to pay fees all over again. We also kept our Netflix as it is our only form of entertainment for the same reason. We already have Amazon Prime, which through Amazon mom also gives me up to 20% off subscribe and save items, not to mention the free videos, books, shipping, etc. Well worth the $75 fee we paid this year.
Third, I inventoried our pantry, fridge and freezer. This sounds more daunting that is really was. Being somewhat of a retired extreme couponer, we have a lot of food on hand. At first, I didn’t think we would have enough to come up with real meals throughout the month, but as I got to writing it all down, I quickly realized how much excess we have.
Fourth, I developed a loose meal and recipe plan for the entire month. This happened in three steps. I sat the kids down and we brainstormed together what meals they would like. I added in the things I know my husband would eat and and then looked at the food we had on hand and wrote down every meal I knew I could fix at least once. The last thing I did in this step is to transfer the meals to a calendar to make sure I had planned enough meals and servings for each person. This was actually the most difficult part as I have not EVER liked or been successful with meal planning. So, the items I wrote on the calendar may or may not be eaten on the day I have them scheduled.
Once I had these things done, I was ready to start cooking and preparing for the month. I spent one day making granola, granola bars, oatmeal, and chili. Today, I made pulled pork with carrots.
I also looked around the house carefully to make sure there were no items that NEEDED to be purchased before the end of July to sustain us through August, such as shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, etc. This does not include clothing, unless maybe if your kid’s shoes are falling off their feet, which mine were not.
I made a trip to the store to get butter, brown sugar & almond milk, which I would not include as fresh food items and so could not be purchased after July 31st. I also purchased so hair detangler, which for me is a must have or my hair breaks off in clumps from all the tangles. I also bought a couple pairs of jeans from Goodwill for myself as my oldest and most favorite pair had just last week developed a large hole where I could not repair it due to the fact the fabric simply no longer existed! Since I only paid $3.99 for a pair of Old Navy jeans, I feel like I saved instead of spent!
So what is my thought about the first day?
Personally, I think it went great. The boy’s understood that there would be no spending of any kind and if it wasn’t free, don’t even bother. They tend to have an issue with the “I wants”, so I was concerned that they would really dig their heels in on this one, but instead, upon visiting a friend, who happened to be having a garage sale (one of my children’s favorite things and something we all do regularly), they walked by the items and longingly looked at them, repeated their price, touched them and then walked away! Not even a look at me to try to ask with puppy-dog eyes or anything.
The other thing I noticed is I felt free. I wasn’t bound by the thought of spending money. No drinks (we brought our own from home), or food or other extras that we might want, but not really need. We simply went about our day and I knew that if someone asked me to purchase something, I could simply say, “Sorry, we are on a no spend month.”
I am a frugal person by nature, always have been, always will. I learn something new every day about frugality. I hope to be able to share some of these things with you: from grocery to budget to homemade products and ways to save big and live more abundantly and not be tied down with stuff!
John 10:9-11 “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.…