We did it! We did it! We did it....and boy, I'm glad that's over! Ok, well, almost over. 14 hours to go....
The last few days seemed the most difficult. I think it's like that with any challenge. You can see the finish line but you aren't quite there! Here's how we did (referring back to our rules):
1. Our misc budget was cut by 3/4 and was there to cover any needs we did not account for. We used the misc budget for: fixing the faucet (My Hubby purchased the $8 piece instead of the $34 piece and it works perfectly!), My Little's science club registration (so worth it!) and My other Little's National Junior Honor Society due of $5. I'm thankful we didn't have any major expenses surprise us.
2. Although our eating out budget was cut by half, we only spent $10 and that was for my parents!! This was the most surprising area for us! The Littles did eat out a few times when they were with friends. I ate out once with my dad and once with the youth sponsors from church. Oh, and had some awesome mac and cheese from McAlister's Deli (paid for by a gift card). My Hubby had pizza one night while helping friends move. We ate very close to every meal at HOME!
3. Tuesday Treat Day treats consisted of things I made with the exception of last week. The treat was store bought cookies using money from the grocery budget. Of course, I put them in adorable mason jars with the kids' names on them. That made them much more yummy!!
|Photo by Callie|
The kids are now using the jars for different purposes: makeup brushes, bobby pins and pens and pencils.
4. Clothes. This was the toughest! We set aside an amount and ended up doubling it! We went over on shoes and jeans! But, remember, we covered the difference by selling a chair on Craigslist.
Our ONLY non-need purchase was a stop to the Redbox for one movie! I know! I know! $1.30...fail! We would have paid cash from the car ashtray if that had been an option!
We had a few weekends of the Littles' friends staying the night. We usually would run through a drive thru or bring something home. Not this month. We just didn't feed them at all! Of course, I'm kidding! Everything came from my kitchen. We even loaded up the car and went to the Omniplex (yes, I called the Science Museum of Oklahoma by it's true name). I have free passes and we packed a lunch! Cost: $0 for the entire day and, guess what, none of us felt like we missed out on anything!
The cons to a "no spend" month:
1. It can be a bit isolating! So much of our time together, whether with friends or family, revolves around eating out. It sounds weird to say, "Hey, want to come over to my house for lunch?" Also, when you are not spending money, there's no need to wander through the stores (I'm not a big shopper anyway so this part didn't bother me).
2. Nope. Nothing else. Only one con!
The pros to a "no spend" month:
1.We didn't let any food go to waste. After a few meals went by, we had leftovers the next night and/or ate them for lunches or snacks. It surprised us just how well we used up everything. None of us ever felt hungry or deprived.
2. We learned we can survive not eating out! In fact, My Little actually said,"Mom, we're driving by these restaurants and fast food places and I don't even miss it. None of it sounds good to me."
3. We learned how waiting just a few days, instead of immediately buying what you think you just have to have, changes your perspective on that item. We started a list of things we need to do or wanted to buy for February. Many of those "must have" items have already been marked off the list because we found something else we already had that worked or we realized those things just weren't that important.
4. The Littles learned a little more about the value of a dollar. It had to be important enough to them to spend their own money.
5. My Hubby and I were able to see the weak spots in our budgeting set up. We have always been great about tracking our money. I could tell you how much we spent on eating out in July of 2003. And, although, we have budget amounts set up, it was easy to go over budget in eating out or to not know exactly where the misc budget went.
From now on, we are writing a list of things we know are coming up for the next month. Also on that list are things we want. Every item gets a number, most important is #1, least important is numbered last. The money budgeted for misc then takes care of the things on the list until the money is gone. Anything left will be moved to the next month and re-numbered according to importance.
To most people, I would think this would sound very restricting but to My Hubby and I, it's freedom. Freedom from a credit card bill (even though it was always paid in full every month), freedom from not having what we don't need and freedom in our budget for the important things we want to do like family vacations and time spent together.
So, the final word...we saved several hundred dollars doing this challenge!! It wasn't always fun but it was well worth the effort. There are very few people in this world with infinite income. I'd rather tell my money where to go than wonder where it went. I'd rather play out this challenge with my own set of rules than have real life throw one at me and not be prepared.
I pray I have encouraged/inspired you to take a look at your income/budget. It pays to plan now for unseen things that could happen in the future.
Only one day left...I'm definitely thankful we did this challenge!