Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Day 3: The First Test

If you're confused about what this post is about, check out my previous post for some context...

Today was my day to shop for the week's groceries. I spent extra time over the past few days looking through my cupboards for things we can eat up this week. Last night I finished my list and tried to calculate how much I would need to spend on my necessary supplies. I figured I could probably get it all for about $45, well under my goal of $60 (which is half what we budget to spend each week). Well, I got everything I needed and it only came to $36.26! WAHOO! Look at me and my bad self! And I didn't even set foot in Target...we all know what happens when you go there.

It will be tough to continue this level of savings as the month goes by, but right now I'm thrilled. Aldi is my best friend. But besides that, I truly did not realize how much I have in my kitchen already and how much I can do with it. The bananas on their way to mushville have now been transformed into banana bread for the kids' after school snack. And that box of cherry jell-o is dessert for tonight. It feels good to use stuff up.

Thanks to those of you who offered costumes for Jay. I think we've got a good one lined up through Pam. Jay decided he wants to be Prince Caspian, so he'll be dressed in knight regalia, thanks to Stuey. And can I just say that I love the idea of asking each other for this kind of thing? I mean, do we all have to own everything? Let's borrow more and buy less, I say! What do you guys think?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

30-Day No Buy Challenge

Tomorrow we are officially starting our 30-Day No Buy Challenge. I read about this concept in the Reader's Digest in an article by a man who came out of Target one time having almost spent $300 on a whole bunch of stuff he really didn't need (his list: "packs of underwear, bath mats, barbecue gear, Spider-Man toys, kitchen gadgets, and a plug-in thingy guaranteed to kill mosquitos." He abandoned the cart and left). This guy went home and drew up rules for his family to follow as they resolved to not buy anything for 30 days. They could only buy absolute essentials, capped their grocery budget to allow for the basics like fresh fruit and milk, paid their mortgage, utilities, and tuition for their son's preschool, and said no to everything else. Even gasoline.

For a month they had to get creative. They biked around town, went to Costco to eat free samples for fun (his fun, not mine), borrowed DVDs from the library, made french toast from stale bread, fixed their own clogged shower drain with Dawn and boiling water, and ate up what was in the cupboard. In the end, they saved over $2000 and learned some valuable lessons about life and money!

When I read this story, I was inspired. I like this idea. Even though I consider us to be a very frugal family, I still have a mindset that immediately jumps to purchasing things--both needs and merely wants. My cupboards are full, but I always think they're empty. I have little bottles of travel-size shampoo, yet I immediately buy a brand-new big bottle when my current favorite runs out. We spend $10 a month on a DVD rental subscription when they are free at the library and Redbox sends out free coupon codes every Monday. The list could go on and on, and it's because of some of these habits that several of our categories in our budget are far into the red.

So we're going to do it. No trips to Target, no Blockbuster subscription. I plan on limiting us to half of our usual food budget for those absolute essentials, but otherwise, I'm going through the cupboard to see what I can find. I just found a recipe for lentils and rice on supercook.com, so that's one meal for next week. And that box of cherry jello that has been sitting on the top shelf for eons doesn't have much longer to sit there. With Halloween coming up I usually budget $25 for costumes and candy, but we already have 3 costumes figured out, so that just leaves Jay's, which reminds me...does anyone have a good costume for an 8-year-old that we could borrow? I hope to eek out about $800 out of the month and catch up on those areas that are behind. Maybe even save a little, which isn't a bad idea these days!

So here we go! I'll post anything interesting that I learn along the way. If any of you want to join us in our experiment, it would be fun to trade ideas and figure out how much we save in the end. I'm kind of excited...it'll be kind of a game to figure out how cheap we can be, and a good lesson for our kids to not be able to get the little things they've come to expect, like donuts and Papa Murphy's on Saturdays. Maybe I won't be singing the same tune in a few weeks, but oh well. You can do anything for 30 days.

p.s. I'll be putting thrifty living websites over in the sidebar under "No Buy Challenge Links". Check 'em out!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Karin's Faith

My little girl became a follower of Jesus today. We've been talking about her Cubbies verses lately. Verses like Romans 3:23, "all have sinned," and Romans 5:8, "while we were sinners, Christ died for us." Yesterday as we reviewed them I told Karin what it meant that Jesus had saved us. I asked her if she's ever sinned. She said yes--that she'd kicked her brother. I told her that the punishment for her sin is Hell. But then I explained that Jesus came and died so she could go to Heaven instead--if she said she was sorry for her sins and asked him to be her Savior. If she ever wanted to do so that I said I would help her. Then I waited to see if she would take the opportunity... but she went on to something else.

But then today she and I were just sitting down for our gourmet lunch of chicken nuggets when out of the blue she stated, "we should pray and ask God about being the Savior" (or something along those lines). Once I figured out what she meant we talked it through a bit more and she repeated after me in a 4-year-old's prayer of confession and faith. So simple. So beautiful. It was like seeing a lightbulb go on in her heart and a new life born.

As I said after Ethan prayed to receive Christ, I know this is not the end, but only the beginning. Her tender faith must be nurtured, prayed for, and encouraged in order for it to grow and be strong and sure. Salvation is not a once-in-a-lifetime event. It is a life-consuming reality. But today was Karin's first step of the journey, and by God's grace, I believe I will be spending eternity alongside my sweet daughter--and now, my sister in Christ.

All thanks and praise to our gracious God who grants the miracle of faith to even the smallest of children!

"...I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." --Luke 15:10

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Live By Technology, Die By Technology

I hate computers today. For the second time in as many weeks I have completely WASTED two hours of my day in a failed attempt at burning my digital videos from my computer onto a DVD. I've been using the Nero software my dad put on my computer, and it seems to have a glitch that I don't know how to get around and which requires that I start over from scratch each time. Shouldn't be that big a deal, but my machine is so full that I can't even load my pics from our Black Hills trip on there until I clear off some videos. ARRRGHHH!

Sorry to make you listen to my venting. Anybody know of a better program to use? Or a sledgehammer I can borrow?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Oct. 1, 1943

Sixty-five years ago today my grandparents were married (their wedding photo is below). Oh, I miss them so much. Hopefully tonight they are celebrating together in style!

I love you so much, PaPa and Gramma. Thank-you for your legacy of committed love for one another and your love for your kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids. We will never ever forget you.

Love forever, your Jenzo