Tuesday, November 25, 2008

No-Buy No More

Well, our 30 days of financial fast are over...yippee! It was a great experiment, and went well, overall. In the end, we managed to save about $650 total between food, household supplies, and fun money. That was enough to bring my food budget back into the black and almost my clothing budget as well. That feels great! Now as the end of the year approaches I can know that we will hit pretty close to the mark on our budgeted expenses, which makes me breathe easier.

Thirty days of different spending habits have made some differences in the way I spend now. The biggest change is in how I assess our needs vs. wants. The past month showed me that there are MANY things that really aren't needs, but rather, are wants. My family and I can get by (for awhile at least) without orange juice, Oreo's, Saturday morning donuts, raw sugar, granola bars, graham crackers, Papa Murphy's pizza, and yes, even chocolate chips. Cutting these kinds of things out saved a bundle! It is good to have a fresh appreciation for what my family truly needs.

I also learned to buy less. Use up what is in the pantry and freezer first, buy what is needed to cover the rest. I used to think I saved a lot of money by stocking up on stuff when it was on sale--enough to make it through to the next sale. And Sam's Club has been a wicked temptation in that area. It is easy to spend way past my budget with the sneaky excuse of, "but I'm saving so much!" Then, with my mounds of frozen chicken nuggets and triple packs of brownies and dozen loaves of bread in the freezer I would go through food much more quickly, figuring, "well, I've got so much of it, anyway...might as well use it up!" Buying just for one week causes you to be much more careful about the supplies that you have. I don't think I'll be going to Sam's anymore.

Thirdly, we've now switched back to a cash budget. Can't spend what's not in the envelope.

I'm glad the month is over, to be honest. It took more brain-power to figure out my meals, and I really do need a haircut. It's not fun to be too tight-wadish for too long; I'm thankful to loosen up a bit. But I probably will try to repeat this exercise once or twice a year from now on. It's just a great way to recalibrate the financial compass and get back on track. Plus, I really just like the idea of not buying so much stuff. I have too much as it is, which means that I have to spend more time taking care of it, figuring it out, repairing it, cleaning it, etc. It's good to remember that there's really not that much we need.

Except chocolate chips.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Snack Machine?

Today I found myself wondering, "are the words 'SNACK MACHINE' tattooed on my forehead?" They must be, because it seems to be the first thing that enters my kids' brains when they look at me... Mommy...FOOD! Perhaps this is just a byproduct of early infant-mother bonding through nursing, and I know they need to eat, but really--does it have to be ALL DAY? Breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, no-you-may-NOT-have-another-snack-before-dinner, dinner, dessert...One of these days, I swear, those kids are gonna come home to find sign hangin' on my nose that says, "OUT OF ORDER"!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Freedom of Choice Act

The election is over and God, in his sovereignty, has given us a new leader. And in obedience to God's commands, I will respect and pray for Barack Obama, as all of us who are followers of Christ should. But we Christians also need to be aware of what the President Elect's expressed intentions are on the issue of legal abortion, what Randy Alcorn has called "the holocaust of our day".

I know many of us are discouraged about what we fear might come to pass under President Obama. But even he cannot bring this law to pass if we, the People, make our voices heard to our representatives and senators. Please take 30 seconds to watch this video and then go to the link in my sidebar for fightFOCA.com and sign the petition. Let's stand up together to tell our lawmakers ENOUGH!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Jay's Brain

Tonight we made homemade pizza and got National Treasure 2 with a free coupon code from Redbox. I was excited to watch this movie with the kids because we were just at Mount Rushmore a few weeks ago and it plays a prominent part in the movie. The girls were crabby and distracting so they had to go to bed by 8, but we let the boys stay up and finish the show with us.

Anyways, there's a scene towards the end when the treasure finders have just discovered the City of Gold and are busy reveling in the rich artifacts that have been buried for centuries. All of a sudden, the huge stone blocks holding back the river above them from flooding the site begin to burst apart and water starts to spray out. It was at this moment that Jay proclaims, "me and my big mind figured that was gonna happen."


Friday, November 07, 2008

Jesus is My Friend

My friend Karen Corlew showed this to me last weekend when she was here. This is for all you out there who love rock and roll. hee hee

Thursday, November 06, 2008


So we've passed the half-way mark of our month of no-buying and overall, things are going well. Week 2 of food was purchased for $44, still well under my goal of $60. This week I've fallen off the wagon a couple of times...groceries only came to $52 but I ran out to grab a Papa Murph's on election night and took the boys out for Wendy's on the way back from a concert at Orchestra Hall. But I've only dropped $22 in three weeks at Target, so I'm ahead now in that category.

It's actually been a nice reprieve from spending time and energy thinking about buying stuff. And I am still having fun being creative and using up old food from my cupboards. Last week I made banana cream pie (even made the crust!) and only had to buy CoolWhip to go on top. And the kids loved the almond bark-dipped pretzels I made for a snack after school. Not everything has gone well, however. The frozen dough I pulled out to make rolls for dinner tonight must have been in the freezer a bit too long...they were closer to hockey pucks than anything else.

And I do need to make one disclaimer for this whole thing: we had a freezer full of ground bison meat (thank-you Mom!) and a couple of frozen chickens, so that has helped a lot, and my Dad came into town for a week, so we got to eat out several times. My totals would be higher if not for those facts. But I am still amazed at how much I can save when I focus on eating up what I already have and not buy extra stuff not on the menu for the week. It's been a great exercise.

So, altogether I've cut our food budget shortfall in half and am now $100 in the black on household supplies (ie Target). I do notice, however, that my list of stuff to buy after the 30 days are up is starting to grow. Let's see: paint, a new computer-headset connector, fabric softener, lipstick, hair color and highlights, and oh yeah--a haircut (long overdue!). I may need a chaperone to accompany me to Target that first trip back...any volunteers?