I am so proud of our family and what we have accomplished on this No Spend Challenge. I can tell you that we spent $55 overall for the month. $10 was spent on my trip to Blissdom and $45 was my recent trip to New York. I am sad that the total was not $0, but we did the best we could with some unexpected travels and expenses.
Let me share with you a little bit about what our family learned through our No Spend Challenge.
- I am more resourceful than I gave myself credit for. Committing to stay within our grocery budget was more difficult than I had expected. I did not realize how often I ask my husband to stop off at the store for one or two items for dinner. I found that many times I could whip up some really great cooking substitutes for the ingredients I needed or I was able to make those items I would have bought.
- Cooking every night is harder than I thought. I love working from home, but it can be challenging to get all my work done and get dinner on the table. Often I am in conference calls or working on a project until my husband gets home. I do love to cook, but I also love the occasional break so I can just relax. I realized during this month how often we actually do eat out. Trying to be inventive in the kitchen every single day was a challenge. I discovered that a box of macaroni or sandwich night was a wonderful way to still give myself a night off without spending money. I also learned the art of stretching a meal as far as it could go, reinventing it, or even double-batching meals helped give me the nights off I needed when I was working.
- I can still give to others. Do you ever feel like you can make very little impact on someone because you don’t have the money to do it? I can admit that I feel that way often. There are so many around me that are affected by job loss, medical problems, and depression. Many times I feel so helpless to these situations because I don’t have the financial means or connections to help someone out of these situations. It has been weighing very heavy on my heart these days. That is why I am so proud to tell you that I was able to provide five meals for others during this month and hosted countless engagements at my house caring and serving my friends and family. You don’t have to have a lot to make a positive impact on someone else. What seemed like small gestures to me means a lot more to someone than you might think. We are so hurried, so busy, so tired. I know I often feel like I have nothing to give anyone. I realize now that a woman of small means can still give with her whole heart and make a big difference to someone else.
- My social calendar needs some revising. I never realized how many of my social engagements centered around spending money. Meeting up with friends for dinner, grabbing lunch for a play date, sharing coffee with a girlfriends are just some examples of things that are typically on my calendar. I will admit that I was a little bummed to miss some of these activities, but I was determined to approach this challenge creatively. We hit the library, we went to our friend’s houses for play dates, we packed our lunches, and I hosted my friends at my home instead. What I found was that I had a deeper connection with the people in my life when I could sit at my kitchen table and our children played at my house then I would have at a play area where I am running around after my kids and dealing with crowds.
- I feel more grounded when I am home and not spending. Since we weren’t out spending money, we ended up spending a lot more time at home. I suddenly had the time to tackle all of those projects I didn’t think I had time to do. In fact, I had time for things that I loved to do. I haven’t read a whole book in probably a year and this month I read four entire books in one month. I baked bread. I weeded through things that needed organizing in my house. I actually got caught up with laundry a few of those days. I hung out with my children. I finally felt centered. I felt like a calendar addict who was just given permission to take four weeks off. That first week I felt the withdrawals, but by the second week it began to feel wonderful. I used my “No Spend Challenge” as my excuse to detach myself from anything and everything so I could just relax and do the things I truly enjoy.
- The best things in life really are free. Comfort food. Homemade bread. Fresh clean towels. A delicious little library book. Giggling with my friends over coffee. Playing those dusty board games. Helping others around me. Snuggles from my sweet children. Good music. Dancing with my kids. Knitting. Soaking in the tub. Warm gooey brownies. A good movie. Snuggling up with my hubby on the couch. All free and all wonderfully perfect moments.
Overall, I am really proud of how well we did with our challenge! There were two things that people wanted to know when our challenge was over…what did we do with our saved money and what was the first thing I was going to buy when I could spend again?
I am happy to tell you that with the money saved, we were able to put down a deposit to refinance the interest rate on our home and moved from a 30 year mortgage to a 15 year mortgage, saving our family $90,0000 in interest. That is an investment that was worth every penny invested.
And what is the first thing I want to buy after this challenge is over? I scheduled myself for a good haircut, I am giving myself off a night from cooking, and I’m getting a little yarn fix over at Hobby Lobby. It is the little things that I missed, but the No Spend Challenge brought us great perspective and I am so thankful for the lessons I have learned from this experience.
Please feel free to rejoice with me. Toot your own horns about what you learned from this experience. Heck, I would be honored if you just gave me a pat on the back for my resourcefulness this month- I want to celebrate, friends!!
Want to join in on the MomAdvice No Spend Challenge? Make sure to add your name to the linky list and read more about our challenge. You can also join our No Spend Challenge Flickr Group and upload your pictures of what you did each day.
To read all the entries on not spending, you can visit our No Spend Challenge category!