Friday, November 8, 2013

October No Spend Challenge: How'd We Do?

October 3rd. That is how long I made it into the month before purchasing something I was not supposed to. I totally forgot that I was not supposed to be spending until after the fact. Bear had her first cavities filled that morning, so I let her pick what she wanted for lunch. And in the rush to get out the door in the morning I had not had coffee. So we had Subway and Starbucks.


So to make up for it, I decided to leave my weekly mad money in the account and consider this my personal spending allowance. And I started adding "Do not buy anything" to my daily to-do list. Is that not the saddest thing you've ever heard? Besides the horrors of things like human trafficking, genocide, and disease? I think my to-do list comes right after disease.

On October 14th, I ordered some PlayDoh from Amazon to keep at my inlaws' house. They're keeping a family friend's preschool-age son during the day for a few weeks and the set looked like something he could get a lot of use out of, plus all the kids can use it when they go over there. Also, I had a $10 gift card, so it only cost me a buck out of pocket. Well worth it.

On the 18th, I bought Bear some boots. It finally got too cold for flip-flops, so this was an actual necessity. Then we got Wendy's for lunch on the way home. Also a total necessity, because I was very hungry, which makes me very grumpy, and Mean Jen was starting to blame every car on the road for every problem she'd ever had. Quick food was mandatory.

On the 20th, we had fast food again. This was because we'd all had sort of a long day and were in wretched moods and I WAS NOT COOKING ANYTHING.We may or may not have had fast food again on the 24th. Ahem.

And the on the 26th, I bought Bear some snowpants on Ebay. We got her a really nice winter coat at Once Upon a Child last month, but the snow is coming and she had no snowpants, so I broke my rule. But I got a pair of Zero Xposur snowpants in barely used, pretty-much-brand-new condition for less than $20, including shipping. So her coat AND snowpants (which will both probably still fit her next year) cost me less than $30, total. I feel zero regret about this.

But still. Not great. I am kind of terrible at this. Don't get me wrong—had I not been consciously choosing to avoid extraneous spending most of the time, this list would be much, much longer. So maybe if I treat every month like No Spend Month, it'll sort of balance itself out.

As a side note, I think I have given some people the impression that we are being actively frugal because we are kind of poor. Not the case. We've just discovered how fulfilling it is to feel like we control the spending instead of being controlled by the spending. "That's not in my budget" does not mean "We are broke." It means I have not budgeted for whatever "that" is at this  time and I have more desirable/important places to put that money. Often that place is into our savings account to sit and wait. Buying clothes for the kids at thrift shops or accepting hand-me-downs is not an act of desperation. It's just smart money management.

We are certainly not wealthy (or even upper middle class) people, but we haven't been broke in several years. You know, since I was in college and Husband took a $4 on the hour pay cut for his apprenticeship. The years of buying food with student loan money are behind us. Now we're just exerting control over our finances because it feels GREAT.