Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Week 1 Recap

March's first week is in the books, and our "No-spend" experiment went pretty well. So far, so good. I've gotten a lot of questions about our grocery spending, so I'm trying to put together a post, but I didn't get it finished yet--naps for the bigger two have been sparse recently and it's hard to write with three kids buzzing about, hopefully I'll have a chance in the next couple of days.

The highlights:
-I got more done at home since my shopping time was greatly reduced. For the first week since Annika's been home, I really felt like I didn't have a pressing list of chores that were woefully neglected. (It's hard to credit all of this to No-Spend March (NSM) since she finally got onto a bit of a sleep/wake schedule this week as well, but it definitely was a factor.)
-I found the needed next-winter boots for Joshua, James, and Annika at 75% off. I went in for boots and didn't even look at the other racks, even though there were huge "final clearance" signs around. For me, that's progress!
-We went out as a family on Friday night. We made the monthly character-building variety show our church puts on for the first time and our kids had a blast! Quality entertainment for FREE!
-Saturday night James and I had a game-night with some friends while our kiddos played. Again, fun, quality time with people for no cost.
-We brought the kids on board as coaches. The first few trips into the stores (or past McDonalds in Lydia's case) brought pleas for desired, but definitely unneeded, items. So we explained how we were trying to focus on spending time together, but not spending money on items we already had or didn't need and asked the kids to remind us if they saw us looking at something we didn't need. Though saving money isn't the primary focus, we decided a bit of reward might be in place for the kids, so we promised them 1% of whatever we DON'T spend this month. Joshua is VERY focused on keeping spending down now...and they've stopped whining for extras.
-I went into Target to purchase a needed item and left with NOTHING else. Yep, just what was on my list...that never happens!
-I did use Craigslist this week, but only as a seller. Yay for switching unused items for ca$h! :)

The Lowlights:
-While purchasing needed boots for the aforementioned family members I fell "off the wagon" for the first time. I saw very cute, very cheap, but not strictly needed boots for Lydia for next winter as well. And I purchased them. Oops, first time, but probably not the last.
-I received an extra 30% off coupon in the mail from Kohl's this week. And there are great clearance sales going on in there this week. That may be my biggest challenge: a bargain hunter's paradise. Must. Not. Look.
-James' company's anniversary party is the 19th. It's free, check. We're swapping with friends for sitting, check. But, the theme is Red-Carpet Extravaganza, red-carpet attire is encouraged. I don't have any gala-wear. It's my one excuse per year to go all out and purchase something fancy. I'm not sure what to do. Any thoughts? For the sake of discipline, I want to stick to the no-spend rules, but I also really want something fun to wear. Anyone want to let me shop in your closet for the night??? :)

The Cuties:
I know at least part of my "readership" comes to this site only to see cute pictures of my little people. Here are a few of my favorites from the week:

She's into toys now
But, not quite as much as Lydia would like...
Working hard on sitting up
These two are too cute: hosting a birthday party for Ellie on a couch-boat
She hates being on her tummy, but she's getting better at it. :)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Why Hello, (No-Spend) March!

March is here and with it little signs of spring...for example, the monthly test of the tornado siren. My kids sat bolt upright and wanted to know why there were alarms going off at promptly 12pm. Not the most pleasant reminder, but it makes me smile because I know spring is right around the corner.
This little face also makes me smile.
Isn't she a charmer? Other than the fact she's decided not to sleep more than 3-4 hours at a time and to make a real fuss at bedtime, she's pretty much the perfect baby--all 13 lbs of her! That's right, she's now a full thirteen pounds in her birthday suit and 24 inches long. It's hard to believe that my little tiny peanut has gained over eight pounds (nine from her lowest weight) and six inches in the past (almost) five months. She's now in the 27th percentile for weight based on her birthdate (50th percentile if age adjusted.) Can you tell her sister is one of her biggest fans?
In other March news, we've decided to participate in "No-Spend March" as challenged by James' cousin, Joylynn. You can read about her reasons for seeking to eliminate a lot of the "extra" in her life this month in these posts. I love her heart for finding simplicity and realizing how much our stuff can control our time, thoughts, and happiness and I love the idea of seeking a simpler life and more meaningful interactions with those around me. I'm hopeful that reducing my dependence on things (and deal-seeking in particular) will make me realize again just how much I've already been given, loosen the grip the desire to always be acquiring more has on me, and help me learn to be more intentional when I do spend.
Here's the full list of the rules, both Joy's originals and our own as we've edited them for our family:

The Rules for "no spend" March
(you can modify to fit your situation if you choose to take part):

1. No purchasing apparel of any kind (clothes,shoes, accessories, cosmetics, etc...) for myself, [my husband, or my kids] regardless of how cute/inexpensive they might be.

2. No purchasing/acquiring (even if free!) items for our home such as furniture, decorative items, supplies to make something for our home (fabric, sewing stuff, paint, random pretty chotchikes...), organizational items, office supplies, etc...

3. No going on Craigslist, to Goodwill/other thrift stores, other retail stores except to buy necessities (as outlined in #4), perusing estate sales in the area, etc...

4. Money will be spent on necessities (mortgage, tithing/other giving, utilities, gas for the car, groceries, medical care if needed, am I forgetting anything?)

5. *Money will also be spent on "experiences" as already accounted for in our budget (a $50 total that can include eating out, going to a museum, renting from the Red Box, etc...).

All of these rules are designed to a) create healthier boundaries on how I spend my time and money and b) allow some freedom for spending within those boundaries. Not too extreme on either side. Which is exactly what I'm going for.

And our addendums:

1. We're going to slash our grocery/household necessities (T.P., laundry detergent and such) budget in half. For us that means $100 for groceries, $50 for necessities.

2. We're still going to purchase (if found) a couple of end-of-winter-clearance items we've previously decided on and budgeted for. (Boots/snowpants for Joshua for next winter and a snowblower.) Even for the "no spend" cause we think it's most prudent to buy these at the end of the season instead of the beginning of next winter. :)

3. We're going to try to keep our entertainment free this month. We too usually have $50/month for the purpose, but we're going to try to get more creative with "fun" and see what we come up with. Hey, by the end of the month it might even be warm enough to peruse the (free) zoo!

4. We're going to try to throw-out/recycle/donate/sell/give-away at least one item in the house that's not being used every day this Month.

Thanks for the inspiration, Joy. I'll try to post weekly on how I'm doing and look to blogland for encouragement and accountability. Anyone else want to join? If you do, I'd love to hear about it.