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.


Anonymous said...

Do you really only spend $100/month on groceries??? Wow! Fill me in!

Sara Z.

Liz said...

That might have been a bit confusing. Our usual budget is $200/month of which we typically spend about $175. We're trying to stick to $100 or less for the month of March.
I've gotten a number of questions about the lean grocery budget, so I'll try to do a post in the next week or so. My three bullet point tips would be:
1. Buy ahead when something is at a "stock-up" price...usually close to 1/2 off (or more).
2. Take note of coupons when you see them, but only if they're for a product you actually use. Hang on to the coupon until you can combo it--with a sale, or a double-coupon day, rebate offer, or even better all of them. (There are a lot of people who use coupons a lot better than I do, maybe in some life where I have time to track them all down and keep them organized I'll get better at this)
3. Shop the sales at multiple stores. (But not all in the same trip/week/grocery run. I rarely hit up more than two grocery stores in the same week. I choose where I shop based on who has the best deals--I can check that at home online at my convenience and not spend much more time that I would have by always going to the same store.)

kristin noel said...

Okay... you've inspired me. We're trying to get our grocery budget down to $200 for this month. It might mean a lot of pasta, but we'll see. :-)

kristin noel said...

P.S. Anni is too cute! Love the double chin.

Joylynn said...

Liz, you're a coupon Genius compared to me! It is just a little too complex for me to figure out the whole double/triple coupon with store deals, etc....

I look forward to your posts on how the month is going:)

Amanda said...

me too! keep up the good work!

MikeandJen said...

i'd love to know more about your grocery budget. we are at $250, and i feel like we stretch it. i want to use coupons more but mostly just get frustrated with them... and we really don't buy much packaged or processed food so it's hard to find coupons..

Melanie said...

this is so incredible!! I thought we were awesome (compared to our friends) for spending $100 on groceries, but you've inspired to me to save even more! I'm looking forward to your post on grocery shopping.