We did it, we made it through the entire month of February! We've still got all day to make it through but that will be easy. I'm working on my grocery list and meal plan so I can hit up the store either late tonight or tomorrow. We're looking at most of the weekend with snow so the earlier I get this done, the better.
Let's recap events from the past week:
Fri/Sat/Sun: Last weekend wasn't a whole lot of fun as our kids were not feeling well. We didn't have much planned except to eat dinner with my family on Saturday night. We had to cancel our plans Saturday afternoon and it was too late to pull anything out for dinner. The hubby and I were the only ones who really were eating much at this point so dinner consisted of pulling a lone frozen pizza out and making that. I will admit, I was so tempted and wanted to run to the store for a few ingredients so I could make something better. But we made do.
Sunday night we officially were out of toilet paper. I knew it was going to be a stretch but I thought we might have been able to make it through the month on what we had to start with. Of course, I wasn't going to make them go all week without any. I sent Josh off to Sam's Club to grab toilet paper and a few other things while he was there to make the trip worthwhile. He also brought home Bounce fabric softener, saltine crackers, clementines and orange juice. With the kids being sick, I wanted to have more crackers on hand just in case and also more vitamin c for them. It was worth going against our rules just to have those few things on hand. We spent $46.
Mon: Over the weekend we discussed with our 6-year old that she would not be able to purchase any books this time at her book fair coming up this week during school conferences. Normally we let the girls each pick a book out, I am a huge advocate for reading and we love books as a family. But it would not hurt them this time to not buy one. I mean we make weekly visits to the library and have plenty of books at home anyways.
Well, Monday during the day I noticed her wallet wasn't in it's usual spot. She's been saving up her money for quite some time now, hoping to buy her own American Girl doll. I had to confront her when she got off the bus that afternoon. Indeed, she took the wallet to school and purchased $14 in books along with giving her friend $9 of her own money.
Of course, we were upset. She went against our wishes and did what she wanted to do. Our kids are pretty good for the most part, of course they can throw fits from time to time but never have done anything like this. She would need to be punished, especially because she tried lying to us about what happened. So she was grounded for much of the week, to her room. They don't have any sort of Nintendo or game systems they play, except for their Leap Pads on occasion. That was also taken away.
It made me think, did we take this challenge too far? Was I being too strict on the family?
Wed: Our oldest had a chorus trip planned for school that involved them stopping at a restaurant for lunch. We gave her $7 so she could eat lunch that day.
I also realized that by not doing any couponing this month, I let my $8 in extra care bucks from CVS expire this week. After taking a break for a couple years I had started back up last October and have a nice stockpile going for our toiletries. In January though I cut back and only went twice and spent a total of $3 out of pocket for the month. I am by no means an extreme couponer but I do like to have a nice stash of toothpaste, etc on hand. Plus we donate the majority of what I get!
Thurs/Fri: The kids have been out of school these past two days due to conferences being held. That means getting a little more creative with meals since they're home for lunch now too. Luckily, we have some leftovers from dinners so that helps.
They're also counting down, they know tomorrow means that we can officially spend money again. But that also means we're not running out to any stores just so we can buy something. That wasn't the purpose behind this challenge.
Weekly Meal Plan:
Saturday: Frozen pizza
Sunday: Turkey, mashed potatoes, baked beans,salad, homemade bread
Monday: Leftovers (since no one really ate)
Tuesday: Spaghetti, salad
Wednesday: Maid-rites, carrot sticks, potato chips
Thursday: beef fillets, cut up potatoes, green beans and pear sauce
What we've learned:
I've said before, besides the not purchasing groceries for the month, this really isn't too far from how we normally live our day to day life. I asked Josh if he thought this was a little extreme and he immediately said yes! :) I agree, it has felt a little to the extreme in the past couple weeks.
We're faced with temptations all the time, reasons just to spend money. Josh has had to turn down a few lunch trips because of our challenge. Those darn Girl Scout cookies are tempting every time we walk by them! Not that we would normally even eat them, but just the fact that we can't have anything right now makes it hard.
I've gotten a couple coupons in my emails from Barnes and Noble, my major weakness. But I've utilized the library even more, suggesting new books for them to purchase and they do. Actually I've gotten to read two brand new books this month because of that. Books that I didn't have to buy myself and now others can enjoy them as well. Same with movies, we're starting to check out DVDs from the library as well. Our six year old was able to watch The Wizard Of Oz, a movie she's been asking about for a long time now.
What I want my kids to take away from our experience is, to be grateful for what they have and to learn to be content. To be content with what they have, no matter how big or how small. I haven't heard them ask for any quarters for the machines at bowling one single time this month. They knew the rules and they respected that. Now I won't say we haven't had any sort of whining for things, because we have. They're out of their favorite cereals, of course the book incident and they have asked for ice cream the past couple times I've gone into the milk store. But for the most part, we haven't had any fits thrown. I've simply said not right now and it's done. We move on. I hope we can continue to have this same attitude even though we are off the spending strike.
When it comes to groceries, I am going to try making a meal plan for two weeks and doing my shopping bi-weekly now. I've found that we've wasted so much less food this month than ever before. I think by eliminating how many shopping trips I make each month will help aid in this. Of course I'll still be making two trips each week to the milk store and have to grab some produce weekly. But soon it will be spring and summer, the farmers markets will open and that's where we will be purchasing the majority of our produce from. We've put in another order for a side of beef and also pork. Our freezer will be really stocked with meat now. We'll continue to get eggs and poultry from our CSA farmers. I won't feel like I have to step into the actual grocery store much.
Thank you so much for the encouraging words and cheering along the way! I'm glad I had my readers to help me stay accountable throughout this challenge.