Thanksgiving... In Pictures


Black Friday

This 30 Days of Nothing has evoked some deep emotions and rich conversations with others. I've read through my posts this month and reflected back on how I wasn't sure what to expect with the challenge. I knew it would be hard--not so much in denying myself of "things" but in having to say no, over and over and over again, to the thousands of opportunities we have to buy. 30 Days of Nothing smacks of privilege, in and of itself--as was pointed out to me by a reader. You need to have enough of an income from the start to be able to be a part of this challenge. If you're already living at or near the poverty level, you'd give your eye teeth to be in a position like us. To have enough, to have so much, we make a game out of having less.

So I'm humbled. Very much so.

When I began my challenge I didn't set out to save lots of money or pad our "what if the car breaks down" account or even make some kind of statement. I was just trying it out. Other bloggers that have tried this are people I admire and respect, and therefore it gave me the chance to think about what it would look like in my life.

Admittedly, what I've gone "without" this month is nothing earth shattering. Not buying pizza and making it at home is not going to change the world. Neither is patching jeans or recycling birthday party streamers. We've gone without in little ways this month.

So I go back to what I'm seeing every single day. That our culture--this crazy culture of abundance--allows us the chance to buy something every single second of every single minute of every single hour ... ad nauseum. Want the New Moon soundtrack? Two clicks with my mouse and I can buy it at iTunes. Want food? Don't even get out of your car... just do the drive-thru. Want organic locally grown lettuce? Do you want it bagged or loose? Red or green? Prewashed or gritty? See my point? Every time you turn around...

And while I do not resent technology or convenience or progressive thinking, spending too much time looking for items at a store or online is too much time spent away from normal living. Not buying extras this month has let me hit the pause button on life, re-evaluate what my priorities are, and become more conscious of consumerism. David and I have never been big spenders, but even so we have seen how making a determined effort to spend nothing in a month reveals that we live in a world where a large part of your life will be devoted to buying or thinking about buying. For example, being invited to birthday parties means buying a birthday gift. So I go to a store. At the store I try to remember if we need shampoo. Or tissue. Once I determine that, I remember that one of my kids lost their winter gloves and I should replace them. After putting gloves in the cart I think about vitamins. Do we have enough vitamins to last until the end of the month or should I buy more vitamins now? Before you know it you've spent a good chunk of your afternoon buying for today, tomorrow, and next week.

30 Days of Nothing had a different result for me than it will for you or for anyone else that tries it. It will affect each person in a different way, and if you decide to try this challenge I'm so curious to know what your thoughts are. 30 Days of Nothing is letting me live one day at a time. Each day we make do with what we have.

We're incredibly fortunate that we have enough. I want to keep that perspective forever.
Recently Overheard

The scene: The kids dragged every pillow in the house to the basement where they built a giant pile and were wasting passing time trying to jump over the mound. I came down to watch for a while and eventually said I wanted to try.

Me: "Okay, my turn."

Zinabu: "Uh oh! Let's see if the white lady can jump."



3 weeks into my no-spending challenge, and 1 left to go. I'm feeling strong. Content. Surprised. It's hard to put into words what this experiment has done to me. Rather than feel deprived or restrained I have felt surprisingly happy. No eating out. No great deals at Target. No early holiday shopping. No new socks. No paid events with the kids. No lattes. No 75% clearance sales at Old Navy. No haircuts. (Okay, that one bites.) No replacing my kids pajama pants or jeans. No extras. No last minute purchases. Nothing. In fact, when I've gone to the grocery store (the one place, besides gas, I said I would not include in the challenge) I'm not even the least bit tempted to "sneak" things into the grocery bill. Like paper towels or extra cookies or flowers. Nada. Actually, I've saved $100 just on groceries this month! I so want to be wise with the one place I get to spend money, that I'm taking extra time to make every cent count. (You should see the dishwashing detergent I have left. Mere morsels... and I'm determined to stretch them to next week.)

Most telling of all has been the fact that the kids... have... not... noticed! At all. (See the above photo? Completely at ease.) Only last night did Carver say, "Mom, I really need new pajamas." (The hole in the knee of his jammies is the size of a watermelon now.) I answered, "It's on my list, honey." And that was it.

I am excited about the fact that I did this challenge in November. I think that even though I've probably missed out on some great sales for Christmas presents for all the people in my family, I will spend less in December than I would have otherwise. I feel less inclined to buy extras. I feel more inclined to give of my time. And I feel even more determined to make the money I do spend in December to matter.


I Could Buy A Cow...

I won't go into actual numbers here, but the amount of money I'm saving this month is humbling. And although I hadn't thought too much about what to do with the money we saved, I mostly assumed it would go into our vacation fund or car emergency fund. While David and I have a few organizations that are near and dear to our hearts that we give to, I'm actually saving enough money that I can make a real difference in someone else's life--and still sock away plenty of extra money for a vacation. What incredible timing that the Heifer International catalog came in the mail yesterday. I was floored.

I can easily buy a cow or water buffalo for a family in need. A water buffalo. A WATER BUFFALO! Just writing that gets me all goofy inside. This is an organization I completely believe in and highly recommend it to anyone looking for a place to give this holiday season. Their mission statement is "to help end world hunger and poverty through self-reliance and sustainability." You can go here to read more. You can donate a little (for the purchase of chicks or rabbits) or a little more (for goats or sheep) or up to $5,000 for an entire "Ark" of animals.

So while I've never shopped for farm animals before, I can tell you that it feels really fun.


I Spent Money Today--And I'm Mad!

Recently, Carver has become very interested in skateboarding. The weather in Colorado is nice year round, so at any given time you can find Carver boarding down the street or at a skateboard park, or begging me to take him to a skateboard park. We encourage our kids in ANY endeavor that gets them outside and exercising, so we love that he's practicing his skills. After receiving some birthday money, he bought a new skateboard--and fortunately for him it was on sale. Unfortunately for him it was defective and the board began falling apart soon after he started using it. Today I took him (with the board) back to the store where he bought it. The store was very kind and admitted it was defective and told Carver to pick out another board. So he did. But the skateboards they had in stock were not on sale... so there was a difference to be paid.


So I paid it.

It absolutely killed me to pay it. And I had to catch myself to not get overly angry because it was just money and my child was more important at that moment. But I wanted to be honest and let you all know what happened. The challenge doesn't stop. I'm still going strong and will not stop on December 1st. I'm going the whole 30 days--so my last day of no spending will be December 3rd.

And on December 4th I will be getting a haircut.


No Spending--Day 18

Guess what happens when you don't go anywhere to buy anything? The car stays mysteriously full of gas. I can't remember when I last filled my tank. I'm sure it was last week, but I've got a lot of fuel left. We are also eating from our pantry. The pantry is looking bare, but in a good way. I used to have endless cans of pineapple slices and black beans, but I'm using them up to stretch the meals and not go to the grocery store. Our "Thankful Tree" has gone from bare to full, and we have many days left until Thanksgiving. So far my favorite sayings on the tree are "flu shots" and "garlic bread." This is a family that knows its blessings.
I am so excited for tomorrow. I am going to a movie (New Moon) with two of the best girlfriends ever. How shall I pay for my ticket, you ask? Oh, you mean the ticket I ordered back in late September when pre-sales started? Yepper, that one. And since I paid for all the tickets, my two friends are taking me out to dinner afterward. Ka-ching! I am desperate for a girly day out. Very much needed and I'm glad I don't have to sacrifice this day with friends. There will also be a trip to a fab consignment store that we all love (Plato's Closet, Melodie!) and I will restrain myself from buying clothes, but that's no biggie. I will also come clean and admit that if I hadn't pre-ordered my movie tickets, I would SO break this challenge. So I guess I got lucky this time.
Several of you have commented on my challenge and said "I could never do that!" or "That would be impossible for me." but if I can do it, ANYone can. And to be honest, after the first few days, it's not hard at all. You just put off buying what you think you need, and after a while you come to the conclusion that you don't really need it at all. And no, David is not doing this challenge. But he never buys anything anyway. He drops off his dry cleaning once a week and that's about it. No, folks--most of the money that leaves our bank account comes from yours truly. I do all the household shopping, pay all the bills, and balance the budget. The blame/control/power--whatever you want to call it--lies with me.
I highly encourage all of you to give this a try. January and February seem like great months. And if you don't want to go cold turkey, try not eating out for 5 weeks or not buying any clothing item for 7 weeks. Just doing that will make you so much more aware of how often you are able to buy things.


Day 16

Aside from my youngest making odd comments about alcohol and my oldest wanting to go to sleep-away camp, here's the latest on my No Spending Challenge.

Just today, here are the opportunities I've had to spend:
  • T-shirt sale at the kids' school.
  • Book fair at the kids' school.
  • Forgot to eat breakfast and passed a Panera Bread and almost lost my marbles.
  • Looking for clearance/sale items to use as stocking stuffers and holiday gifts.
  • The car is filthy after our last snow storm, but no car wash for me. (And we've stored our hoses away for winter so I can't do it myself.)
  • The inside of the car is filthy (why do Labs shed so much???) and I can't scrounge around for quarters to pay for the car wash vacuums.
  • Jayme's suggestion of this, which is pricey but I'd wear it forever and ever and can't imagine a better necklace.
  • A much-needed haircut.
  • Last chance to see Harry Potter at the dollar theater.
  • New pencils that Lily's teacher asked the parents to bring to school because they've already run low.

That last one makes me feel like a heel. But I promised myself I would buy a truckload of pencils come Dec. 1st. But even though I had all those chances to buy, I don't miss anything. Not one bit. The car can stay dirty. Who cares about my hair. The kids already have 50 t-shirts, and I'll ask David to get me the necklace for Christmas. I am astounded at how in control and on top of life I feel these days. I feel like I've taken charge of something (my own consumerism) and whipped it into submission. It's very freeing. And the money we're saving... oiy!


Recently Overheard

David was explaining the concept of multitasking to Zinabu this evening. Zinabu said, "Like when someone is driving and they're also talking on their cell phone and also drinking alcohol?"

David and I laughed long and hard over that one. Where does he get it?




It's Getting Harder
How long have I been at this? 14 days? Feels like 114. It seems my kids are trying to wear their clothes out at an alarming rate. Do you remember me saying Carver has busted through his pajama bottoms? Lily is close behind with her jeans. Now, whether you care or not, you are going to hear about my philosophy on clothes. About 90% of our clothes are secondhand. We're fortunate to have a great line of thrift stores where we live, they regularly have 50% off sales, and the brands I'm able to find are Gap, Gymboree, Ralph Lauren, REI, Land's End, and Columbia. I rarely pay more than $4 for any item of clothing--including snow gear. For me, clothes are something you put on your body to keep you from getting arrested when you go out in public. Also, my kids play hard, and I don't want to worry about their clothes. Lastly, it reduces our carbon footprint, which is very important to me. I'm not saying that if you buy new clothes for your kids that's bad. Hardly. I'm just telling you what we do.

So Lily has holes in 2 pairs of jeans. I swear this happened overnight. She has 4 pairs total--and I'm not going shopping until December 1st when my no-spending challenge is up. I also have no patches. Patches cost around $5, and I don't want to buy patches for jeans that are $2. Lily doesn't wear skirts or dresses, unless it's a special occasion. Her jeans are her life. So what's a mom to do? I dug around in her hair bows and clips and found some old hair ribbon. I stitched that over the hole as a makeshift patch and am hoping that will last a few more weeks. But I think when I do buy more jeans for Lily, I will hold onto this pair and use the denim for future patches. I felt a little convicted that even though we buy used, I still have a pretty disposable mentality about our clothes. I want to change that.

I am running dangerously low on dishwashing detergent. This scares me because I really hate doing dishes. I found some homemade recipes with baking soda I can try if we run out, but I'm at the rationing stage with the detergent. With the H1N1 going around, we've been blowing through liquid hand soap like candy. I don't know if we'll have enough to make it through the rest of the month. I do have bar soap, but--yuck! Two messy boys and bar soap. Not a combination I want to try.

Buying and replacing items is easy. There's no work involved, except exchanging money for goods. It's harder to stretch things, to make things last longer, to do without, and to patch up holes. We lived many years like that out of necessity. But just because we don't have to live that way anymore doesn't mean we still shouldn't try to get the most out of our dollars. I'm ashamed to admit I've become a convenient spender.

Another book I have to recommend is Nickel And Dimed. I got the audio version (from the library) and listened to it while walking the dog and cleaning house. It's one woman's attempt to live on minimum wage and not become homeless in the process. It was absolutely fascinating, and it was a great motivator in my decision to try this challenge. The author has a bit of a potty mouth, so don't say I didn't warn you.

By the way, my kids have not even noticed the challenge.


Zinabu Is Six!!!
What a sweetie pie I have. He woke up before the crack of dawn, so I spent some time snuggling with him in bed. He could hardly wait for the sun to come up. Being 6 is, apparently, a big deal. We had a fantastic day together, and I was able to do it all without spending a dime. But I don't want that to take away from the fact that I would do anything for him.

Zinabu helped me by licking the beaters, and Buddy helped Zinabu by keeping him on task.

Homemade cake. I love my bundt pan. LOVE it!!! We always make bundt cakes. Maybe because they remind me of donuts???

I have a box with party/gift wrap supplies. There were plenty of streamers and balloons, and even though red and yellow may not have been Zinabu's first color choice, he didn't care.

Goodie bags. I, personally, hate the birthday party goodie bag. Who started this? We've always been ones to have a birthday party at home, until just last year--when we moved and were showing the house and had to have Lily's party at the rollerskating rink. We reminded Z that when Carver and Lily were both in kindergarten, they had a small party (with family) to celebrate their birthdays. He was just fine with keeping it low key. I used tissue paper and string to "bag up" random treats I found around the house--unused glow sticks from Halloween, candy, a pack of gum--and voila! Goodie Bag. What kid would really complain when they get a whole pack of gum????

Silver-spray painted Burger King crown we picked up. Yes, I have silver spray paint. He wore it most of the day. He wanted a cake with green frosting, so I delivered. I freaked out when I realize I had only 5 birthday candles, so my brother cut one in half and saved me from having to light a matchstick and stick that in the cake. Note candles are pink and green. That's what I had so that's what I used. I've always felt Miami Vice was a good look for a cake.

This happy kid after opening his presents. I bought ALL of them in September when Target was putting things on clearance. I found several things on his wish list and have been hiding them in my closet. Pretty neat, don't you think? Zinabu and I both had a fantastic day. No stress for me, we kept it simple, and all Zinabu knew was that we were happy and excited for him.

What else was free? This birthday song from the cuties in Chicago. I am beyond blessed.


Day 10 (yesterday) Day 11 (today)

A very dear friend of ours is staying with us for a couple days. Silly me--I thought he was coming on Saturday. When he called yesterday morning and said "I'm on my way" I laughed long and hard at my stupidity and thanked my neat-freak personality for keeping the house clean. I was proud of me, because it would have been way too easy to run to the store and grab fancy ingredients for supper to have on hand during his stay. But I stuck to my meal plan and we ate a nice simple meal together. He later thanked me and said it had been a while since he'd had a home cooked dinner. Now that warmed my heart!!! I spent a little more time in the kitchen than I would have liked, with dinner, dessert, and getting homemade cinnamon rolls ready for the morning, but it showed me once again that not spending money really comes down to planning ahead. I had all the ingredients on hand for everything we needed--I just took the time to make it all come together.

This morning I was at the kids' school library volunteering, and the librarian (who is a close friend of mine now... she anticipated Zinabu's arrival almost as much as we did) broke the news to me that she has to go on a long medical leave. It's possible she may not be able to return to her job at all. I'm devastated and sad and sick about it. I'll see her again next week, but I want to give her a gigantic, enormous going-away present. I want to shower her with flowers and gift cards and books. But I can't. I can't spend the money. So I'm going to have to be very creative (note to self: what can I make out of pine cones?) and write her an extra long note in a card and hope that's enough. Of course, I know it's enough--she's not asking me to give her presents for Pete's sake. But the fact that I want to give her presents but can't stings a bit. Then again, maybe she'll really understand how much she means to me because I'll tell her with words and not with "things."

Tomorrow is Zinabu's birthday. He will be 6. I have cried about 50 times already that I will never have a 5 year old again.... it's killing me. I told David I want more--more kids, more boys, twins, triplets, everything. He pretended not to hear me. I'll post tomorrow about Z's "free" party.


Day 9

Guess what we did today? Stood in line with the masses and got our H1N1 vaccines. Such a glorious family moment. Shall I recap the day for you? Our county had its first swine flu clinic--there are several more to follow this week but this was the first. They opened at 10 am, so I dressed in my warm clothes and got in line at 8 am. I bet I was around the 200th person. By 10 am, when the clinic opened, there were a thousand people in line. It was a great opportunity to people-watch. Like the man 5 yards from me who could sleep standing up. Or the woman smoking with an oxygen tank. Or the woman with 7 children. She gets the gold medal for the day. I was very happy to be standing next to two other moms who wanted to discuss the Twilight saga with me. The time passes rather fast when you've got Edward on the brain. David brought our kids right at 10 and found me in line. It was perfect. The line moved quickly and the Health Department staff were all incredible. I had prepared myself that only the kids could get shots, but they asked David and I if we wanted them too so we said "Sure!" Lily is our brave one--but Carver and Zinabu were hyperventilating as they waited in line. As we got closer and closer, Zinabu's tears became more intense. When it came time for his shot, I put him on my lap and held him. I was trying to soothe him as the nurse got the needle ready, but then he screamed, "POISON DART... NOOOOOOO!" and I began laughing so hard I wasn't much help anymore. Carver was white as a sheet after his shot and I think in the future he may be a fainter. A nurse insisted he drink juice and sit in a chair for a while. Mostly, I'm incredibly grateful that we had the chance to get vaccinated. I don't take it for granted.

Best of all? The Health Department clinic was F--R--E--E!


The First Dilemma

Back in October, before I began my no-spending spree, I ordered family pictures with a "we've moved and happy holidays" message. I wanted to get these out before Thanksgiving so all our friends have our new address. So yay me for being organized and getting that checked off my to-do list. However, I did not buy stamps back in October. (Insert sound of wheels turning and head smacking against wall.) What to do? What to do?

Here's my solution. I borrow stamps from my mom and repay her in December. Fortunately my mom still buys stamps in rolls of 100, so there are plenty around. I, who email and pay bills online, couldn't find a stamp to save my life! I guess I'm fortunate there are stamps in the house, otherwise I would need to go buy them, because these letters have to go out this week. I'm also fortunate that my mom shares her stamps. Thanks, mom.

I am very surprised at how easy it is to just stay away from stores. I think it's because I know that it will all still be there on December 1st. But I had to give up on an international craft fair here in town that is supposed to be amazing--it would have been a great place to pick up a few Christmas presents for my kids' teachers, and I especially love buying items that have been handmade in other cultures. Oh well. There's always next year...


Day 6 (Yesterday) & Day 7 (Today)

It is not hard to stay out of the stores. I don't really spend my days strolling through the mall or driving from shop to shop to kill time. I spend most of my days at an elementary school, and the only thing you can buy there is a soda from the vending machine. Not exactly a huge temptation. David and I were talking that this isn't really a big sacrifice--not buying anything for a month. If I run out of shampoo, I have another bottle in the linen closet. I could lose a shoe a day for a week and still have a pair to wear next Sunday. We're clothed, fed, and content. I'm still paying for gas that goes in the car. Still paying for the cell phone. Still living a comfortable life. It would be a much bigger deal to attempt this for an entire year. One woman did, and you can read her story in the book Not Buying It.

But even though I'm not suffering too much, my list of things I'd like to buy is growing. I want to start swimming laps again and need a bathing suit that does not depend on a simple knot behind the neck to keep it up. Carver has busted through the knees of every pair of pajama pants he owns. The holes grow a little bigger every day. My bottle of window cleaner is getting low. I also don't want to sound cheap when I'm invited out to lunch and have to decline. Hasn't happened yet, but there are still 3 weeks left of this experiment. I'm afraid that come December 1st, I'll go out and stock up on everything I've denied myself for a month, and I don't want to do that. Taking the month of November to not purchase necessities should not mean going overboard in the month of December.

To reiterate what I said in my last post, not spending money takes planning ahead. If you plan ahead, you're golden. I don't foresee any reason to break my stride.


Day 5 (of nothing)

I opted to make our own pizzas on Friday night. I bought some basic ingredients (which will last a few more weeks) and used a pizza dough recipe that seemed easy enough. As usual, when you make a little extra effort and spend time together in an activity, the kids had a ball. They loved creating their own pizzas, and Zinabu even deemed it the "Best Pizza Ever!" I had always viewed Friday night pizza as my one evening off from cooking, but I was convicted by the many women in the world who have every night off from cooking because there is no food to cook. Zinabu's first family, for example.

Not spending money takes much planning ahead. So far, that's a recurring theme I'm noticing. Yesterday (Saturday) I planned the entire day ahead of time so that I wouldn't be tempted to pay for anything out of convenience. David was gone Friday and Saturday, and that right there is an occasion to spend. If' he's out of town, I would normally "treat' the kids to something. Or "treat" myself--you know, because I'm doing everything on my own. I was surprised at that philosophy... it sounds so shallow. Dropping $4 at Starbuck's for a latte or buying the kids smoothies "just because" is a dumb way to part with our cash. And honestly, it's not as if David is home all the time and I have no idea how to handle being a mom on my own.

So yesterday morning we went swimming with friends as guests at their Y. We drove home for lunch--which was bare bones, since I desperately needed to go to the grocery store--and then headed to one of the colleges here for Cool Science. It was a huge (FREE) extravaganza of science demonstrations and experiments for families. Carver and Zinabu loved the explosives that set off the race cars, and Lily enjoyed the game of bird migration. The college does this once a year, and I'd heard of it before, but I don't know if I would have been as inspired to go had it not been for my no spending challenge right now. We wrapped up the afternoon at the skateboard park, where there is also a large field. We played fetch with Buddy and the kids ran around for over an hour. F-R-, double E.

Last night I went grocery shopping and was much more sensitive to where every penny went. I always plan my meals for the week and use coupons where I can, but I was even more conscientious last night--and I must say, we saved a wad! Today is Sunday and I don't anticipate any challenges because we usually just got to church and then spend the day at home as a family. But I'm curious about what next week will bring. My biggest challenge? Zinabu's birthday!

Carver pressing the "launch" button.

Experimenting with static.


Days 3 & 4 (of nothing)

I am just a wee bit into my challenge, but I'm already aware of how many opportunities I have every day (every hour, truth be told) to buy something. While playing fetch with Buddy I noticed a garage sale across the street (I hate passing up a bargain). Searching Google news I see an ad for ebay and wonder if any Patagonia fleeces have surfaced (a favorite quest of mine). On television I watch a commercial for mascara and feel tempted to try it--and I hardly ever wear make up. Each and every moment I'm assaulted with the "chance" to spend money. I don't think you become aware of how often until you make a choice not to buy anything. What other culture lives like this?

I haven't told the kids what I'm trying. Why make them suffer? It's my challenge, not theirs. I plan to casually divert their attention should the need arise. Like this morning. Carver asked if we could go roller skating tomorrow. My response was "Ye.... er... no. Let's play outside instead." He shrugged his shoulders, but I have the feeling I may not get off so easily next time.

My next dilemma is dinner tonight. We rarely eat out, but every Friday night is pizza night. We buy a fresh-made one and bake it at home. We do it every week. Where does this fall in my challenge? I could go to the grocery store this afternoon and buy the ingredients to make a pizza at home, but I can't help but wonder if after the olives, pepperoni, sauce, cheese, and artichoke hearts I wouldn't spend more. Does a pizza count, since it's not out of the norm of what we usually do? I didn't consider this before.

One of many challenges I'm sure to face in the days to come.


Our Thankful Tree
During the month of November we try to remember what we're thankful for. In the past I've made a tree by finding small branches out in the yard and letting the kids glue paper leaves to them. This year I drew a tree on our chalk wall. Each night, after dinner, I ask the kids to think of something they're thankful for and then they get to "hang" their leaf on the tree.

This is what Zinabu has added so far... Having a family and having a great life.

What a love. And to think--he's the one who has blessed us, not the other way around.


Day 2 (of not buying anything)

Today was a fairly easy day, as I had no errands to run and therefore no stores to encounter. I spent a lot of time at the kids' school. However, I did have to cancel a haircut appointment that was scheduled for this afternoon. That's not a big deal today, but now that my hair is short it needs to be cut more frequently--so by the end of November I will be feeling pretty shaggy. Not sure how I'll feel about that.

Last night it occurred to me that Target is now having their 75% off sale on Halloween items. I ALWAYS hit this sale the week after Halloween, because my kids love to dress up so much. I love to find the odd wig, crown, sword, or cape. We have a huge bin filled with dress-up costumes, and my kids can still spend full afternoons in imaginary play. I also adore Halloween decorations--the pumpkins, the orange lights, the cute placemats. This is when I stock up for next year. So I'm trying not to think about that sale. I'm hoping that by not being in Target this week I won't see what I'm missing, and therefore won't know what great deals I'm foregoing.



Day 1

I wake up today to my first challenge: a hole in my favorite socks. My wool socks that I wear religiously because I am notoriously cold. David thinks there is something amiss with my circulatory system, but the socks do the trick. There's the hole--staring me in the face. I look back at it and want to throw the socks away, but I can't. These socks need to warm my feet through the rest of the month, so I double up my sock layers and get breakfast going for the kids.

Halfway through the day I have to go to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription (there's no getting around this and you can't honestly include this in the challenge). I head straight to the back to get my medicine, and am suddenly aware of Children's Tylenol on sale. And hand sanitizer. Both of which we have plenty of at home, but given the H1N1 march across America I feel like you can't turn down a good sale. I pay for just my prescription and leave otherwise empty handed.

Then the kicker. U2 tickets went on sale today for their show that's coming to Denver in June.
Whoops. Didn't plan for that. Maybe we can get nose bleed seats and buy tickets in December.

Tonight would have been the perfect night to grab dinner on the run. David has to go back to school for a PTA meeting, and I lead a Bible study at our church. My mom isn't in town, so we have to bring the kids with us to our respective duties. But instead of ordering sandwiches at Subway, I made dinner and we are eating at 4:45 before we all head back out again.

That's a chunk of change I saved today.


30 Days of Nothing

Ever heard of this? I've been tossing this idea around in my head for the last two weeks and I'm going to do it. 30 Days of Nothing is a personal challenge that means exactly what it implies: a whole month of not buying anything that is not absolutely necessary. Other bloggers I know have tried (and successfully completed) this challenge, and it was fascinating for me to read their thoughts.

A little history on our family. When we first moved to Colorado, Carver was 2 and a half and Lily was two months old. David took an enormous pay cut and I was working (sporadically) as a freelance editor. We were incredibly blessed, but money was tight. We had one car (David walked to work). It was the kind of budget that if you ran out of light bulbs but there were still 2 weeks until pay day, you went without light bulbs. When David became an Assistant Principal, I remember the joy of going to Target and buying light bulbs whenever I wanted. We are still careful with our finances and very grateful for all we've been blessed with, but I want to make sure I'm really aware of where every penny is going. Also, with Thanksgiving around the corner, the timing is right.

For the month of November I am going to do my darnedest to not... buy... a... single... thing. Disclaimer: Obviously, we need to eat. Groceries do not count in this challenge. But let it be said that this won't be the month to try new Ina Garten recipes that call for saffron threads or other such nonsense that would defeat the purpose of trying to cut back. I'll try to keep things simple. Also, I am not about to go into emergency mode and put scraps of recycled newspaper in the bathrooms should we run out of toilet paper. If we run out, I WILL BUY MORE. Lastly, if one of the cars breaks down, we'll fix it.

I'll also come clean and tell you that I spent money today. I had long-standing plans to meet a good friend for coffee this morning. It was her birthday so I treated her to a latte. And in anticipation for a birthday party Carver is invited to in 10 days, I bought a gift card at Target. But that's it. It's the evening of November 2, and the challenge begins NOW!



Darth, Sylvester, and Green Power Ranger (Z chose to be the same thing he was last year! It was fantastic.)


Checking out the booty. We had a great night. It was the first time I got to go trick-or-treating with the kids. I'm usually stuck at home handing out candy. The weather was fabulous--considering we had a blizzard 3 days ago--warm with lots of leaves to crunch through. My brother met up with us and joined the festivities, and Buddy experienced the joy of barking at kids wearing weird costumes.

Now I'll let you in on a dark family secret: we buy our kids' candy off of them. I think I've explained this before, but I get tired of those piles of candy lingering on into December. When we get back from trick-or-treating, we have our kids paw sort through the sugar bounty and keep whatever they want. Really, we don't force them to give anything up. But the lure of 10 cents per item is fairly strong, and without fail the kids wind up keeping a handful of candy and "selling" the rest to us. I like teaching them that a little candy is OK, and there's value in making healthy choices. Stupid? Maybe. But in one week we'll be done with our Halloween candy and that is music to my ears.