We are so efficient that we finished our No Spend January in only 15 days! Okay, fine. We only lasted half the month. We weren't perfect, but we did really well for a while. We ate through tons of food in the kitchen and said no to lots of things we ordinarily would have done. It was definitely a struggle in some ways. Several things spurred the end of the challenge. One, the extreme cold turned a small crack in Drew's windshield into a huge crack right through his line of sight. That was a fairly big expense, but a necessary one. Then the florescent light in our closet started flickering, going dim, and doing weird things. The only thing I know about closet lights is that I like them to work. The florescent fixture was so old that it wouldn't accommodate new LED bulbs, so we opted to replace the fixture. Where do you even file that expense? Not really an emergency, but not excessive spending. Either way, we spent the money. Those weren't even the final straws. The final straw was when we had eaten through so much of our pantry that we wound up eating terrible homemade biscuits with canned gravy for dinner. Canned sausage gravy. Y'all, just don't. I'm pretty sure that that can was a leftover from my Grandpa Whimpy, because I can't imagine that I would have ever purchased it on purpose. Still, the date was good, so we ate it. It was terrible and we laughed/gagged through the entire meal. That was the final straw. I spent the last of our $100 grocery budget at Walmart and that was that.
Aside from the fact that we didn't make it the entire month, here's what I learned:
- How much money I spend at the grocery store is directly related to where I shop and if I have a specific list. I spend less money at Aldi or Dollar General because the stores are small and I go with specific things on my list. I spend more money at Harps (local grocery store) because it's bigger and has more options. Example, I bought a 3 pound bag of frozen chicken that I didn't really need, just because it was on sale and sounded good. I spend significantly more money at Walmart because there are so many things to get distracted by. The store is huge, it takes longer to shop for what I came for, I buy things I didn't come for, and I wind up buying larger quantities that what I need. (i.e. GIGANTIC tub of cheese balls in my pantry right now.)
- I am just as happy to refill ice trays and save the cash I would have spent on bagged ice.
- Nobody should ever have to eat canned sausage gravy.
- I am able to say no to extra things when I set my mind to it. Even if saying no isn't as much immediate fun as saying yes.
- Our budget changes pretty dramatically (for the positive) when we actively choose not to spend.
- Not spending is hard.
- We are so fortunate to be in the position we are in.
Before: tan walls and honey oak trim
Other super reasonable things I'm stewing on. The spring vegetable garden. Where exactly it will be, whether it will be raised beds, and what & how much I'll grow. What's more, I'm actually telling myself that I'm going to can and dehydrate said veggies and herbs. And chickens. Yes, chickens. I've been heavily hint dropping to Drew about my desire for a chicken coop and a few laying hens, but I never thought he'd be on board. We aren't chicken shopping at this moment, but we're surely entertaining the idea. You know, super practical things. (I'm rolling my eyes at myself, but I'm also having tons of fun.) We've also reserved numerous weekends for camping this spring/early summer and I'm super pumped to get back out there. Eleanor sat with us as we arranged dates and made reservations, and then she melted into a puddle of heartbroken toddler when we didn't immediately get the camper and leave. So we pulled her little play tent out of the attic, set it up in the living room, turned off all the lights in the house, and gave her battery operated candles as a campfire. We win at parenting.
"I sleep with my baby doll in here, okay? You cover me up? You shut the door, turn the light out, okay? Goodnight. Bye."
Speaking of Eleanor... this 5 week break from school has slowly ushered us back into too much television watching during the day. It's just not something I like to do and I certainly don't like Eleanor to watch too much. For one, it is consuming. She zones out and then starts getting demanding about watching more and more. Uncool and totally my fault for letting it happen. Also, she picks up on things so quickly that we don't want her watching the wrong thing. Since she got a Peppa Pig book for Christmas, she's fallen in love with the show. I'm not sure that there's much value to it, but it's cute and age appropriate. She did call Drew, "Daddy Pig" today, but she has not started speaking with a British accent. So there's that. I just have to ration the television time so it doesn't take over.
We've also been reading tons of books. So many. If I have to read Five Little Monkeys again then I may actually lose my mind. She loves The Little Engine That Could and we've read it on repeat. A few days ago Drew asked her a question and she responded with, "Indeed not!" Seriously. In the book, the engines that refuse to help the little train say, "Indeed not". Eleanor has picked this up and uses it whenever her answer is no.
Me: Do you want to come eat dinner?
Eleanor: Indeed not!
Me: I need you to wear these clothes since it's so cold today.
Eleanor: Indeed not!
Well, you get the idea. Bless this child, life is anything but boring with her.