That's right! One day left before the Challenge begins (ok, technically 2 days if you count today)....I'm getting nervous. Can't lie. Thursday is the big START. It wasn't easy the last time around, and now I have two kiddos instead of only one to entertain. Gulp. And I do confess to eating out a bit more than usual in the past week. Double gulp. I'm bidding it a very fond farewell, and we needed to have our moment - the restaurant industry and I. Yes we did. Sigh... (can you see where our money goes to?)
There are several reasons to take the Challenge – but let’s talk about why we (as in, AB and CB) are taking the challenge: Anton put it so well...
"I think what we are trying to do is discipline ourselves not to spend. If I have a Starbucks gift-card, or whatever kind of gift-card…that is actually going out and spending. We are not trying to save our back account, we are trying not to spend.”
Eek, even gift-cards? He drives a hard bargain. Still, there you have it. That’s our personal reason. You might have your own reasons that are completely different. Whatever the reason you have for wanting to participate, I’ve compiled some general rules/guidelines to try and follow:
- Commit to do it, and then do it. It will likely be difficult for you. But don’t give up after like, I don't know, two days or whatever. Any self-discipline is difficult to master, but you can do it. Even in this day and age of over-spending.
- Decide ahead of time what constitutes a necessity. In our house, we agreed that milk, fresh veggies and fruit and eggs were necessary with two toddlers. Coffee creamer, new mascara, an inexpensive desk light, a Blizzard from Dairy Queen, or a song from i-Tunes…not a necessity. Gas for your car? A necessity. Prescriptions? A necessity. Obviously use common-sense. But don’t try to bargain or rationalize your way right out of the challenge. You will be tempted, trust me on this. So avoid your pitfalls, whatever you know they are. Do you really need to go to the Disney Store? “Window-Shop” at Amazon? Browse down the grocery store isles? Probably not. At least not this month.
- Be prepared going in. That doesn’t mean stockpile food. But it really helps to have the food and supplies you will need to feed your family for the month, while planning on emptying the pantry at the same time AND keeping you out of the grocery story as much as possible. Our pantry is ready. It’s full and appropriate for our family of four and yet still ready to be emptied over the next 30-days. We should not need to purchase anything but necessities (see above).
- Have your first week of meals mapped out. It really helps. Really. You can e-mail me HERE for the Weekly Meal Planner and Grocery Inventory Lists.
- Give yourself a heap of grace if things fall apart. You could get two days in and a major event takes place – the car breaks down, the air goes out, the plumbing backs up. Life happens. You might have to “pause” the challenge to focus on crisis (God forbid). If you have to step away, you can always try again next month. It’s not do or die. It’s an exercise. But stick with it – as much and for as long as you can.
- If you fall off the wagon, just get back up and climb back on. Our reasons are about trying not to spend. Yours might be to see how much you can save in a month. Either way, one mistake will not kill the project. It will only diminish the results a bit. Still worth it.
- If you hit a wall (and you might) – perhaps give yourself some kind of treat. As with dieting, there is wisdom in having a small diversion now and then. One night during our last Challenge, AB took us out for ice-cream. Now, we chose to get a McDonald's cone – less than $3 total. It was cheap and we got to take a small break from trying so hard to be good. It was the best stinkin’ ice-cream ever. Because it was hard-earned…
- Be creative. This is a great time to try out recipes you’ve been wanting to try. It’s a great time to get the craft supplies out instead of heading out to shop. It’s a great time to read a book on a blanket in the park while your kiddos burn some energy. And it’s a great time to LEARN about how you spend your money…
- Don’t give up. (see #1)
A Caveat or two...
- If your kids are in sports, after-school programs, Awana, whatever it is - I am not suggesting you forgo those activities because they might require a uniform fee, or supply fee, etc. I'm not suggesting you cancel cable - although we did two years ago and have never looked back. What I'm suggesting is that this is not the month you go to the movie theater and buy an extra-large popcorn and drink. Agreed?
- Last time around, friends who knew we were in the middle of the Challenge called us up and asked if they could treat us to dinner. Not because they took pity on us - rather because they wanted our company and at the same time, didn't want us to compromise our goal. Also? Because this place we went to has the best fajitas eva'. Just sayin'. So, we happily accepted. And it was like...oh my...heaven on a plate. Because we were feeling uber deprived about right then. So by all means, if someone offers to treat you - go ahead if you feel comfortable. Just don't be soliciting the "treats" on a daily basis. Ya with me?
If you want to join in, leave a comment and let me know. If you have a blog and will be journaling your Challenge, please do let me know the blog address so we can all follow you and get great ideas. You can grab the button above with a right click. Please link back to Bushel & A Peck through your posts or the image.
Now we’re down to the wire – for those of you IN IT TO WIN IT (and there are MANY of you) – I’ll see you THURSDAY for Day 1 of 30-Days of Nothing!
For those of you just following along for fun…WELCOME!
For those of you still unsure…read the stream of posts leading up to this by scrolling below and decide if this is right for you.
Here we go!