Monday, June 2, 2008

mission completed

I wanted to write a little post in wrap up of my no spending challenge for the month of May.
(and for the record, I did manage to not spend anything for the week since my last Wednesday confessional. Well, except that we went out for our anniversary, but that was a given)

I have to say, I feel like it might have been a poor month for me to choose this challenge. We spent a lot of money on our yard and landscaping (not like thousands of dollars, but lots of little things that added up here and there that we hadn't necessarily "planned" ahead of time, but needed/wanted to get done this spring) and I felt like that ate up a bunch of what would have been evidence in my cutback of normal spending. So in retrospect obviously it was good timing because we had the money to put towards our yard... but it doesn't have the big effect of wow, look at all this money I saved by not spending on extras this month!
Figuratively speaking, we came out of this month with an extra $200 from me not spending. But. If you take into account the yard stuff we spent and the baseball game we went to (which was an obvious out of norm expense... and we really splurged on all aspects of that game; the battle of the bands tickets, apparel, dinner at the park, snacks, souvenirs, etc.) really, the difference was closer to almost $500. $500 that normally would have just been spent willy-nilly, piddled away throughout the month on unchecked, frivolous spending. That's rather sickening.

I enjoyed the month. Even though technically I flunked if you're looking at it in a no spending, none whatsoever view. I did have one or two things each week that I could or wanted to justify as needs, but in reality weren't. As in, if I didn't have the money, I wouldn't have bought it and we would have survived period.
But I liked that this challenge made me think about what I was buying. I like that it turned off that impulse buy reaction, because that's what I feel was most accomplished with this experiment. Previously I would walk through a store and grab something just because I liked it, and now I know that I will give it a good second thought.

They say it takes at least thirty days to break a habit, and I can feel that. I don't feel that compulsion anymore. I don't make a mental list of things I want to look at next time I'm in Target. I honestly feel like I just don't think about "stuff" as much.
I don't think that mindset is completely gone; I'd love to keep myself up on this challenge for like three months in a row and totally get myself where I can see a difference, where I'm totally used to not buying anything we don't need at the moment. And I'd love to try a whole month in the future where I can honestly buckle down and not spend anything. But I think it's hard with kids. If it were just me, no problem... it's the convenience and appeal and the "necessities" of kids that I personally found to be hard to not spend money on.

Another thing worth noting about a challenge of not spending anything but out of necessity, is spending money wisely. There were a few instances where I had to decide about staying true to my challenge and not spending on such and such, but weighing it against the fact that if I didn't or if I put off the purchase, I would be missing out on a deal which would be spending me more money in the longrun. You know what I mean? That was the case with the summer clothes I bought for the kids... sure I could have put them off, but they would have needed them at some point this summer and I wasn't going to see that good of a deal again until things are marked down after the fact. I returned some things at TCP and I purposely avoided "shopping" in there because they had rack after rack of huge mark downs and I knew I could come out of there with stacks of clothes my kids didn't need if I wasn't careful. The next day however, I was kicking myself for not going through those racks for clothes for the fall or for next year, planning ahead. Getting those $3 deals now for when they do need them later.
So it comes down to an issue of being smart and more intentional with my spending rather than putting a blanket of "I don't want to spend anything" on things in general.
Which was my point of the challenge. To just be intentional and aware of how I'm spending my money. Instead of having it all gone at the end of each month and really have no idea of where it all went.

And on this topic, in light of being frugal and creative, here are a couple of fun "deals" I'm proud for having managed this last month...
I've been meaning for months to get our dining room "finished". I've had a phrase I wanted to get for our wall through Uppercase Living or Wonderful Graffiti or other places like that. Then last month I started researching whether it might be cheaper (although through Uppercase Living it was only going to be about $20) to have it made by a vinyl sign company. I found someplace where I could do it for $14. And that was my plan. Until this spending strike month, and then I got this hair up my butt to just do it myself. I had black paint, I had two hands... why not save $14? Ryan thought I was crazy, that it was worth it to just spend $14. For me it was the principle... sure it was only $14, but I could do it without spending $14, so why not? So I did. Here's our dining room wall now...Also I've been rolling around the idea of getting myself some "business cards". No, I don't have a business, but in the past two years of moving, I found myself thinking a few times how convenient it would be to have a "calling card" of sorts to hand out upon meeting new people. Meeting families out and about, another mom with kids that my kids hit it off with at the park, not having to find a pen and paper to jot down a number for people we make plans with at church, a source of contact info for meeting new neighbors. Just a more informal way of, "here, have my contact info if you ever need it...". I'm telling you, moving into new areas where you know nobody, you learn that making friends and building connections is a lot like either dating or recruiting clients in the business world, depending on how you look at it. ;) Business cards are good for both!
Anyway, so I've been toying with this business card idea. I played with a few designs online, nothing fancy, and dawdled with a company so long that they finally offered them to me for free. I paid for shipping is all. So these arrived last week and I know it's pretty silly, but I'm stinkin excited to start handing these out!! To have in the diaper bag, to leave with our babysitters, to slip to new friends at church, other parents in Savannah's kindergarten class and to maybe even make some new playdates at the playground. It has our names, my phone numbers, email and blog on the frontside and then extra emergency contact info on the backside including alerts to Sawyer's allergies.So whatd'ya think? Silly? You think I could make up some of my own designs and cater these to part time/work at home/stay at home moms and start a business of my own? Heck, even if moms do have jobs outside of the home, it's kind of a fun way to recognize the fact that being a mom is a full time job in and of itself... and that we all need ways to reach out and connect with other moms too!

Anyway, those are my freebie brags for now.
Back to the topic at hand...
any of you who tried this no spending challenge with me, what are your thoughts on the process? Was it a success to at least some degree? Anyone else who has in the past or is thinking about trying a challenge like this in the future?... Any thoughts??


Denise said...

I loved reading your thoughts on spending. We are currently trying to live on my husband's income only so we can be used to it by the time the twins arrive. We've only been focusing on our spending the past week or so & it's HARD to go to Target or wherever and not pick up something because it's cute and only costs $4.00. I found I buy A LOT of $4.00 and $5.00 things that add up...bigtime! Our biggest downfall is food though...not making lists when we go to the grocery store and eating out. Kills us every.single.month. If you keep on with this challenge, I'm right there with ya!

Denise said...

p.s. I love your business cards. Very cute idea! I think a lot of moms would use those!

CassJustCurious said...

I just have so much to say regarding your post. #1 well done because you did way better then I would have if I hadn't, you know, given up before I started. The saying on your wall looks SO fantastic - could you do a post all about HOW exactly you did it.

And the business cards are awesome!

kimca01 said...

I've wished so many times I had a "mommy card" on me - for when you meet new people or people you haven't seen in a while etc. Great idea!

And LOVE how you did the quote on the wall - looks awesome.

Happy Mole watching tonight! Don't post about it until after I have a chance to watch it tomorrow morning LOL

my3buckaroos said...

We've had family cards for a while and you'd be surprised at how quickly they go. Paul actually uses them more than me, LOL. Great job on a mission completed!

K.M.L said...

Love the mommy cards! Congrats on your May spending strike! ;)

Amie R. said...

I have been thinking about getting business cards to hand out so I can talk about adoption stuff later, as opposed to fielding personal questions in front of my children all of the time.

Love the writing on the wall...perfect!

Sara Luke said...

Heather . . . I've done a surprising number of custom orders for these for moms and I've been thinking about adding some to my shop. There's definitely a market out there. I think you should go for it!

Jac said...

Love the wall quote and the business cards! Can you give us details on how to do the wall words?

LeeAnn said...

what a great idea on the cards! many of times we end up getting out the cell phones and trying to input phone info. what a better way to have email, blog, phones number info right there to hand out. i love that you put the kids names on them too! if you start up something, let me know! I also loved what you did with the letter art! ive been wanting to get one ordered and probably would still have it ordered. i just dont have that steady of a hand or great handwriting like you have. i seriously thought it was ordered, it was just that perfect! great job on it!

Nicole said...

I love the business card idea. Not long after Porter was born and I was looking online for ideas for birth announcments, I found some websites that also offered the "Mommy Cards" for sale and I actually created a MOmmy Card for me although I never ordered it. All the info you put on there has made me think I should re-create my card and order some. ALthough I do think it may be a little overkill since I already have business cards for my photography stuff. However... I rarely hand those out lol!
Where did you order them from? Vista Print?

Nicole said...

Duh, dink-ass Nicole, the box is right there in the picture HAHAH!

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