Thursday, March 30, 2017

No spend April

Inspired by the book/blog "Living Well and Spending Less," I first participated in their 31-day "Living Well and Spending Zero" challenge in March 2014. It raised some eyebrows and concerns from those who thought we must have been on the brink of financial ruin to participate in such a challenge.

Quite the opposite was true. I found that we already had so much stuff in the house that we could not use or even keep track of it all, which caused us to go out and buy more rather than use what we already had. The one-month challenge worked wonders as a 'reboot', not to mention shaved a couple thousand dollars off that month's spending. In spite of Boaz' pregnancy at that time having racked up tens of thousands of dollars by the time I was 6 months pregnant, we were able to pay off every last medical bill by the time he was born. Cutting back on spending and using what we already had played a huge role in that. 

Besides saving a boatload of money, spending zero for a month also reduces clutter (by taking inventory of and using up what we have), stress (no running around, more time), and generally shakes things up for the better.

Since that first challenge, I have done this about once per year, usually in the spring. Well, it's time again! April is a short month, there are no birthdays in it, and our freezers are full to the gills and need a good depleting before summer and all its bounty of inexpensive produce need to be put away for leaner times. 

My ground rules will pretty much be the same as in the past: 

- No groceries except for fresh milk and dairy products, and minimal fresh produce. My goal is to use up what we have in the (four!stuffed!) freezers and the pantry. We have several month's worth of food in storage.

- Only essential goods (like TP, diapers, etc.) and services (doctor, mechanical breakdown, etc.) can be purchased.

- Things I will not be spending money on: entertainment, dates, dining out, field trips, books, toys, clothes, hobbies, gifts, household items, furniture, etc. Many of these same things can be enjoyed for free by using the library, gift cards we have, looking for free alternatives, etc.

- For gas, my goal is to drive less so I can make one tank last two weeks instead of one.

- I will attempt to pay for most of the permissible spending mentioned above by selling off stuff we no longer use and need. I don't have time to do a yard sale, but I do have a handful of larger items I will list on Craigslist and OfferUp. This will help declutter by turning unwanted stuff into cash.

- Obviously we will still be paying all of our regular bills like mortgage, utilities, etc.

- This challenge is for me, not my husband. I do about 90% of the spending for our family so that will cover most, plus I don't want to start policing his spending. 

If you have never done anything like this, I encourage you to give it a try. Your wallet and your sanity will thank you.

For tons of helpful resources, go to the Living Well Spending Zero resources page or go through them day by day starting with Day 1.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Some new vlogs

I don't always wear the same white shirt, but when I do, I record a whole bunch of videos in it on the same day...

 I will have a shorter intro on future videos.

Later today, I'm hoping to record a video tutorial for how I make sandwich bread. Stay tuned!