Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Happy September!

Happy September!  If you've been following along over the past month then you probably know that the Baker Family has officially re-entered the land of spending.  Yes, "No Spend August" is over.  And quite truthfully, I'm disappointed.  I really and truly loved this past month.  We learned so much and I really enjoyed the challenge.  To give a recap I thought I would sum up our "No Spend" month in 8 points (8 for the month of August) with all of the good, the bad and the ugly.

1. I'm an emotional spender.  There. I said it.  Good heavens, am I ever.  And here's the thing...society will say that emotional sending is "normal" and that indulging when stressed or sad or mad is good for the soul.  There are entire Pinterest boards devoted to quotes about how shopping is the best form of therapy for women.  I just didn't think I was one of those.  But a week into our challenge when Jeremy and I both noticed my extra mopey disposition, we had that "Aha!" moment where we both realized... she's depressed because she's not shopping or at Starbucks.  Yikes!  So, in all seriousness, this month was good for my heart.  To take a step back and to re-evaluate how I manage stress and how I cope on the really hard days.  When the kids were extra whiny or I didn't sleep well the night before, I didn't have Hobby Lobby to run to for an outlet of hoarding craft supplies.  I had to de-stress in less expensive and dare I say less shallow ways?

2. When I can't go shopping, I bake.  We had this "Aha!" moment shortly after the first.  Apparently, when I can't shop, I bake.  Banana bread, cookies, peach cobbler... Now, don't get me wrong -- none of us were complaining about this alternative form of de-stressing. That is, until about half way through "No Spend August" when we realized we were out of eggs. And butter. And half and half.  And sugar.  Oops.  My first thought was, "Well, we're going to have to cave and make a Target run."  But then we realized -- this isn't suppose to be easy.  People think we are crazy for trying this for a reason.  There has got to be a way to get the groceries we need without spending money.  And there was...

3. Online swap sites save the day (or in our case, month)!  This was probably my favorite part of "No Spend August".  When I realized that no half and half meant drinking black coffee for the second half of the month, I got a little panicky.  That's when we realized that our garden was producing an over abundance of veggies...

We got the idea to look up some local yard sale and swap meet groups on Facebook.  Within hours of posting our "No Spend" story, we successfully swapped several lbs of squash and zucchini for 2 dozen organic eggs and a brand new pint of half and half.  And then at the very end of the month we did the swap a second time for more eggs and for homemade jam.

For any of you local Denver friends, Jess with Mama's Messy Kitchen makes incredible local canned jam in dozens and dozens of flavors.  We traded some squash, zucchini and melon for some Blackberry Black Pepper Balsamic and it's so good that I can't stop eating it straight from the mason jar! 
4. We wasted less.  One thing we really tried hard to do this month was to make every single meal and snack count.  We knew there was a chance that we would be scraping food wise towards the end of the month so we were intentional about eating all leftovers (rather than letting them sit and grown green fur in the fridge). I gave the kids smaller portions knowing that often they don't eat half of what I give them or it somehow ends up pelted on my dining room wall somewhere. Let me tell you...towards the end of the month when we really were running low on snacks, I was rationing granola bars like they were going out of style!  And I may or may not have cut some green fur off of our cheese slices and then put the non moldy pieces into omelets.  Hey, don't judge. No one can ever say I wasn't committed!

5. This would not have been possible without our CSA.  One thing I've been asked about many, many times is, "How did you do a "No Spend" month without fresh fruits and veggies?" This was something I meant to address in my first post and just forgot to do. 

We joined a community supported agriculture early on in the summer.  We paid to buy into an organic farm and each Tuesday we picked up fresh veggies and fruit.  So, if you are considering a "No Spend" month, I will say that I would recommend a mid month fruit/veggie run for fresh produce.  Go in with a strict list.  Bypass the bulk candy bins and just keep on movin'.  Get in and get out.  I don't think we could have gone an entire month without fresh produce.  Well, we could have but I shudder to think about all of the processed junk my poor kids would have been snacking on. 

6. We cheated... a little.  Yes, I would be lying if I didn't share that there were some small cheats.  Very few...but there were some.  Like the day our bunny was killed and I cried all day.  Jeremy brought home a $5 pizza and cheap wine.  I think that type of traumatization deserves a cheat, don't you?  I think even "No Spend" months deserve some grace. 

7.  Friends & family were (and are!) incredibly generous!  If I say nothing else in this post, this has to be said... we have some of the kindest, most generous people in our lives.  I mean, seriously.  "In case of emergency... break glass"  This clever idea showed up on our door step mid month from my parents!

I had one friend buy me a bag of my favorite potato chips.  Other friends invited and treated the kids and I to an indoor trampoline park on Saturday. A new friend that I was meeting for the first time came over for lunch and she brought the kids and I Chipotle and then snuck us a gift card on the counter before she left, "just to get us through the rest of August."

All I can say is, with all of the bad that goes on each day in the world, this month was a reminder that authentically kind and selfless people do still exist.  We didn't need any of the generosity that was shown to us.  When we set out on this challenge, we didn't anticipate gift cards or bounce houses with the kids.  But through all of these unexpected treats, we sure did end the month feeling incredibly loved.

8. I can do this!  This last point is for me as well as all of you.  I can't tell you how many people have read my blog posts on "No Spend August" and have said to me in person or have written to me online saying, "Wow, I don't think I could ever do that."  And I'm here to be that annoying cable television exercise girl shouting, "YES! Yes, you can!"  I'll even throw in some jumping jacks for you, ha!

Friends.  Can I be honest with you?  We saved over $500 this month by doing a "No Spend" month.  By saying, "No." to unnecessary expenses.  By bringing our own coffee to Starbucks.  Yes, I know, the moral "right" or "wrong" can be debated on that last one.

You can do this!  My best tip after trying this for ourselves is to meal plan ahead of time.  Buy extra staples items like eggs, milk and sour cream (incase you're like me and you go all Martha Stewart three days in).  And really, just have fun!  We had fun!  There were hard moments....like when I realized I had binge eaten all of the Trader Joes chocolate chunks and I would have go without chocolate for 2 weeks.  But we did it! And with some discipline and preparation you can too!

I will also add that sharing about our challenge with other people -- friends, family and perfect strangers, did help keep us accountable.  SO many people were interested in this little journey of ours and I knew that since I had people following along that I had to be strict.  Every time I met with someone online to swap veggies I was asked how our month was going.  Knowing I would likely be asked by others helped keep me accountable.

So, the biggest question we are getting now is, "Would you do another "No Spend" month?  And the answer is absolutely yes!  We are thinking of trying this again for the month of January to purge from all of the holiday spending!  We would LOVE to have you join us!

If you missed either of the previous posts on our "No Spend August" you can read them here and here.  As always, feel free to email me at Onelittlemountainmomma@gmail.com

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  1. Happy September! I loved reading about your No Spend August! Such a great idea and experiment to see how it goes... I've been following your posts but didn't get a chance to comment as we were traveling for the past two months. Home now and it feels great! I can relate to the replacing shopping with baking - of course I end up needing more ingredients and so the shopping continues... It is definitely important to stay aware of our spending habits so thanks for posting on such a thought-provoking topic! :)

  2. Hi Bridget.... somehow I just saw this! I love following all of your trips. I'm envious in an "I'm thrilled for you" kind of way ;)