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Day 31. The end. If you’ve made it this far, you should feel very proud of yourself. In a world where the solution for every problem is to buy something new, you managed to make it an entire month using the things you already had. Way to go!
Tomorrow your challenge will be over and you can go back to spending what you want, when you want, and you will have the choice of pretending this challenge never happened or using what you’ve learned to make some permanent positive changes to your spending habits. I would like to encourage you to be intentional with how you end this challenge, to put some serious thought into where you want to go from here. To make this your new beginning.
- DO spend some time reviewing your finances for the month to see how much you spent, and how that compares to the previous few months. Husband and I were downright shocked to discover, when we went over our budget for the month, that even including a trip he and Princess took to Chicago AND pre-paying the girls’ dance & gymnastics tuitions (+ recital costume fees) for the rest of the year, we spent less this month than in any other month in our marriage.
- DON’T run out and buy all the things you didn’t buy but wanted to during the challenge. There probably will be legitimate purchases you need to make, but try to pace yourself. If you have managed to wait this long, then chances are it is not an emergency. There will always be more stuff for sale.
- DO spend some time setting a budget for the next month and planning for the holidays. Don’t ignore these assignments! As the old saying goes, a failure to plan is planning to fail, and without clear goals for the next few months, it will be very easy to lose track of your finances and overspend.
- DON’T buy more food if your pantry is still full. If you started with a huge stockpile, you might still have a lot of food left to choose from. If that is the case, consider continuing your pantry challenge for another month, or until you’ve used the food you have on hand. After 2 months of eating solely from our pantry & freezer (with the exception of milk, eggs, cheese, & bread), my pantry is finally down to little more than condiments. There are a few things that I have realized we will probably never eat, so those items will go in the trash (they are expired–if they weren’t we would donate them.)
- DO start rebuilding your stockpile if you are truly out of food. If you are not a coupon-user then consider learning by reading my Beginner’s Guide to Coupons. Even if you choose not to use coupons, understanding the fundamentals of good coupon strategy–buying what’s on sale, buying enough to last until it goes on sale again, & maintaining a stockpile of items purchased at their rock bottom price–will help you cut your grocery bill significantly.
- DON’T forget to be creative with the resources you already have. Try eating “out” at home instead of going out, re-fashion your old clothing, or upcycle old stuff to create something new. Continue bartering for things you need rather than automatically buying something new. Treat yourself to a spa day at home. Make an effort to spend quality time with your spouse and kids doing things that are super cheap or free.
- DO bookmark the 31 Days of Living Well & Spending Zero overview page so that you can easily find your favorite posts whenever you need to. There was a LOT of information packed into these 31 days, far too much to process in just one month, but my hope is that you will use these posts as a reference for the future.
Today your final assignment is to do some serious thinking about what you want to bring out of this challenge to the future. Use this final printable worksheet to help you be intentional about your next steps.
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How has this challenge changed you? What are some of your goals for the future?