Week 1 Reflection {Day 7}


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31 Days of Living Well & Spending Zero. Freeze your spending. Change Your Life. Awesome way to reset your spending patterns or kick-start your budget!

This is the seventh day of my 31 Days of Living Well & Spending Zero challenge. To read all the posts in order, start with Day One or visit the Overview Page.

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You’ve made it one whole week without spending on the non-essentials–congratulations!! Today (and every Sunday for the rest of the month) is going to be our day to pat ourselves on our back (or kick ourselves in the you-know-where) while we reflect on what we’ve accomplished this week, as well as what we’ve learned.

In my family we had a few humorous moments this week, mostly relating to the girls. On Monday, after their dance class, one of their friends asked if we could go with them to Chick-Fil-A. Without any hesitation or prompting by me, Princess matter-of-factly replied “we can’t go to Chick-Fil-A tonight. We’re on a spending freeze.” The next day I overheard her explaining to Trouble that the reason we couldn’t get any more Lifesavers to fill our candy bowl was because “Lifesavers are a ‘want,’ not a ‘need.'”  I think they might be catching on.

On Friday they got to spend the morning at a friend’s house where they were treated to a trip to McDonalds. When I went to pick them up my friend Melissa laughed that she had never seen two girls quite so excited for a trip to McDonalds, and that they each gobbled up every last bite of their Happy Meals like they had never seen food before.

Lots of condiments in our pantry during our 31 days of spending zero!

We had a good chuckle as I acknowledged that the food from our seriously depleted pantry & freezer hasn’t been anything to get excited about this week. “We’ve got a lot of condiments and not much of anything else,” I laughed.

Secretly, I was slightly embarrassed & I started questioning my own judgment just a little as my insecurities got the best of me. Am I a freak for sticking to this challenge? Does forcing my kids to eat what we have rather than buy new things I know they like make me a bad mom?

But then when I really started to think about it, I realized that as hard–or embarrassing–as it is sometimes, this is exactly what I want for my kids. Not to be hungry, of course, but to be the type of kids that still get excited over a trip to McDonalds. I want them to be the type of kids that understand–at six years old–the difference between a “want” and a “need.” I want them to be able to delay gratification, to be content with what they have, to truly appreciate and be excited about getting a treat–no matter how small–when it comes along.

When I think abut it even more, I realize that that is the kind of person that I want to be too.

Today your assignment is to take a look back at the past week, to remember your motivating for participating in this challenge, to be honest about your struggles, but also to document your successes.  I’ve even prepared a pretty worksheet for you to use! I would love for you also to leave a comment below sharing your thoughts on this week–the good, the bad, & the ugly. If you are a blogger who is participating in this challenge, please link up your reflection post–and any other challenge posts–below.

Week 1 Reflection Sheet for the Living Well & Spending Zero Challenge.

{Get Week 1 Reflection Sheet Here}

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What was the scariest part of starting this challenge? What is the ONE thing you are most excited to get out of participating? What has been the biggest struggle for you this week? Where were you most tempted to (or where did you) cheat? What has been the most surprising thing about not spending this week? Did you have any “aha!” moments? Any funny moments?

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{Go to Day 8}


  1. October 7 at 11:27AM

    I love that the girls are learning such a valuable lesson through this! It’s hard to teach kids the value of money and the difference between wants and needs in today’s world. Everything is “if I want it now I should have it….and if I can’t afford it, I’ll pay for it with credit”. It’s such a twisted way to live. I’m so glad that your girls are learning to be grateful for the “little” things.

    Praying that the next week goes well for ya’ll as well! 😀

    • Ruth
      October 9 at 06:22AM

      Thank you Melony! 🙂

  2. October 7 at 03:46PM

    I am only 15, and was planning on joining for the month, though obviously I don’t have any REAL needs that I myself have to spend for. Basically I was just going to not spend any money at all this month. But then this week I bought myself a laptop, and kind of ruined the whole plan. :-p So now I’m starting up again…. I think I need your girls around to remind me about “wants” and needs”. lol

    • Ruth
      October 9 at 06:24AM

      No one is perfect Amy. 🙂 If you are already starting to think about this stuff at age 15 then I would say you are on the right track!

  3. Ahhhh…. it had to be McDonald’s. Today I completely broke down around 2PM as I was trying to make all my careful “essentials only” grocery lists. After being interrupted by one of my little angels for the 100th time in a 20 minute period, I looked right at my Husband and told him to take the children and go get an ice cream cone. Or a slurpee. Or a new puppy. I didn’t care anymore about anything but quiet.
    So, he took them to McDonald’s. Turns out Sundaes are on their dollar menu and they got to expend a lot of energy bouncing of the walls of the play place.
    So, yes, I caved. I am trying to feel remorseful but at the time, it was the best two hours (and $3 spent) EVER. 😉
    Back on track. Love that your girls have caught on to this. I need to involve the boys more – this was a good reminder.
    Thanks Ruth!
    (PS: I added my linky above! How exciting!! Of course I didn’t know to call it my site name and not my name. Not sure I can change it but I will slowly get the hang of this… lol)

    • Ruth
      October 9 at 06:26AM

      LOL Claire, sometimes you gotta take what you can get. Our girls were definitely NOT this aware the first week but since we are on week 6 it has been impossible for them to ignore!

    • alexis
      November 10 at 10:37AM

      Sounds like money well spent!

  4. Sam
    October 8 at 12:46AM

    This has been a CRAZY week! I have been cutting out anything and everything I can. The hardest part has been realizing that almost EVERYTHING fun costs money. I live in a tiny town that is 20 miles from anything, so just going to a cool park or free museum is expensive in gas. Plus we just got hit with the highest gas rates in the country. Such a bummer. On the flip side, I am realizing how blessed we are as well. We spent the whole day with family and brought dinner for everyone from our stockpile and it was one of the most beautiful relaxing days we have all had in awhile. Nothing is more fun to a 3 and 5 year old than running around and getting so dirty that they are almost unrecognizable:). There really is alot of beauty in this spending freeze. It truely is causing me to focus harder on my blessings and my family. So far, though, Starbucks still whispers my name from afar…:)

    • Ruth
      October 9 at 06:27AM

      Oh Sam, I know just what you mean…. 🙂

  5. Sue
    July 28 at 06:41PM

    Wow, what a week! In my usual impulsive fashion, instead of organizing the pantry I decided to paint it and cover the shelves too. After a lot of frustration, anger, and tears came a complete meltdown. However, after a good night’s sleep and a new perspective, I now have a beautiful, organized pantry and freezer that makes me happy and calmer. And lots of recipes to use up our pantry overflow. I am already feeling more in control and less anxious. Thanks so much for doing this project, even though I am several months late finding it 😀


  6. Raven
    October 6 at 10:06PM

    Friday was our first day of Spending Freeze! We went to town and had to buy some essentials Saturday. My daughter’s shoes were literally falling apart. I walked into Target picked out her new shoes, paid for them, put them on her and threw the old ones in the garbage on the way out. Not many people can go to Target with out getting something extra! Today I organized my pantry, wrote out an inventory and meal plan for what we already have and felt good that was done. (I like to know what to expect) Today instead of even going to CVS to get my newspapers I decided to stay home and do some FREE yard work. It was rewarding because I saw some results and my daughter had a great time playing in her kiddie pool while I worked.
    My guilt set in tonight when my mother in law stopped by and I told her how we were on a tight budget. My daughter decided to tell me what she wanted to pack for lunch. My mother in law must have felt bad for my daughter taking her lunch because before she left she got lunch money out of her car and said “She likes buying lunch in the lunch room. Here is the money.” I said thank you and stuffed it in my wallet. I didn’t want to start an argument. My daughter doesn’t mind taking her lunch. We have lots of good food to take. Am I being Mean to make her carry bag lunch? When I was a kid it was cool to carry lunch. I guess now it’s cool to buy something just to buy it.
    I will be using that “lunch money” to make sure I have fresh fruit and veggies that she will take in her lunch from home.
    We had a great weekend of enjoying what we have. Hopefully the week goes well too! There are always temptations even for someone with self control.

    • alexis
      November 10 at 10:30AM

      Is that true? About people not walking out of target, or any store with out extras… I’ve always assumed people knew the stores tricks to get you to impulse buy and avoided them. But when I think of it I must be wrong otherwise why do they keep up the tactics. Good job only getting what you needed.

  7. Bee
    October 7 at 07:32PM

    This challenge has been difficult. But a blessing. We are getting the credit cards down to zero, mindful spending, & getting organized. However, we are still spending:-( Just not as much as we usually do. We’ve stopped going to Starbucks, eating out once a week, and going out for drinks with friends. And it’s ok…That’s what my husband keeps telling me…lol. Ready for week #2. Thanks!

  8. Amy
    November 7 at 07:10AM

    We unexpectedly lost a large percentage of our income a couple of weeks ago & discovered your blog when searching for ways to cut back our spending. It’s been a very successful week for my grown daughter & me. We’ve enjoyed the daily reminders & exercises — especially the cleaning out the pantry & inventory the contents challenge. We were amazed at how much food we had in stock! Of course, some of it was emergency storage for hurricane preparedness, but now that the stormy season has ended, we can rotate it in & use it. Our meals have been more imaginative & better than ever. And we saved over $100 the very first week in groceries by using what we have! All we miss is my home-made yogurt, but it’s getting too cold for yogurt, anyway…. (At least, that’s what we tell ourselves!)

    Many thanks & blessings for coming up with this wonderful & life-changing challenge!

  9. January 4 at 05:05PM

    I started to write a comment, but then it turned into a blog post:

    One difficult thing for me this week was when my mom asked if I wanted to go with her to take a load of donations to one of our favorite thrift shops. It’s for a non-profit we love, so we go there even though it’s about an hour away. It’d be a waste (and ultra-tempting) to ride all that way and not shop, so I told her I was on a spending freeze and couldn’t. We’ll go some other time. Even though they can save us money sometimes, thrift shops and yard sales are my main weakness because I tend to seriously overdo it. Thanks so much for doing this challenge–it’s been exactly what we needed and we are reaping benefits already!

  10. Kristen
    January 6 at 02:50PM

    I was a little overwhelmed with the pantry challenge, but I had my 1 and 3 year old help me. They had a blast and I’m so glad I did it. We’ve really been good this week with food. I feel like I took control of the kitchen. My hubby normally does the cooking and the kitchen is a disaster afterward. It has been a joint effort this week. Now if only I can get him to stop hovering over me while I’m cooking.

  11. July 20 at 05:54PM

    Amazing blog! Do you have any helpful hints for aspiring writers?
    I’m planning to start my own website soon but I’m a little lost on everything.
    Would you advise starting with a fre platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are
    so many options out thee that I’m completely confused ..
    Any recommendations? Bless you!

  12. September 8 at 05:21PM

    Thanks so much for all of this–the printables, the inspiration, the moral support! We are embarking on a new journey in our family that requires some serious belt tightening and I think this challenge is just what we need!

  13. alexis
    November 10 at 10:34AM

    Easy least. But this week I don’t know.. I guess we are eating beans and tomato ketchup… and I have a carrot. So boiled water with carrots and left over beans…. or we can go shopping.. which is what we will do.

  14. Kristina
    January 2 at 02:02PM

    How do you not purchase toiletries and items such as shampoo/ soap and toilet paper?

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