This is the seventh day of our 31 Days of Living Well & Spending Zero challenge. Start with Day One here.
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You’ve already made it an entire week! Can you believe it? What was the biggest challenge for you? What was the biggest lesson you learned?
The first week was actually pretty good. I am so impressed with how much my hubby is on board! We’ve not eaten out at all, which is the biggest adjustment, but I’m excited because it’s so much healthier for us too. It’s amazing how much you really don’t need to buy things! —Leslie
The very first time my own family took on a spending freeze challenge, I have to admit that I questioned my sanity a little bit. I wondered if I was depriving my children, and I couldn’t help but question whether I would actually be able to make it an entire month. I may have even had a mini-crisis of sorts.
Being on a spending freeze is hard. Sometimes you feel like it’s too restrictive—or just plain nutty, especially when your friends or family members question it, laugh at you, or try to break your resolve with temptations. After all, while many of us need to scale back our mindless spending a little, most of us don’t need a complete moratorium.
Wow, what a week! 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. I am already feeling more in control and less anxious! —Sue
The fact is, this challenge is a little extreme, and that’s okay. Sometimes we need a little extreme in our lives to gain a deeper appreciation for what we do have, while enjoying the little blessings and small moments in life. Going a month without spending is definitely a growth experience.
This has been a crazy week! On the flip side, I am realizing how blessed we are. We spent the whole day with family and brought dinner for everyone from our stockpile; it was one of the most beautiful, relaxing days we’ve all had in a while. It truly is causing me to focus more on my blessings and my family. —Sam
When we did our first challenge, we suffered through a pretty “empty” pantry—one that seemed to be full of condiments and really, not much else. A few days in, I overheard my oldest explain to her sister how we couldn’t purchase candy, because candy was “a want, not a need.”
A day or two later, I picked them up from a playdate, during which they’d been treated to McDonald’s. The mom of their friend observed that she had never before seen two kids so excited about a Happy Meal.
For a moment, under the scrutiny of another mom questioning my judgment, I starting feeling guilty, like the “weirdo” mom that was forcing them into this spending freeze.
But suddenly it clicked and I had my aha moment for the week: my girls were learning the exact lessons I was hoping they would! They’d gained an understanding of the difference between a want and a need. They’d gained a deeper appreciation for little treats like McDonald’s Happy Meals, and they were grateful rather than just blowing things off as the norm.
As uncomfortable as it may have been, I realized that Week 1—with all of its bumps and snags and strange pasta dishes—was a success! We were pulling together as a family while learning to appreciate what we already had.
Today I completely broke down trying to make my careful “essentials only” grocery list. After being interrupted by my little angels for the 100th time in a twenty-minute period, I looked right at my husband and told him to take the children to McDonald’s. So yes, I caved. Now I am back on track. I loved that your girls caught on to this. I need to involve my children more, and it’s a good reminder! —Claire
Time for Reflection
And now’s the time for your reflections on the week. Take a few moments today and write down your observations. What’s been the biggest challenge in spending nothing? What surprised you? What would you do differently next time or in the future?
You may also want to ponder for a minute on the state of your finances. How much have you saved this week, compared to similar weeks in the past? Give yourself kudos if you managed to refrain from that fancy coffee drink or pass up a trip to the store.
Did you find new modes of entertainment for your family? Were there any epiphanies? Any funny moments?
If I feel the “want” to shop, I always feel good that I get a lot for a little by shopping at the Dollar Tree. Well, I literally had a mini panic attack as I drove by the Dollar Tree on my way home from work today … I could justify “needing” something in there. Well, I didn’t stop! I didn’t shop! I made it home, and I finally relaxed. All is well in the world and I didn’t spend a dollar today at Dollar Tree.
P.S. My largest one-time purchase at Dollar Tree? Sit down … $405.00! —Jacqueline
Whatever lessons you take away from this week, now’s the time to write them down and keep track. Be honest with yourself about your successes and struggles.
I’ve even included a pretty worksheet to help you document your journey!
Get your printable week 1 reflection sheet here.
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Throughout this challenge, there will be many different worksheets and printables for you to use. I suggest you print them out and organize them together in a binder or folder so you can journal as you go. Remember, I will be broadcasting LIVE each day on Periscope (usually between 10am and 11am EST). You can find and follow me at @RuthSoukup. Finally, be sure to check out our BLOG TOUR page, where you can find all sorts of additional ideas and inspiration from other bloggers who are taking the #31dayLWSZ challenge this month too!