Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Our April Experiment - Full Disclosure

I keep forgetting to tell you about our April experiment! I shudder just thinking about it. Not really. Well, maybe just a little.

Here's what happened: In March we went to SC, bought a bunch of lumber for our garden boxes, bought scads of fruit trees and berry bushes for our orchard and had some sort of a car/vehicle repair that I can't even remember at this point. In a nutshell: We blew through a chunk of change.

I had read a blog (can't remember which one) a while back where she talked about being on a spending freeze. The idea stuck with me, try as I did to shove it out of my mind. We went through the Dave Ramsey plan several years ago and it has worked swimmingly for us, but I started to realize that maybe we should just try to take it all a step further. You know, for fun. Ha.

What we decided was that for the entire month of April we would not eat out or spend any extra money. This was particularly huge for us, because we eat out relatively frequently - twice a week or so.

I'll spare you all of the gory details and just confess our sins:
*We had an impromptu lunch with one of Cory's buddies from high school and his family, who ended up visiting our church one Sunday. It was such a serendipitous thing that it didn't seem right to turn them down.
*The kids ended up going to my mom and dad's at the last minute for an entire weekend. Hello! Mazatlan and Pizza Hut ensued.
*Dinner with one of Cory's colleagues and his wife. This was our first "date" with them, and it had been planned months in advance.

Now that confession is over, here's what we accomplished:
*Not a single trip through a drive-thru. One time I made a turkey sandwich and ate it in the car on my way to see Sarah. It seemed sort of fun at the time, although the novelty of that one surely wouldn't last. Especially since one of the slices of bread was a crust.
*Not a single, solitary trip to Target.
*Not a dime of "blow" money for either of us.
*Not a single purchase for the kids, with the obvious exception of Pull-Ups for the Rubester.
*Not a single trip to Old Navy, TJ Maxx or the mall, hence, not a single item of clothing for myself.
*Not a single online purchase.

And here's what I discovered, in the process:
*Eating out should be something special, and not just something that we do because we are in the habit.
*Knowing that we would be eating at home every night took some pressure off of me, in a weird way. I knew that deciding at the last minute to ditch it all and head to Hacienda wasn't going to happen, so I made a plan and stuck to it.
*If I don't go into any stores, I'm not really tempted to buy anything.
*The kids didn't seem to really notice or care about any of it.
*Dining-in offers many more opportunities for entertaining. (We probably had people over 10-15 different times during the month.)
*Entertaining at home can be (but wouldn't really have to be) somewhat expensive in and of itself.
*When you know you're not eating out all month, it's easier to justify "fun" food purchases at the grocery.
*It's hard to maintain a semi-normal social life when you can't eat out. I'm pretty sure our family and close friends were tired of hearing that we "couldn't" eat out by around April 16th.

Trust me, we had some difficult days. Even Burger King commercials began to taunt me late at night. And I wanted so badly to get a fountain Coke while I was out running errands on a couple of occasions. But overall, it really wasn't too bad. Maybe we'll even try it again one of these days. I said maybe.