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.


  1. Wow, that's awesome!! We would also have NO social life if we didn't eat out. And that is why we do eat out a lot. Especially me, b/c my cousin invites us to lunch all the time, and I LOVE the company. Saylor & her son are BFF's, we go to a playplace, and they all have fun. We pretty much do the same thing on weekends, lol.

    I admire you guys for taking that on. That's huge!! Maybe we'll start out with a week. :)

  2. I'm proud of you guys, that's awesome. With that being said, please don't ever tell my husband about this little plan you guys had ;) And I missed not dining out with you during your month of fasting spending extra money. :) I'm glad that you tried it and learned from it, that's what life is all about.

  3. Nice work. Although now that you've had your fun, please get back to stimulating the economy with daily purchases. You may have helped your own family in April, but it's time to get back to working and spending, working and spending. Remember, millions on welfare are depending on you.

  4. shannan,
    this is so fun! we used to be "weeklies" at el camino's but have had to do your little "experiment" by force due to the economic changes troy's job has suffered...this is now a way of life...it makes a huge difference & it is special to go out now & much more appreciated.

    i don't even want to count the number of $1 coke's we used to purchase at mcd's... it's hard to give up, but i have found i will not spontaneously combust without one!

  5. not going to hacienda might do us in...but what a great plan that you implemented. i'm inspired but i forgot to pack my lunch today...oops!

  6. You are so right! I avoid Target like the plague. Because if I go I can NOT get out of there for under $80. I try to only shop for ANYTHING once a week...grocery shopping at a big box store where I can get EVERYTHING...even if it's costs a couple cents more it's worth it to me to not walk into any other place.
    We don't go out to eat because it's miserable with the baby...that saves us a lot of money. Why pay for indigestion and complete annoyance? You can borrow my 16th month old who can't sit in a high chair for more than 5 minutes without using Houdini magic to work himself out of it and onto the table. (I'm sure you've had extensive experience with that.)
    But the delivery pizza...I've got to do that once a week.
    Good for you and thanks for sharing!

  7. Great post. It's a good reminder of what's important and how to shift those old habits to new more special moments.

  8. I'm impressed with your bravery! That's an admirable goal. I will have to try it myself sometime.

    I've been to ask you something. That delish bagel post you had on here awhile back, the one that haunts me and makes me crave bagels almost every day? Where do you get your bagels? I love fresh bagels from Einstein Bros but I'm wondering if there is a cheaper, just as yummy alternative.

  9. At my old house I lived so close to the Target I could walk to it. Now that I've moved to a small-town there is no Target. But there is a super-walmart down the road. o_O which is practically worse.

    p.s. carryin' this cash is exciting me a little bit! :o) i NEVER carried cash. i would just use my debit card for everything so i'm gettin' used to it!

  10. I liked that I made a small cameo in this blog. I remember that day well!

  11. Not a single trip to Target? Wow, you are good!!

  12. Kudos. We rarely eat out more due to Keith's diet though. And we both realized that it is so much cheaper to have lobster tail, a steak or crab legs at home (and they are usually better). I have become quite a spend thrift because I enjoy the hunt. I also am very satisfied when I get a great deal. With the savings I often bank it...but it also allows me a splurge when the moment arises.