Thursday, November 5, 2015

Reflection Week Four …

We finally finished the 31 Days of Zero Spending Challenge.  As I’ve said before, the challenge had a larger impact than anticipated.  It changed, even if only in the short term, the way I look at money and my level of gratitude.  I’m not a natural spender.  I don’t enjoy shopping for new clothes.  I love budgeting and pinching pennies.  I love store brands.  This challenge should have been easy for someone who doesn’t spend right? 

There were so many times I wanted to grab a bite to eat or desperately wanted a Starbucks iced tea.    The most annoying part?  I hardly ever buy those things but I was DESPERATE for them since I couldn’t have them.  I work above a convenience store and forgot my breakfast one morning.  Normally, I’d run downstairs and grab something but that option was off the table so I simply didn’t eat.  As I sat at my desk, hungry and grumpy, I thought about all the folks who don’t have the funds to grab a meal out – or make a meal for that matter – and I felt a level of gratitude about my circumstances in life that I haven’t felt before.

At work, I was teased mercilessly for not spending for an entire month.  I felt ridiculous.  Halfway through, my co-worker whispered, “No spending is my life.  I don’t get to spend in 31 days.  This is how I live all the time.”  His wife is pregnant.  She lost her job.  She’s working temp jobs for as long as possible.  I went from feeling ridiculous to feeling tremendously sorry for others, and grateful for my life as it is now (which is new, I’m really good at being a pessimist).

Zig Ziglar said, “Of all the attitudes we can acquire, surely the attitude of gratitude is the most important and by far the most life-changing”.  Being grateful about the money I have touches lots of other levels.  I found myself profoundly grateful for my job that provides a steady paycheck and motivated me to work harder. I found myself grateful for my marriage, my family, and my kids.  I wasn’t distracted creating grocery lists, running errands, or meal planning.  I wasn’t buying things to make my kids ‘love me’ thanks to severe working mom guilt (new discovery - apparently I do that).  I was playing with them instead.  I have a husband who laughs at my weird idea to not spend money – but participates anyway and never complains.

I have so much.

I had 31 days to stop. Think. And be grateful.  It encouraged me to be more generous to others.  To be understanding of those who have less.  To walk in their shoes.

No.  I don’t have a lot of money.  But I have so very much of everything else.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Reflection Week Three…

Chris went to a bachelor party in week three.  They went on a brewery tour, out to eat, and paintballing over a two day period.  It was planned before we went on the spending freeze and we planned for him to ‘cheat’ for those two days.  On its own, I’d have been jealous, but add the fact that I’m watching the kids and… I’m sick… it was harder than I expected.  It was only a little cold but it was enough of a sore throat and a cough that I wanted to do absolutely nothing.  At this point in the freeze, we have no more quick meals.  No more frozen pizzas.  No more frozen dinners.  Everything takes effort to make from scratch.  I stood at the front door, minivan keys in hand, dreaming of the ease of McDonalds.  The kids are hungry and whining and I can’t even throw snacks at them because we ran out of those too.  I DESERVE this.  I worked hard for this.  I’m tired.  Chris gets to cheat, so should I.
I slowly closed the front door, hung the keys on the hook, and started to make dinner.  It was not joyful.  It was not fun.  I was miserable.  I was angry at Chris.
I think of the stupid judgments I have cast on the people I know.  I have judged them for saying they ‘deserve’ things.  I have judged them for always seeking to make their marriages ‘fair’.  Looking from this side, I’m starting to get it.
Looking back at that miserable night, I feel silly for being mad at Chris for something that wasn’t his fault.  I feel silly for getting so emotional.  But I’m walking a lot of miles in other people’s shoes.  Miles I’ve needed to walk.
Who knew not spending for a month would impact so much?

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Day 32...

Day 32 of no spending (only because I haven't gone out yet): this is what your fridge looks like after a no spending challenge. We made it!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Day 31...

Day 31 of spending zero: Beach time with the kids. It's free. 80 degrees and beautiful. Thank you San Diego. ‪#‎31daysLWSZ

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Day 29...

Day 29 of no spending: The things I'm willing to do for a Starbucks gift card. Test subject 41932. My skin is starting to itch. ‪#‎31daysLWSZ

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Day 28...

Day 28 of no spending: Just uncorked the last bottle of cheap wine. Things. Just. Got. Real. ‪#‎31daysLWSZ

Monday, October 26, 2015

Day 26...

Day 26 of spending zero: Can't remember the last time I went this long without seeing my hair stylist. Trying to figure out when I started growing this much gray. Holy cow. ‪#‎31daysLWSZ

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Day 21...

Day 21 of no spending: Brandise Reed invited me to a work dinner with her. I MAY have stolen all the cake pops from our table...and the neighboring table...and the other neighboring table...while shouting 'Do you know how long it's been since I've had cake?!?!?!'. Sorry Bran...😔 ‪#‎31daysLWSZ

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Day 20...

Day 20 of no spending: No kids, that's not the last little bit of ice cream. We don't have anymore ice cream. That's fiber vegetable cream. You wouldn't like it...‪#‎31daysLWSZ

Monday, October 19, 2015

Day 19...

Day 19 of no spending. JD Power sent a dollar to take a survey. Debated whether or not it would count as spending if I used it to buy an ice cold soda. It'd be a gift from my buddy JD right? Sigh. Didn't spend it. Cash is cash. Who knew I'd experience this much internal strife over a buck...‪#‎31daysLWSZ

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Day 18...

Day 18 of no spending. Per the rules, you are permitted to buy bread, milk, eggs, and cheese. 'Cheese food' counts as cheese right? ‪#‎31daysLWSZ

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Day 14...

Day 14 of No Spending: Reflection Day. Christopher Atkinson and I decided to do this as a dare with the side benefit of saving money. Oh who am I kidding, Chris was dragged along and he’s been a trooper our whole marriage with my harebrained ideas. I had no intention of learning anything but so far, this has been incredibly impactful to the way I think about money. Declan started sharing a room with Cash and wasn’t transitioning well. Normally, we would respond by going Target and letting him pick out new bedding. Since that option wasn’t on the table, he got lots of hugs, love, and cuddle time. And I realized how often I throw money at problems to make the kids happy when they would probably get more from a little extra cuddle time. I have a feeling this will be our new yearly ‘reset’ to money attitudes. Sorry Chris. 17 more days...

Monday, October 12, 2015

Day 12...

Day 12 Living Well, Spending Zero: Attended a retirement party for someone I've never met just to get donuts. Desperate times... ‪#‎31daysLWSZ‬ ‪#‎momoftheyear

Friday, October 9, 2015

Sad Face...

Day 9: Fantastic fried chicken and mashed potatoes at Deborah Johnson Hays' last night. Forgot to steal leftovers for lunch. Looks like it's you and me Vegetable Beef. Living well, spending zero. 😩😩😩😩😩 ‪#‎31daysLWSZ‬

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

At Home Haircuts...

Living Well, Spending Zero Day 6. At home haircuts. Even Nat can't escape... ‪#‎31DaysLWSZ

Saturday, October 3, 2015


#‎31daysLWSZ‬ Reorganized.
Day 3 spending zero. I can live off this...mostly. You're next freezer!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Living Well Spending Less...

Chris and I did this last year. It's a rough month but it's great for saving money and organizing. Do it with us so we can all be miserable - I mean happy - together...
Starts tomorrow!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Why yes TSA, I AM a terrorist...

Hawaii was awesome.  Imagine "We are the Champions" playing on repeat in your head, imaginary confetti flying with each gleeful squeal of your kiddos.  I practically tattooed "Parent of the Year" across my chest.  It was that awesome.

Which made the trip home all that much worse.

The world's largest joy ballon popped.


When TSA showed up.

We arrived at the Honolulu Airport and immediately noticed the lack of AC.  After dragging the luggage and children to the security line, I was sweating... profusely.  Hey HNL, 85 degrees is not OK.

And you can't just dump your luggage with the baggage folks at the curb.  Nooooooo.  You must drag it all through the agriculture inspection, then to the baggage folks to check in, then to the baggage belt, and put it on the belt yourself.  I'm fairly certain they would have asked us to load the plane had there not been those pesky OSHA rules.

We finally dump most of our luggage but, thanks to the kiddos, must still drag a car seat and an arsenal of toys and snacks on the flight.

I'm soaked in sweat, miserable, and on the verge of vomiting (thanks embryo!) so of course, I must go through secondary screening and a pat down.

Terrorists frequently dress up as sweaty, exhausted mothers traveling with toddlers.

All three backpacks had to go through x-ray twice.  Crap.  I'm never getting home.

Since the bags are deemed 'suspicious' (because apparently the Dora the Explorer sing-a-long book looks exactly like a bomb in TSA's jacked up world), they grab my husband and put him through secondary screening.   He hands me both kids and I'm ready to start screaming at TSA, "WE AREN'T TERRORISTS!!  WE'RE JUST MISERABLE PARENTS TRYING TO GET HOME!!!"

Cash starts kicking the TSA metal cabinets and Declan is crying, flailing his arms.  I tell Cash to stop but he can tell I'm not really committed to making him stop because it seems to annoy TSA... and he continues.

Chris finally gets to the secure side and TSA brings out all three backpacks, now empty, and three bins of our belongings.

That's right.  They empty the bags, yes, the same bags you spent 2 hours packing just right so everything would fit.  The three bags that had everything in the 'perfect spot' are now sitting empty at my feet.  Diaper rash cream mixed with a Thomas the Train puzzle.  Four different types of carefully arranged diaper sizes, shuffled like a deck of cards.

Declan wasn't the only poor soul crying...

Thanks to that lovely experience, my kids aren't getting on another plane until they can carry their own luggage.

TSA sucks.