The No-Spend Month... It was a valiant effort... Until it wasn't.

Untitled The No-Spend Month seemed like such a good idea when we started out, but I'll be honest, two and a half weeks in and I was over it. In an effort not to be legalistic, we did what any sane family, overwhelmed with the pressures of parenting three little ones and wanting to live in community, might consider doing.

We quit.

Starting Out

We set a goal, a target amount that would cover our budget categories that were flexible (not including things like rent, utilities, tithes, gifts)-- food, gas, spending, dining out, etc. It was a lofty goal, but it was reasonable.

When something came to mind that I would normally head straight to Amazon for and immediately order out of "necessity," I instead wrote it down on a list-- Things to Buy Later. This included things like a new phone case (mine is broken in 3 places), new seat covers for our car (ours our ripped to shreds) and a backpack for Gigi.

We ate frugally, (re)discovering some new and old favorites for simple meals. We've stayed in for the most part instead of dining out, not that we do that as often anymore, because dining out with a 5-, 2- and 1- year old isn't that fun anyway.

I baked from scratch when we needed things (bread, granola, granola bars). We squeezed in small grocery trips for the essentials so we could still cook enough to have friends and family over, but didn't splurge on too many snacks (that's where it adds up sometimes).

It wasn't too difficult. Thoughts of paying off our last student loan cheered us on and encouraged us.

We knew gas alone would probably set us over our goal with driving over an hour to visit family a couple of times, but we did our best on everything else.

The Tipping Point

Then, last week came along. It was a rough week in parenting, and suddenly on top of everything else, there were no easy snacks in the cupboard and I was listening to whining, complaining kids and feeling the pressure boiling over.

The laundry was stacking up and the cloth diapers were just one more thing to take care of. I'd had only one evening home, with help from David to get the kids to bed at a normal time, all week. We ran out of sunscreen and it was that time of the month and Hallee got another fat lip (probably the fifth in her short life) and my hair is so dead it feels like it could break right off and Gigi threw more tantrums than I care to remember.

{deep breath}

Of course I totally realize that not all of that even has anything to do with No-Spend Month, but what it all comes down to is...

Something had to give.

So I told David I couldn't hack it anymore, and with his blessing, I escaped on Saturday morning for an hour at Peet's coffee and a solo grocery trip. {happy sigh} Then, I ordered more diapers (and decided to take a break from my beloved cloth), and bought new sunscreen at Whole Foods.

And at David's suggestion we're heading to Taco Tuesday at Rubio's tonight. :)

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Finishing Out July

I'm going to finish out the month with just buying the essentials, but I'm not going to kill myself.

I still have a list of things I "need" that I will wait to buy, and I think I'm actually going to consider continuing the practice of making lists like that, then talking to my budget-man about when I should schedule those purchases in.

We are still saving every extra dollar towards an early pay-off of my student loan, so that Lord-willing we will be debt-free sometime this fall (!!!!!!).

I'm still waiting till August (thankfully, next week!) to get my hair cut and my house cleaned and my car washed.

I enjoy challenges like this, but I also know when to call it quits. It's good to stretch things, but it's not good for them to snap-- if I can avoid that, I will. This stage of life I'm in is a delicate one and I'm learning to be more and more discerning, making wise choices for my wallet, and also for my sanity.

Have you done a No-Spend Month? I'd love to hear your experiences with that. or other times when you felt that something had to give.