That dumb winter hat.
It cost me $19 at the drugstore.
The weather here this week has been COLD and my son didn't have a good hat - he wanted to play outside in the snow (which we never get). The flakes were coming down and the roads were getting a touch dangerous. I ran inside the closest store to my house and got him an adorable hat. I got into the van and gave it to him, and then it hit me.
"It's no spend month," I said.
My daughter inquired, "How much was the hat?"
"MOM! Why did you do that? He could have just worn one of daddy's hats. This is no spend month!"
She was right. Why did I DO that? He could have worn his dad's hat. He could have worn one of his hooded sweatshirts with a baseball cap on top. In my head I was just thinking to get a hat because he just HAD to have one to play in the snow - for the 2-3 days/year it snows in Atlanta.
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Most of all, however, it dawned on me that my child was now policing ME - hopping on board with no spend January and expressing her disappointment in my inability to control myself (in my defense - I totally forgot about it being no spend month - I promise!).
Now - I would normally purchase a hat for my son. After all, a good hat will last him several years and contribute to his comfort while he's outside. I don't think we need to deny ourselves everything - but the ease with which I plopped down $19 was eye opening to me.
Enough about the hat.
Almost everyone I know that took this challenge with me wondered how their kids would handle it... which is sad when you think about it. I was a bit worried about this, but I have been immensely proud of my oldest child in particular.
My youngest had a little trouble hopping on board, but (like most things in life he complains about) with some distraction he's forgotten all about the hardships.
This shows me that: a) we don't give our kids enough credit and b) kids don't require nearly the "STUFF" we think they do.
*Also, please know that this challenge and the no-spend posts aren't meant to make anyone feel guilty. If anything, they are an admission of my own selfishness and greed. Coming to terms with this has been difficult, but in that space that has been left where I would SPEND, there has been more room for the Holy Spirit to work in my life. THAT is a blessing.
If you've been on this challenge with me, you'll have to let me know if you've seen some of these same benefits, too.
1. Our Kids Are More Aware of Our Family Finances
We have taken this chance to talk with our kids about budgeting.
I'm so ashamed to share this with you, but here goes: In one month alone we will save approximately $130 by not eating at Chick Fil-A.
Do my kids realize that the money we spend eating out at ONE fast food restaurant each month could feed an family for an entire month. (Don't balk at that figure - I have seen famlies that grocery shop for the month for this amount.)
It's about being good stewards of our money... even though we can "afford" those trips to Chick Fil-A (and I LOVE their chicken!), is this really how we are to use the money that God has gifted to us?
2. They Are More Creative About Saving (and spending)Money
My daughter loves to buy books. She has learned this month that she can either borrow books from friends, go to the library, or WAIT for a special occasion to buy a book.
She has also been grabbing everyone's extra change and sticking it in our Operation Christmas Child jar.
We're trying to impress upon her that every time she wants to spend money, to stop and really THINK about where that money goes and why she's spending it... I've asked myself these questions, too.
3. Money Doesn't Grow On Trees
It's so cliche, but learning to WORK for their money is a good thing. I'm afraid my children have just seen daddy go to work each day and then things like food, clothes, toys, etc... magically appear. When I swipe that credit card at the grocery store, do they REALLY know how much someone worked to pay for that?
This month has showed them the value of money.
4. Those Little Things Add UP!
$.99 for a song purchase, $5 for a trip to the yogurt shop, or $2 for the vending machine at music rehearsal: all of these things add up. The $20-$30 spent each Sunday eating out after church ADD UP.
At the end of the month we'll sit down and take a serious look, but right now we estimate we will have saved anywhere between $500-$700 (I think it might be more) by not spending money on little stuff.
This makes me ill.
We waste so much money in the name of CONVENIENCE, and if we're going to call a spade a spade, let's say LAZINESS.
I'm so glad my husband has had the chance to purchase a plane ticket for a mission trip to Honduras... my kids will see that saving money this month will truly go to something wonderful.
I really don't think money is evil - quite the contrary. Money has great power in our world, and when stewarded properly it has the potentail to be a huge blessing. It's teaching our children to be intentional about their money, and modeling wise use of money that is my goal.
5. Your Happiness Doesn't Depend Upon "Stuff"
After a month of not spending on entertainment or eating out, I'm noticing that my kids can be happy with less.
Going on a Sunday afternoon walk with dad and shooting baskets can be just as much fun as going to the movies. Taking your free time on the weekend to totally rearrange your room and organize it in a different way is just as good as redecorating.
This no spend month will be the norm for the rest of our year. Oh, I'm sure we'll relax a little, but all of our eyes have been opened.
A Must Read
A friend of mine loaned me (through her Kindle - yay!) the book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess.
All I will say now is READ IT.
(You can thank me later.)
I'm wondering what challenge I should take in February. I need to do something - I have some ideas brewing, so I'll keep you posted.