The surprisingly high cost of #treatyoself (and book winners!)
October 26, 2015
Today is going to be a little scattershot (gosh, I think I just fulfilled a lifelong and previously unconscious desire to use that in a sentence), so I hope you’ll bear with me? It’s Monday, after all.
First up, winners of the giveaway: 3 copies of “Special Children, Blessed Fathers” coming your way, Sarah B, Rebecca, and Melissa – send your mailing info to juebbing at gmail dot com by the end of this week to claim your prize. (Sarah B, I’ve already got your info!)
For all the other lovely commenters from that post, you can buy the book here or here and there is an e-version available for Kindle (or any device – did you know you can download the Kindle app for free? Super cool.) Good Christmas present, just saying.
So we’re on day 26 of October and, subsequently, day 26 of no spend October. How’s it going? Oh, well, pretty good all in all, but there have been a few hiccups.
First I want to highlight a significant personal victory, which was a completely abstinent trip to Super Target to buy fake spiderweb decor for the front porch with the boy’s very own hard-earned monies. (Which their shameless mother paid them for behaving well for their babysitter/aunt, which is pathetic, I realize, but then again, they went right to bed that night, so shame away.)
So I went into Target with 4 kids, and I walked out of Target 35 minutes later with a single bag containing faux spider web and glowing arachnids. No baby socks. No Starbucks in hand. No diapers. No crap from the Dollar Spot.
Well, just about. I have slipped up a couple of times, and both of those time$ may have involved a bottle of wine and at least 3 out of my 4 sisters, so…it’s a process. But for the most part, we’ve been killing it this month in the budgeting department, and I’ve cooked and baked more in the past 3.5 weeks than in the whole of our nearly 6 years of marriage combined. Which tells you either that I’m extremely lazy or that our standards for what constitutes “dinner” are very low. Maybe a combination.
Mostly though, there just isn’t a lot to “do” with kids that doesn’t cost money, at least from 3-5 pm every weekday. Or so I thought. So we bake. And I really, really hate baking.
About 5 loaves of pumpkin bread into October, I was starting to sicken of autumn’s favorite gourd and so I dug deep into my entitled suburban brain and came up with such solid ideas as trips to the mall to have my wedding rings cleaned and re-plated (free with our lifetime service plan!), pilgrimages to the Lego store, (we’d never been, and I still don’t think either boy realized you can, you know, buy stuff there. Winning.) mornings at the library, (previously in rotation, but now without a store-bought coffee in hand) nature walks and aspirational leaf-collecting for instagram fodder, and finally, most ghetto of all, leisurely strolls to our neighborhood King Soopers (maybe Kroger in your neck of the woods?) for a “hey kids, free cookie!” from the bakery department and a ride or two on the penny horse which the friendly manager always keeps stocked with pennies.
And weirdly, it has been enough.
I want to say it’s been more than enough, actually, because I think we’re all more content than we are in the midst of a bloated, out-of-control spending free-for-all kind of month. I know the grownups certainly feel better about things, at any rate. And I can almost guarantee we’re eating 99% better than when Chicfila features heavily on the lunch menu rotation, which is comforting to my mommy heart, even while my prodigious baking has left evidence to the contrary, at least on my hips.
But the kids are a lot happier, too. And it has gotten a lot easier to say no to them. Mostly because they’re not asking for anything to begin with. We simply respond “we’re only spending money on groceries for meals this month” when they ask for anything, and they haven’t actually asked for much at all, come to think of it. Which is pretty great. We’ve got pretty great (and pretty young and malleable, make note, self!) kids. And it would seem I’ve yet to ruin them with entitlement.
Here’s where it gets crazy though. Yes, we’ve been able to save a lot of money this month. Which turned out to be super helpful because while we thought we were putting a good little chunk aside for the “let’s be grown ups and buy a house” fund, we actually ended up dropping more than a grand on car maintenance. In 2 weeks.
And it was no big deal.
I mean it was a bummer to see the number sinking in the house fund, but it sure felt good to be able to cash flow the car situation and not sweat about the other bills and obligations for the month because I hadn’t been, you know, acting like an entitled fool.
Even cooler than that though, we heard through social media of a homeless mom in our area who had some needs for her 7 week old baby girl. I offered her some diapers and a packnplay, but what they really needed were groceries and another night in the hotel they’re living in until their apartment in transitional housing opens up next week. And she was bold enough to ask for it, and we were in a position to be able to respond not only with prayers, but with actual material help. And I don’t know if we would have been able to do it if we hadn’t been living simply this month.
I’m telling this story because it’s powerful. Not because we did something heroic (We didn’t. We did something responsible.), but because God demonstrated to us a direct correlation between self denial and the ability to help someone in need. Because we had “denied” ourselves those date nights and coffees and working lunches and trips to Target, we had money to be able to answer a real, material need. And we still fixed our van.
So the moral of the story is, I guess, sometimes it is just a latte. But I need to be careful, because all of those “just this one times” can really add up. For better or for worse.