Friday, January 2, 2009

What is a "No Spend Month"...

After being stressed to the 'max' about our debt for many years, I felt we (my husband, kids and I) had to do something and quick! We are Christians and I was really feeling the Lord was telling me to do something and NOW. Given the state of the economy (all those darn bail-outs) and the job losses many are going through, I was most definitely listening to God. Plus, my husband had gone through 18 months of unemployment 3 years ago. Times were very tough for us. We learned to get by on very little because we had to. Boy did we learn was actually very good for us because it got us thinking differently. Since then we've come along way. We used to be very bad with money. Still, we can improve more...

Thinking back to that time of my husband's unemployment I began to wonder if we could get by on so little again, but for an entirely different reason. For a good, positive get out of debt. I hate with my every being having debt. Owing someone. Not owning my home free and clear. It makes me want to scream! It is just that bad. It is total bondage that I am in and my husband feels it too. It is not the same for him as it is for me, though. And that is because I pay the bills. I see each month what we owe, what we've paid and what is left. He has none of those stresses. I am okay with the way we do things. He works 50-60hrs a week managing a store and has plenty of his own work related stresses. So, I take on the debt stress which I am fine with. But, I've had enough of the debt stress! I am ready to elemenate it completely...once and for all!

I invite you to join me in becoming debt-free. We can come together and get out of bondage to our debtors once and for all. The freedom of not owing anyone is yours for the taking. It will not be easy but it will also not be impossible. You can do it! We all can do it! How do I plan to do it, you ask? Let me explain some of my ideas...

To give my month cash flow a boost I pondered getting a job. I figured if I could bring home a couple of hundred dollars a week we could really begin making a dent in paying off our debt. Just 7 little problems hindered that idea...I am the mom of 7 children ages 6mo-15yrs old. I would have to get a babysitter as we have no family near us to help us out. Another problem is, I homeschool 4 of those 7 children. So, I had to come up with another idea to jumpstart our debt reduction because the honest truth is, I don't want to work outside the home. I love being a SAHM and homeschooling my children.

As I would sit and think about this day after day, a thought came to me about our food bill. Being a family of 9 requires alot of food, as you might imagine. Our food bill was roughly $800 a month. That may not sound like much but I haven't included the 'eating out' portion of our food bill. We like to eat out...always have. In any given week we would get McDonald's twice at $25 a pop. My husband and I would go out for lunch on his day off once a week spending another $25. Twice a month on payday we would order Chinese food from a little local joint in town and that cost us $45 each time. If you do the math you'll see that we spend on eating out about $390 a month. That figure would be $100 higher if we went into town for some major shopping, which we would do every other month. As you can see, we were spending alot of money!

Now lets talk about the miscellaneous spending we would do every month. Someone is always needing something in a family of 9. Contact lense solution, socks, toothbrush, get the picture. That makes us have to be very aware of what we are spending our money on. We think twice if we really 'need' something. In our little town we don't have a large variety of stores to shop in so you'd think we don't spend money on shopping...not true. I am an expert 'online shopper', LOL. Most of my shopping is done online. I live to find 'a great deal'. When I find it, I buy it. I definitely need to develop new habits because that has to stop!

Some other areas where we are cutting back or not spending at all are, haircuts and gas for our cars. My girls all have long hair so I can easily trim their ends. I've been getting better at cutting my little boys' hair. My husband will still need to get his hair cut professionally so we have kept that in the budget. I am so thankful that gas prices have come down so much! It really is quite a blessing (another one of God's provisions) for our commitment of not spending money. With gas prices being $1.69/gal here, down from 3.98 that is a huge savings in and of itself! Fortunately my husband's job is only 8 miles round trip. He usually comes home for lunch but that may be stopping. Driving an extra 8 miles isn't really that much. We really love seeing him in the middle of the we are undecided at this point. I am having a bit of difficult time justifying it when we are working so hard and sacrificing so much to get our debt paid off. I do plan to pray about and then we will come to a decision with the Lord's leading.

Okay, what about food you ask? What are we going to eat if I don't do any grocery shopping? Good question. I have acquired a habit of stocking up on food since we lived in the Panhandle of Florida. It was something we did to prepare for hurricane season. It is really a good habit to have because you just never know when a disaster will hit and you can't buy food. We experienced first hand during Hurricane Katrina how important it was to have food stored. All that to say, I have a well stocked pantry. I estimate I have about 3mos of food stored. My chest freezer is well stocked too! I've made a menu for this month (I'll post it later) using food I have stored. I have a large box of powdered milk for when we run out of our gallon jugs of milk. We will drink water mostly and I will allow my Littles to have apple juice twice a week and we will all have soda/pop on our Friday Pizza/Movie Night...only one 2 liter bottle. Because I haven't bought any food for the month of January I have to ration my stored food. The only way for this to work well is to stick to our menu. I am also keeping a "Closed Kitchen" so my kids don't go and eat up all the food, LOL.

Okay, so there you have it...our 'no spend month' plan. It sure is alot to type out 'No Spend Month' so many times. Let's shorten it to 'NSM' okay? That will make it alot easier for me.

My prayer for this blog is that it will encourage many to use ideas from me or brainstorm on their own to find creative ways to stretch the money you already have so you can pay-off some/all debt.

Lets think out of the box and get out of bondage together and be free!