Its the middle of the month. Halfway there. This week started off strong, but one needed purchase began a spiral of events that could have change things for the worst, had I not used the steps outlined in my first post from last week.
Monday and Tuesday went great. My son had taken my husband and me out for dinner on Sunday using a gift card he had received as a birthday gift. It just blessed my heart and got the ball rolling for a week of counting one’s blessings and enjoy those small good moments. Wednesday came and I learned of a fabulous deal on one of our favorite homeschool tools- Ticonderoga Pencils! 96 count for $4.97 (the deal is still going on by the way). I jumped on it! We have 3 pencils that we’ve been using daily and searching for daily (why is it so difficult to put them away when done!)that I knew this was a “need” (or soon would be) and at such a terrific deal, I was doing it. A purchase. One click. Done. It was also the day my husband left for a three day conference. If I hadn’t followed the first step from last week then it would have been the perfect storm to break the No Spend Challenge.
By having a PLAN, I had some meals ready to heat up for dinner– the time of day when I am most exhausted. Reinforcements weren’t going to be there tonight! So I had a plan for 2 meals that just needed reheating and a meal that was something we all looked forward too– mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, pork and gravy, and cranberry sauce. Sounds like a thanksgiving dinner right? Well, that’s because I was able to get all of that for free from Ibotta! Except for the pork, that was a generous gift. I didn’t order a pizza! I didn’t decide to go and grab something from the drive through. We just ate what we had. And it was delicious.
But we were out of almost every fresh item– produce, milk and cheese, and a few items. So I then went to the grocery store to make sure we had food to get us through another week. Remember, I am eating my fridge and pantry up as well! I managed to do 1 shopping trip that was suppose to sustain me for the week for $20. I had three children with me. It is so hard to stick to your budget when there are three voices asking for items– not necessarily toy items: “Can we get some apples?” “Can we—- I mean, may we get some M&M’s?” It was another time when me saying, “no,” provided opportunities for my children to see if it was something they wanted strongly enough to use their own money for. So because I knew my habits, I was able to avoid the pitfall that tangled me, in my last blog post. It also gave me a stronger understanding of what our children are going through, and why it is so important to say, “no” often. We want to say yes, but in saying no, we are teaching them to make better, “yes” decisions.
But grocery shopping proved to start a chain of events. The weekend brought some more needed items (like toilet paper) and a realization that if our economy shut down again, I would need some things to carry us over. But more than that, I needed to remember why I am doing this. At this point, the $20 grocery trip was the beginning of a much larger trip. In fact, I walked out of Sam’s Club with $126 worth of items– and 1 was not a need. If you haven’t guessed by now, then let me enlighten you by saying that this would be the perfect storm. I already messed up once, might as well go all the way and get that Starbucks coffee I’ve been thinking about for the past 2 hours.
BUT GUESS WHAT?! I said, NO!
I do not stand here as a rockstar. Well, ok, maybe I feel a little bit like one, but my point is, if you know me, you know my one weakness is for Starbucks coffee. And saying no opened the door for me to compromise with “well, lets grab something cheaper at the store instead.” But I said no to that as well. Friends, I am the epitome of the person that lacks self-discipline. For some of you, it may sound easier to just say “no,” walk away and count your blessings. However, for me, its a deliberate, “taking every thought captive,” as Paul says. I had filmed a collaboration with some lovely YouTube channels about Contentment earlier in the week and I was having to eat my words. I was being content in the fact that I was able to stock up on these items that we needed. I was choosing to reflect on the wealth that we already had in our home, rather than seeking to find something that would give me temporary satisfaction. I really want to stand here and say, when you’re in a position to choose the good portion, the thing that will not be taken away from us, do so (Luke 10:42). On the drive home from the big city with all its stores and abundant of items, I reflected on the time I got to spend with my youngest. We chatted about friends, Thanksgiving coming up, Christmas… We sang Jesus Loves Me, and 10 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed, like 100 times! And I was able to go home and when my husband informed me we would need to replace 2 tires in his car, ASAP, I could rest that there was that much more cash available to him.
The five things I learned this week are:
1. Planning is underrated. It really is a big help in the day to day life. Knowing how crazy our week was going to be, and being able to plan accordingly and not order pizza, or Chinese, or whatever– but enjoy a meal that needed to only be heated up and one that everyone was looking forward too.
2. Counting our blessings really does put our hearts in a proper perspective of our situation. We realize what we have and then the wants seem so small in comparison. Enjoying the moments when games are being pulled out and everyone is excited to join in, or when children decide to play store in your living room and pull out all the needed things to purchase (then you suddenly realize what you have and what you are thankful for!).
3. Saying the hard “no” now, allows me to smile at the future (Proverbs 31:25). I said no, and I didn’t have to struggle in my worry about our checking account when we were hit with the fact that two tires needed replacing. If you have financial goals you are striving for, you are the one that has to meet them.
4. My children are watching and learning and taking notes. To the outsider, sticking to my list may seem a simple matter, for my children, they know that I struggle, genuinely struggle, over the flesh desires to please my family. The simple question of “Can we have apples?” Its good! It’s healthy! It’s nutritious. Why would you say no? Because it didn’t fit in that $20 and we had cutie oranges to eat at home. It’s the kind of thing that seems silly and why not make an exception, but it because it would start a spiral of events. Many may disagree with me. I probably would too in different circumstances. But it was a hard no that was said. December may bring more apples than our bellies can hold, but for now– I said no to something difficult. How many even have that luxury?
5. I learned that truly handing my concerns, frustrations, and weakness over to the Lord daily, would return later in my mind when I was feeling conflicted over matters. It isn’t enough to just battle the flesh; its about a deeper struggle that we face, and the physical battles are only the tip of the iceberg! Being the kind of character tossed by every wind and wave, that Paul describes and INFANT behavior (Ephesians 4:14). It would be so easy for this challenge to consume my thoughts and thinking about all the things I am doing and not doing and finding more and more ways to do this and that, but really?! How is that enjoying the life we have? If your bank account was at zero right now, and all the bills and needs were paid, would you smile and think that God has given you your daily bread– your manna that sustains you for the day, not to store up for later, but for the day? Tempering the thoughts that have built up over the years of habits, and looking at the day and being truly and deeply grateful for what we have. Instead of a new book that Amazon promises me that I will enjoy, I pulled one given to me and read with delight. Instead of a new DVD to bring the family together, we pulled out a family favorite and laughed and fought, to the finish line. Instead of apples in the fridge, my house smells fresh from the citrus. Instead of thinking about the wants or those things that pull us from our family, I am turning to the family and soaking in how much I have. Take that Facebook ADS!
How are you doing? Be blessed.