Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Our 30 Days of Nothing

About a month ago in one of my blog hopping moods I came across a blog that talked about a 30 day challenge. This family did "30 days of Nothing". They drastically cut back their spending and only purchased things that were absolute necessities for 30 days. They did this experiment to see how much they could actually live without. Different families joined in at different degrees. Some just didn't eat out or go to movies or dye their hair for the month. Others went deeper and cut grocery budgets in half or fourths. Another blog I was inspired by was this blog. They donated all the money they saved for the month to a charity.

So instead of coming up with New Year's resolutions that we know we won't keep we have decided to embark on this challenge for the entire month of January. We are going to halt all spending unless we deem it an absolute necessity. Necessity for me means RX, utilities and gas. We will not be going out to eat, no renting movies, no shopping, no $1 ice-cream cones. Our goal is to use $1.00 per day to get groceries if we need them. Thankfully I have a freezer full of food and a pantry full of canned fruit and veggies. This will be a huge step for me since I typically budget $500 a month to feed my family of 6 and I have a difficult time staying under that. This will be a good way for me to clean out my stock pile of food and all the meat and fish in my freezer. I can start fresh when the challenge is over.

Aside form cutting the grocery budget to $1 a day the kids and Will and I sat down and came up with a number of other ways to reduce our spending. We are willing to try all of them and see how it goes. Some of these ideas are things that we already try to do on a daily basis, and some of them are going to be difficult for us to implement. Some are just common sense. Here is the list we have come up with. If you think of any other ways to save please feel free to leave a comment or send me an email.

Turn music, TV, radio and lights off when leaving the room.
Lower our heat to 65 at night and 67 during the day. (Right now it is 69 all the time)
Each person gets 1 bath towel per week.
Keep wearing clothes till dirty (with the exception of socks and underwear, those must be changed daily)
If cold wear sweatshirts, slippers, or use blankets.
Put blankets over windows to keep cold out.
Use draft stoppers in front of doors.
Make sure to close doors tightly when coming in from outside.
Open garage doors at a minimum. (Our garage is heated)
Know what you want before opening the fridge or freezer.
7 minute showers.
Only flush toilet when necessary.
5 gallon buckets in shower to use to flush the toilets.
Multiple errand running into one trip.
1 cup to drink out of in 1 week. Reduce dishes.
Turn heat cycle off dishwasher, allow to air dry.
Don't leave water running while brushing your teeth.

When we explained the challenge to the boys Tony was very excited and came up with a lot of the ideas above. Jake on the other hand is not too happy about it. Will thinks it shouldn't be a problem. I am excited and nervous at the same time. I am already feeling the urge to spend to stock up on the things I will need for the month ahead, knowing that I can't buy anything. I think this experiment will be very exciting yet extremely challenging. I already consider myself pretty frugal, but I must admit if I want something I typically go get it. I will be blogging each day of this challenge to let everyone know how we are doing. Wish us luck and feel free to join in on this adventure!


GP & GM Campbell said...

Fantastic it will help the boys learn what things cost & being a family effort will be a real challenge. We wish you all the luck in the world & do keep us posted as to how it is going.
Really proud of all of you!!!
Love, Grandma & Gramps

~Maria said...

Sounds like a great challenge! You will probably be surprised at how easily so many of the new things you try will become habits. Little changes just take practice and patience.

A few things that popped into my head that we also do besides the ones you listed(although we aren't too keen on the 5 gallon bucket to flush with-have fun with that! We do save flushes though, "If it's yellow let it mellow!")are:

*Zero balanced budgeting which I think you may do already, knowing where every penny will be spent before the paycheck even comes in.

*Using cash only, no credit whatsoever, no matter what, if the cash is gone, you don't buy.

*Covering windows with plastic. I pick this up cheap on clearance at the end of every winter for the next year. Makes a big difference in draftiness.

*Cloth napkins.(can pick them up cheap on clearance at Target or make your own out of clearance fabric or scraps, I even used clearanced cotton cleaning rags for a while) No need to buy paper napkins, reduces waste and need to buy napkins.

*Use old towels, rags, clothes or socks to clean with and wipe kids with. Again, reduces waste, no need to buy paper towels(and less baby wipes).
(Adding a few cloth napkins and extra cleaning rags to a load of bath towels does not increase the laundry load in our house at all either. We each use the same napkin for an entire day unless it is really nasty. Same with bath towels, we hang those up to dry over the shower curtain or back of door and reuse the next day or 2...or 3 or 4, is that gross? Works for us! Besides, you're clean when you use them!)

*Meal plan for each week or for the month when possible, then plan your grocery trip based on that. I only grocery shop once a week and I'm hoping to get that down to once every two weeks. The less I shop, the less I spend. If toward the end of the month we are running low, we eat out of the pantry and piece together whatever we can...and get creative.

Hope that gives you a couple new ideas! Good luck! Looking forward to reading how it goes.

Anonymous said...

We are so proud of you all. It's great that it is a family decision and all had input. The awareness of it all will be so amazing, especially for the big boys. Good luck on your efforts and we love you all. Grandpa Dave and Anita

Jill said...

Wow- keep us updated. You are going to be an inspiration to us all.

~Sara said...

Thanks for the ideas Maria. I already do most of them. The plastic on the windows we really should do. We are already using the cash method, we do a monthly budget, I stopped using baby wipes for clean up and use baby washclothes, and we do a weekly meal plan. We haven't switched to clothe napkins. I seem to already have an endless supply of laundry to do!