Thursday, August 9, 2012

Thirty Days of Nothing and Counting

About a year ago, I came across this blog 30 Days of Nothing  as well as Bushel and a Peck and felt inspired that it was something our family needed to do.  Of course like so many other things in life, we just never did.  I always meant to, but it never seemed like a good time (is there ever a "good time" for something like that?)  Then this spring I was inspired by my friend, Nancy, who did it with her family and felt again that there were many places we could cut back and that this may be a good way to do it, but again, we just never did.

Fast forward to this summer.  July 3rd started out like any other day.  We got up and had breakfast, said family prayer and sent daddy off to work.  I headed to the gym and then the dentist with the two girls.  While we were at the dentist, Jeremy called, four times.  I finally answered just saying "I am at the dentist, I will call you back" to which he replied, "I am on my way home."  At that moment, the world fell out from under me.  Jeremy had lost his job of five years at Blue Cross Blue Shield.  It was very unexpected for me, though I would later find out, not so unexpected for him.

So thus began our forced 30 Days of Nothing.  We immediately cut back expenses everywhere we could.  We cancelled cable.  Cancelled Netflix.  Cancelled our home phone.  Pulled Kirsten out of dance.  Cut back to a basic internet plan.  Cancelled the data plans on our cell phones.  Turned the water heater down and the air conditioner up.  We have not been out to eat once in six weeks - I am not sure we have gone a week since we have been married, so this is HUGE for us.  When Jeremy lost his job, I had $100 in my wallet.  This is the only money that we have spent on anything at all other than gas and bills.

So how have we done it?  First of all, there is no way that we could do this alone.  We have received a ton of help from family with bills.  My mom gave us money to buy a birthday present for Kirsten.  Our fence blew down when we were out of town and our church stepped up and so many people worked hard to replace our fence posts and put our fence back up.  We are so grateful to our Father in Heaven for putting people in our path that have been able to help us.  However, as you know, there is still so much more that it typically takes to run a household.
  • As I said earlier, we cancelled EVERYTHING that was not absolutely necessary to live, and yes, you can live without being able to access Facebook and e-mail on your phone!
  • We have been eating our storage.  Anyone who has been to my house knows that I have food tucked into every nook and cranny, under every bed and in every closet.  It has come in very handy to say the least.
  • We have been using our toiletry and cleaning supplies storage.  I love couponing and have stocked up on the essentials over the years.
  • I have been cooking every single meal - which means tons more dishes, but thankfully Jeremy and Kirsten really help out a lot with that
  • Friday night pizza night turned into homemade pizza night with a picnic in the living room and a movie
  • I have been making birthday presents for parties we have been invited to with items that I already have on hand.
  • I spent a total of $12 on Kirsten's Luau party ($6 for the flower lei necklaces, $2 for flower napkins on clearance, $1 for cupcake wrappers $3 for drinks (I had coupons!) I made the cupcakes and frosting from scratch from food storage, and gave the girls flower barrettes for their hair that I had leftover from a girl scout project last year.  We danced the Macarena, did the Limbo, swam and had a ton of fun.
  • We have been checking out DVDs at the Library for entertainment
  • I have stopped buying books for my Kindle and download them from Frisco Library's E-Library - this is big because I am an avid reader and read 2 to3 new books every week.
  • We went on a trip in July to a family reunion.  We took a huge ice chest in the back of our car and took all of our food with us.  On the way there we were caravaning with my in-laws and they helped us with meals.  On the way back we made sandwiches and stopped for picnic lunches at rest stops.
  • We used a gift card to Walmart to purchase Kirsten's school supplies for this year.
  • Jeremy and I still have our weekly date night, but since we can't afford a babysitter, we do them at home.  They have included movies and popcorn, games, picnics in the backyard, staying up all night talking, and Rock Band nights.  
  • We ride our bikes anywhere within a mile (when it is below 90 degrees)  So for our morning trips to the pool, to friends houses ect... I throw Katie in the trailer and Kirsten and I ride our bikes there. The afternoon is just too hot so we do have to drive then or just stay home.
  • We are utilizing the coupons from the library reading programs.  On Friday we all went to the Frisco Heritage Museum and then to Chick-fil-a for lunch and did not spend a penny.  On Tuesday, Jeremy took the girls to the Sci-tech Discovery Center then out for Frosties at Wendys.  On the agenda for next week is the Frisco Aquatic Center and bowling - all free with the coupons!
  • JCPenny offers free haircuts in August to school-aged kids.  So Kirsten got her free hair cut on Monday and then we went out for free ice-cream cones (coupons from the library)
The most important lessons that we are learning through this have not been temporal - although those are definitely there - but they have been spiritual.  The day Jeremy lost his job, we decided that we would attend the temple together at least once a week the entire time he was out of work.  Thanks to wonderful parents and friends, we have been able to make that happen.  We have really tried to grow closer as a couple and as a family through this time.  We have tried to grow closer to the Lord, to recognize his hand in every part of our lives, even the smallest things.  

Jeremy started his new job on Wednesday with Capital One.  We are not out of the woods yet though because it will still be four weeks until he receives his first check.  This is also only a six month contract job.  It gives us time though for him to look and find the right job.  

This has been a trying time for us, and while I wish to never repeat it, I am glad that we are going through it.  We are learning some very important lessons about ourselves, our habits, our finances, our relationships, our faith.  So we are actually at 36 days of nothing and counting...


Jodi & Chris Reeve said...

That is very impressive Laura! Having gone through a couple of job losses, I like to live that way most of the time. It is a blessing to live on less even though others think it is wierd when you don't have a data plan on the phone. Anyway, good to know he found a job.

Janet Adams Starnes said...

I love you Laura, and as I told you when this happened--all things happen for a reason--usually for us to learn something. God loves you and so do I. Love, MOM

P.S. I am very proud of you for being so thrifty!