Before I recap how my “Say No To 3” week has been going, I want to introduce you all to next week's Focus on Finances challenge. This week we are saying NO to eating out…of any kind. Coffee, drive-throughs, gas station drinks, lunch money for your kids, ordering a pizza, even bottled water…you name it. Basically anything you consume this week needs to come from your own house, or not at all!
For many of us, cooking can be hard. Trust me, I know. I'm at the point in my life where cooking is just one more job; one more annoying task at the end of an exhausting day that only leads to lots of “I don't like this” comments from the kids, and lots of dishes and mess (I am the world's messiest cook. Like, ever.). But I also know that when Bubba and I had over $10K on just one credit card, had $0 in savings, and weren't making enough money to pay the bills some months, the simple act of focusing on our FOOD is one of the largest factors that pulled us out of the hole we were digging and started letting us get ahead in life (more about our story HERE).
I am walking, living, breathing proof that, though easy/fun/convenient, wasting so much money on BUYING food rather than MAKING food will only slow you down in life. It might make your life easier for a moment or two, but in the long run, it's like standing still in the ocean – it's easier than walking forward against the current, but in time it's really just drifting you backward, farther away from where you want to be.
This week we are going to say NO to buying any food, other than groceries!
Here are “the rules” and tips for this week:
- For 7 full days, no eating out in any way!
- Buy groceries, as usual, sticking within your weekly budget. And remember, only go grocery shopping ONE TIME, no matter what! If you need a gallon of milk or a loaf of bread, make it yourself or try to substitute, or if you must, send your spouse or a friend (someone who will come home with just the one item and nothing extra).
- Make everything at home – including coffee, desserts, and school/work lunches. If you can't make it at home, go without this week. Don't even buy bottled water! Remember, life is all about choices – sometimes giving up the little things is what allows you to achieve great things! If it didn't come from your house, don't eat it. Enough said.
- Entertainment? If it's your date night, make dinner at home. Or eat at home, then do an activity after and pack your own snacks. Or do an at-home date night! Friends want to go out? Invite them over and cook dinner for everyone, or have everyone contribute to a potluck dinner! That's what we're doing! You don't have to go out to eat to have fun!
It's all about CHOICES.
- Remember, frugality is NOT about giving up everything everything you want in life…it's about learning to make choices so you can GET everything you want out of life. Many of us spend money on food without thinking about what we are giving up instead. If you spend $50/week on eating out, that's $200 per month you could put toward a vacation, paying off debt, buying new clothes, having fun, buying house, paying off loans, or other GREAT things. Don't get stuck on the “good”, focus on the great!
- No, cooking at home doesn't have to be time-consuming, fancy, or expensive. Last night I thawed out frozen chicken in a bowl of hot water, smeared some store-bought BBQ sauce and seasonings on it, grilled it on our dinky George Foreman thing, microwaved some baked potatoes, opened a can of corn, and BAM. Dinner in a cinch, and it cost us pennies. Glamorous? No. But it tasted fine, we were all fed and happy, and it saved me $40 that I'd much rather put toward painting our kitchen cabinets in the near future.
Dream big, folks!
Now! Here's out my “Say no to 3” Challenge went…
Believe it or not, this one was harder for me than the spending freeze! With the spending freeze it's black and white. It's clear what I can and can't do. With the Say no to 3, there's more gray area! We ended up saying “no” to more than 3 things, but the main ones we said no to were 1) going to lunch as a family on a day when Bubba had no lunch plans for work, 2) ordering a pizza for the sitter and finding food to feed the kids at home instead, and 3) sending Bubba to Costco to pick up a few things for me – even though I had been there already this week (I had forgotten a few things).
Spending $10 at Wendy's won't make or break the bank, sure. But doing it even 1x per week is $520 per year I'm spending on junk food. You can fly to Hawaii for $520! Exercises like this remind me that the little dollars add up, and allow us to do the big adventures and achieve the big goals we dream of for our family.
How are you doing so far this month??
Hang in there, it may be hard, but it's so worth it! Good luck this week, and pop in on social media to let me know how it's going! (@FunCheapOrFree on every platform.)
Wishing us all luck!
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