Wednesday, March 2, 2011

No Shopping Summary

February is over, and so is my No Shopping Challenge.  Boy, do I have some learning to do before I do that again!  I liked that I imposed this on myself, but I realize that there is a ton of room to improve on so many levels.  Yes, I ended up in a store a few times, and yes I bought more than just milk, eggs, bananas and apples like I had planned. 

So what did I learn from all this?

#1  Well, first I need to pay attention to what we really use in a month.  (This also means that I would need to take longer than two weeks to plan out a challenge like this.)  If I did attempt this for a two or three month stretch, I need to realistically know what we use.  For example:  I had a whole bottle of vanilla syrup for my coffees and thought it would last me through the whole month.  It was about the 21st of 22nd of the month when I ran out.  At first I was thinking that I'll just use milk and sugar in my coffee, but then I realized that although I could do that, it wasn't what I wanted to do.  This was a self-imposed challenge, not a crisis situation.  Had this been an emergency situation, yes, I could totally use milk and sugar and I would be fine with it.  But in this situation, I gave myself the okay to pick up another bottle before the challenge was over.  So note to self, make sure I really know how much of everything I do use on a monthly basis so that if I choose to challenge myself like this again, I'll be better prepared.

**As I sit here writing this, I realize that I could have looked up a recipe to make my own vanilla syrup.  I guess that's something I'll work on.  It could save me a bunch of money, especially if I were to do this for a three month stretch.  At two bottles a month, $5 per bottle, that's $30 worth of syrup just to stock up to stay out of a store for three months.  See, always something to learn!

#2  Something I was reminded of last month was the need to be like Gumby...flexible.  For where we live, snow isn't all that frequent.  So when they forecast a major storm that could bring us a good chunk of snow, we need to be prepared.  Although we were on this no shopping month, I felt it was necessary to stock up on a few things.  $50 later I felt ready to get the planned snow and possibly go a stretch without power.  When neither happened, it was rather disappointing and I felt like I had wasted a bunch of money.  Thanks David for reminding me that we'll use the lamp oil and toilet paper, and that it really wasn't a 'money lost' situation.

#3  I know when I did the grocery shopping, I shopped for my planned menu and I was well stocked.  However, what I didn't take into consideration was to plan for those snacky moods that hit us all.  When you want that repeated bowl-to-mouth motion, will popcorn always fit the bill?  Nope.  Yeah, I didn't plan well for that.  I know it's hard to plan for the "what ifs" of the month, but I know that I often like snacking on dry cereal like cinnamon Life or Ohs.  It'll always get eaten and it won't go bad, so there is no harm in keeping it around the house.  I also need to remember to keep in mind what the boys would want in those times.  Trail mix?  Banana chips?  Raisins?  Any of those would be good to keep on hand, and I know that, but clearly I overlooked it.

I'm sure there are other things I could mention here, but those were the biggest ones, and the only ones I can remember at this time.  So, what did I buy?  Milk, half and half, bananas, apples, eggs, vanilla syrup, angel hair pasta, a pair of laptops, American cheese slices, a pair of tires for my van, Girl Scout cookies.... What??!!  Let me explain -- I had ordered the cookies back in January, so I could technically say that I bought them then, but I had to pay for them when they were delivered last week. 

Oh, HAHA! laptops?!  Doesn't everyone who is on a self-imposed don't go shopping challenge buy not just one, but a pair of laptops?  We've been talking about it for some time now, but David's recent trip to Mississippi showed that the antiquated laptop we had was clearly not cutting it anymore.  It wouldn't even play a movie!!  So we felt that it was important to get a new one, and we also decided that...well, we wanted two of them.  There, I said it.  We wanted two of them!  We are both very pleased with our purchase, and happy with them.  Buyer's remorse could have been an issue, but it wasn't.  Another confirmation that we made the right decision for us. 

I'm glad that I challenged myself to do this, I'm glad that my family was on board with this crazy idea, and I'm glad that I was able to learn and grow from this.  At one point I told David that I felt like I failed myself on this challenge.  He reminded me that in reality, I didn't go over budget for the groceries, the bills were paid, and I even saved some money.  So the bottom line?  I didn't fail myself and it was totally worth it.  All of it.

Would I do it again?

Absolutely!!  I'll let you know when I try it again!!


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