It's the last day of the month and, managing not to spend anything the last two days, we made our goal! We still have food in the fridge, the freezer and the pantry. I still have gas in my car, and there is even one spare roll of toilet paper! Overall, our lives were not greatly affected, and yet, every small decision that we made to spend or save contributed to the bottom line.
The kids asked why we were budgeting. The truth is, we always budget, just not to this extreme. By being more aware of our spending, I believe we make better choices. By delaying gratification, we learn to appreciate what we have. By putting in a little more effort by packing lunches or thinking outside the box, we can change our habits. We managed to eat 90 meals at home, yet somehow Chick-fi-la is still in business! We managed to go but once to Target, and yet their doors are still open!
In many ways, I actually enjoyed the last month. After a while, the boundaries seemed more like a security blanket than a financial prison. It was so much easier to say "no" to both myself and the kids when we viewed not spending as a family goal. Everybody needs boundaries, especially kids. Boundaries give us guidance and a context in which to live. Boundaries give us comfort and build our self esteem.
Despite, at times, feeling like my day was all cooking and dishes, I remembered that I really do like to cook! When I asked the kids if anything felt different this month, Samuel simply replied, "No, mom always cooks weird stuff!" In exchange, I learned to delegate more to my kids. Samuel perfected scrambled eggs with salsa and demonstrated pride in his work while scrubbing all the hand-wash dishes. Anna cooked mac-and-cheese and showed she was tall enough to put away all but the top shelf dishes.
During our experiment, I wondered if it would have been just as challenging given a bigger (or smaller!) budget. Is money one of those things that grows or shrinks to fit our pockets? Like our stuff that accumulates until it expands to the size of our closets, are we naturally inclined to spend what we have, whatever that amount may be?
Although I didn't master my own closet during the month of June, I did manage to clean out the pantry and defrost the freezer. These small jobs are so much easier when there is not so much to move! A few baby steps toward organization made the bigger jobs in life seem possible. Maybe Billy Graham was right when he said, "If a person gets his attitude toward money straight, it will help straighten out almost every other area in his life."