by Kim Wiezycki
I love a healthy challenge. And if it involves books, I’m even more ready to accept.
When Kristin asked Beautiful Bloggers to read Jen Hatmaker’s book “7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess”, I couldn’t wait to begin reading! I was intrigued by the author’s self-imposed 7 month challenge and envious of her results. As she eliminated excess from her life, she was more focused on Jesus and his teachings and saw clearer ways she could help, serve, and love others.
My challenge was to decide which “fast” to do for the month of July in my own experiment. After thought and prayer, I settled on ‘excess spending’. Who couldn’t save a few bucks and practice delayed gratification, right? So, I talked with my husband about the idea and assured him that he and the kids did not have to participate. To my surprise, they wanted to! Well, Larry wanted to, but the boys were pretty good sports with only the occasional complaint. Besides, I had bought Adventure Island summer passes in June so they weren’t exactly deprived of all summer fun.
We decided to halt spending in the following areas:
1. No restaurants.
Confession: We decided to allow Chipotle take-out as the occasional exception. Sometimes Mom needs a night off and I figured I can’t make the same meal cheaper with quality ingredients anyhow.
2. No coffee shop purchases.
If I wanted to meet friends at Starbucks, I’ made my own homemade 50 cent coffee in my Starbucks mug. One can still be social and not spend.
3. No dessert shoppes.
I love our favorite ice cream, fro-yo, donut, and slurpee spots but adding it all up each month equals a college fund contribution. So, we bought grocery store ice cream and donuts! It’s half the price and the boys were just as appreciative.
4. No purchases of clothes, shoes, accessories, hair do-dads, make up, or running items.
Our closets were already full. In fact, we were able to give away several bags of clothes!
5. No lunch dates, dinner dates, breakfast dates with friends (not even if the other party offered to pick up the tab).
It was a joy to have friends and family over to our home or be guests in theirs. And we noticed that we have better quality time in the comfort of our home anyways!
6. No movie theater visits, music, tv show, or on-demand purchases.
We have enough already downloaded!
7. No book purchases.
I almost never say no to buying books, but when our shelves are already filled with novels we have yet to read, there is no reason to buy more. Plus, we had a great time going to the library several times in July.
What did this fast accomplish for our family? Well, who would have guessed that this month would be one of our financially tightest months in several years. We had a few unexpected circumstances that, had we been spending frivolously, would have brought much stress upon our family.
July’s fast helped us through some challenges and yet the blessings were more obvious to us….we noticed how much we already have.
We always had enough food in the house. We still had enough to give away. We rediscovered entertainment in games, books, toys, and movies that had been tucked away in cabinets. We intentionally donated household items and clothes instead of bringing in more.
I know you’re wondering if we cheated at all during the month. Well, yes there were a few moments where I felt like I “messed up”. For instance, one day (when I forgot about the challenge) I bought an app for my iPad so we could watch a re-enactment of Pickett’s Charge on the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. And there was a time or two my kids actually got excited that I “messed up”, like the day they challenged me about why it was justifiable to order cheesesteaks at a graduation after-party that was held at a restaurant. Those times were great conversation starters and teachable moments about grace, pride, legalism, and the principles behind this particular challenge.
This experiment of curbing 7 ways of excess spending taught our family a lot more than just a few ways to save a buck. I knew that we would have to practice self-control and I suspected we would develop a few lasting good habits. But through prayer, life circumstances, and conversation, we grew in more ways than we expected to, and I hope the challenge taught our boys something relevant as we lead them in the ways they should go.
Have you ever curbed your spending? If so, what did you learn from that expierence?! Share your comments below.
Kim has been married to Larry Wiezycki for 17 years and they have two boys, ages 12 and 10. When Kim isn’t in church, she can be found teaching curly girls how to take care of their hair, spending way too much time on Facebook or reading real books, and running a half marathon here and there.