During this past snowstorm I couldn't get out of my driveway, which meant I couldn't go to a store, gas station or a restaurant. I didn't spend a dime. And, to be honest, I didn't feel as though I was missing anything. It felt good.
I am sure I wasn't the only one stranded at home during the storm. Did you have to make do with what you had at home, too?
I want to challenge you to try to have a week of no spending. I am not talking about putting off paying your bills or not paying your rent/mortgage. Those are regular fixed expenses that need to be dealt with when they come up. I'm taking about discretionary spending.
For example, what if you start by not stopping for morning coffee, by not downloading any songs from iTunes, and not buying a book or a movie or piece of clothing.
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Bring your family on board, too, so everyone can experience this money-saving technique. To make this work you need to use your imagination and leave your wallet at home. Here are tips that could help.
1. A major expense for many families is eating out. Before your challenge, plan your meals. While the goal is to eat from your pantry as much as possible, you want to be sure you have a satisfying diet so you won't be tempted to make a quick run to the store. Make sure you have a week's worth of paper items and full tanks of gas in your cars. If your child buys school lunches, take that money out of the bank and set it aside with other cash for any expenses you need to pay that week.
2. Use this week as a time to downsize your life. Have your family go through closets. This challenge can help you realize how much stuff you have that you don't really need. Earn money during this week by selling some of these items in a garage sale.
3. Spring, believe it or not, is right around the corner. Take time this week to clean. Open some windows and let the fresh air in. When clutter is gone and things are fresh, we feel better.
4. Free entertainment is available throughout Kentucky. Some suggestions: Go to the source of Lexington, McConnell Springs, where in 1775, frontier explorers got word of the first battle of the American Revolution at Lexington, Mass., and decided to name their campsite in its honor. It's on Rebmann Lane, off Old Frankfort Pike. (859) 225-4073 .
Do the Big Lex Scavenger Hunt. At the root of the legend of the blue horse is the famous horse of the mid-1800s named Lexington. The hunt covers 10 sites related to the horse behind the legend.
Lexington has many beautiful parks where you can spend an afternoon playing Frisbee, baseball, or simply swinging on the playground.
5. Read. One of the country's best free asset is our libraries. Today's libraries provide more than books, including DVDs, CDs, books on tape, board games, and puzzles.
I found that when I challenged myself during the recent snowstorm I ate better, I had time to get organized and decluttered. This challenge helped me realize how many small purchases I was making throughout the week.
I am not saying this challenge isn't hard, but it will make you mindful about the choices you are making. This is not about deprivation, it's about empowerment.
Other saving opportunities: