One Mom's Frugal Mission: Thirty Days Of Nothing

BlogHer Original Post

These are expensive times, and families are having to get creative in maximizing their resources. One blogger, Mary of Owlhaven, is a mom of ten kids committed to teaching her kids common-sense frugality by example. She's hosting a carnival at her blog called 30 Days of Nothing, an idea originally launched a couple of years ago at another blog. The idea is, at once, simple and daunting: Mary and her family aim to cut out all unnecessary purchases, and focus only on the essentials, for 30 days.

But Mary's motivation isn't purely a financial one. Six of her children are adopted internationally, four of them from Africa, and she wants this to be an opportunity to teach her kids lessons about plenty and want. She reflects on this as she sits in front of a steaming cup of coffee in a coffee shop:

Meanwhile, the coffee farmer who grew my posh coffee can barely feed his family. My closet could clothe half a village, and the clothes I just discarded from my little girls’ room could clothe the other half. My 1998 Ford Econoline would make most people in this world feel as rich as a sultan (though, granted, the gas would bankrupt them). And kitchen floors in homes all over the world are just dirt.

How much am I really entitled to? And if I didn’t have such a large sense of entitlement, what could just a bit of my excess accomplish for someone else? Tough questions. Questions we’ll be thinking about this month.

And so Mary and her family embark on this challenge, one of the specfic aims being to spend only a remarkable $200 (for a family of 12!) at the grocery store this month:

Yeah. $200 for the whole month. Fifty measly bucks a week. I usually spend that much before I walk 50 feet in WalMart, let alone all the way to the back of the store to grab eggs. I may be insane.

The participants in Mary's carnival write at their own blogs about the specific challenges and victories they're facing in this experiment. Michelle of My Own Little World is learning that it's the small things:

The thermostat has been turned up 3 degrees and I'm ready to hang some laundry out to dry as soon as I get it washed.

Fawndear has mixed emotions about the challenge:

Believe it or not I'm dang excited but scared silly all at the same time. The only thing is I'm a wee bit afraid of the whining I’m going to have to deal with when we tell the kids sorry but no McDonalds or snacks or DVD rentals or something they feel entitled to, but isn't really a need.

Streams From the Desert marvels at how this experiment is changing her habits:

We moved two weeks ago and my plan was to purchase some sort of shelf and roll out keyboard for my armoire turned office. Instead of going out and purchasing these items new I am searching for them used, as well as other alternatives (like, if I found scrap wood I would make one!) This is one example, so far, of me responding to the challenge. I also was a lot more conscious at the grocery today: “Do I really need this? Can I do without this?” I even took my calculator and added up prices as we went, so I was sure to stay in the budget!

A complete list of participants, all of whom are chronicling their journey at their blogs, can be found on this post of Owlhaven's.

Plenty of other families are blogging specific ideas for enhancing frugality as well. Here are several good ones:

Hillbilly Housewife

My Daily Dollars

Frugal Babe

Frugal Hacks

Squawk Fox

Blissfully Domestic (financial channel)

Like Merchant Ships

Money Saving Mom

Days To Come

What are your favorite frugal-living blogs?

Shannon Lowe is a BlogHer contributing editor (Mommy/Family). She also blogs at Rocks In My Dryer and The Parenting Post.

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