July was the L - O - N - G - E - S - T month of my life.
But a month of many lessons.
Lesson 1: I spend a lot of careless money. Even on a budget. Even though living on one income has put us in the position to have to choose this or that, we Dunbar's still enjoy lunch out after church, snacks at Disneyland, Fastrack, cute t-shirts because they were on sale, small trips to JoAnn or Homegoods, $5 this or $5 that. Which adds up. Quickly!
Lesson 2: I can go without spending money if there is an end in sight. We had $100 to last us a month for anything that wasn't a true necessity. I went week by week. The last week was the hardest. I look like a frizzy rat with roots. (Ha.) Seriously I do, which will be cured on Tuesday night when I finally get to get my hair done. But if I had done that in the month of July there pretty much wouldn't have been room to get anything else. Probably not even toilet paper and I think we would have had a problem if I would have let that happen. So no, I don't want to live like this every month. There was an end in sight and I worked towards it. This whole project has given me a sense of what I can and can not live without.
Lesson 3: Budgeting can work, you just have to set your mind to it. With an end goal. My end of the month goal was to cut our family's expendable budget. I think I did that by almost 50%. But then again, it's just like Mr. Dunbar asked, "Are you going to just spend more money in the month of August?" The answer is, I am going to try to spend less than I did in June, or May, or any month before that. Our life is so different then when I was working. My wardrobe is different, my schedule is different, my purpose is different. Even though my priorities are still the same though, I'm learning that those don't necessarily cost money.
Lesson 4: God is good. We were totally blessed with gifts, groceries, free activities, and opportunities to improve our total budget this month. I truly believe God used many people this past month to bless us. And I am so so grateful.
Although I only had cents in my wallet on July 31st, I kept several hundred dollars out of Target and the mall. We threw less food away this month. I can tell you where pretty much every single dollar in our budget went. We were totally blessed by this little project.
ADDED: I just visited my very good friend Cathy's blog. She goes on a missionary trip to Alaska every summer with her family. Her post reminded me that what I think I can not live without is not really selfless at all. She just threw a monkey wrench to me. Thanks Cathy!