Is it really all about the Benjamins?

Chapter 6 of my book challenge '7' by Jen Hatmaker {read about it from the beginning here}

With clothes, food, media, waste, and possessions out of the way, it was time our spending habits to be scrutinized. This was another chapter in my '7' challenge where I would need my husband on board. If I was going to limit my spending and he could spend money anywhere...  well, that wasn't really going to affect me much. We needed to be all in and in this together!


  1. Target
  2. Kroger
  3. Medical
  4. Bill Paying
  5. Gas {one local station}
  6. Travel Expenses {budgeted and cash}
  7. Whole Foods

The reason Whole Foods is number 7 is because it was added on the 2nd or 3rd day of the Spending Fast. Jeff was scheduled to meet with a couple guys on our Young Life committee to discuss the golf tournament. They were meeting for lunch at Whole Foods! I was pretty bummed at first but then came around. I realized first of all that it's just plain amazing that Jeff is doing this crazy fast with me! And number two, why not Whole Foods? You can eat breakfast or lunch there. And I suppose, although I've never tried it, you can probably eat dinner there too! Plus, they sell groceries and yummy, healthy ones at that.

But, back to the top of the list... Target is a no brainer. You can get some groceries, pretty much anything for the home, gifts, wrapping paper and cards, shampoo and nail polish. Target has it goin' on! Kroger is where we shop for groceries some of the time {we usually shop at Harris Teeter}. But, it's also where we get our prescriptions filled. Along those same lines we included Medical. If I was still a mom of young children I would have to include medical. And when I saw it on Jen Hatmaker's list it gave me food for thought. Jeff was going to have surgery the first week so I already knew we would have a medical expense. It was hard to include that on the list. But to be fair, and make it a true fast, it stayed on the list. Bill Paying was next. That was another one that the author of '7' had on her list. We gotta pay the bills every month! Next up was Gas. Duh! we drive places. And lastly, Travel Expenses because we were planning a 2 week trip by car to the Midwest to visit family, attend a family wedding and take care of our rental property in Tennessee on our way back.

It would seem a bit too easy to just have a category called Travel Expenses and have it be a free-for-all! So we sat down on day 2 of this month's fast and came up with a travel budget. We used our trust iphones and Google Maps to calculate the approximate mileage from Raleigh to my parents house on Lake Florida in Minnesota. Then Jeff's trip from the lake to his mom's in Faribault, MN. Then North to Minneapolis to pick up Holli at the airport and back to Lake Florida. Then... {phew!} back to Minneapolis for the wedding and back to Jeff's mom's in Faribault for another visit. Then from Faribault, MN to Nashville, TN to drop Holli off and eventually on to Knoxville, TN to deal with the rental house. And of course, finally back home to Raleigh {Cary}. We came up with 3,354 miles. Turns out it was a little low on the actual mileage estimate.

We took the total miles times the average gas price for the 7 states traveled {7 was just a lucky coincidence!} and came up with $665.20 for gas. We rounded up to $670 for gas on our trip.

We planned to be staying in a hotel the first night of the trip somewhere in Illinois, and the night of the wedding near Lake Minnetonka. We brought $250 along for that expense. And with our hotel tastes, that was probably dreaming!

Jeff decided on $20 a day for food. Keep in mind that we were staying most of the time with family so there would be many days without any food expense. We packed good eats in the car and lots of water. With our crackers and cheese, fresh fruit and popcorn, we didn't ever need to stop along the way for fast food! Our food total budget came to $260, making our grand total $1,180. We rounded up to $1,200 and put the extra $20 in the food envelope.

We had a nice little discussion about using cash. Let's face it, everyone pretty much whips out a card. A card sure makes it easier to buy gas and get back on the road. But, who said this was suppose to be easy! We talked about putting it all on a card but keeping track of what was spent where. That actually sounded more complicated to me. I knew I'd be doing the 'keeping track'! So, after I read this quote from "7", we agreed on the cash only method!

If a fast doesn’t include any sacrifices, then it’s not a fast. The discomfort is where the magic happens.
— —

I LOVE that quote! Thanks Jen Hatmaker! That really resonates with me. It's what has kept me from complaining as these months have worn on. Just 2 nights ago our dear friends asked us out for sushi. No, we couldn't go. Only two days left. We went ahead and made plans for tonight. Our sushi '7' celebration night! I don't think they realized just how much fun it was for us!

OK, back to the traveling with cash experience!

Jeff got used to going into the gas stations and paying his $40 up front! So, that was really just a tiny inconvenience. The Hotel in Illinois came to $115. It was a Country Inn and Suites in Normal, IL. and, it included breakfast. The coffee isn't great but you can start out the day with scrambled eggs and toast or at least a yogurt. Oh, and it turns out you HAVE to give them a credit card to stay the night. But upon check out you can pay the bill with cash. I guess living simply still requires a credit card!

I only spent $12 from the food budget while visiting my mom and dad at the Lake. Dad treats us to breakfast if we go out and the rest of the time we made meals at home.

Full disclosure... Jeff went to a Minnesota Twins baseball game with his brother. He used food money for food but I never asked him about the professional baseball game ticket expenditure. Let's face it. It's a small miracle that he participated in any of this '7' business that I roped him into! I felt it best not to question the baseball ticket.The hotel in Minneapolis that was suggested for the wedding party and guests was another Country Inn and Suites! That bill came to $129.32! We had $135 left in our Hotel envelope. Amazing, truly amazing! Details like this made it a fun game for me. And I'm sure it seemed like a game when I made Jeff wait a minute while I snapped a photo for my blog!

The hotel in Minneapolis that was suggested for the wedding party and guests was another Country Inn and Suites! That bill came to $129.32! We had $135 left in our Hotel envelope. Amazing, truly amazing! Details like this made it a fun game for me. And I'm sure it seemed like a game when I made Jeff wait a minute while I snapped a photo for my blog!

By the time we got to Nashville, on our way home, we still had $226 in our food envelope. With that surprising news we went out to dinner and lunch the following day! Then in Knoxville when it was back to just Jeff and I we had a decision to make. We were there to transition the rental house from one group of college kids to another. We had planned ahead a little bit in that we brought along an air mattress and sheets. We didn't however think to bring towels for a morning shower! We considered buying some towels at Target. We can always use new towels at this point in our marriage! However, after 2 days in the car again, sleeping in a not yet cleaned, empty house on an air mattress just didn't sound very inviting. We decided to use our extra food money on a hotel in Knoxville. We ended up with the best one of the trip! It was a Four Points by Sheriton across from the World's Fair Park for only $99! {$126 with taxes} Well worth it for a great nights rest.

More gas money used on the final leg left us with $41 total when we pulled into our driveway. The tank was close to empty so in realty if I take $40 of that to put back in the tank. We end our trip with $1.00.

It turns out we CAN live on a budget! At least we've proven that we can for 2 weeks!

baby steps

baby steps



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