Sunday, July 28, 2013

FINANCIAL FASTING: week four...almost done!!!

Wow, we had a super busy week...and we did great on the spending...except my big along with me and see how we did!

I left off here ending our third week with Aug 19th.

So, Aug 20th:
This was a good day with some of the kids going to watch their team mates do a divisional swim meet. I made sure they remembered to pack extra food because they were not aloud to spend money at the concession.

It also was our monthly date. We were married on the 20th of May so we try to go out on a "date" on or near the 20th of each month. We were grateful we had a gift card to OUTBACK and enjoyed our time together especially since this summer has been our busiest in 24 years of parenting! Five of our kids decided to do swimming this was fun but a huge commitment especially since we don't do summer sports. It is a time to relax in our house after a busy spring soccer season. Well, I'm exhausted! (We also were thrilled that we had enough extra on our gift card to bring home a bloomin onion to our boys who babysat for us!)

That night was our pools family night party. It was great since it was free and fun! I made sure to pack lots of goodies so we were not tempted to spend at the snack bar.

July 21st:
Boys served mass and it was Donut Sunday!
Went to a wonderful going away party at this kind family's home for a holy family who will be greatly missed! It was so fun to see lots of old friends and meet a couple of new ones!

July 22nd:
Two of my kids had a soccer party to go to. God is so good. I was the one in charge of getting the gift for the coach. Since we didn't think this was really an unnecessary spending we didn't think twice about contributing to this. Well, God helps out in all things...I ended up getting the coach a bunch of gift cards at Giant Grocery store for local restaurants.  I was contributing $20 towards the coach's gift. When I opened my wallet to pay the cashier I saw a $20 Giant gift card next to all the cash I collected from the, there was my contribution and I really didn't need to spend "our money."  I also was taking three of my younger children to a special "members only" night at the Baltimore Aquarium. Since it was free I was pleased. I also haven't been considering gas or parking against our fast. Well, my super, wonderful Mother In Love came with us and paid for score again! No spending necessary!

July 23rd...nothing to tempt us!

July 24th:
Swim Team Trip! I was really worried how this was gonna end up, especially since we never have gone on this trip before. I forewarned the kids that we were not going to go to GROTTO'S pizza on the way home like the rest of the families. Everyone understood and was agreeable especially since they were so grateful that they got to go in the first place. I was so worried; that I packed enough food for three days! I was bringing seven of my own kids and five friends. With five teenage boys coming I wanted to make sure I had enough food so I wouldn't be in a situation to "have to" buy food. The trip was at a park beach, and the admission was paid for by the team. Some of the kids I brought ended up giving me $20 to help with gas and paying for the bridge. We got there bright and early and got situated. We did fine for the day and ended up taking home lots of extra food!

July 25th:
Swim Team Banquet! This wasn't going to cost anything. We were to bring a main dish, a side dish, and a drink to share. I had plenty of food in the frig and making the food was easy. Then I realized I didn't have any liters of soda or juice. We only drink water and milk unless we are at a party or hosting one...which is practically weekly in this house! I made a gallon of ice tea which is a big treat in our house. I brought it to the party and set it up with all the other drinks brought by the team. It was pretty comical seeing about 44 liters of soda and our tupperware pitcher of ice tea!
July 26th: My big mistake day...I went grocery shopping today and went to pick up a battery for my son's car. Well, the car shop just happened to be next to my all time favorite Dollar Store! I decided to stop in the Dollar Store to pick up some mosquito repellent bracelets for two of my kids who are very allergic to bites. Since we were going camping I ran in the store to see if they had any. (First mistake) In the past, when we were poorer than dirt...I would of called first to see if they had any. When the woman said they didn't I should of left right away. (Second mistake) Then I picked up some things and left. Twelve things to be exact...I got in the car to go to the grocery store and decided right then that I totally "cheated" against our FAST. It was kinda like accidentally eating a hamburger on a Friday during Lent. I didn't mean to do it and I really didn't buy anything that we didn't need. We just didn't need it this week. I could of totally waited till August!

This is what I bought:
3 pregnancy tests...(no, I am not pregnant-darn! But, since I am kinda going through menopause I take a test about every other month in hopes that we will be blessed again!)
4 packs of cupcake baking cups...(we have been running out and we have lots of birthdays coming up)
3 boy soccer bottles...(to be used for party bags for the 6 year old party we are having in August-I needed some extra)
2 packs of baking bags (kinda like party bags)

If I would of bought these things in a grocery store I wouldn't of thought they were really cheating...but since I got caught up in the dollar store and I could of waited a week- I did. It is a good reminder to my self that we need to think and retrain ourselves on our spending. Not get caught up in the moment. Purposeful Spending and well thought out! Little things like calling ahead can help alot too!

We shop at ALDI's and it has saved us tons! First of all they don't have lots of I get what I need and get out! We quit our BJ's membership since I save on buying my produce at ALDI's. 

July 27th:
Cleaning and getting organized for our family trip on Monday. We had a nice family dinner with most of my kids...we all love when the big kids come home to have a meal with us!

July 28th:
We had a relaxing day after mass and taking care of a couple of sick kids and packing for our camping trip on Monday!

I loved today's reading at mass. Two of them were my favorite. The first Gn 18:20-32
reminds me of myself...always pushing and asking God for more! Than the gospel is also just like me!
My favorite parts:
"And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend
to whom he goes at midnight and says,
‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread,
for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey
and I have nothing to offer him,’
and he says in reply from within,
‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked
and my children and I are already in bed.
I cannot get up to give you anything.’
I tell you,
if he does not get up to give the visitor the loaves
because of their friendship,
he will get up to give him whatever he needs
because of his persistence.

“And I tell you, ask and you will receive;
seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks, receives;
and the one who seeks, finds;
and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened."

Just ask my family, friends, and neighbors...I don't know if it is because I am the youngest or it is due to my temperament...but I have no problem asking my neighbor for some bread or anything else I need! I also ASK/SEEK/and KNOCK on God's door all the time!
God and I have a great relationship...I ask and he usually gives it to me.
My motto has always been: THY WILL BE DONE!!!
I was gratefully reminded that this week when my skinny husband took off his wedding band and showed me what I had engraved in said, "THY WILL BE DONE!"
Go God! The inside of my ring says, ".Eph 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her" 

Well, I am off to bed...but couldn't help giving my husband a huge Shout Out for starting to blog again! Please read over at Sardonic Catholic Dad and read all his post on the how to's to do this budget thing...God is good to give me such a faithful servant as a husband and he had done such a great job at posting lots of ideas on saving! (ONE THING I DID REMIND HIM was: Don't forget that a budget spreadsheet is like a family job chart you have to make it meet the needs of your individual family. Most importantly the fact that for many many years God always provided for us even when we we didn't make enough each month to pay our bills we didn't go into debt-God just met our needs!) Wow...Chores and Job Charts...don't get me started...that is for another day...


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Financial Fast: this week

Before I talk about Financial Fasting I have to share some thoughts on this year. 
Last year I was pregnant with our Steven, you can read more here
Thank you everyone for your prayers. 
We are still trying to heal.
Now on to our Financial Fast

If you have been following me here or here...I thought I would put you up to date. We have gone back to some simple saving things, some new and some we used to do. Silly things like turning off lights and fans, we got rid of our dimmer switches, and making our own laundry detergent!

What I have enjoyed this week is that I am going back to being my creative poor self. When we had no money I always found ways to give gifts and make treats. 

July 13-I went to a baby shower and pulled together some cute gifts from my gift box. (This is a box that I put gifts in that I find on sale during the year. With so many kids and friends, we are always going to a party around here!) The favorite gift that all the guests liked was a framed picture of the baby's sonogram that I found on the mom's facebook page. I just clicked on the photo and saved it to my computer than pushed print and framed it! What a hit!!!

July 14-Another party...this time a wedding shower! Again another great gift! I went on a theme, since the bride lives in North Dakota, I did a snowman theme! It was a hit and I had a bunch of great stuff in my box from after Christmas sales!

July 15-I can' t believe that I am only half way there!!! This is such a lonnnggg month! Some of my  boys went to a quo vardis retreat and I gave my friend some gas money for driving them. Since we are only using money this month on gas and groceries, I figured that didn't count as unnecessary spending.

July 16-17- Lots of running around and we have been cooking alot to make homemade snacks for fun! We made granola bars, fried oreos (I made mine with funnel cake mix), snack mix, and sauteed kale with garlic and roasted almonds-yum.

July 18-My little kids had a mini meet for swimming then we made thank you cupcakes for my girls camp counselors. They were amazing cupcakes!!! Wow, we used a white cake mix and put the cupcake liner in the pan and put a double stuff oreo on the bottom, then we put creamy peanut butter on top of the cookie, then another oreo, more peanut butter...pour on the cake mix and cook! Then we made the yummiest frosting! It is so amazing:

Peanut butter frosting:
1 cup creamy peanut butter
8 tablespoons butter (1 stick) at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar sifted
3 to 4 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Place the peanut butter and butter in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed until fluffy, 30 seconds. Stop the machine. Add the confectioners' sugar, 3 tablespoons of milk, and the vanilla. Blend with the mixer on low speed until the sugar is well combined, 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and beat until the frosting lightens and is fluffy. Blend in up to 1 tablespoon milk if the frosting seems to stiff. Everyone loved them and we were grateful to those who helped, without spending money!

July 19-Today I went to visit my dear friend, who is like beloved aunt to me, She is in a nursing home and for her birthday I was going to take her out to lunch. My husband and I decided this was "necessary" since I didn't see her enough and she is dying soon. Well, I went to pay the bill and of course she didn't let me again, I dodged spending money!

For Christmas my husband gave me a once a month cleaning lady who comes to clean our 3 bathrooms. It is the best gift ever and we all love when she comes!!! My kids chant her name when she leaves because it smells so great...and with 8 boys and a husband...our bathrooms get a workout!!! (OK, me and the four girls do our share too!) So, I cancelled her this month to stick with our Fast.

This is also the night when many of our friends go to the local pool for Adult Night...and they were serving California Tortilla-which is one of my favorites!!! It was another small sacrifice I decided to make.

When I talked with my son about the fact that this FAST has been really hard on all of us, he said, "What were you thinking doing this in July during summer when we do lots of fun stuff?!" Well, he had a point. We will not do this in July again...but, our family actually does fun stuff every month! 

My suggestion to anyone who does the Financial Fasting would be to try a week first. My husband and I keep saying, "wow, we are really good about not spending frivolously, I don't know how people who actually spend alot could do this!" It is like going on a need to watch what you eat and exercise...with spending you need to watch what you spend and exercise SELF CONTROL!!! The great thing about being Catholic is we know we can offer up our suffering and sacrifice for something like a women in labor or vocations. 

So off to enjoy my weekend...not spending!!!


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Financial Fasting: update and lots of thoughts!!!

If you have been following my Financial Fasting posts well here is more...

I left off at July 8th.
Here is how the past couple of days have gone:

July 9th:This was a real breaking point for us to accept why we are actually doing this fast. It really isn't about the money, but about sacrificing and learning the difference between needs and wants!
The day went real money kids are pretty used to us bringing snacks to the pool and not buying stuff anyway...BUT: the really, I mean really hard part came that evening!!! After swim team everyone was excited about the BIG city meet that night!!! I mean if you know swimming in our town...this is bigger than HOMECOMING games!!! The four local pools compete for the "city title" all the teams DRESS UP in a different secret theme. I MEAN SECRET!!! Even the team members don't always know what the theme really is, just an idea of what to dress like. So...we were told the hint: wear NEON!!! Well, we got some neon stuff around the house and we had fun gathering and dressing up in what WE HAD...we looked pretty good and all were satisfied except my poor 13 year old son, who has been having a rough time of this fasting thing anyway. (NOTE TO SELF: do not do financial fast next July during busy swim team time!) The kids knew we were not going to BUY the team shirts. That was fine... Then it happened...we walked into the pool and most...the kids were running around in their really cool swim team "costume" with the cool YELLOW NEON team shirt and all. The kids looked great! They were decked out with neon glasses, headbands, socks, shorts, drink name it if it was neon...THEY had IT!!! Now of course, these were all my 13 year olds best he kinda...I mean REALLY stood out in the crowd with his pink shirt on. Even I, the wicked old witch felt bad for him!!! He had his own hard earned money and I had $26 in my wallet...but remember-this isn't about not having the money to do cool things. but about making a sacrifice and learning about needs and wants!!! Everyone kinda looked at me like, "those poor kids-their mom is so mean, I just want to buy them a shirt, they will be in therapy for years after this!!!' We stuck to our guns and kept thinking of "little Jose" who we were sponsoring in Bolivia and offering up our desires for many intentions.

Then we got to the meet and I had dinner in my cooler. I made "walking tacos" just like I knew the pool would be serving that night and lots of snacks...of course they were hungry later and my food didn't look half as exciting as all the good chicken/fries/candy/slushies, that all the other kids were eating! But, we made it through the night and I kept reminding myself we were learning (and teaching) discipline, self control, and character development!!! Not to mention great future stories for them to tell their kids or during a homely some day..."MY MOM WAS SO MEAN...WE WEREN'T ALLOWED TO HAVE A SHIRT LIKE EVERYONE ELSE!!! WE WERE THE ONLY ONES IN THE TEAM PICTURE THAT DIDN'T MATCH!"

July 10th: pretty spending :) I joked with my 13 year old that he should look in the lost and found for one of the shirts that everyone bought the night before...then he could finally be cool like them. My friend Amy just laughed and said I should write a book-She was nice enough to not say, "It should be titled Worlds Toughest Mother!!!" I told my boys I am gonna get a bumper sticker and shirt that says, "TOUGH MUDDER!" Get it tough mother!!! Love this idea! My college son's buddy said I should get a sticker that has a mom with a whip, instead of those nice mom stickers we see all the time!

July 11th: good news: free slurpee day!!! So we all got money spent!!!

It was also the FEAST of ST.BENEDICT...he had a lot of wisdom to share with me this day!!! I have had the honor of getting to 6:30 am mass lately since the swim lessons and all have messed up our regular daily mass schedule. This has been a blessed time for me for many reasons.  One because I don't have all my kids distracting me, also I have been able to be there early for meditation and quiet time, and it is in the chapel where my hubby and I got married and all 13 of my children were baptized! It is also where my parents, sister, and two of my three babies in heaven are buried.

This is what I learned in my quiet time and the excellent homily from our wonderful priest: 
Father said that St Benedict would be proud of us for coming each morning to early mass. That we "DON'T LIVE BASED ON WHIMS" yeah, St. Benedict understands me!!! Father said we need to learn to turn over our will to God and live balanced lives. We need to pray for those who live in CHAOS and those who lack peace!

In my quiet time God reminded me that living "out of your means" is like living a lie. Just like when we lie, the snowball effect happens and it can spin out of does our spending if we don't control it. Spending can become an addiction. Some may do it to keep up with the "Jones" or because they are too embarrassed to say, "sorry we can't do this right now, we just don't have the funds." Or they may want their kids to have all the cool stuff they didn't get to have as a kid? Maybe they just don't realize how to budget or say no to the "whims?"

Luke 12:42-44

New American Standard Bible (NASB)
42 And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom his master will put in charge of his servants, to give them their rations at the proper time? 43 Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. 44 Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions.

I am grateful to my parents for never giving into the whims!!! First of all we didn't have alot of extra. Also because they new we had to learn the difference between wants and needs! I also am very grateful for starting off marriage without any money!!! That is how it should be...I know so many new couples think they need a house and all sorts of stuff before they get married. WRONG! When you don't have extra you just have each other. You learn to depend on each other not stuff. I also learned how to be creative in my spending (or lack there of!)

Not to totally go off on the point of spending unnecessarily but many of the commandments remind me of what can happen if your spending  gets out of control.

  • You shall not steal.(of course careless spending isn't stealing but if you aren't managing your money prudently than you can't tithe or share with the poor!!! How many times I have said, "we really can't donate or help this wonderful organization right now, we can barely take care of OUR bills...but when I see something I want or think we need...all of a sudden, I have the money for it!)
  • You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.(how about ourselves? are we giving the wrong impression to others that actually we have what the Jones' have? Or we can afford the the things that we do?)
  • You shall not covet your neighbor's wife. (Are we wishing we had what "she has?" her husband? her kids? her car or clothes? DO we play's not fair she gets this stuff?)
  • You shall not covet your neighbor's goods. Why do we spend what we do? Is it because we are embarrassed that our kids won't have what their friends have? Be in the same cool clubs or activities that they get to do? 

  •  What is it that make us spin out of control?

    July 12th: today!!!  Chic Fli a day!!! Free meals for us all...what free fun!!!
    Less than half of my calves came with me! But we had fun with all our buddies!


    Sunday, July 7, 2013

    Financial Fasting: daily update!!!

    On Friday, September 21, 2012  we paid off our house!!! I really made a big deal about it...why? "Cause I wanted to show off? Make others feel bad? Be a conceited, obnoxious friend?" No, I told people because I was SO proud of my HUSBAND, that all the years of financial stress and frustration had finally paid off. Also, so others (the world) could know that a large family on one income could one day live debt free!!!

    No offense to others who struggle with finances...God gave me a wonderful husband who trusted God to meet our needs, who knew we were called to have a big family, and who believed strongly in me being a stay at home mom!!! I know many Godly lovely people who live within their means and try to do what God asks of them. It sure isn't easy. We have been married 24 years and finances have been difficult since day one! I was blessed to have my dream come true when I got pregnant with our first daughter on our honeymoon!!! I stopped working at the "big paying" job of daycare and finishing up my last year of college!!! When our precious first born was 6 months old we decided to open a Christian Bookstore, and my husband kept his bank job... till we very soon found out that baby #2 was coming!!! We knew that was God saying, "trust in me, close your eyes, and JUMP into my arms with great faith!!!" So, my hubby quit his job (boy, did our family and friends think we were crazy) and worked full time at the bookstore so I could take care of the two babies!!! Right after that I became pregnant again...and the Good Lord just kept blessing us with more precious babies!!! People were inspired by God to be generous to, meals, cars, help, furniture, clothes, you name it...if we needed came!!! It was always a struggle to tithe when we didn't even have enough to meet our monthly needs...but we did what we could when we could and God always blessed us with more!!! We even got a new house on a last minute deal!!! Our agent was shocked at our "LUCK" he called it! Ha!!! Didn't he know, Philippians 4:19:
    "And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus."

    Same thing happened with the house we live in now, we got a foreclosure in the coolest neighborhood ever...I have never seen so much providing as in the days when we were "needy"!!! God was at our constant side...then, we closed the bookstore and my hubby got a better job. It even came with insurance, sick leave, and vacation!!! WOW! We started to get comfortable...and when I say comfortable, I mean we would buy ice cream and paper towels!!! (I know we are so frivolous!!!)  We even started to do our monthly dates by going out (instead of doing them at home when the kids went to bed)!

    It was always a struggle and a sacrifice not to zip through the  fast food places when we had fussy kids, sign up our kids for that great activity/sport, buy a new car, go out to eat, go on nice vacations, or buy those cool toys/cloths/ or appliances that "we just got to have"! It really required planing and thinking on our part...making sure we packed food when we were out, find free activities to participate in, ask for gift cards to restaurants for gifts, visit family instead of going to vacation spots, get toys/clothes or appliances from freecycle/garage sales/ goodwill, etc...  Even though it was tough on us, it not only was a good sacrifice for us it was a great EXAMPLE to our kids, that you don't just buy on an impulse or waste your money on "things", you need self control and detachment.

    This has come in handy with our teens who look for jobs as soon as they are old enough so they can save for: phone, services, car, insurance, college and other expenses on their own!!! So far they have done pretty well...we have our first-born who graduated with honors debt free!!! We have four others in college who have sacrificed things like dreams of out of state college and some the idea of living on campus. They all have attended a community college (thank God we have one of the best in the country!!!) for two years and then they transfer to a state college. Some have chose to commute if close enough and others have figured out ways to pay for housing.

    After we paid off our house we enjoyed a couple of months of living debt free and then the tax break ended and our health insurance went up! So we weren't earning as much...we kept saving but not like we used to.

    With all good things, we started to get lazy in our spending! So, at the end of June my husband decided we needed to give financial fasting a try. So we decided that July was a good month since we just came back from vacation and we had no big spending plans coming up. It was decided that we would only buy "needed groceries" and gas and pay our monthly bills. We had a family meeting...told the college kids that they were responsible for themselves and their spending, but it wouldn't hurt to reign in some of their spending on movies and fast food.

    I thought it wouldn't be a big deal, I am good about not spending unnecessarily.  I made sure I had some little small gifts for my gift basket in case a birthday party came up and I was ready for June!!!

    June 30th: Big sister took the kids out to the movies for a last spending spree...kinda like "Fat Tuesday"! My husband signed up the family to a sponsor a child through Christian Foundation for children and aging. This was on our to do list and we figured it was worth the monthly sacrifice!!! The kids loved picking out a child and praying for our little "Jose"!

    July 1st: went well!!!

    July 2nd: birthday party-gift taken care of!!! Someone gave us two coolers full of popsicles and ice cream left over from end of the year school parties!!! Yahoo...desserts for the month!!!

    July 3rd: miss spending money...didn't think it would be so hard...I almost caved when the swim team was selling washed towels from the lost and found for $2 and some of my kids forgot towels and others towels were wet...hmmm...this seems like a necessity...but, really it was just poor planning and organizing on our part. We have lots of towels at home!!! We should of just made sure they were clean and dry...we should of made sure we put them in our pool bag...etc...(really this is how we spend most of our money...oops I forgot the snacks, oops I forgot the water bottles, oops I forgot to plan is always this or that! Of course sometimes we can splurge but if we budget or plan ahead than we can spend for fun---GUILT FREE!!)

    July 4th: sorry kids no glow ropes or sparklers like the rest of your friends-mom forgot to plan ahead...but I did have lots of snacks and juice boxes to share...and our friends are so great that they all shared with us!!! In my kids case...even if I bought glow ropes they wouldn't of been as "cool" as so and so's!!! You should see some of those cool things...swords and glasses all sorts of cool stuff!!!

    July 5th: had to make brownies for the food kitchen...even though I planned ahead...I still had to adjust since I was making a quadruple batch and use a chocolate cake mix to add to my brownie mix. It worked great...I just used less eggs than the cake mix asked for!!! Than we went camping for the day to meet up with my family who goes for the week...I filled the car up with gas and packed lots of snacks and drinks. It was a little tempting when we drove through the town and saw lots of fast food restaurants...but the kids just looked at me and grabbed the lame snacks mom packed!!! It worked out good that I had planned on going to see my family for the day. My friends were going out to lunch for a birthday celebration and I would of been bummed if I had to miss it due to our "fast". Then later that night our friends were all going to shrimp night at the pool, for if we went, would of totally been an extra spending for us.

    July 6th: Some of us were down with the 24 hour no spending. My two sons went to swim meet for the day...thank God the swim team provides lunch for home meets...and my 13 year old got to stay at the pool for the entire day for a volleyball tournament...he said he bought something at the snack bar and felt so guilty for breaking our fast...I assured him that it was one of those crazy days and mom and dad weren't both planning on getting sick. Things like that happen :)

    July 7th: no spending cravings today :)

    July 8th: daily update: did pretty good today...lots of talk with the teens about spending...we have many spending opportunities coming up...We discussed the unnecessary need to buy swim team shirts tomorrow night. We talked about not going out to eat with the "ENTIRE" (so they say) swim team tomorrow night after the big city meet. My son said, "This is so embarrassing, why do we  have to do this fast?" I said it is not embarrassing that your daddy paid off our house and our van?! It will not be embarrassing when you buy your own car when you are 16 will all the money you have been saving!!! It will not be embarrassing when you graduate from college debt free because you were wise in your spending!!! He kinda understood. Then we discussed that one of my favorite evenings is the parent night out with California Tortilla at the pool that daddy and I are gonna miss out on. I reminded them all that this week we get to go to 7/11 to get our free Slurpee and Friday go to Chic Flia for free food for Cow Appreciation Day!!! I did remind him that I cancelled my Christmas gift this month when daddy has a wonderful lady come and clean our bathrooms. (even know daddy said it was part of our monthly expenses) I said I would take them all to the swim team beach trip (not counting the gas for our 15 passenger van as an extra) but, we wouldn't go out to dinner with everyone afterwards. I will pack a ton of food and we will have a blast!!! They wanted to know if we have to do this again? I said yes, probably not till Lent but maybe in January!!!I am grateful for the opportunity to talk to them about spending and saving...Lord guide us!!!

    So I will update how the rest of the month goes!!!