If you don’t know what The $20 Challenge is, click here.
Part of the reason why I instituted The $20 Challenge was to teach my kids a little something about money. They are four and six, and they have no concept of what things cost and thus how it weighs on me when dealing with what feel like constant requests for new toys, junk food, expensive outings and activities. I have been known to say I feel like I’ve “created a monster,” because my six-year-old in particular often seems unsatisfied. He wants his treats and entertainment to be “cool,” which makes me yearn for the good old days — when I spent my summers in the backyard in our swimming pool, eating popsicles and drinking Kool-Aid.
On Monday, I was very proud of him for “saving his money.” I’ve explained The $20 Challenge to them, posing it as a sort of game — between the three of us, we’re only allowed to spend $20 every day — so wherever we go, whatever we do, I’m always reminding them that if we spend now, we won’t be able to spend later.
So we went to a local (free) wildlife center that sells Audubon birds that he and his cousins collect, and I explained to him that if he chose to spend “his” money there, we wouldn’t have much left over for anything else that day.
He decided to forgo the bird and “save” the money for some place else. Well, the end of Monday rolled around, and we did NOT spend on anything else (other than the kids’ probiotics I picked up at Whole Foods). So Tuesday, FROM THE SECOND HE WOKE UP it was, “Where are we going today? What can we do today? I saved my money. What can I get? When can we go to Target? Let’s go to Target now” when I’ve already sworn off the toy aisle at Target forevermore.
Nails on a chalkboard.
I texted a friend who we had plans with. What’s on the agenda? Kids are already driving me up the wall.
Me, too! she chimed in.
Crisis averted. Although he woke up wanting wanting wanting, I was able to distract him, and together we spent the remainder of the $20 from the previous day on lunch and some torpedoes for the pool. That would have given us a $10 balance!
Except I forgot all about our Peapod delivery Sunday morning.
I *love* Peapod. Like the farmer’s market/coffee shop Saturday routine, part of our Sunday routine includes waiting for the bright green delivery truck. The kids wait at the top of the stairs, and I toss up their treats assembly-line style while the rest is unloaded. Some people think it’s expensive, but because of the easy search features, I only buy what’s on sale; I can pick the cheapest version of an item if I want; I can arrange my order so it’s right over the $60 minimum and I can even search for clearance items while the cost is tallied up for me.
I saved almost $10 this week with coupons, but it’s still three days’ worth of spending money. So I’m faced with a decision: Find a time during the week to hit ALDI on my own (sans kids) and try to spend less than $60, or work around this creature comfort. It feels like a defeat. Negative $50? But I have to remind myself that we had a $30 mistake at the children’s museum; I can spend $20 to $30 less on Saturday and $20 less on Sunday, and even with Peapod in that scenario we’d break even. Honestly though? It’s daunting to imagine living this way even just until summer is over. I think one of the tricks of this challenge will be to appreciate the work I’m putting in now without projecting into the future that it will always be this way. I have to check in with myself often: Am I feeling restricted, which isn’t the point, or am I feeling productive, responsible and starting to delve into the real work of the challenge? Because it’s not JUST about saving money…it goes so much deeper.
Do you ever get discouraged when it comes to your finances? Does budgeting feel like a drag to you? I’m still waiting for this to feel fun…or at least better.
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