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***Be sure to check the bottom of this post as I have added an exciting announcement.***

We have our first week of no spend months behind us and I’m already feeling a bit burnt out. It isn’t because of the no spending, just due to a very busy week. It would have been nice to be able to get some take out one night to ease the burden, but we pulled through and dinner, once again, is in the crock pot. Here is the overview:

Food

$0 spent. We had company last Sunday and I served rice and beans, ironically. We have meat in the house, but that’s what was on the menu that day. We later told him about our no spend project. I also later found out he was trying to eat low-carb. Woops!

Car Mileage

I think we drove about 190 miles this week, which seems like a huge amount to me. My husband took a few trips to the local hardware store due to a building project he had in the works before we started this project. We are hoping to keep it down to a little over 100 miles this week. Of course gas is about half of what it was a month ago, so it seems like we are spending a lot less money on gas.

Other Expenses

My husband spent around $50 on materials for his project that he had started in October. This was already expected and I gave him a free pas on that one ;).

Laundry

I hung a total of 1 load of laundry this week, falling way short of my goal of hanging 5 loads. I am not sure how feasible it is going to be to hang half of our laundry a week. It takes a long time to dry and so far I haven’t forced myself to do it. I’d like too, though, so I will try harder this week.

Wrapping it up

So we didn’t spend any money outside of either pre-planned expenses or expected bills, which was nice. I gave away a huge pile of “stuff” that I was thinking of trying to sell, but in the end decided I just wanted it out of our house, and if someone else can use it – all the better. My husband and I agreed that in my stage of life with an infant and a toddler I have to make sure that I am not trying to do too much. So if I can’t hang half of the laundry I need to just let it go. These two months aren’t supposed to save us money while breaking me mentally. I am hoping to get a bigger emotional and spiritual lesson out of this than anything, so keeping things in perspective is important. I have also found it interesting to see others reactions to our project. We have told a couple of close relatives about the project and their reaction was the same – why? This really saddened me. Even after explaining that we are prepared and that we are hoping to achieve financial and spiritual gain from this challenge, they still were baffled.

We have decided that whatever extra money comes out of this will be going straight towards paying off our student loan debt. We are closing in on it and, Lord willing, could pay it off by the end of 2009, maybe even sooner. This is the only debt we have and once it is free and clear we can finish saving up for a mortgage-free home of our own!

So, we forge ahead with week two… follow along!

***ETA: We generally pay student loans one time per month. In the past we have made larger payments, but the past 6 months or so we have been making smaller payments – around $200, due to midwife costs and post-baby expenses. My husband was in the office yesterday checking bank accounts and adding up what we have in our savings/loans category. He came out and excitedly told me “We will be making a payment of $1400 this week – and that’s just the first payment for the month!”***

Simplifying our lives involves many, many things. Learning to do the things that we normally rely on others to do is simplicity at it’s foundation. One of the applications for this is in our kitchens. When we learn techniques for making things from scratch not only are we broadening our skill set, but we are also making far tastier and healthier foods.

Here are a few ideas for making things you would normally buy at the grocery store.

Butter

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I have read other blogs that give good tutorials on making butter so I won’t post one here. Michele posted a great tutorial, which I used as an outline in my butter making process.

Yogurt

I have made yogurt before, but when we moved and no longer had a gas stove with a pilot light I stopped and have looked for a simple way to make it since. I love using my crock pot so this recipe was perfect for me.

Applesauce

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We love fruit in our house, but since I won’t be shopping for it weekly for the next two months I had to preserve some fresh local apples so that they wouldn’t overtake my refrigerator. I made and canned no-sugar cinnamon applesauce. This is a great site for canning and preserving information.