Moving to Thailand for us was a planned out endeavor. While a lot of our peers took a gap year or travelled right out of college and we would have liked to, Mr. Gumdrop and I knew our combined debt needed immediate attention. We ended up paying off our student debt and house in the six years between my graduation and our big move overseas. It took a lot of intentionality and commitment, support and blessings, but it also united us early in our marriage in an incredible way. Debt reduction can be a great unifier in marriage it turns out – you have something to combine forces against.
So one January, we were feeling very spoiled after the Christmas season and also frustrated with the progress we were making against our mountain of debt. We felt like we had so much abundance yet still were struggling to save the amount we wanted every month towards our debt free goal. Mr Gumdrop sent me an email right before New Years Eve:
I accepted the challenge and we got creative laying out the ground rules. The next year we tried again and some of our friends joined in and it got to be a fun communal thing, with everyone making their own guidelines and rules depending on what made sense for them and their goals. At the time of this first one, there was no baby Jujube, just two DINKs – double income no kids – so we tried to really go for it. But it could be as simple as committing not to spend money on non-essentials for a month or on coffee. We set some standards for preparation that made sense for us but still posed a challenge.
Here is my summary at that time:
Bought $275 worth of groceries, including lots of dry cat food and toilet paper. This is plenty of food but we’ll probably still have to get creative later on in the month and eat what we have instead of refilling up on the easy options, which is the goal here.
Filled up both cars with gas.
Ordered a $25 bus pass online – enough for me to get to and from work for two weeks plus a little extra just in case. Mr. Gumdrop commutes 50 miles round trip to work so we expect that his week to drive the carpool will clean him out and then some.
Bought postage online for a package I knew I had to send in January.
Tried to order winter tires for our road bike but it is too old and no one makes them anymore.
Canceled our Amazon prime free trial.
Paid remaining credit card balances for the month.
Things we already had:
More food, including beans, cooking oil, rice, flour, and more.
Our nutritional supplements for several months worth.
Plenty of canned food for the cats – and they might kill us if we didn’t.
Climbing gym memberships.
General abundance of clothes, shelter, transportation, and luxuries.
Some early realizations of what this means:
1. Our choice to do a spending freeze could put more weight on our friends to make up for our inability to go out if we can’t make frequent visits across town, and not being able to drive anywhere that requires paying for parking. Hopefully, this issue can be worked around.
2. We might have to bike in the winter to work/carpool!
3. This will force us to plan ahead for lunches for the week since we’ve removed the easy backup options.
3. I have to postpone my ordering of 2016 Year in Review album! Which I was working on tonight and just occurred to me!
4. These kinds of little spending desires are going to keep happening… they are not all bad but it’s good to keep them in check and be able to see them and make a decision rather than impulse purchase.
5. We very much want this month to have a feeling of abundance around it, not scarcity. We have so much. I plan to adjust but not eliminate things from our normal lives, and find a way to do the things we value, just without money. Kind of like a life puzzle. Keeps things interesting! Here goes day three…