Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Establishing A Family Plan


Last night over dinner we established our family’s ground rules for The 11 Month Project.  I think the KEY to truly making this a success is getting the kids on board.  If they are willing participants they can also be a big asset in keeping you on the straight and narrow.  I know my 9 year old daughter is a great ENFORCER. 

If your kids are not on board then The 11 Month Project may be exactly what they need.  Our kids have to learn that they truly have EVERYTHING they NEED.  Review “wants” vs “needs” with the kids.  I am sure we all can create a list of things we really really really want or would like to have, but those things are not needs.  If you think your kids simply could not handle 11 months without a single purchase of an unnecessary item, maybe your goal for the next 11 months is just for the kids to be complete THIS Ask Why Before You Buy worksheet (created by iMom) before making a purchase.  Again though I have to say, if your kids are very averse to The 11 Month Project it really is something that they NEED. 

For our family the rules are simple:

No purchasing of anything that is not consumable.  If you run out of it, you can replace it.  No one wants anyone walking around with out deodorant, greasy hair or sans make-up.  BUT in replacing an item we are going to look for the best value. 

Birthday gifts for family are going to be made by hand primarily from materials we already own.

Birthday gifts for friends can be store bought.  However we will not be stockpiling a “gift closet”.  Too many times I look in there, shake my head and wonder “what the heck was I thinking when I bought that”.

Clothing – this is a gray area for sure.  My daughter is 9 and is growing like a week….she will need clothes so if she outgrows an item we will replace it.  My husband is notorious for spilling coffee on his shirts…he will NEED new shirts but luckily he has no problem at all buying second hand dress shirts.

There are areas that will be harder – we will not be buying the hot new Wii or DS games.  The cool souvenir from where ever we happen to be visiting will stay in the gift shop.  The “it” purse I must have will simply have to wait as will that adorable pair or shoes.  The new kitchen appliance, gadget or tool that I can’t “live without” with be lived without.

A little trickier is the everyday items – for some reason our family has been breaking dishes like we were at Greek wedding lately.  Our service for 8 is now a service for 4 and half…maybe.  So this may be the year of the eclectic, mix and match table settings.

As I look at our bath towel I know that they have seen their better days but they are just fine for us and will serve us well for another 11 months.  Kitchen towels….I hope they make it – I am not a fan of stained towels in the kitchen I know that they are clean and perfectly functional but still the look is just bad.  I will cross this bridge when I come to it.

We are also using this opportunity to get a handle on our food and dining out budget by being more diligent in menu planning so every night is not a game of Chopped… have 1 pound of hamburger, a handful of peanuts, miso and beets……now COOK.  We will be packing snacks when we hit the amusement parks, and having a couple of meals in the freezer ready to go on nights that I’m just not feeling the cooking vibe.  I will NOT be a rabid couponer for a couple of reason but the biggest one is that we are embarking on The 11 Month Project to cut the amount of stuff and clutter we have.  For couponing to work well you MUST have large stock piles of things you purchase on sale.  Our little apartment is not designed for stock piling things like paper towels.  We do keep a supply of food basics on hand.  How much you want to stockpile is up to you but for us we keep about 8 weeks of food on hand.  At the end of the 8 weeks we may be eating meatless high carb meals but we will be eating.

So if you haven’t already done so I want to encourage you to talk to your family about how you plan to implement The 11 Month Project.  What kind of things do you plan to include and or exclude from your family’s 11 month plan?


  1. I'm in, too! Our family will be setting up our "rules" over the next couple days. I definitely need to reconsider the use of coupons and stockpiling. Thanks for providing a place to come for encouragement with this challenge.

  2. Inspired by your 11 Month Project we have put our plan together for 2012 Challenge To keep us on track we will track all our spending and go over the budget as a family every month... money saved based on our 2011 spending for that month will go to a Vacation at the end of the year. We will buy any replacement clothing from the thrift/consignment store and follow your one in one out rule for clothing toys ect.. We will make an exception for outgrown shoes as I don’t believe in buying used shoes and besides Zech’s size 14 Men’s shoes are hard to come by even at retail stores. We will also eat out once a month. Any exceptions must be agreed to as a family at the monthly budget meeting. Everyone gets a vote, however because we have 4 people (2 kids still at home) and want to avoid a tie, Dad will count as 2 Votes I put together a contract for everyone to sign on new years as a commitment to the Project.