The Twisted $250 Challenge

By Kellene Bishop

It’s time for a challenge, a REAL challenge. Last year I gave a list of suggested challenges that a person could choose from and then offered two kick-butt prizes to those who participated and were accountable for taking on a challenge (A Humless Solar Generator and a Be Young Essential Oils Pack) but this year I decided that I wanted to put the spotlight directly on a couple of very specifically designed challenges throughout the year in which I will also personally participate right there with everyone else.

 

crowd raise handsWe have more than 300,000 regular readers on this site every month and more than 14,000 fans on our Facebook page, so I’m hoping that it won’t be difficult to get at least 500 individuals who will participate with me on this challenge. I believe that part of the key to having a successful event in which we have a lot of people participating is that I give you a little heads up. Two years ago the challenges I issued were deliberately spur of the moment—because hey, that’s how life really is, right?  But rather than get caught up in that spontaneity aspect I am more interested in creating an inspiring, highly educational, and realistic challenge experience for as many of you who will participate. So, with that being said let me give you the details of the contest but, not without endeavoring to first get you to be open to mentally accepting this challenge.

 

So, right now, I’d love it if you took a second to take a deep breath and at least get your mind OPEN to accepting what’s about to show up on the page below outlining this challenge. To truly be open you’ve got to stop yourself from saying “I can’t do this because…” One of my favorite sayings is “The maximum effective range for an excuse is ZERO meters.” *grin*

Meter zero

Take this opportunity to really test your plans, your resolve, your commitment to being prepared and self-sufficient, and to improving. I can easily assure everyone who takes advantage of this challenge is that you will most certainly have your eyes opened up to some “holes” in your preparedness efforts. Yes, this is going to be inconvenient. And it’s all right to whine and moan and complain about it, but you still need to find a way to MAKE THIS HAPPEN. OK? I’ve never met a crisis that asked me permission before entering into my life or that checked with my calendar to make sure it was OK.

 

What we are going to simulate here is a combination of challenging scenarios all in one. A forced Federal bank holiday, a widespread unemployment event, a prelude to a currency collapse in which you’re stuck with the small amount of cash that you might still have on hand with no idea when you’ll get to use “real” currency again, a physical injury that prevents you from going back to work for 4 weeks, a break in the infrastructure that prevents you from getting access to your work and income generation, the necessity to survive for longer periods of time on a paycheck, a long-term power outage that prevents access to your electronically generated funds or bank access, a destruction of the communication infrastructure making it so that banks and credit companies are unable to communicate with each other, etc. etc. etc. You decide the scenario; discuss it with those who will participate with you; but whatever you do, create the mental story and then move forward with the challenge.

OK. So, we’ll now move on to the specifics.

 

Start your challenge on March 20th, 2013.

  • Your challenge will be to spend NO MORE than $250 TOTAL on anything and everything between March 20th and 12:01 a.m. April 18th. This includes bills, fuel, lunch money, co-pays and medications (where reasonable), groceries, etc. This total is NOT per person. It’s for your whole family (or those in your household that are willing to participate with you.)  If you choose you can do it all on your own, but no cheating in using your spouse or significant other as a “Sugar Daddy.” *hee hee*
  • You cannot make ANY financial transaction during this period of time in excess of your total budget of $250. However, you can barter all that you’re able.
  • You MAY use any store credits, gift certificates or gift cards or coupons that are in your possession but you may NOT use any credit cards.
  • Even though you will likely earn additional income during this period of time, you cannot exceed your $250 budget.
  • If you have any automatic withdrawals already authorized from your account you MUST include those in your strict $250 budget.
  • Yes, you may take care of any financial obligation that you can possibly imagine prior to March 20th, but once it hits March 20th, any spending you do will go towards your $250 total budget.
  • You must keep a detailed tally of your spending during the time of the challenge. We don't want you to spend more than the $250 just because you "forgot" a transaction here or there. Reality is a great tally keeper. *grin*
  • You may not borrow any funds from anyone else during this time, but you are permitted to barter. Bartering is item for item or item for service or service for service; there is NO money exchanged in a bartering scenario.

Obviously, the key to this challenge is to learn as much from it as possible. But what we don’t want to have happen is that you don’t accept this challenge just because of some mitigating circumstance such as your medication alone costs $300 per month, or you don’t think there’s any way anyone else in your home will go along with it, or there’s no way you can take care of your rent or mortgage payment before the 20th. I get it; things happen; but focus on making this challenge as significant as possible and try not to give yourself too many excuses. I know that everyone has health insurance, car insurance, mortgage etc. Just do the best that you can do to abide by the letter and the spirit of the rules of this challenge. You'll learn either way.

Last but not least,

  • you MUST refrain from saying “I can’t…” such as “I can’t go to dinner with you because I’m on a strict budget.” “I can’t support your Pampered Chef party because I’m broke.” First of all, it’s actually very rude and uncouth to share that with people. It’s just plain depressing and if you’re saying things to depress other people what kind of a person are you?? Secondly, it’s a very negative thought process. Dieters never succeed if they focus on what they CAN’T eat, rather what they can do. This is SUCH an important part of the challenge that I’m going to give you this one last condition: Each time you catch someone saying “I can’t…” during the course of this challenge, you lose $1. Turn the “I can’t” into a positive, for example, “I get to focus on the most important things for the next 4 weeks”

 

What I would love to have happen is for you to join us here and share feedback of your experience during the course of the challenge so that we can all learn from it. For example, when Lynn C. won the Humless Solar Generator for last year’s challenge, she discovered how much more difficult it was to stick with a strict budget with so many car owners and errand runners in her family. Everyone had to be mindful of the end goal instead of thinking of all of the “I” issues. “Well I’ve got to go to work and then I want to hang out with my friends.” A serious crisis completely eliminates the luxury of looking out for just ourselves.

 

join this challengeSo, are you ready? Will you join us?? I encourage you to share this challenge with anyone else that you think might be interested. The more the merrier because the more people that do this challenge and write about their experiences with it, the more lessons we can all learn BEFORE we actually find ourselves in the midst of a crisis.  I always say that "practice makes peaceful." This is going to test you on MANY levels not the least of which in terms of Mental Preparedness.

By the way, if you agree to join us in this contest, then you'll need to to go your local medical center and get the GPS RFID inserted into your left arm which will play the Michigan State Fight Song if you exceed the $250 budget or break any other rules.  Hee hee...just kidding. I'd NEVER make anyone listen to the Michigan State fight song!  Go Buckeyes!

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Comments

So far I've learned that I'm pretty prepared with food, but I need to keep better records so I know when I'm almost out of something. Most foods I don't buy more than once a year or less. Having worked at a grocery store, I won't pay full price for anything. This challenge has helped me do some of those DIY things I've been thinking about but never got around to, like homemade syrup (pretty good, might tweak it though), and making sandwich bread from the "artisan bread in five minutes a day" book. Love their bread for just eating with butter or fondue, and this week discovered that the loaf is good for egg salad and French toast, but not great for grilled cheese. For me this has been less of a preparedness challenge and more of a discipline and psychological challenge because of the way I buy things and store them. Which, when I think about it, is pretty awesome.
I did realize though that in an emergency, I'm gonna be pretty sad when my string cheese and fish crackers run out. Some things you just can't make homemade.

Allow me to point out that better discipline and psychological behavior now means greater preparedness in the future. Sounds like you're seeing your unique "holes" in your efforts and that's exactly what this challenge was intended to do. :-)

Fish crackers, eh? I think that's funny cause I was JUST making a recipe for those the other day. Grant it, they won't look like fish, but they will still be YUMMERS. :-)

You should check in with Bountiful Baskets about starting up a location in your area.
I've got another challenge coming in May that will have more to do with food, but you're right, this challenge has a broad spectrum of ramifications.

Well, my first week has been more psychologically difficult than anything else. The day after the challenge started, I suddenly remembered all the things I'd been meaning to buy for the last few months, and even a few new ones. Obviously, I don't need these right this minute, since I've been doing without them all this time. But the fact that I shouldn't (not can't, don't want to lose a dollar!) buy them right now is driving me crazy! Also,I let my hub buy a book for 10 dollars that he's been looking for forever, so I'm gonna have to spend less on food, which should be fine. But FYI, buying two gallons of milk before the challenge started didn't work well, we had tangy cereal this morning, so now I'm making several batches of waffles and my milk Mac and cheese for the freezer. Just FYI.

I know what you mean! I now have a list of items that I can buy and need to buy but not until AFTER the contest!
Do you have powdered milk? Now's the time to figure out if you like it. :-)

Very interesting challenge. I believe we will be trying. Tonight i am uplate as I am boiling sap from our 2 maple trees. Even though we live in town we try to do whatever we can for ourselves. Started seeds yesterday for our garden. In Jan. My husband was off work &hospitalized unexpectedly. Due to working hard to be prepared for any situation we were good even on meds! Hope we "pass" this scenario as easily.

Hee hee. I'm a Buckeye girl through and through. *wink*
It sounds like you've got a lot of reasons why you can't do this. But I'm sure that if you worked on it you could find some ways to enjoy the benefits of this learning experience simply by making some modifications. It seems to me like you need this challenge even more than others.
I can totally appreciate your excitement for your canner! Fabulous!

naw kellene just your budget might be limited for 30 days. Think of all the great free books you can read abd research!

This should be simple( if not easy) for a most preppers you got almost 2 weeks notice to prepare and to pay ahead of your(made up) disaster of only spending $250.00 over 30 days. If you don't feel you can do this test with relative ease.(You might be wrong) that's what testing is all about. You need to get busy and think why this challenge is so hard for you. If you cheat a bit because some bills come due on 25th pay the bill and do some thinking if you could pay it early or pay it off. Kellene is nice and is not your bank or debt holder and if you don't think you can do this simple little test now in semi good times why would you think you are ready for hard times?

Today is National Shopping Day in my world. Filled the gas tank, made a fruit and veggie run, post office run and now for a little online browsing to see what other "needs" may arise. OH!!!! I must order and pay for my Zaycon Chicken. Phewww that was close.

May the lessons we learn be valuable!!!

Twisted $250 Challenge Report:
Week 2: Wednesday, April 3
Since I didn't spend a lot last week, I am splurging just a little. Still working at saving, just in case.
I have opened one of my precious jars of chocolate candy. Obviously I will need more! I find that I want chocolate every night; my night cap. Has really made me think how much I enjoy chocolate...
I have to admit that the “free perks” I get at work are proving very helpful. More past “best by date” items to include about 2 ½ pints of blueberries, which I have dehydrated!
Gas: $45
Easter cookies: $2.17 (my splurge)
Tuesday, I broke down and did Chinese takeout one evening. It was “sad” eating. I lost the diamond from my engagement ring that day.
Chinese Takeout: $5.25 & $.75 tip.
Total spent this week: $53.17

LOL. I know what you mean. I bought a book!

I think that every single challenge I've had people try on here has made folks more aware of the importance of comfort items such as food, favorite pillow, etc.

Yikes, that's some expensive Chinese Food!!!

Day 1... Spent.. $0.00 !!!! May have to only check in every few days, clouds and snow may prohibit full charges on the solar set to do everything needed, to do.
Dinner, pantry chicken warmed, spinach(since the fridge is off limits, must use what I can so it won't go bad), started seeds for greens... Off to an awesome start!

LOL, you're an absolute hoot and have a GREAT attitude! That's wonderful. Yes, Easter is on the 31st. That's why I already made the Costco trip for the Easter goodies and the lamb I want to cook AND my husband's birthday is during that time too so I've got to strategize before the 20th AND I think I'll have to forego my beloved Bountiful Basket orders during that time. I think I'll be needing that $250 just for fuel and a few fresh produce items during that time. I'm cringing already, but I'm committed to learning from this experience as well.

It occurred to me today (perhaps I'm slow on the uptake) that this is THE opportunity to figure out my 30-30-30 plan for meals. I will iron out each breakfast, lunch and dinner, see where I am deficient and will be able to go forward knowing I am prepared for a years worth of meals. I wish Bountiful Baskets came to my area. I was lusting after the veggies in your photo.

I do believe I am in on this one!!!!!!! I CAN do this. I am ready! Barter in hand, bills paid, I am a go...I don't pay much attention to sports in general, but Buckeyes are good things... as long as I can still plant my garden, use my rainwater, and sleep. Oh... and I have solar power for my computer so I can keep up on here... hehehehehe!

So if you prepay your mortgage and bills - that is cheating? I was thinking of doing that (our mortgage alone is almost $1000) until I read your comment.

I'm asking because there have been times when my bills have been prepaid up to 3 months in advance....(but not at the moment).

Sounds like a good challenge though!

I'm not sure what I said that made you think that paying the mortgage or insurances etc. ahead of time "cheating." But there certainly are many ways that one could truly cheat at this--ways which I won't discuss here because I don't want to give anyone any ideas. The point is that as many people as possible do the challenge. If that means they have to color outside of the lines a bit, then that's fine with me because I know that there where will still be great lessons learned. I'm all about pre-paying as much as is possible way in advance in my regular life anyway. So I don't think that's cheating.

yes...darn it...yes! just need to make the house payment before the start date, and away we go!! looking forward to this challenge, Kellene!

Ok you had me up until you said "go Buckeyes" I just don't know about that one LOL

You can do it, I"m sure! And yes, there's the $1 penalty if you say "I can't..." but no increases in budget. Life's tough sometimes and I'm a little more tough when coming up with these challenges. *wicked laugh*

I can't want to hear of your experience doing this!

Kellene, I got the idea now. My "reading is fundemental" must have got broken when I read the post the first time. I sort of started planning for this type of scenario back in Dec. of last year. Do you mind if I let the readers of my blog know about this challenge and get them involved? I''ll just make the info available and link back to you. I seem to attract a lot of preppers on the eastern seaboard and they have had so many real world tests in the last couple of years they could scare the heck out of Superman as they are darn tough.

I have a few questions. My automatic withdrawals include health insurance that isn't covered by my husband's company and a mortgage that is paid with the first paycheck of the month. (We don't have that money just lying around in wait, unfortunately.)

Just the health insurance puts me over the $250 limit, not counting my prescriptions. Does that automatically exclude me from this challenge?

As I stated in the body of the article, we don't want people to find reasons why they can't do the challenge. It's a personal decision and we'd love to be INclusive of participants rather than exclusive. :-)

So, I've read this a few times. As long as I pay anything I need to pay for during the March 20 to April 18th time frame before march 20th then it's fair game right? Then I need to use only $250 for everything during this time. You also stated we lose $1 if we say I can't, do we have opportunities to gain dollars? I think I can do it, It'll be difficult but doable.

Count me in Kellene, I learned a lot on the 5 day water challenge. That water challenge was very hard but I'm ready now if the tap water stops. I feel as if I'm cheating a bit as I have started pre paying some smaller bills ahead just in case of a bank holiday. I'm now working on a 7 year food plan of basic staples on hand and want to have that finished up by the end of April. As you say no one knows the future or when a disaster might hit and all you can do is adapt and overcome. I do have one question would selling a bit of silver at a coin shop or the local pawn shop be consider barter? Or is this a long disater scenario and mortgages are not paid? Or more of a week long bank holiday via the first week of April and or frozen bank funds for 30 days ala Italy last year? Oh fudge monkeys! nothing is ever easy. I guess I better get busy if I want to play with the big kids!

Ooooooo......I've never attempted anything like this before! I'm going to sit down with our budget tomorrow and see exactly how I could make this work. Better place my Zaycon order soon! :-D

Yep, pay up mortgage and car, then only $250 from March 20th to April 18th, right? Solar charger for computer, I can garden, already have seeds and some plants. Milking the goats by hand anyway. (Now where did I put that Volcano stove?) I'm in!

I think the biggest mistake a prepper can make is to assume that something is simple without actually practicing it. And I'm not offering ANY prizes for this challenge. If you hadn't noticed yet, everyone has access to the 800+ articles on here FREE.

Times are lean in our house right now, and I will have to use my VA disability check to pay the rent on the 1st, but I won't be buying anything else at all. I can live without electricity, but I must not get evicted from my apartment. I'm up for it, and so is my family...they just don't know it yet. I get to show my family some tough love starting March 20th!

I accept the challenge for myself. You learn a lot just by doing your best to keep your word. My husband won't be participating, but I will keep track of all I spend.

With my storage, and considering I only live minutes from my office and my wife stays at home, this challenge would actually be drop dead simple for me so I won't participate.. I presume you want to help people grow and stretch which is great. I do have a general question though...what are the prizes and how will you determine which of the potential 500 participants win?

I'm in because this will be torture for me. There are lessons here I need to learn. I have already spoken to my friend whom I meet monthly for girls night at a nice restaurant and switched it to dinner at my house......I'm cooking. Yikes!

My head is spinning trying to figure out how i am going to make this happen. Is it wrong to be happy about discovering what is in the back of my freezer? Oh and now I will definitely start that DVD exchange we keep talking about at work. Does Easter fall in this time period? That is a bit of a game changer but I am not saying I can't because $249 just sounds way less than $250 lol.

My husband would be thrilled with this challenge each and every month! LOL. I have a trip planned for weekend of April 13th. This will be hard. Better start right now! That means going to Costco on the 19th. Lol.

Count me in! I learned so much turning off my electricity for 72 hours. I can only imagine what I will learn in a month!

I can't wait to get started! My husband & I are both looking forward to learning better ways to cope in a financial crisis. Thanks!

Boy, you ruined it when you dissed Michigan. I love Michigan! There is water EVERYWHERE! Miles and miles of national forest. (Morel mushrooms in about 6 weeks!) We live on a gravel road that goes nowhere. :) But; in our situation, it is 30 minutes to the Dr, 30 minutes to Meijer, 45 minutes to counseling and since we have adopted 7 children; of whom 6 are special needs, there is no way we can manage this. I really worry about when the SHTF scenario happens and we don't have meds for the children. We have 2 that are aggressive, and one that LITERALLY cannot sleep without a handful of meds. But, we have started the dry canning and talking about 'tough times' and they are excited. (we like camping) MY NEW CANNER CAME TODAY!! I am, however, going to be following this closely and trying to glean wisdom from everyone.God bless you, Kellene <3

I can totally do this as I started with using from the freezer etc in January - trying to keep the food bill down. Have cut from 1000 to 200/month.
What I find funny though is that if I pre pay things like my credit card or a fuel bill, they send me a check for the over payment. I got one today from the credit card company and I am sure that most of it has already been used. Crazy people, - is this some type of law that they can't keep it and let me use it over a month or two?. Oh and the water department sent me one month back when I paid for two at a time.

I'm in. I've got my $250 in cash ready to go. And I'm moving the week this starts, but that won't prevent me from doing it!

I'm in. As a person who is fairly new to really prepping (7 months) I feel this to be a good challenge. ;) Thank you Kellene.

Oh I'm sure our readers would like to know just exactly what is it that you deem as irresponsible...no, scratch that. They probably wouldn't if for no other reason than that you've done nothing to earn their respect for your opinion.

Is CThomas talking about the Marie Claire photos? I check in a few times a week and I can't see anything else objectionable.
You are a real blessing to me! I depend on the suggestions and help you give. I also love the helpful comments many readers give.
Thank you for being there for us.

I am so ready for this! On a side note... hubby said ohhhh, I will NOT be participating, I have $250.00 cash for you to use and I will "monitor" your progress on this, and if you need for me to pick anything up on the way home from work, it will cost you! I asked about bartering and he *grinned*. He is somewhat scared I will barter for chickens and a cow, hahahaha ( we live in town). He thinks I spend too much $$ on my "activities". Good thing I have lots of projects to do, and I wish I could just take the 4 weeks off work! And to boot.... I have to travel not one week, but two of the weeks of the challenge for work. At least all my expenses but food are not paid by me and are already pre-paid.

Normally I do a "Buy Nothing" month in February each year. Usually it involves buying gas cards ahead of time (work transport) and living off the pantry.
March 20 - April 18 looks like it would be especially challenging, as the IRS wants its pounds of flesh on the 15th of April. Some documents do not get to me until the previous week. Deductions vary dramatically from last year.
Did anyone else consider this?
I asked a friend to look at the challenge. We may try together.
Thanks for suggestions.

I failed in this challenge! Cyprus and how the banksters are going after depositers and savings scared the poo out of me! I figure it was time to get very busy about cash in my grubby little hands and buying/storing a bit of energy along with storing a bit of cash on hand and paying a few bills forward. While haven't exactly failed the $250 dollar challenge I will be twisting it 7 ways from Sunday on a personal level.
Kellene, Cyprus changes all the rules via the banksters and government and I will admit I'm a bit frightened. I've done my best and can deal with a 30% cut in my disibility/VA benefits. But what about those folks that depend on SS and did not plan ahead for 0 interest rates on savings? Or have all savinga and checking accounts plundered because the banksters made bad bets ?
I'm fine finacilly but as I see it it's time to get very busy stocking up on any weak points you have and having cash on hand.
I hope I'm wrong and the catagion can be contained, but I don't think it can and folks taht did not prepare will start to freak out.

I'm all for people listening to their "gut" when it comes to preparing for a crisis. I think that you spending money on things that will have value is a sound approach to the financial crisis that's bombarding us. Things are most definitely getting dicey. The best one can do is to KEEP THEIR MONEY in their CONTROL, not in an institution. That's what our parents and grandparents did after the crash in 1929. And they did just fine in finding creative ways to store it.

Hey Rebecca, Sounds like you have done a lot already (chickens, etc). I hope you will take Kellene up on the spirit of the challenge and just try your best, not counting the drug factor ($250 for food and other expenses). You may find a few new bartering buddies. I for one would love your eggs.
I will also be praying for your husband to join you in prepping. I pray that he will see the legacy and hope he will be leaving you and your family. Our God still performs miracles, so prayers for his healing!! :)

I am excited and scared all at the same time to do this. I think I need this to get me back on track to finincial stability and stop wasteful spending in addition a true test of my preparedness that I keep talking about... I wonder if I really am prepared.Planning is everything.... I am in....

I really really really want to do this BUT the courts take out 164.58 per pay from my hubby for child support and medical isurance. we have no control over this...so i can pretend this does not exist and do this???

O.k., I've read it over a couple times & have decided it doesn't really matter what I think is possible.
I'm in... Will ask DH. I promise he won't be my “sugar daddy” if he doesn't participate.
I'm reminded that you have said something to the effect of “It isn't an emergency if you are prepared”.
My only preplanning I can think of is to get extra canning jars for my Zaycon order. But, I was already planning on that.
I laughed at PatL. I had already thought that it would be a GREAT time to finally use or can what is in my freezer. SCORE!
If anyone lives near me (Northern Virginia) I have LOTS of coffee to barter. I am currently dehydrating lattes as an experiment. You know me. :)
I learned a LOT during the water challenge and looking forward to this.

Ummmm - I just came through several of these scenarios - AND in real life. Was soooooooooooo glad I had emergency foods set aside and was SOOOOOOOo glad I had a heavy cast iron BIG skillet (you can build a charcoal fire in cast iron - OUTSIDE though!). Came through something similar a couple of years ago when we were stranded in my son's home by 2 tornadoes - one on each side of the property - that left lotsof trees downed, electric wires down in innumerable places and NO WAY to drive out of the area! (MA - Sturbridge area) While there we had NO heat except for the fireplace which we all camped in front of, no cooking facilities except for the outdoor grill, no way to get food for quite a few days other than what we had on hand, no way to get in to my part time job for which I didn't get paid, and no phone service - including no cell phone (service centers also out). Was SOOOOOOOOOo glad when the roads were opened - if only because I could get out and drive to an area where I didn't have to worry about walking into live wires! But the stores were still without power - and all frozen/refrigerated stuff had to be off limits to customers for fear of food spoilage.
Less than 3 months later, something similar - although without the tornadoes - just a lot of late snow and ICE - happened in MY town - and again I was so glad for my cast iron skillet, emergency food supplies and because I was right there, I used up my frozen and refrigerated stuff ASAP, decanting what wasn't able to be used within the first 48 hours.
DEFINITELY planning for emergency situations is a good idea!

With our anti cytomegalovirus drugs costing 500.00 for this coming month, as we are in the donut hole, I won't be able to participate. The doctors only dole out his anti rejection drugs with no room to stockpile.. Disability comes into the bank on the 21st. That's all we get. As most of our money goes to insurance, and drugs, I do as much as I can in the pantry, raise chickens, home cook, make laundry detergent and cleaners. Having a husband that is ill, blind and disabled makes it nearly impossible to be ahead of such a situation. I have tried to do all I can, being unemployed . He is not helping prep because he realizes he will be dead in days to weeks, when TSHTF.

Sounds like you have successfully created several excuses why NOT to participate in spite of all of the different ways that you can. That's unfortunate because a real life crisis won't accept any excuses and it's obvious that you have a great deal weighing on your mind instead of a great deal of peace and an assurance of what you CAN do and what you CAN expect.

This is stupid. Practice preparedness by being irresponsible? What a bunch of trendy crap. Grow up.

Sounds like you're totally getting the spirit of the challenge and clearly, if you keep at it, you'll have no problem sticking with the maximum! Way to go!!!!

My hubster sure has been enjoying all of the homemade meals. In fact, I had a friend take me out as a belated birthday gift and even though I wasn't paying I felt totally guilty for spending the money as it wasn't "essential."

I did totally forget a medical expense payment that I have the 28th of every month, but so be it. I'll still stick to the challenge either way. :-) It felt awesome though to make two "full blown" meals twice in the past week and didn't have to spend more than $20 for the items I hadn't anticipated. Normally that number would be MUCH worse. But I got creative with what I had and I had a blast. I'm still planning on doing my Bountiful Baskets purchases so I need to allocate the money for that and then spend every last dollar I have available to me VERY carefully.

Our freezer broke down and I had about 400-500 pounds of protein to can and low and behold I had enough jars stashed to handle it all. (Though I'm still shocked by that fact and feel like I've benefited from my own little "cruse of oil miracle."

Way to go, Perky!!! Way to go indeed!!

I've spent about $22. So far, it's been easy. I've learned there are some areas where we're not as prepared as I would like, such as pet food, Gotta take care of my furry babies, too! :)

That's great to hear! Seeing our vulnerabilities is awesome. After canning for about 5 days straight, I was a little disheartened to realize that I needed 1,005 pints of dog food in order to make it through a whole year for our 4 furry girls. Ugh. I think I have maybe 200 right now.

I wish you could clean up the ads on your site. I don't visit it very often, just for that reason. The one today is close to pornographic!

It sounds to me like you've learned EXCELLENT points during this challenge. I think that if is was me learning this lesson, I'd focus on finding ways to have as stash of fuel on hand. We have several gas cans that we rotate through. This wasn't an exercise to diminish the value of the things that you treasure, rather it was to highlight those things and help you realize that there's a "hole" in your preparedness/self-sufficiency. I think that finding a way to fill that hole is a great lesson learned here.
The fact that you went through this experience was totally successful IMO.

Want to do this, but trying to figure out what to do about my $300 student loan payment automatic withdrawal. You can't pay that early. Everything else I've got.

I bought that Cheese Tortellini from Costco (in Michigan) and it tasted weird as well. Maybe it is simply a product that doesn't taste good.

I have been actually AFRAID to spend money. Money rationing I call it. My real success thus far is that I SUCCESSFULLY BARTERED for a service. Me!!! We had a storm and I noticed one of our roof shingles had come loose. Ugh. I knew that would be pricey but you can't let a roof just wait. The roofing guy showed up with his adorable Yorkie named Spike. Spike's job is to guard the truck while he is working. Once I saw him I just had to invite him out to play with my dog. The two had a lovely time running around and playing dog games.
I was presented with a bill for $170 (gulp) dollars once the shingle had been replaced. The roofer looked at me sympathetically when I said that the bill was a bit over my budget for the month. That clearly made him uncomfortable (me as well) and he quickly stated he needed to get Spike to the kennel because he and his family were leaving town for Spring Break. The light bulb went on. I mustered up bravery and asked "would you consider a barter for the roof?" He stopped and asked "like what?" I suggested that perhaps I could look after Spike for the week which would most likely save him money over the price of a kennel, noted that Spike would get personal attention and would not be locked in a cage all day and they could call to check up on him whenever they pleased. He really liked the idea but needed to pass it by this wife first. The one side of the conversation I heard was stellar....."yes the house is clean, yes the dog is very friendly, yes she is clearly a dog lover, I don't know......she is a nurse, yes they seem like very good people, oh yeah there are dog toys on the floor, yes I think it is really good deal" etc etc. Twenty minutes later his wife was at my door (I don't blame her one bit). We had nice chat over iced tea and cookies. She was especially impressed with my homemade Pumpkin Dog Biscuits (ala Pinterest).

We are truly enjoying our time with Spike. Truly enjoying saving $170 and learned that the price of doing business is not always the real price. :) I spent $4 because I had to get Spike a toy for Easter like the one I bought right before the challenge began for my own dog. I still can't believe I bartered. I'm so programmed just to sigh and write the check. Great lesson!

All right, I'm in. My husband may or may not do it (he's on a weird diet), but I will. The funny thing is that after I prepay everything, it should be pretty easy, because I won't even have $250 left in my budget! But I'm getting stocked up and ready to go, and this is helping me fill some holes in my storage and think through some things. I'm excited to see what I will learn.

I had to fudge when I had that unexpected medical bill. I'm sure a little fudge here and there won't prevent a person from learning valuable lessons. Have you learned anything you could share with the rest of us yet?

Well, I went to the store today to buy one thing and kind for freaked out and spent too much money. Should have eaten first. I might have blown it. I think I'm gonna see if I can return some of it tomorrow. I know that's cheating a little. I'm also not gonna count my husbands prescription, since he's not participating, and that should get me to just pennies under 250. Sorry, I know I'm fudging a little. Two weeks left. If I can stay out a of a store, then I'll just have to worry about gas.

Kellene thanks for understanding your good opinion of me means a lot. We have not stopped prepping just shifted focus towards fuel/energy and a bit of cash on hand. I'm still working on the 7 year food storage plan though it has slowed a bit this month. Got to stockup on fuel, get the reflector for the solar oven and add a home made solar generator. One thing I can say as a prepper you will never lack for projects to keep you busy.

Well I think I will have to take myself out of this one. My sweet adorable husband is the reason. We 'had' to take a trip to see his son over Easter (1-1/2 hrs away) so we could celebrate his birthday. 2 trips to Mendards so he could buy new tools required for the new job (about 45 min each way). All of which we had to take 'my' car so figuring out gas for my trips vs all these trips was a nightmare. Had to have meals on the go (he felt defrosting something from the packed freezer took too much time).... You get the picture. As much as I tried, there was no way for me to split out costs for just myself as I intended to do. Will try to do this another time and perhaps drag hubby (kicking and screaming perhaps) more into the idea.... Hugs to all the others out there that are still working on this and so far making it work!

Day One- Spent $7.52 on fresh produce and organic Italian salad dressing only to have the pasta salad I made with the cheese tortellini from Costco totally BOMB because the tortellini was funky or something. It had a gritty taste in each of the tortellini. I was SO hungry and SO tired that I just wanted a nice meal only to be confronted with that. Ugh!! I just wanted to cry and go buy an ice cream cone. (But I also foolishly started a No Sugar commitment for the next 30 days.) Thanks a lot Costco for wasting ALL that food AND my $7.52!

I am going to try this. I know I won't succeed because I was late getting started and didn't have time to prepare but I am going to try to come as close as I can. I also just started on my emergency preps so I don't have a whole lot to draw off of but I am going to try anyway. I haven't spent any money since the 20th so I am not really behind. Hubby won't participate but I can give it my best.

I realize I am late posting on this challenge, such is my life :). Bills were paid up early so I was ready for this challenge. I thought I could travel adequately for work twice during the time frame and still be good to go. I took food with me, only to find the method of cooking available was not as advertised, and I had no other option. So I not only failed the challenge, but failed my eating plan. On the upside, I came home and found a brand new Whirlpool stove/oven for $250.00. So I snagged it. It may seem silly to be excited about a stove/oven, but I have not had an oven for 4 years! This weekend I get to make bread! Not in a silly, weirdly shaped bread maker, or crock pot, but in an OVEN! I know, it was too much to ask and I brought it on myself. I will try this again. Either I am silly and will continue to bang my head, or I will get my act together and work it like the out-of -the- box girl I am! Just so you know, no mason jars were harmed during this challenge. And I canned another 100 lbs of meat (ordered pre-challenge - Thank You Zaycon!)(on my stove top !!!) Thanks for the push, and I love all the comments they have given me inspiration for other challenges for my year! Kudos to all!

Ain't nothin but a thang girl. We did this when we first married . The amount was $500 a month and $250 was rent. I had $20 a week for groceries and $10 a week for gas and $5 "mad money"....We did this for 2 years and saved over $65,000 which we used to pay cash for our first home!!!! easy peasy

TWISTED $250
Wednesday, March 27th report. Week 1:
Setting up: I gave my tithe ahead of time. Plus, I moved up purchasing canning jars for my Zaycon chicken. DH is not participating. But, I am not asking him for anything. Including late night hamburgers I often ask him for on his way home from work. Still following my use one, add two (to my shopping cart), but no purchasing until the end of the challenge.
I have spent:
$10 on prescription medication. While I do have this stocked up, I didn't want to delve into my stock.
.57 cents on a doughnut. :)
PERKS: (things I get for free): blueberry muffins, brownies, coffee, milk.
The hardest thing I have found so far is I like to add on to purchases. Like when I went to get my prescription. Generally I will get a treat (orange slices to be specific). Didn't do it.
GIFT CARD: used a reward to buy a friend a coffee.
Last night, I generally buy a take out meal on Tuesdays.I have a creative team meeting & we often eat together there before the meeting. I brought a grilled cheese sandwich instead. :)
Total spent this week: $10.57
Not bad for my first week.

I'm really having trouble seeing the point of this challenge, as rent is due the 1 st and most all utilizes , plus gas for work. What is the goal of not paying your bills?thanks!

Lisa, it's not about not paying your bills. Most of us prepayed them. I would hope that if you are not able to do that, that you can at least use this challenge to realize how vulnerable you are to fluctuations in income/liquidity, and make a plan to remedy your situation. Any financial guru worth their salt says you need a few months reserve, and that you can build one up slowly no matter your situation. When my hub lost his job, we were so thankful that we had months to look for a good paying job he would like because of our savings. But that didn't happen by accident.

Ok, so without doing a lot of mental gymnastics to except some purchases or attribute them to my husband, I have spent 282.21. I could probably get it to just under 250, but like I said, it would strenuous and tenuous.
But here's my question/comment: one of the things that really put me over was gas. I've tried to be frugal, haven't gone a lot of places, but at the same time, my husband still goes to work, I still go to piano lessons etc, and we still have family gatherings like missionary farewells and baby showers that I wouldn't miss for anything. I think one of the things I've learned is that I'm very dependent on gas and our two cars. But other than just not going anywhere, I can't think of anything to do about it. A bike with a baby only works so well, and public transportation still costs money. Although we are working on my husband riding his bike to work more. But the thing is, and don't take this the wrong way, I'm trying to decide how much I care. I've been so poor I couldn't go see family or take any trips, and it's fine, but it's only something I want to do if I need to. And as long as my hub has his job and the economy is "normal" (ie not spiraling down the toilet). I enjoy seeing my friends and family and going places. If there was a big problem, I would rearrange things, sell a car or let the licensing lapse and we would concentrate on using the one car for job searching or getting out of dodge I suppose, depending on the situation. And I've actually had practice doing this before, when my husband was laid off 4 years ago.
I don't know what the point of this rambling was, other than to put it out there and get your thoughts. I have learned a lot from this whole exeperience (even if I did "fail", and for the record I'm not giving up, I'm still planning on not spending anymore until it ends), and will share some other things I have learned that might apply to others. But as far as gas goes, I'm trying to figure out what to take from it other than that I use a lot of gas and don't care.

Wednesday, April 17: Twisted $250 Report
This isn't a part time hobby plan at all. It is very focused. There are many BIG decisions that we are implementing.
For us, living where we do (in the suburbs of the DC metro area) I feel very compelled to prep more.
This week, I couldn't stand not spending anything to prep & can. So I went to the store, everything I purchased was to can or dehydrate. But, I still stayed within what was left of my $250 budget for the month.
I am seeing how dependent on gas we are in society. It's not a bad thing, but it is a reality before something happens. I have spent a wee bit more on gas than average.
I have been helping out someone that is a really bad way right now. When she went through the people she knew, she contacted me (I haven't seen her in a couple years). She had two chinzy meals left in her home, no car, no job. She is porbbly going to jail.
It's interesting because she didn't really ask for help.She doesn't know that I prep. I gave her a plan of action & brought food to her (from my storage) to help her until she could get hooked up with local food pantries. I drove her to various places.
She contacted me because she said she knew I wouldn't judge her in her situation because of who I am in my walk with God. She has also started going to church with me. :)
We are looking to move in our three year plan. One of the first things I want to purchase is a horse(s) for transportation. LOL.
Food $105.64 (which included my favorite doughnut)
Gas $50.64
Remaining amount: $29.98

Well my husband and I prepared to do this and started it. Day 1 and 2 went really well but unfortunately day 3 brought the news that a dear family member was letting go and going to God. So we had to pack up the family and drive to Texas to say goodbye. Just in gas it cost us 200.00 roundtrip. We have stopped for this month. We are going to try this again in a month or so. We are working on a new budget for our home since my husbands hours are being cut. Hope everyone else is doing well and good luck

Sorry to hear about the loss of a family member. You should have stuck with the challenge though and just carved out the TX trip as an exception. That's what I had to do when I discovered I had forgotten about a medical bill that I had to pay on the 28th. This isn't like one of those diets that we find every reason why we need to quit. There's still lessons to be learned the other days of the challenge.

Well, we paid the bills as they came due (rent, electric, & gas) so that put us above the $250. My husband bought a camera lens, that we really didn't need but he swears he will earn some money with it, for $95. So I decided that we have a new challenge of our own making - we're going to try to make $250 more than our normal income between April 10th and May 10th. Hubby better do something with that lens.....LOL!

Doing this challenge has made me think a lot more about sustainability. Particularly when it comes to our BIL (bug in location) vs. BOL (bug out location).
Our “bug in” plan is really for shorter term emergancies or possible job loss.
We do have a “bug out” plan. We are completely prepared to cut our losses here & bug out.
These are two distinct plans. That being said...

We have been striving to get our garden up and running & hooking up our rain barrels outside. That is what we have been doing this week. We are behind because it is our first year and we needed to get trees cut down for sunlight. The goal is to create (increase) better sustainibility here.

The challenge has been harder this week, simply because I really want (need) to get more stuff to can & dehydrate. On payday, I look through the sales ads and determine what is on sale to add to my storage & for canning.

Learning a lot though. Last fall we decided to be more frugal with our money. It really shows now in what I don't purchase. My superfluous spending mostly deals with going out to eat with friends and/or family. I also found that I spend more on preparing than I thought. Which is good.
But, so far I haven't spent anything this week.
Total spent for the last three weeks = $63.74 ($186.26 left)

Ok, here is something I learned that might be helpful to others. If you have a young child that is a little bit of a picky eater, you need to consider that in your storage. While I technically have a year supply of food for my child, it's not really things she will eat all the time. Sure, she likes homemade bread, waffles, and granola, (we're pretty good on the breakfast front) but we ran out of juice halfway through the challenge, barely made it on fish crackers, and ran out of yogurt the first week. Could she live on the things we have? Probably. But it might be unpleasant for awhile. She's been asking to go to the store everyday since we ran out of juice. Also, she tends to get food fatigue pretty easily, like me.
And if you think that a child will eat if they're hungry enough, that is simply not true. Here's a story for ya: when my brother was three, he didn't like to eat dinner. He would just go to bed hungry and eat breakfast in the morning, and it wasn't really a big deal. One day my mom decided that he couldn't eat until he ate his dinner, which was three noodles from a casserole. So she gave it to him for breakfast, then lunch, then dinner. He went three days without eating, and my mom finally had to give up, because he would have rather died than eat those noodles.
So what I'm saying is keep in mind the food your child actually eats everyday, and make sure you have a several month supply of the important things. Like string cheese and cheerios and fish crackers.

also, I learned that we do not have nearly enough vegetables and fruits in our storage. Just sayin.

First, I have to say how grateful I am to have found you last fall. I have learned so much from you & I am where I am in my preparations because of the knowledge I gained from your blog.
I think I have found the biggest things I have learned from the challenge is to continue to extrapolate out...
For example:
I could live without cocoa. I don't want to & these days I have time the time to learn how to grow and process cocoa beans.
What to do when sugar storage is depleted? I am growing sorgum this year & I am going to learn to process that.
So, today I get to purchase everything in my shopping carts.
Preparing for the future falls into my life's vision statement. “Love God, love other's, it's simple... “
BUT, the most important thing is I do not worry. I simple continue to work my plan and God will honor that.
Now, I am going to spend at least $29.98 on chocolate. LOL.

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