Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Spending Diet--Week 1

So we are officially into our January Spending Diet. Our plan is to only spend $450 this month on groceries, fuel, gifts, entertainment, clothing, and anything else we would buy ourselves.  Our kid and dog were still allotted their normal budgets.  (I should clarify that this challenge officially goes from Dec 29 thru Jan 26 to coincide with paydays.  Hey, when you plan your own spending diet you can make your own rules.)

What we started with/without...

  • We were pretty low on fuel, so we filled up both cars.  We're both off work the end of December and the first few days of January so that should be to our advantage.  Hubby also doesn't start back to class until mid-January, so that will save some gas, too.  It's not much, but every bit helps!
  • We had a fairly stocked pantry and some meat and veggies in the freezer.  Plenty of basic ingredients like pasta, rice, and sauces to last us a few weeks.
  • We have a few meals we can pull from the freezer.  A couple of batches of soup I made this fall, a lasagna, and a chicken dish.  You can bet we'll be eating these this month.
  • We aren't running low on any toiletries or household items.  If we do by chance run out of something, such as shampoo, toothpaste, or dish soap, for example, there's a good chance it will be something we can pull from our "coupon stockpile" in the basement to fulfill the need.
  • We don't have a garden to pull from.  It's January in the Midwest--need I say more?  Maybe if we do this again we'll do it during the summer months, when fresh produce is abound and cheap.

I withdrew $200 in cash last payday--enough to last us 2 weeks, hopefully.  I kept $100 tucked in an envelope for next week so we're not tempted to dig into it early.  Everything seems to be going pretty well so far, but there have been challenges.

I had planned on leaving the debit/credit cards at home but we haven't been able to bring ourselves to do that yet.  I think it's a sense of security in case there's an emergency.  Maybe I'll try to just leave one credit card in there.  Yup, I'm taking everything but one credit card out now.  Done.

It has also been difficult to remember to grab cash on the way out the door.  Blame it on years of carrying a debit card and no cash.

I've been paying a lot more attention to my use of fuel.  We combined errands before, and usually took the car that got better gas mileage, but now I'm evaluating if I actually have to take care of that errand today/this week/this month.  Sometimes I decide that something can wait and I don't need to make a special trip across town to do it.

Here's the breakdown of our spending this week:

Miscellaneous--$10 oil change supplies

Week 1 Total: $126 (of $450)

My plan was to try to stick as close to $200 this month for groceries, $200 for gas, and earmark the additional $50 for any overages, entertainment, gifts, etc.  It seems like we are slightly higher than we should be at this point, but I'm hoping next week's grocery budget will be way down.  I spent about $60 for groceries this week but I planned that to last me nearly 2 weeks.  I may have to revisit the store for a few things like milk, lunch items, and cereal. 

I didn't do much stocking up in December like I had thought I would.  Simply put, there was no leftover funds in the food budget to shop ahead for January.  And, I suppose stocking up would kind of defeat the whole purpose of this challenge anyway.

Cooking at home the last few days has been strangely peaceful.  I haven't minded cooking each and every meal at home.  Before, I would cook but wouldn't thoroughly enjoy the time or effort put forth.  Now, I'm enjoying it.  Not sure what has caused this change in me.  It could be my enthusiasm for the challenge, could be that I'm off work and have more time.  I suppose we'll find out once I return to work and we're much busier.

I've had to be even more on top of things because there's no extra money to grab fast food if I forget to defrost something.  I don't want to make any extra trips to the store either.  Before I would usually run out to the store to get exactly what the recipe called for, now I'm more determined to make it work with what I have on hand.

I'm anxious to see how next week shapes up.  If we can do well next week and avoid spending on any extras, I think the rest of the month will be a little easier.  Are you doing your own spending diet?  It's not too late to join us!

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