I’m not gonna lie…I made it through by the skin of my teeth!
The challenge was a $300 pay cut in household expenses for the month. So…we got food, basically. And animal food. Gotta feed the critters too. Instead of having a nice fully funded month I had to get crazy creative with meal planning and shopping. And not eat out. Like, ever.
A normal month is:
$450 for grocery and house
$150 for animal food and supplies
$50 for eating out
$50 for entertainment
$100 for online Going Old School (again)purchases (using a debit card and tracking each item)
In January I got:
$250 for grocery and house
$50 for animal food and supplies
Yeah… wanna know how it went?
Well, the first thing to go were all the extra categories like eating out and entertainment. Then the fun began…
Week 1- feeling good about myself and carefully putting together a meal plan and eating soup for 2 meals a week 🙂
Spent $50 at Grocery Outlet….avoided looking Wal-Mart in the eye and sped by Starbucks
Spent $30 at Restore on bunny cages (they were $5 each!!!)
Week 2- feeling OK about it all, still confident I’m gonna really show my husband my amazing will power.
Spent more than I wanted on the week’s groceries . Only $63 left! Oops!
Had to stock up on animal food. For.all.of.them. So I basically took food from our mouths to keep our animals alive. It’s ok, we’ll be fine.
$0 in the animal category. It’s midmonth ya’ll.
Week 3- Taco week! I visited my cousin and she gifted me some grass fed frozen hamburger. Worth its weight in gold! Grocery outlet had taco kits for 99 cents. Boom! Week made.
Unfortunately, the cats need more litter…..ugh! Animals steal $20 from groceries….
Week 4- I refuse to go to the store even though we are out of many of our staple items. We will make it!!!
Animals have totally had to be supplemented at this point. $50 just isn’t enough in this category.
We went over budget for a few unforeseen incidentals (nonfood items) but on the edible items I stayed the course! I had $5 left for edibles so it is totally possible to cut back on food items IF you are decently stocked with items at home for 1-2 meals a week
We also found some good hay and bartered eggs to bring animal feed down just a bit- another savings!
We got a few sales and side jobs that were above our normal income and were able to have a night out after all! Yay!
What I learned:
If you stock up on items that are a great price then you save more (duh) kinda basic but it’s worth repeating.
You need a chest freezer. Close to date items that are discounted can be frozen for later and you can buy more meats when they are in sale and save a TON.
Stay.out.of.the.store. Yeah, it’s pretty simple but it works!
When you shop – stick to the list! Simple. Effective.
Use coupons or other money savers (rebates) if you have them. If not, just know your prices and aim for 50% off every item you buy. Think clearance, buy one get one, etc.
Don’t have a “I deserve to splurge” attitude. Know what you want (in my case a new kitchen) and recognize that it is worth the temporary self denial
It’s actually a wonderful way to teach yourself discipline. Really, it is. You don’t need a pastry every Friday. You don’t have to get a $5 coffee every morning or to eat lunch out every day. Really, you’ll live!
If you have to cook it you kinda lose the desire to eat so much. If you don’t have many snack available (snacks add up) you eat healthier and it takes a bit more effort to get something between meals. My kids made themselves a lot of quesadillas! I just didn’t really snack much and I actually didn’t miss it since I am a boredom snacker. I just had to do something else instead of snack.
You appreciate what you have. I knew I could start over in a month and be “fully funded” but the challenge was set and I really wanted to “win” …yes, I’m silly competitive like that. Funny thing is when is had less I needed less. I stopped feeding the consumer bug and it just quit bugging me!
Overall, I feel like this challenge was a success even if we did overspend on animals and non edible grocery items. I can definitely cut back when I need to and I feel a sense of control over our spending again.
Here’s to a new month and a new budget! Happy February!