We are rounding the corner to Day 30 of my Limited Spending Challenge.
Overall, it has felt like a pretty successful month. Excluding a few specific spending whims and indulgences (namely a spending spree on Black Friday and some online holiday shopping) I managed to stay pretty true to my budget of $80 per week.
Overall this month has forced me to become much more planned and organized. In a typical week, I put about $40-50 towards groceries. Keeping such a tight grasp on groceries really forced me to pay attention to what I was buying and concentrate on the priorities. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I could buy the essentials (brown rice, chicken, broccoli, salad, etc.) without sacrificing healthy choices. If anything, I discovered that much of what I spend in excess on is junk food.
This month has also unearthed a creative flourish of baking. Instead of spending money on various snacks, I managed to tap into my inner homemade baker. I also found ways to maximize leftovers by making new meals out of them and planning leftovers for lunch.
This challenge has given me the confidence to live with less. I feel strangely empowered to know that I can cut my spending by half of what I normally would spend and it has given me some savings that I can use towards my upcoming cross country road trip.
30 Day Review
Level of Success in Completing Challenge: B+
Likelihood of Continuing Challenge Beyond 30 Days: VERY! In fact, I plan to continue the challenge into December.
Today was an interesting adventure in food shopping…
I had a coupon for $10 off if I spent $50 on food and beverage at Target by today. Since I had already spent all but about $4 of this week’s budget, in order to do effectively take advantage of the coupon, I made the decision to use the allocated cash I had set aside for next week towards today’s purchase.
I generally do not shop at Target for food, so my first discovery was the rather disappointing selection of fresh produce. I managed to find a bag of salad, mushrooms and onions but had to focus the rest of my attention on frozen and packaged foods.
I got my cart to the checkout, only to discover that it did not actually contain $50 of food/beverage (in part because my beer, paper towels and cleaning materials did not qualify for the coupon) and decided to do some more searching. After scouring the aisles for deals, I had success and was able to use the coupon (which was a huge savings).
However, it means for the rest of this week and next I have $1.87, so this will be an interesting adventure and I hope I bought enough supplies and food to last!
I am very pleased and excited that Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and beyond spending time with the family and eating yummy food, I am also quite relieved for the opportunity of leftovers.
November 1st, I began my 30 days of Limited Spending. To be clear, I decided to make this challenge Limited Spending and NOT Zero Spending. There are a lot of blogs out there that brag about their success at not spending anything for a month or who offer advice on how to have a Zero Spending Month and while the idea fascinates me, I didn’t feel as though I had enough mental preparation or provisions in my cupboard to effectively do that. And to be honest, I was a little worried that my idea to spend less as opposed to not at all was perhaps that was a cop-out. But I found this blog post: 3 Reasons to Skip the 30 Day No Spend Challenge and feel affirmed in my initial decision about my challenge.
So here are the details for my 30 Days of Limited Spending:
- Rule #1: Bills, Mortgage, and other fixed or required payments (like student loan, car insurance or medical related bills) must still be paid
- Rule #2: Cash ONLY. No credit cards, debit cards or checks (minus bills)
- Rule #3: Total money to spend a week: $80
- Rule #4: The weekly allowance must be applied to any and all non-bill related expenses including: groceries, eating out, drinks, gas, snacks, and entertainment
- Rule #5: Try to keep life as normal as possible while still following the aforementioned rules…
I am comfortably settling into my third week of this challenge and i have discovered a few things.
- I have been able to fairly effectively slash my typical weekly grocery expenses by about $50-100 just on swapping out non-essential food items and focusing on a few core groceries. Variety, I have sadly learned may be the spice of life but my wallet prefers it plain.
- Despite my limitations I have placed on my grocery budget, I have actually been eating very well and am by no means wasting away or going hungry from lack of groceries
- Little things add up like crazy: During Week 1, I made a few luxury impulse purchases like contact lens solution, a hairbrush and chips early in the week and realized I was effectively out of cash by about Tuesday!
- I have been forced to get creative especially in how to spend my down time and time with others… because the knee-jerk reaction to grab a few drinks at a bar or go out to dinner all end up punching the wallet pretty hard.
I will outline a more detailed account of my spending in another post. 18 Days down, 12 Days to go!