Tag Archives: no spend challenge

Speaking of cash

27 Oct

Since my last post touched on career frustrations, I figured it’s time to give an update on how that not spending thing is working out. Well it’s been better than previous attempts but my son getting his own car has put a slight cramp in my planned budget. No, I did not buy him a car, that honor goes to his Grandma. In fact he has a nicer car in some respect than the Spousal Unit and I. It seems when one procures a vehicle they need gas  money, and since elder boy has been busy with his studies and the lead role in yet another play, he has no job.

So, that means he has had to hit Mama up for some gas money which as I explained needs to last until he gets a job. Now that his show wrapped up he has decided that working a pt job would be a great use of his time. I admit I have mixed feelings because he recently received his second offer for  free ride to a lovely Midwestern school with a decent drama program. This is the second drama offer he has received, problem is he doesn’t want to study drama in college; I have already told him we need to consider these offers. Any how he is taking a break from drama to get a job and then can pay for his own gas.

If it had not been for the unexpected car and gas money, well I would have more or less stayed within my projected budget and savings and that is factoring in the unexpected work we are doing in the Spousal Unit’s office.

This month I have been a lot more intentional with money, no drop by visits to Goodwill, thinking before I decide to grab a meal out. It would seem there is hope for me after all. Now I just have to survive the holidays, already I am working on a holiday budget and the emphasis this year is not on gifts. No, we will focus on the spirit of the holidays which I think will be more meaningful and surely keep more cash in my pocket.

That’s the latest update on the spend less front and no I have not entirely given up outside coffee but it does happen a lot less. I admit I do enjoy the times even more when I grab that latte or mocha because it no longer is a  daily given.

No Spend Challenge Gone Wrong

11 Feb

These days everyone is looking to save a buck anyway they can, which is why I was all gung-ho about doing one of the no-spend challenges that are so hot these days. If you do a quick google search you can read up on how millions of folks are committing themselves to only buying the bare necessities as a way to save money.

So 10 days into this challenge, I decided to tally up what I have spent so far….drum-roll please…..I have spent a total of $613.71 for the first 10 days of the month and that includes the one day I only spent $3 on a Misto with mocha at Starbucks. This figure doesn’t take into consideration our bills just groceries and things that I am now using cash for; we have gone a tad off track since the little one needed art supplies and shoes, plus there is my pesky dry cleaning. I have only eaten out 2-3 times so far, so I can’t even say its eating out that got me off track. My original plans were for $200 in groceries and $150 in miscellaneous costs (excluding gas since that is a different line item in the budget)

Now I will say that this figure is better that what we usually would have spent by now which almost certainly would be closer to a thousand bucks but its still not as good as I had hoped for, as evidenced by the fact that yesterday I had to pull out my debit card.

Turns out my plans for a $400 a month grocery bill as a working Mama is fantasy, I use a few too many convenience items such as canned broth….tried to make pizza crust last night and ended up getting a Boboli crust since the one I made was a tad funky at first. Though I did turn it into a second pizza and it was edible.

So while I am still committed to reducing our spending and working towards truly not spending on anything that is not critical (guess one could say that my $20 eye brow wax wasn’t critical, on the other hand unibrows are not attractive) the reality is this shit is much harder than I thought it would be. The only plus is that I have put more in the savings account that I normally do by this time in the month.

By the end of the month, I will post again on how I wrap up this month’s challenge. As for today, I am grappling on whether or not I should spend $1.50 on a tasty cinnamon roll on my way home from my morning meeting…its these damn cravings that get me every time.

Cutting back is hard work

4 Feb

Like a lot of Americans this economic downturn has gotten real personal, in the past month between client cut backs we are operating with over $2000 less than we did just a couple of months ago. Thankfully we still have income but when you start losing a couple thousand dollars, it means the only way to make the basic bills is to really start cutting back.

For me this is beyond surface cuts, I already got rid of newspaper and magazine subscriptions and premium cable a while ago. No, this month meant looking at things like the grocery bill which has always been a tad high. The older I have gotten and the more refined my palate has grown, so has my grocery bill. I only eat farm fed beef, which a pound of ground beef goes for $8, my milk of choice comes from a local farm that sells quarts of milk for $2 a quart plus a $1 for the bottle deposit (thankfully that is refundable)  which with kids means we easily go through $10-12 a week in milk alone.

Now with times so tight, there are certain things I don’t want to give up mainly my local beef and milk and local produce when in season but everything else is negotiable. So my challenge is to reduce the grocery bill to $400 down from the normal $500-550 in winter months (mind you this time of year, elder boy is at his dad’s so that bill is only for 2 adults and a 3 year old).

So yesterday I went shopping and spent a whopping $187 for groceries for 2 weeks with a few bucks left over for milk and produce, can I just say that cutting back is hard work. In order to keep the bill down, rather than one stop shopping at the local chain store, I went to several stores to catch the deals. Now back when I was a single Mama I used to shop like this so its not new to me but admittedly after 13 years of not being single, its an adjustment.

However the biggest challenge is going to be living with the $150 from now until the 20th that I have allotted for miscellaneous spending. I would like to say I am doing a no spend challenge but really this is a modified version where its the don’t spend so much challenge. To the super frugal person reading this they may be wondering how is this cutting back, believe me this is cutting back in a large way. I am now writing down everything I spend and let me tell you its not the big shit that gets me its the little shit. Just Sunday I spent $41 on bullshit….play dough for the kid,a few items at the store. Truth is money has always gotten away from me.

Now the plan is to spend as little of that money as possible and come the end of the month, dump it in my savings account.  Eventually I do want to have no spend days but I know myself well enough to know if I go from what I used to spend weekly to no spend, it would be like starting a diet, starving myself for a few weeks and then having a binge session.

Yet, I gotta say living on less is hard work, though at the same time I recognize that even in the midst of my own financial storm, I am blessed to still have something for extras, when so many are struggling to just keep the lights on and food on the table it almost feels wrong to say I only have $150 for miscellaneous. Though I should add some of what that must cover is things like my dry cleaning (have a few meetings this month with funders for work, must look decent while begging for my cause), new shoes for the little one (going through a growth spurt) and of course my weekly pack of butts (yeah, I know….better to quit).

Anyway I will keep you posted in two weeks and let you know how well I do on this first go around with less money.

By the way, so glad to see that Tom Daschle has withdrew his name, I mean really that was not a small tax issue at all. If only we could get these damn companies that are getting gubment funds (aka, our money) to realize that when you get a government handout, it pretty much means you can’t have the extras in your budget….just ask folks living off government entitlement programs. We need to scrutinize these banks like we do aid recipients…if some single Mama in middle America can’t own 2 cars to qualify for cash assistance then a bank or other entity getting a handout shouldn’t be giving out bonuses or having lavish retreats. Come on man, where’s the common sense?