Tuesday, February 4, 2014

31 Days of Living Well and Spending Zero

I may be one of the worst when it comes to sticking to a budget.  Creating budgets?  No problem.  I use Mint for tracking all of our non-cash transactions and also use Budget Simple to design and change future budgets, but no amount of budgeting software has helped me actually stay WITHIN said budget.

The quite a bit of our budget goes to leasing our current home here in Augusta, but part of my motivation for re-vamping our spending habits is due to the unfortunate increase in our cost of living with our impending move to Nashville.  As much as we *thought* we were spending here, we are now going to be forking over nearly TWICE that each month for our new home.  It is worth it to us because we are in love with the property and the area, but what better a reason to get control of our finances NOW.

I was intrigued by the 31 Days of Living Well and Spending Zero challenge from Ruth over at Living Well and Spending Less.  I really love her take on living life with less clutter and she has a great advice when it comes to eating from your pantry and freezer.  If you haven't already done it, read through the challenge and be sure to click on the links for each day.

Inspired yet?

I was.  And I am still inspired.  Because I have zero confidence in my own ability to STOP the spending, as a true shopaholic myself, I chose to have a spending freeze for the entire month of February - coincidentally the shortest month of the year.  Surely I can do this for 28 days, right?

I started by printing off a few of Ruth's free printables and filling in my own "Ground Rules," which are as follows:

Grocery or Toiletry items I/We MAY buy this month:
*dairy products (milk (whole or 2% only), sour cream, cream cheese, block cheeses, etc)
*whole carrots
*dry beans
*paper towels
*toilet paper

Things I/We have already committed to paying for this month:
*housing (rent, mortgage, HOA, etc)
*utilities (water, gas, electricity)
*internet & satellite TV
*Mother's Day Out/preschool
*cello lessons/dance class
*babysitting for siblings during lessons
*2 movie tickets

Things I/We may absolutely NOT purchase this month:
*lawn care
*home furnishings

Other Rules/Notes:
*We will try to put off all purchases until March, even for "necessary" items (filing taxes, etc).

Next I went through our pantry, refrigerators, and freezers and did a small clean out and reorganization just to see what kind of inventory we were dealing with.  As much as we have, I felt like we were lacking some basic pantry and freezer stocking items, specifically canned veggies/tomato juice and frozen veggies.  After doing some searching through grocery store circulars and scouring for printable coupons online, I went to the store on January 31st and did a *slight* pantry stock-up, but primarily only on items that were significantly on sale.  This was technically not a necessary step in our freezing spend, but there were a few essential items on my list and so I decided it was worth the $100 for a boatload of fresh produce from Aldi, buy one get one free items from Publix, and scoring Cheetos puffs for $1.98/bag on sale...for Asher, of course...kid's gotta fix this failure to thrive diagnosis.

I used Pinterest to brainstorm meal ideas that we could use this month with our current inventory, and I'm hoping that I can stick to cooking every...single...day.  My goal is that by we can reduce our grocery budget by 75% this month, although I'm thinking this is unrealistic.  I am also hoping to cut out our entire restaurant budget for this month as well...aaaaaaaagggggh!  We will shoot for the moon and see where that gets us...

We are four days in to February and doing well so far...but I know that it will only be a matter of time before I'm *dying* for some fast food (complete addict) or really needing a Target run.  For now I just have to keep reminding myself that saving the money now will give us so much more peace in the long run compared to the fleeting happiness that comes from a Chick-fil-A diet lemonade...

...oh their lemonade.

And Chick-fil-A sauce.

This is going to be difficult.

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