I know I have been slacking on the spending fast updates, but I have a perfectly legit reason: my Internet didn't work last week. See?! What's a girl to do?
First off, I have a few issues with my spending fast.
1. This is my life. We don't spend. Ever. Ben realized that I was calling our lives by a different name pretty early on when he remarked that the spending fast actually changes nothing for us and we still can't buy anything. I guess a rose by any other name is still a rose.
2. I don't like to blog about things that I have to do to maintain my out of debt existence (not including student loans). It's depressing. It would be much more fun to do this as a growing experience instead of necessity.
3. I have probably spent more this month than any other month. We went out to eat for Valentine's day, which only ended up costing us a few dollars extra since we had the gift cards, but that is still more than we would normally have spent. We also got each other inexpensive gifts, but that is still more than normal. We had to spend money for Ben's deployment supplies, which had to be bought immediately because when the Army says "jump" you say "how high?" It is amazing how much a year supply of all the basics end up costing.
So how have we done?
I'm not sure. Like I said, we had to spend more money this month than normal. I also had to buy a fast food meal while I was at Youth Conference because I was allergic to both lunch and dinner. We buy our groceries every 2-4 weeks depending on sales etc. I decided to just buy for the month not including perishables. I initially spent $128.31 including perishables for the first 2 weeks. After that, we made several purchases of forgotten but necessary items and perishables that brought the total to $144.76. My dinner at youth conference cost $5.54, which brings my total to $150.30. This leaves me with $9.70 for this week. I'm confident that I can finish and meet my goal of $160 or under for the month. I probably should have lowered my goal amount to make it more interesting. I should have made it a lot more painful because we are still pretty comfortable and didn't really have to think about it much.
Things I do to save money
1. Make your own bread. I don't eat bread, but Ben does. He is pretty happy buying the $.99 loaf but there is a ton of crap in that bread, and it is poor quality, so I make better bread for him.
2. We don't buy cereal. Most days we eat oatmeal that comes in the big thingy (not individually packaged). You can flavor your oatmeal a ton of different ways, so it provides variety and it is so much more filling than cereal. If you want to know some of my oatmeal concoctions just comment or email me. I also make eggs, muffins, pancakes, crepes, grits or whatever else strikes our fancy on a given day.
3. I buy my eggs at Walgreens. I know this sounds strange, but Walgreens will frequently advertise $.99 eggs. I go there and stock up because their printed expiration date is usually a month or so away. I buy a ton of eggs at once, and that lasts until the next egg sale.
4. I don't buy packaged/ heavily processed food. If I want a cookie, I have to whip up a batch, which certainly makes you think twice about your cravings. I even make my tortillas from scratch, but I still buy my noodles.
5. I don't buy ground beef or beef. Most of our meals consist of ground turkey. Our meal breakdown turns out to be something like fish 2x/month, sausage 2x/month, pork 2x/month, and chicken 2-3x/month. Everything else is turkey or vegetarian give or take a meal or two depending on sales and special occasions.
6. I don't buy soda or juice. Our exception for this is OJ. Ben loves OJ, so I buy him the more expensive OJ. Otherwise I make and drink herbal ice tea (about 1.40 for 4 qts+ unless I have a coupon) and Ben drinks powdered Gatorade when we want something besides water. Every Monday I make a big pitcher of each to last throughout the week. I also have a juicer, so when I want something like apple cider, or a healthy juice, I can make it on my own.
7. I've downgraded my toilet paper. I used to use Charmin Ultra Soft, now I use Whatever is cheapest but doesn't fall in the sand paper category and is still 2 ply.
8. When I run out of my old cleaning supplies, I use vinegar and backing soda. I only buy cleaning supplies for the bathroom because I'm anal. I also have a supply of Shaklee that has lasted a while.
9. I don't window shop. I only go into stores when I need something. I haven't been to a mall since I've arrived in TX.
10. We only eat out once a month. I freeze leftovers in individually portioned sizes, so when I don't feel like cooking we have a good healthy and hearty meal ready to go.
11. We come up with cheap, if not free, date ideas so we don't get bored sitting around. Plus we play a lot of board games.
12. I'm brand specific on very few items. This makes it easier to use coupons
13. I buy on sale and use coupons. When it comes to household items, I get those things on sale and with my coupons. Sometimes Walgreens will have a great sale price for an item. You can use their coupon and a manufacturers coupon on top of the sale price. This helps for things like toothpaste and contact solution or whatever. I was able to buy a year's supply of All hypoallergenic laundry detergent for $14. I also know how to make laundry detergent for the same price.
14. I meal plan. I plan out all my meals on a chart. This makes grocery shopping easier but also keeps me from wondering what to make for dinner and then deciding not to make anything.
15. We don't have cable. We can get most of our shows online and others will eventually show up on Netflix, if we are still interested. During football season, Ben would listen to the game over the internet most of the time. If it was a game he really wanted to see, he would buy a soft drink and sit at the bar at Applebee's. $2 certainly beats the $50+ that cable costs. Now if only we could live without the Internet.
Doing these things and more has helped us live within our means and still enjoy life. We have a great time together. My philosophy is "If we don't have it, we can live without it." Telling myself that when we first started cutting back really helped. Eventually you stop thinking about what you can't do with what you don't have and start thinking about all you can do with all that you do have. It was great when we sat down to make our Christmas lists and couldn't really think of anything that we really wanted or needed. I know that I'm really grateful for the opportunity we have had to truly assess our needs and wants. I know we could do even better than what we are doing now if we really wanted. I'm keenly aware of the many things that we still have or buy that we could most certainly live without, but I'm also thankful that I don't have to do without for the time being.
Anyway these are a few of the things that we do. If you are interested in knowing more or just want some good cheap recipes, let me know. Feel free to leave a comment about your money saving techniques. I don't plan on posting anything else about the spending fast. I'm thinking that in March I want to start a thing where I get rid of 1 item everyday in March. Anyone interested?