Please visit Ruth, at Living Well Spending Less to read all the details of this challenge.
It’s Thursday evening as I am writing this, and although the month technically doesn’t end until Saturday, I think it’s fair to say the lessons I have learned will not change in the next 48 hours. Let me recap week 4 so far and then I’ll tell you how I felt about this challenge and where we’re going from here.
Week 4- Spending went a bit crazy. Any other month of the year, I probably would not have felt guilty in the slightest about the spending, but because I challenged both my husband and myself to not spend, there is some guilt. I rarely spend money on myself other than (ick) smoking and eating out. I have had more and more trouble over time finding clothing and shoes that fit properly. I hate shopping for clothes and even more for shoes. Shoes used to be my addiction! In fact, a prior boss never really knew how short I am, 5’4, until I stepped out of my shoes in front of her one day! Ha!
Between weight gain and water retention issues finding clothes and shoes that fit have been a nightmare. Last week the only pair of pants I had that fit finally decided the world needed a glimpse of my bare thighs, and although I protested this decision, the distinctive ripping sound and breeze proved I lost the argument. Now, I had no pants fit for public viewing, no shorts, a pair of flip flops (that I wear at work no less, because really…who sees my feet?) and a broken ego. I had to go shopping. It simply could not be put off any longer.
Luckily, it was Memorial Day weekend. I HAD to go to Catherines, a company not well-known for being inexpensive, but they carry are large variety of sizes. When I arrived with my friend, Tammy, they were having a huge Memorial Day sale. My intention was to try to find a pair of shorts and a pair of jeans for around $100.00. Well, the sale was spend $200 and get $100 off. Leaving me right at my $100 clothing budget goal. I was able to get 2 pairs of jean style capris, a pair of khaki shorts, and pair of shoes that FIT, and a pair of earrings to hit that final $200.00 mark. I still feel a bit guilty, but I am trying to get over it.
We also did not quit smoking. There is no excuse and no reason, we just didn’t do it. I AM going to spend the month of June cutting back just to see if I can wean myself down. My husband is really good at cutting back, but I struggle with it. I don’t like being a grumpy ogre, but I need to face that addiction and move along. Life is about moving forward!
I’m still really annoyed with the health insurance issue. We pay about $230.00 every 2 weeks for insurance, so our budget was off by $690.00. We did not hit our savings goal, nor did we pay off any of the extra bills I hoped we would have gone. Bright side, the health insurance starts on Sunday, all of our bills are paid and there is money in savings. I need to double-check my budget for the beginning of next month, but I think we will be able to transfer over another $300 or so into savings, meaning we have about $450.00 in savings. That is $450.00 more than we had last month, so overall, I am pleased with that progress.
On another bright note, I was playing around in a new photo editing program I found and designed the idea for my blog header. I was able to change some things and redesign the header myself in Photoshop and I am absolutely in love with it.
What we’ve learned
1. Sucking it up for the month has its challenges. We were not perfect, but certainly better.
2. We need to add a small amount to our monthly budget for clothing. Letting it go too long is just not acceptable, especially when I need to look professional for work.
3. We need to really work on making sure we have the correct food on hand for packing lunches.
4. We are also going to consider upping our grocery budget a bit and adding some nicer meals to our at home budget so we’re not tempted to eat out.
5. Even though my husband does almost all of the cooking, he would like more input from me on dinner ideas.
6. We need to budget for date nights. When we don’t plan them, we end up nickel and diming our entertainment or eating out.
7. International Delight Iced coffee in the Mocha flavor is a very acceptable replacement for buying coffee elsewhere.
8. When we work together and agree to not spend, it goes much better than the push and pull of a couple who are not on the same page.
9. Using cash and envelopes has made budgeting so much easier!
10. We need to start adding extra categories to our budget for things like, minor home repairs, car maintenance, and possibly even a “Oh crap it’s not an emergency, but it’s urgent” pile.
11. I missed a few MAJOR sales over Memorial Day Weekend. I need to consider awesome sale cycles even for no spend months in the future!
We’re glad it’s over. We absolutely would do it again, perhaps a few times a year when we have 3 paychecks in one month. For now, we’re glad to be able to breathe a bit and say we did it, not perfectly, but we did it.