Grocery challenge

October 19, 2009

I went to the grocery store yesterday on a mission.  I was only going to spend $120 on a week’s worth of groceries.  Armed with my calculator, it became like a game to see if it could be done.  There were certain things that tempted me – the New American salad dressing, the Halloween candy, the cool new fall lip glosses.  But, I said no!  I had made a list before I left the house, and I was determined to stick with it.  We made it to the last section of the store – the frozen food aisle.  I bought my lunches for the week, a bag of frozen broccoli, and then we had to stop.  My calculator already said $115.  With tax, we were most likely at or already over our budget.

As the cashier rung up our groceries, I nervously watched the screen.  With two in-store coupons, our bill tallied $116!  We did it!  We stuck to our budget and actually came in $4 under budget!  Off to celebrate at Sonic’s $1 menu!

Still here

October 5, 2009

I’m still here….and still struggling.  I vacillate between being super motivated and super unmotivated and ready to throw in the towel.  I read all these other blogs about people who have paid off their debts or are $2000 away from paying off their debt, and I just don’t think that can ever be me.  I mean, we are barely able to pay the minimum and that’s not going to get us near to paying them off.  I guess another thing is that being debt free isn’t really THAT important to me.  I mean, I want to be debt free, but I I don’t want to be obsessed about it.  How do I find the right perspective on it?

Is it worth it?

September 17, 2009

I found out today about an opportunity at my work to earn some extra money.  An extra $7000 this year to be exact.  My actual scheduled work hours would remain the same, but I would probably be bringing work home with me a lot more, and it would be an added stressor.  I’m having a hard time decided whether its worth it or not.  The extra money would be nice, and it would pay off one credit card.  But is the added stress worth it?  What would you do?

I just went back to work this week after summer vacation.  I’ve gone out to eat for lunch or dinner every day this week.  I’m definitely making up for last month of gas and groceries!  It’s just really hard not to give in; not to have that immediate gratification I get from enjoying a nice meal with friends.  I have felt really guilty about it, and I have not found a single way to justify it.

I guess on one hand I should remain positive because I’m not trying to justify these expenses.  In the past that’s what I would have done.  I also know that this pattern of dining out is only for this week.  My life of brown bag lunches will resume next week.

I just read this really awesome (and timely) post called How to Save More Money By Doing Less that gives guidance to people like me who have knowing where to focus when trying to save money.  The author, Ramit Sethi, theorizes that people oftentimes try to do much when setting savings goals – worrying about $4 here and $2 there – whereas they should just pick two areas of their lives where they could save money.

Once you determine those two areas, you give yourself six months to cut that budget category by between 25-33%.  Instead of trying to do it all at once, you incrementally reduce your spending.  Sethi recommends that you pick two areas because if you get side-tracked on one for a month, at least you are still making progress on the other one.

So, my two areas are going to be

  1. Eating out – restaurants and fast food
  2. Shopping – by asking myself at each purchase “Do I need this or can I get by with what I already have?”

What are two things you could do?

I’ve been noticing lately how everyone is cutting back on expenses.  Not only are they reducing their spending, but they are talking about how they are reducing their spending.  It’s almost like it’s cool to be cheap now.

I used to never say I couldn’t afford something or turn down lunch with a friend because I needed to save money.  I felt too embarrassed. Now, I do it all the time, and I hear a lot of people saying the same thing.

If there is anything good to come out of this recession, maybe this is it.  Maybe people will finally start having an open and honest conversation about their money…not only with themselves, but with others around them.

Unexpected major expenses

August 9, 2009

It seems like when I start to feel really great about my spending habits and our money situation in general, reality always finds a way to wake me up.  I just found out that I need to get some work done on my car that’s going to cost about $700.  Now is one of the times that I really regret our debt situation because if we didn’t have huge debt payments each month, unexpected expenses like this wouldn’t hurt so much.  We should be able to pay cash for the repairs although that money was going to go into our emergency fund that we had to tap into and basically drain last month.  So frustrating!

I have one more week left in my challenge, and I’ve done pretty good at controlling my spending.  My biggest weakness comes when my daughter asks me to buy her things.  I just hate hearing her cry or complain about not getting something she wants.  But, I also know that she needs to learn now that she can’t get everything she wants so she doesn’t end up with my messed up buying habits when she gets older.  Now that she has an allowance, it’s getting better since she has a better concept of what money is and is beginning to understand that you have to make choices.

I have really enjoyed the focus this 30 days challenge is giving me.  I would love to hear some suggestions from you all as to what I could do for the next 30 days.

Republic of Austin

August 5, 2009

I just started blogging for a blog called the Republic of Austin.  I’m going to be talking about my journey to becoming more financially secure and debt free.  I’m excited about this opportunity to share my story!  Here’s a link to my bio page.  I’m still working on my first post, but it will be up soon.

Republic of Austin

I’ve realized that one of the only things that has been helping us get by is our reimbursement checks from childcare.  These checks also give us a false sense of security once they arrive since it’s a big influx of cash into our account.  So, now I’m wondering if we should forgo the tax credit we are getting by having this money taken out of our paycheck and instead simply filter this money back into our monthly budget.

Right now, my husband and I get about $530 for child care and about $70 for healthcare taken out of our paychecks each month.  We usually save up our receipts and send them off about every 3-4 months and get a big payout.  I’m wondering if, given our current financial status, it makes more sense for us to keep that $600 in our paycheck and use it for monthly expenses.  Right now it just seems we are not disciplined enough to use that big payout wisely.

Any advice from the blogosphere is extremely welcome!


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