Sunday, February 2, 2014

SURVIVED: No Spending Challenge!

 WOW! I can barely believe that the spending challenge is over! My kids are slightly, okay they are honestly VERY relieved. This means Mom won't be asking the questions "Is this a want or a need? Is it budgeted? Can we wait a month/week/a few days for it?"

WAHOO! It's February

Now that February has begun we can rush out and buy, buy, buy right?

Seriously, I did go out & shop shopping! Oh, and after waiting a full month I went to Staples to purchase my planner refill. I admit that I am addicted to my planner & can't survive with out it. Waiting an entire month was killing me! 

 Let me recap how the month went for us here at Honeybee Cottage:

There was less than $20 ($16.20 to be exact) spent in the first half of the month. Which I know isn't a complete win but I thought it was pretty impressive.

Regretfully, the second half of the month did not go as well. DARN it!! 

I hate being a failure! I really challenged myself to not spend a penny beyond our utility bills & grocery shopping, since we had already paid mortgage,medical bills, insurance premiums & purchased gas for the cars . I vowed there would be NO spending the last two weeks of the month. I even went so far as saying that if I ran out of Diet Coke before the month was over that I wouldn't buy any! I can't express to you just how HUGE that is for me.

I am a meal planner... I find that it saves me mentally & it resolves the issue of the kids asking "What's for dinner?" I simply post the meals on the side of the refrigerator as well as inside my planner.  Our monthly grocery budget is $700. I was pretty impressed with myself at the beginning of the month & know that the second half of the month was going to be so much easier. Then my older Girl Scout troop had a camping trip...the girls plan the meals, create the shopping list & I do the shopping. Well, I really wanted to make sure that I stick to eating Paleo so I went & purchased groceries for myself to take with me. Looking back I should have taken a better look at the month's activities so that I could include it in my meal plan. UGH! I purchased steak, chicken, bagged salad, cherry tomatoes, blueberries, apples, cashews, eggs & diet coke. Knowing that I had the meat in the freezer frustrates me even now... see what poor planning did. $62.98 spent.

The first night at camp, since we all arrive at various times requires the girls to bring their own sack dinner. Three girls forgot their sack dinners! Since the meals were carefully planned out & the number of servings per person was taken into consideration there wasn't anything that  I could easily fix them. That meant heading to Subway. $23.35 spent. I will admit that I purchased a Diet Coke here...which is something I NEVER do. Purchasing soda at any type of restaurant is not cost effective! Plus, I had diet coke back at our camp site.

Thankfully, there was no additional spending the last week. 

That meant that I spent $102.53 unnecessarily. It could be argued that since it was all food items making it necessary spending to be added to the grocery budget. To me it was unnecessary & was all due to lack or preparation & planning.

Although, my spending challenge was not a  success I still am proud of the results!

  • I was able to place $220 into the savings account.
  • We also placed $540 in our 401k.
  • We talked openly about our household finances as a family. Evaluating needs vs wants. I think this is critical in raising Money smart kids. What gift could be greater than that?
  • I planned my business trips, personal errands & other driving so that I could cut back on gas usage.
  • I actually consumed less Diet Coke. This was a result of my being afraid of running out & having to go days without any.
  • I began reading more about personal finances.
  • I also began thinking about how our spending, saving, investing decisions were affected not only by our conscious thoughts but our subconscious moods too! This truly was an aHa! moment.
  • When asking my children what they learned this month my daughter actually said "it really didn't affect me." My first reaction was WHAT?!? Then I started to think about it & I am glad that she felt that she didn't have to sacrifice or felt deprived of anything. Because that truly is the point. Living well on Less.

 The challenge also allowed me to talk to my sister, friends & colleagues about budgeting, saving & finances. It seems strange but talking about money is almost "taboo" in our society. Could that be why American households have so much debt? Simply letting people know about my spending freeze opened up the conversation. I did get a few strange looks...especially from sales people but for the most part enjoyed the conversations that it allowed me to have.

We are definitely going to continue to review our finances, evaluate our needs vs. wants & practice spending procrastination. I have agreed to challenge my family again in March so that my friend has a "buddy" and so I can declare success.

In the meantime, I have already purchased new mascara, splurged on ice cream (to celebrate the end of the spending freeze) as well as purchased chips, rootbeer & Skittles for tomorrow's Super Bowl. OH GOODNESS! Better grab the reins.