I am taking a break from my usual Fitness and Food Challenges and beginning a new challenge for the month of August and September. I wrote this post back in 2009 and thought it was time to revisit our finances. Itâ€™s time to take control!
I always have my wishful thinkingÂ plans, like my Kauai Marathon Dream, or traveling to Italy one day with Hubby, but this is something that will come down the road. For now itâ€™s time to be realistic and think about SAVING, and PLANNING. There are many areas in our family that we try and stay within a reasonable budget, do you?
1. Food/Groceries: Hubby and I try and spend a certain amount on food each week, and maybe even go under if possible. Because we only go out to dinner once a week, we feel it is very important to make the most of all the food we buy on Sunday. I sit down on Sundayâ€™s and plan out our meals for the week, so that we have an idea of what we already have. A good number to spend is around $60-$75 for the two of us. Hubby and I both take lunches to work so that saves us a lot of Benjamins!
2. Gas: This one is hard because we donâ€™t have the best public transportation system out here to ride around on the bus, so both have to take our own cars. Hubby drives about 15 minutes to work, and me the same. But its the small trips here and there that add up. So right now I am trying to make less small trips as possibleÂ as well as carpool! THIS IS A HARD ONE!
3. Entertainment: We also have a small amount tucked away for entertainment/eating out. We only go out once a week and actually spend money. Right now we have been inviting folks over for game nights(free), or we will go to someone elseâ€™s house and have dinner (also free).Â It will also save money if you eat dinner at home first, and then go out for fun. For example, have dinner at home and then meet up at a restaurant and just have dessert and coffee. That way you can actually enjoy the dessert, because you didnâ€™t stuff yourself at dinner and dessert is less. We try and enjoy as much of the environment around us, without spending money (one of the many reasons living in SO CAL is a privilege). If we go to the mountains we will go on a hike, and take a lunch. When we go to the beach we can ride our bikes for free, and have snacks that we bring from home. MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR ENVIRONMENT!
4. His/Hers: Hubby and I set a little aside every month to put in our His and Hers accounts(a very small amount) but we can do what we would like with it, without feeling guilty. I like to spend mine on races, clothes and hubby likes to spend his on softball and tools.! Maybe twice a year if I am lucky I will getÂ a massage or a pedicure. I would rather get a running skirt then a Coach bag, you know what I mean?
5. Others: We know that things just come up, like birthdays, weddings, baby showers, etcâ€¦.so we put some money aside for those as well. Or heck even a new BATTERY for the car!
6. Tithing: We try and always give 10% of what we make to our Church, not because we have to but because we want to. We want to support our Church as much as we can. I understand that not all my readers have a Church that they would be giving to, but I do encourage you to think about giving a percentage of your income to some type of charitable organization. I once heard a quote that said, â€œIâ€™ve heard multiple professional financial planners (of any religion or even none at all) recommend that in order to be rich, one must first give a flat 10% of all of their earnings to charity. The way one explained it to me is that it subconsciously helps us see money as a tool rather than a goal in and of itself.â€
These are the extra categories obviously, there are things like house mortgage, car insurance, electricity bill, school loans, that we pay also. But we have little control over those except to turn off lights, and water. But there always going to be there.
I am the queen of getting things for free if possible.
- I work at my gym so I get that free!
- Fresh & Easy Rewards Points and Coupons
- Momâ€™s old purses and workout clothes sheâ€™s sick of I get to have
- Bartering (hubby and I do a lot of this)
THE NO SPEND CHALLENGE
Do you need a challenge to get your spending habits under control? Well how about join me in my 60 day NO SPEND CHALLENGE!!!
The challenge: Can our family spend our budgeted amount for gas and food alone? Can we be more mindful and disciplined about the money we spend? Itâ€™s time to take a break from extra spending! In short â€œNo spending except basic essentials this monthâ€.
Weâ€™re constantly told about things that will make our lives better, and yes, sometimes they do, but the daily message to BUY. HAVE, and make things nicer never stops! This tight budget is for accountability.
Details: Stick to the budget YOU make for food, gas, and toiletries for 90 days (starting on August 1st) . Donâ€™t spend outside the amount that we budget for the month. What will this magic number be? I am not 100% sure yet, but we will make one.We do have a few fun entertainment things planned, so those are already set and we will stick to our budget in them.
Included in the challenge amount:
- Groceries and Eating Out
- Household items
- Mortgage, insurance, bills
Basically I need to take a break from spending money on things I think I have to HAVE! Instead I want to focus on we do have! I want to be more thankful for the food that is on the table and the gas that is in my car.
Advice for getting started:
1. Leave your debit card at home and use cash!
2. Spend as little as possible at the beginning while you are motivated, so youâ€™ll have more to spare later in the month.
3. Eat out just once a week (or less). One outing could be your entire food budget for the week!
Every person has a different situation, so adapt this plan to best fit what you need! Make your budget amount CHALLENGING, but still realistic. If you have a special event planned, just make an exception for that day. Maybe focus on one area of spending, such as not eating out or buying new things for the house. You will find plenty of things to keep yourself busy this month, without spending money.
Maybe you still need to make a budget and that could be a challenge in itself! HAPPY MONDAY!
What are some of your money saving tips? I need all the help I can get!!! I AM NOT AN EXPERT!