If you remember from the first post, our family’s main goals were to stick to a modest monthly food budget, communicate about our spending, and meal plan!
Here’s how things are going so far…
I have to say that SO FAR, it is going quite well. It has definitely been a painful reminder of how diligent I WAS NOT for the past several months. For me, sticking to this goal just takes discipline. I have made sure to balance the checkbook and update the budget every couple of days or so. If I do that, it is much easier to stay on top of things. At the end of 2015, I was lucky if I did this once a week. Definite improvement!
SC and I made the goal to create the budget together and then have a quick meeting after each pay day (two per month). As of this post, we have had one pay day and our meeting actually happened! (Jumping heel click!) I think this has helped us communicate about money more regularly throughout the week in a less formal setting as well. It has been a great opportunity for us to talk about our future financial goals and how we can get there. It’s sort of like ripping off a band aid: it stings at first, and then it doesn’t hurt quite so bad. 😉
Here are some of the ways I found it relatively stress-free to plan our meals for January…
1.) I created a weekly meal plan for the first half of the month– each week was the same for simplicity’s sake (I initially planned on doing the entire month at once but realized it wasn’t in the budget to shop for everything all at once.)
2.) I did a large shopping trip at the beginning of the month to purchase as much as possible for the first half of the month
3.) I’ve only gone to the store twice for fresh produce or random items that were needed for the menu
4.) I set a monetary limit as to what we could spend on food until Pay Day #2.
5.) My Dirty Little “No Spend” Secret– We built GRACE into our monthly food budget
1-3 has worked really well for us. I really like only having one day a month (possibly two) where I have to make a large grocery run. For the small grocery trips, it was so liberating to be in and out in under 30 minutes for 10 items or less! It was tempting to buy additional “fun” items, but knowing I had to stick to my budget was good incentive to obey my list.
Speaking of budget, number 4 has been tough. If I’m completely honest, we have gone slightly over the limit we set for ourselves until Pay Day #2, which is still a couple of days away. I fully expect the second half of the month to require much more creativity in the kitchen!
Number 5 might need some explaining. You see, we set a modest monthly food budget, which includes ALL FOOD- even eating out. (GASP!) I know myself well enough to know that sometimes, I NEED an easy dinner. Sometimes, grabbing a quick meal out keeps me SANE, and I’ve got no problem admitting that. Therefore, we decided from the beginning that our food budget would include ALL food- we just had to be smart about it.
I confess that we have eaten at Chipotle once (or twice), purchased a frozen pizza, and bought a few “grab and go” meals at the grocery store. This challenge, however, has made me think twice before I “just pick something up.” If I bought a convenience meal this month, it had to be REALLY worth it. Building grace into our New Year No Spend Challenge has allowed us to make smart decisions based on our reality. It has also eliminated feelings of guilt, which has kept our motivation from plummeting.
We have eliminated date nights and babysitters this month and other entertainment outings, which has already saved us hundreds of dollars. (We reeallly like our adult time.) Since we are planning on doing a date night kid exchange LATER in the month, this one has been a little difficult so far. We have definitely felt a little cooped up, but have found creative ways to have fun together at home and outdoors.
Gift cards have been nice for Starbucks treats and we have an Outback gift card we plan to use soon. (Thank you, friends!)
In the meantime, check out my other blogger friends and see what great tips they have!
Brittany over at Little Mountain Momma
Fifi over at Fifi & Florence
Emily over at The Dependent Life
Thanks for joining our community! What tips can YOU share?