The home stretch…
So we’re about to enter the 4th week of my first budget month. There were quite a few slip-ups in the beginning but things got much easier by week 2…
1. Overspent on the fun budget. This was 100% my fault, but as I said, by week 2 it was much easier to stick to the plan. Tracking every single purchase helped immensely. I kept every receipt from my purchases this month for all categories so I could easily see where my money went.
2. No savings. This was unavoidable. Kiddo and I both needed haircuts which is one of the few things I actually believe in spending money on. Because of Kiddo’s Autism, he is not interested in change and he’s gotten very comfortable with the girl who does our hair. This is not something I want to switch up just to save a few pennies. I also had some unexpected expenses – things I didn’t plan for – so the Savings budget covered it.
Those were the two major slip-ups, but the good news is going from Starbucks & breakfast out every morning to just Starbucks twice a week and breakfast at home every day was an easier transition than I thought it would be. It’s become second nature now.
There was another slip-up that actually wasn’t much of an issue in the grand scheme. The first three weeks, I did my normal+ grocery shopping but always had extra food that I put in the freezer. Example: I bought a pork roast that cost $13. This is a luxury item I normally don’t buy. However, I’m at week 4 now and my grocery budget after buying KitKat’s necessities is $34. Normally, this would be a freakout moment if not for all that food sitting in my freezer. I realized when I sat down to make my grocery list that I don’t need to buy meat for the week because there’s a ton in my freezer that I can use in meals. I also have a bag of marinated, uncooked chicken breasts that I can defrost and batch cook for my lunches. I have enough hamburger buns left from week 3 that I can just turn them into sandwiches. As tempting as freshly cooked chicken would be for week 4’s dinners, not completely blowing my budget is more tempting.
1. Staying on budget is an amazing feeling. I never thought I would say this, but every time I had the opportunity to save money and made that choice, I felt so proud of myself. I woke up this morning dreading having to cook my biscuits and sausage but knowing how very little money is left until the next paycheck forced me to realize that I need to stay in my means. That phrase took on a whole new meaning for me and now I realize how wasteful I was.
2. Tracking expenses = major wake up call. Want to know where all your money is going? Write it down! Write down every little expense. Nothing makes you take notice than a list of wasteful expenses staring you in the face. Example: Buying a $2 soda in my office building’s market that I never finished. I changed that up and invested in a 6 pack of 16 ounce bottles. Each bottle lasts me 2 to 3 days.
3. Deals can be found anywhere. I was at Target picking up a prescription and noticed some things marked down. I got 3 tubes of toothpaste for Kiddo and 1 for me all for $5. I also got two bottles of pure oils I can use in homemade beauty products for $3 each. When I got my prescription, I was handed a coupon for $5 off any purchase. Talk about racking up! We’re stocked on toothpaste for a while and my DIY list just got longer. I also scored major savings on Amazon for KitKat’s canned food and litter needs by signing up for auto-delivery. I saved 50% over buying these things at the store. This is something I’ll need to figure into my monthly budget going forward.
4. Waste not, want not. I know some people will hate me for this, but at the end of the week, I used to just throw things out. Sticking to my budget planning forced me to change my attitude about this and put things in the freezer for later. Sure glad I did now that I have a whopping $34 to spend on food for a whole week. I used up all the meat I bought for this week except bacon and sausage. Our tummies are full and my fridge is empty with no waste. Yes, it means I’m eating the same thing for lunch and dinner today but guess what? I’m satisfied, not hungry, and not wasting money. I also have a fall-back plan for next week when my budget is super tight.
I’m excited to see how I do for Month 2. There will likely be no savings again thanks to Kiddo’s birthday but I think by week 4, I’ll be in a better situation than I am now.