Friday, February 13, 2009

No-Spend Challenge: Week Four/Final Thoughts

I intended to post this WAY before now, but I suppose it is better late than never. Here's my spending break down for the final week of my January No-Spend Challenge.

Saturday (Jan 24):

Sunday (Jan 25):
-0- Well, I spent $0, but John spent $6 seeing a movie with friends. Some of you keep trying to persuade me that what he spends doesn't count, but I think it is important to mention this because I tried every single day of this week to go see a movie myself and couldn't find a showing that got me home before school let out. (I really want to see Revolutionary Road and Slumdog Millionaire.)

Monday (January 26):
$44 for my hair cut ($36 + 20%ish tip). That may seem extravagant to some, but I gladly pay it because Rachel is amazing. My experience has been that you get what you pay for.
$45 for dry cleaning. John has an awesome suede shirt that he bought at a second-hand store. It was the first time he had it cleaned, and I just about choked when the lady told me that my bill was $45. That's about 15 times MORE than he paid for the shirt in the first place. OH my gosh. I so didn't see that one coming.

Tuesday (January 27):
-0- I stayed home all day, and had a friend over for coffee. I was so thankful that John was able to fix our garage door without having to pay the repairman! 

Wednesday (January 28):
$6 ish to mail a book to Lisa. This is an instance where time was money. I ran into the post office and the line was twelve people deep. I didn't have time to wait in line to send the book by MediaMail. (Y'all DO know about MediaMail, right? Books/cds only can be mailed at a deeply discounted rate.) I was in a hurry to pick the kids up, so I used the self-service kiosk and mailed it from there. MediaMail isn't an option at the kiosk, I think because there is no way they can keep tabs on honesty.

Thursday (January 29):
$16 on birthday gift for one of Abbey's best friends. Yeah, I totally intended to make that tooth-fairy pillow, but time got away from me and I caved. Have you guys heard of PixOs? Super fun! 

Friday (January 30):
-0- Stayed home and unplugged all day. Our heater started acting in we couldn't get it to turn ON...but John finagled something and it got it working again.

Saturday (January 31):
$90 for DATE NIGHT!!! ($90 between PF Changs, babysitter, and a pizza for the kids).
By now, you know that I can justify just about anything, right? John and I were invited to a birthday party for one of our good friends and he suggested we get a sitter and go have dinner first. (Okay, twist my arm). With the exception of one evening meal out at Chick-Fil-A, we had eaten dinner at home the entire month of January, so yeah, I think dinner out was totally justified! are some of my observations:

1. I am addicted to hot, caffeinated beverages from a certain (sometimes obnoxious) chain. I had gift cards to get me through the month, but I was VERY glad when February 1 rolled around and I was able to splurge again. That money can add up quickly though...I've tried limiting myself to one a week. 

2. I say all the time that we don't eat fast food very often. With the exception of PF Changs, every meal we ate out in January was FAST FOOD. Gross. And, for what we spent at Chick-Fil-A, McDonald's, and Carl's Jr, we could have had a very nice family meal at a restaurant we all enjoy much more.

3. Eating fast food was the result of not thinking/planning ahead. We grabbed McDonald's for the kids when we were out running errands over the noon hour. We ate at Chick-Fil-A for dinner on the snowy night that we were in Co Springs over the dinner hour. John got the kids a hamburger the night I hosted Bunco because I shooed them out of the house and didn't want to mess up the kitchen making dinner. Normally, I'm a plan ahead kind of girl...but a couple of those instances could have better anticipated. I'm not super hard on myself about this stuff...but in light of #2, it makes the fast food purchases seem like such a waste.

4. I cook at home...a LOT. And that saves us mucho money.

5. I struggle with impulse buying. Remember the shoes and the bird and the candle I bought while I was on a quest for a lamp? Uh-huh. Still no lamp but I have lots of other bargains to show for my money.

6. I spend -0- money when I stay at home. Good thing I love to stay home. Another thing that helps me not spend money is to avoid looking at the sale ads. For awhile now, I've been tossing the ones in the Sunday paper before I read them because they tempt me with their oh-so-fab bargains? Remember the $4 scrapbook frame from Michaels? Clearly I didn't toss 'em that week. 

7. My blog friends can help me justify anything. Don't believe me? Go back and read the comments on Week One, Week Two, and Week Three in this series.

8. My heart wasn't really in this challenge. I've said over and over that I'm not a legalist, but when I did cave and spend money, I didn't feel too much remorse. I think the situation would have looked a lot different if we were in dire straits and I really couldn't spend.

9. I definitely spent lots LESS money than in December! 

10. I wanted to be aware of thoughtless purchases, and I think I was. Though sometimes my thought process before buying involved lots of justifying. ;)


I have to tell you that on the second day of February, we woke up to a FREEZING house. John's quick-fix from the previous week didn't last and we ended up spending a pretty penny getting our furnace repaired. That same morning, my van wouldn't start. I wanted to cry (and curse) because February arrived with a hefty price tag. Just made me thankful that we saved some money during the previous month. *smile*


Megan L Hutchings said...

I know that you have beaten yourself up BUT I think you have done a fabulous job :)!

Becky said...

I have learned the sale ads trick myself this past month. We've cut back since December and I find that if I don't know it's on sale then I won't miss anything. Esp at Kohl's!

I didn't offically take the challenge b/c I was going on a scrapbook retreat and thought I would spend too much. I spent a total of $1.27 for the weekend! So proud and J was really happy!

Becky said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gretchen said...

I think one aspect of growing up poor is that you tend to hoard. Now that we have more money than when I was a kid, I have to constantly fight to not buy things just because I can. I need to tell that kid inside me that we'll be okay. That God will provide for our needs. Sounds freaky, I know.

Thank you for running this series for us, Mer. I didn't come close to you in the non-spending, but I sure changed some habits for the better, and my awareness of needless spending skyrocketed. Not sure if i'm happy about that. j/k--I am.

Dee Dee said...

The heater AND the van in one day? I would have definitely cried...

Anonymous said...

I'm with Gretchen. Just because I didn't have it then and can afford it now, doesn't mean that I have to buy it. I tried to hang with you in January, and for the most part, did pretty well.

What are we going to do next? Inquiring minds want to know....

Amber said...

Iwas just balancing the checkbook this morning and realized how much money we spend on fast food. Ugh. You're so right...just save all that up and I could be eating steaks at Outback twice a month no problem. Grrrr....

Good job, Mer!

Brenda said...

I think it all boils down to just being aware of our spending. It's when someone just 'forks it out' and justifies later that the spending gets out of hand.
I think you did good considering you were keeping track of every cent. You learned where you think you could improve as well as realizing how well you did overall.
Happy Valentine's Day!

Gina said...

Yeah, I guess I should stay home A LOT more....

Stephanie @ My Answered Prayer said...

You did great! I wish I could do that good! Just today $13 at Sonic. E didn't want to stop what he was doing and wanted a salad and tea from sonic...L was out of school and he wanted a burger and fries so it added up quick.

I'm with you and Joanne about staying home...I'm trying really hard! But internet and fabric is my weakness!

His Girl said...

I'm inspired to try something like this soon. you know i'll be looking to you for tips!

also. I totally agree with Gretch with the poor thing...I tend to think I have to buy something just because it's a good deal... interesting.

Jacquie said...

Very interesting experiment. I enjoyed what you got out of it. I track EVERY THING we spend in Quicken... and it helps to know exactly where the money goes.

Jennifer said...

Great job Mer!

I gave up my Smoothies from Nature's Table. I'm not a hot drink drinker, but I love my smoothie's. I used to get one a day just about.......times 5 days and it adds up with each one being just shy of $5! Gasp! Since mid December I haven't bought one smoothie! Woo Hoo!!

I agree about the staying home/spending less. Since planning menu's I have saved more money then going out to eat, etc. Love it!

But I have to say I do look at the ads. I'm ok with looking at them. What I do is circle things that I would want and then put the paper up and look again 2 days later. Funny thing is that I really don't want much of what I circle. LOL

I'm all about coupons now. I have started buying gift certificates to use from$25 for $ it!

Anonymous said...

You've inspired me to go back & read all your posts about this challenge and take in on myself...

Michelle@Life with Three said...

Number 2 is an interesting point -- the fact that all those small, fast food meals could have equaled one great family dinner out. Like you, I cook at home a lot, but that's more a function of where we live. There just aren't many restaurant options out our way.

Number 5 is my Achilles heel, too. I've been trying to be more aware of it, and as a result, I realize just how much I do it!

Puva said...

Hey Meredith! That's a pretty good start, so don't stress (: I'm very proud of you! Honest!

Jenster said...

Isn't it amazing what we find out we've been spending money on when I just look? (At least that's what I've been told).

I may have to give this challenge a go some time.

(I'm putting you in my Google Reader since I never remember to hop over here.)

Stephanie Kay said...

I've really enjoyed following you on this challenge. Our furnace went out back in November (?). It wasn't cheap to replace but we have an emergency fund for such things so it didn't hurt too bad.

I'm wondering... do y'all operate your finances on a budget? I've found great freedom using a budget/spending plan!

Leigh Ann said...

We recently started tracking EVERYTHING, and it's amazing where it goes. You are right...if I plan ahead, those quick stops to Chic-fil-a could be cut out!