The $150.00 Challenge for the month of July officially ended for me today when I went to the grocery store for a 12 hour sale. I did quite well this month. In fact, having a challenge helped me stay on track for the entire month, especially while on vacation.
To review, the $150.00 challenge I gave myself was to reduce my miscellaneous and grocery spending by a total of $150.00 for the month of July. We reduced our spending in these two categories by $151.51 and here is the best part - it was entirely painless. I did not feel deprived at all.
Here is why I was successful. I was diligent about keeping track of every cent spent with a free app. on my cell phone. As I shopped, I entered my totals on that app. so I could see the tally of what I was spending. I immediately took those receipts when I got home and entered them on my spreadsheet on the computer into the different categories. I used to wait until the weekend to do this but now I do it as soon as I get home. Also I started to keep three lists on my fridge. One was an ongoing grocery list and the second was an ongoing "Walmart" type list. I tried very, very hard to shop for the items on the Walmart list once a week. Also, before I left the house, I looked at that list to make sure that we really needed the things on the list. I found myself crossing a few items off the list over the course of the month.
The third list was a wish list of grocery items that I was waiting for a great deal so we could stock up. On my list this month was 85% lean ground beef, chicken hindquarters (I cut them up into drumsticks and thighs) and ham. This helped me to stay focused when I was shopping and not purchase something that I already had a large amount in the freezer. Sure enough 85% lean ground beef was on sale and so was ham. Hopefully in August chicken hindquarters will go on sale as I only have about 2 left in the freezer.
What have I learned? To be aware of where our money is going. I was doing a lot of unconcious spending. I found that having more money at the end of the month can be a bigger high than buying something. Not buying stuff makes me happier. Thinking about how long it takes my DH to earn the money to pay for something makes me think more about how important it is to stretch our income and not spend so much.
So the challenge was a great success. My DH and I are talking about our finances every week when we do a quick review of expenses and income to track where we are at. I know that I can knock off another $100.00 a month from our spending after what I have been through this month. From having this success it makes me want to move on and do even more.
For August I plan to reduce spending by another $100.00 and contribute to my Charity Challenge. August has it's challenges as we will be paying for our son's Senior Pictures and will have some back to school expenses.
Again, it's living life conciously and making those tiny conscious decisions that will add up to dollars saved down the road.