Or, “How We Saved $350 by Eating at Home.”
As today is February 1st, I am happy to announce that Gregory and I survived our January Spending Fast and it feels so good. It was by no means easy, and there were definitely times that all I could think about was wasting an hour (and $100) at Target and grabbing a latte from Starbucks. But, the amazing thing about discipline is that while it’s really hard in the moment, it brings joy in the end!
In the month of January, we didn’t go out to eat (with the exception of me going to a work happy hour on a coworker’s last day, but we had set aside money for this ahead of time), we didn’t go to any coffee shops (my major weakness!), we didn’t buy any new clothing and we didn’t spend a single dollar on a date!
So what helped us successfully complete the Spending Fast?
- We meal planned once a week. On Sundays, I sat down and planned all of our meals for the week and then went to the grocery store and bought only the food we needed for what I meal-planned.
- We shopped at Aldi. I was scared of Aldi when I was in college because I was sure that their food was low quality and was going to give me food poisoning. Turns out, Aldi is amazing, cheap and tasty. Staying in our food budget was WAY easier because we mainly shopped here.
- We checked in on our budget each week. At least once a week, we’d look at auto-payments that came out of our checking account and tracked them on our budget spreadsheet. While there were a few surprises (i.e. purchases from the previous month that came out late or the annual membership fee for our gym that we forgot about), we knew where all of our money went and when.
- We used cash. I can’t stress how much using cash helped us. With the exception of gas, we used cash for all of our consumable goods (i.e. groceries, dog food, oil changes, hygiene products, etc.). Knowing how much we had allocated for each area (and not just using a debit card) really helped us to keep our spending in check.
- We told people what we were doing. I’m sure a lot of our friends and family thought we were crazy, but telling people why we weren’t grabbing coffee or lunch or able to go to a movie took a lot of the pressure off.
The results? We were able to pay off our smallest student loan! This past weekend we paid off a $1100 student loan!!! I must admit that I was a little disappointed because I thought we would be able to put more towards student loans this month, but we did have a few unexpected expenses (the yearly gym fee I mentioned, a plumber fee, etc.) and we also paid off a credit card we had used quite a bit in November for traveling and in December for Christmas.
So all in all, I would consider January VERY successful!
So where are we going from here? Well, we’re going to keep up this plan! We’re sticking to the same budget we did last month, but we also added a few things that we wanted to spend money on this month (a coffee date, a haircut, etc.). We decided that this will be our routine going forward. Any expenses outside of our planned “Spending Fast Budget” have to be talked about and agreed upon at the beginning of the month. I think that without the credit card bill this month and (hopefully!) with less unexpected expenses, we’ll be able to put even more towards student loans in February! Yahoo!