I did it! I survived! One whole month of spending money on only the necessities! We weren’t perfect, that is for sure. There were a couple trips to the store that I deemed “necessary,” but nothing that I would consider cheating. No fast food stops, no clothes shopping, no shopping for items I don’t need around the home.
My original goal was to not spend money on anything but groceries and the basic bills. I also said I would spend more quality time with my family and friends, cut the grocery bill by 25% and complete unfinished projects around the house.
I definitely made huge progress around the house. The silly master bathroom is not done yet, but there is only one thing left now…the baseboards! There is really no reason why they are not done yet, except pure laziness (and the fact that I spent WAY more time with my kids in July). But take a look at the new vanity and mirror! I just built the mirror last night and I LOVE IT! The materials cost me less than $15 (wood, clips, and a piece of mirror glass…I’m not really counting the paint because that tiny little can has lasted through a million projects now) and it is exactly the size I want. I could not be happier with my new, homemade bathroom vanity that I planned and built from beginning to end. I still need to make some baskets to go underneath and hide the plumbing, but other than that (and replacing the ugly green towels and bath mats…I also think I’m going to knit the bathmats), totally done!
I was NOT successful in lowering the grocery bill. In fact, it went up almost $400. YIKES! However, that is still less than we paid to eat out the month before (June). Not to mention, we had friends over to eat several times. At the end of the month though, budget complete, fun had by all (my husband even spent a couple hours renting a plane and flying…he said that I promised to not spend extra money in July, not him!), I am proud to say we spent over $2,000 less this month than we did last month. Crazy. Of course, unfortunately, that $2,000 went straight to pay for our brand new hot water heater to replace the one that broke at the very beginning of the month. It was somewhat disappointing to have to accept that. But of course, if I had not cut out all that useless spending, I would be $2,000 in the hole instead of breaking even.
Another pledge I made was to lay off the evening wine and drinks with friends, as well as my Mountain Dew habit. I admit that I failed at both. BUT, I did seriously cut back and only had a drink about once a week. A huge side benefit of not eating out, not drinking, and spending more time being active? I was right…I lost NINE POUNDS in the month of July. Talk about motivation to keep this up in the future! I did not “diet” or watch what I ate at all. I just cut out the crap. The stuff you don’t even notice you are doing to yourself, or you can always justify – just one dessert; just one drink, just one meal out. It all adds up. For me, it added up to nine pounds!
What else did we do for free this month?
- Movies in one of our local parks (on a big blow up screen)
- Almost daily walks that were a mile long or more
- Swimming at the community pool and our local YMCA
- Visit to the Hampton History Museum for a kids’ activity day
- Started a weekly craft day with one of my friends where I finished two knitting projects and repurposed jeans into a skirt
- Bike rides with the kids
- Took care of the garden which is producing so much food (carrots, peppers, tomatoes, onions, green beans, peas, herbs) I barely bought a vegetable in July
- Met new neighbors and had them over for dinner
- Lots of time spent with other friends at their houses and ours
- Did some re-landscaping all around the house by moving some plants in and out of the garden
- Set up summer schedules for the kids that helped us spend more time together including regular trips to the library, in home nail salon time with my daughter, activity time, art and craft time, and more
- The kids were also able to do several things without me like camping, fishing, trips to the park and pool, etc.
There were times that the month seemed to drag on forever and all I wanted to do was take the kids out for yogurt or something of the like. For the most part though, it was easy not spending money. The kids learned to appreciate the things they have, rather than complain about the things that they don’t (my mother-in-law took them out to lunch at Panera and you would have thought she was taking them to Disney World!). I definitely learned the same appreciation. My shopping list for August is long, but it won’t even come close to un-doing the great things we were able to accomplish in July. We are still going to avoid eating out and continue to do free things around Hampton Roads.
Have you accomplished any goals you made this summer?