March and April were expensive months for us. Between work projects around the house, major car repairs and a 60K check-up, licence/tab renewal, insurance renewal, spring break, dining out too much, and forking over a major lump sum to pay off our students loans, we’ve had a couple expensive months in our household. We still lived frugally – but there were lots of expenses that we just couldn’t avoid (and many we could have), that really added up.
So. . .after balancing our checkbook and finances this week, my husband and decided that our goal for May would be to CUT BACK big time and spend as little as we can on groceries, avoid eating out at all costs, and basically do our best to spend as LITTLE as possible. I have no idea what this number will be, but I’m hoping it’s under $200 for our family of four. I’d be downright giddy if I could get it under $100, but that might be hard to do since I could probably spend this much on produce and milk.
Ways I’m hoping to accomplish this:
- Good meal planning
- Make the best use of current pantry, stockpile and freezer ingredients
- Shop only the best of the best bargains each week – mostly produce and perishables
- Plan ahead to avoid eating out
- Get my coupons organized again
- Neighborhood garage sale scheduled this month – hoping to sell extra stuff to make some extra cash!
- Do without. Sounds depressing, but seriously – the best way to save, is to do without. We’ll be cutting out most of the “extras” this month in an attempt to save more.
We do all of these things anyway – in some way or another – to live frugally, but we’ve been lax lately. So this month we WILL do all of these as best as we can.
I’ll bring you along for the journey:
For the month of May I’ll be reporting everything we spend on groceries. I’ll be posting a meal plan and sharing our budget challenge with you through regular posts. I have no idea how this will all shake out. We are starting the month with a full freezer and a strong stockpile. Please keep this in mind – without a stockpile and freezer foods I think it would be nearly impossible for a family of four to to only spend $100 – $200 on groceries.
We have my husband’s birthday celebration and a trip planned this month – we already have our budgets for these two occasions, so they will be excluded from this challenge. I have at least one “review” scheduled this month for Grocery Outlet – I use gift cards for those and this will not be counted as part of our total since it’s “work” related.
Why don’t we do this every month?
You might be asking – why don’t you just do this every month? Well we do try our best every month to live frugally and I think we do a pretty good job. I don’t generally report all our shopping trips because it’s a lot of work to blog about every dollar you spend. But I’m committed to trying it this month. Also, as we use our stockpile this month, it would be harder to do this next month when our stockpile and freezer foods are in shorter supply. It’s generally all about balance for us – what can we stock-up on, where can we save and how can we make the most of what we have? This month, however, we are going to try and go extreme and get creative to save even more.
Things to consider if you want to do a month-long budget challenge:
- Are you and your spouse or partner on the same page? You really need to sit down and discuss the plan together. If only one of you is on board, it isn’t going to work.
- Be realistic about how little you can spend. As I mentioned above we have a strong stockpile and a stocked freezer. This means we will be able to stretch our dollars more this month.
- Take this as an opportunity evaluate all expenses in your house. Can you cut back cable or call and ask for a better rate?
- Sell or barter items you don’t need anymore. In addition to cutting back – can you also sell some extra stuff to make some extra money? Or perhaps you can barter with a neighbor for things you might need?
I think that’s it. That’s our May Budget Challenge. Stay tuned for updates . . .