Managing Money

Mayday Mayday: My Spending Habits Need Saving

Ahh, the first of May. A day to celebrate the impending arrival of spring. A day filled with top ramen haired memes of Justin Timberlake. A day of chaos and anarchy in most large U.S. cites. And for me, a day to reflect on my spending habits during the month of April.

I use an app called Personal Capital to track my spending, and I have a love-hate relationship with it. I love it because it serves a great purpose in showing me how much money I spent in various categories. And I hate it because it shows me how much money I spent in various categories.

I mentioned earlier in the month that I was participating in a Pantry Challenge and was planning on limiting myself to $100 for groceries this month. Drumroll please…. I went $127.51 OVER budget, for a grand total of $227.51. If I break it down, I actually only went about $35 over budget. I spent about $40 in cat food and kitty litter, which I now realize should be in its own separate category. I also spent $53 on liquor and mixers to bring to a party, which I could put into the entertainment category. But regardless of what lame excuse I try to come up with, I still failed at this challenge. I also spent $113 on eating out this month, which I consider to be a high number for me.

Overall, I did have around $400 in unexpected medical and car expenses for the month, which did make my spending higher than anticipated. Even so, I still spent $367 less in April than I did in March! Definitely not something to sneeze at, if I do say so myself.

Based on all of the numbers, I’m going to give myself two challenges for the month of May:

  1. Only spend $75 on restaurants (I’m going out of town for two days, so I’m making that a little higher than I normally would).
  2. $125 grocery budget for the month

If you have any savings challenges for the month of May, I’d love to hear about them, so let me know! Happy saving!

Managing Money · money challenge

April Money Challenge: Pantry Challenge

I’ve got a bad habit. Well, to be real I have several. But for the purpose of this story, we’ll just go with the one. I have a bad habit of going grocery shopping, buying stuff on sale that I¬†would likely only eat during a national crisis when grocery shopping isn’t an option, then hoarding it all in my pantry and freezer. My freezer is filled with tilapia and frozen vegetables that probably haven’t seen the light of day in at least 4 years. And who even knows what strange nonperishables I have stacked up in my pantry. Probably the worst thing about this strange, awful habit of mine is that I will open the doors to the freezer, spin the lazy susan in the cupboards around, then decide I have no food in my house and go buy more groceries.

I’m always looking for ways to cut corners when it comes to my monthly budget. So when I looked through my spending for last month and saw that I spent a whopping $358.36 on groceries (keep in mind, I’m ONE PERSON), I decided to challenge myself to spend less this month.

I recently listened to a podcast that had to do with money challenges, and one person shared their experience with a pantry challenge. First of all, what a breath of fresh air to find out I’m not the only food hoarder out there. Second, I realized a pantry challenge was just what I needed this month.

The woman on the podcast had a goal to not spend anything on groceries, but that just didn’t sound feasible to me. I recently joined Weight Watchers, so produce is pretty essential to me right now. Plus, I don’t think my two cats would appreciate eating nothing but stale spaghetti noodles and 8 cans of garbanzo beans for the next month. I modified the rules to fit my lifestyle, and I decided that I can only spend $100 on groceries this month. Plus, I’m challenging myself to create recipes that are still reflective of my Weight Watchers goals.

We’re now a third of the way through the month of April, and I’ve only spent a third of my budget ($29.58 to be exact)! I’m not the greatest cook, but just yesterday I meal prepped for the week and made cilantro lime chicken with cilantro lime rice and beans (I only spent $1.50 for the cilantro and lime!) and Thai peanut butter chicken with rice, and I have to admit that I gave myself a nice pat on the back after. The Mexican stuffed shells I made last week weren’t the greatest, but at least they were edible. Oh, and just in case you were curious, I’m still holding up the Weight Watchers end of the bargain and lost 2 pounds in the last 2 weeks!