We are already thirty-eight days into this thing, and I’m so proud of us! Click here to start at the beginning of the budget. We came in under budget for January. Number one: I’m shocked at how little we spent on food. $375 is well under our $600 budget. Originally we had budgeted $500 for groceries and $200 for kids stuff. At the last moment I decided to cut kids spending in half and move that over to groceries. That appears to have been a mistake, so I moved it back. Even with a $200 budget for kids spending, we overspent. But we bought a couple things (a new Tula baby carrier and a crib mattress for Mazlo), so I think kids spending will even out between January and February.
The biggest thing I’ve noticed is that Sunny and I talk about every purchase we make. Every. Single. Purchase. Should we buy that $8 toy for Mazlo or wait until next month? Do we even need it at all, or can we make something similar ourselves? Full disclosure: we bought it and he loves it. And when it comes to groceries, I’m sticking to the list. I did get a little overconfident later in the month and splurge on a bag of unlisted chips and salsa. I need to watch that. But I’m excited to announce that we’re still eating good food. You don’t have to eat just ramen noodles to eat cheap. We’re making practically everything from scratch, and we’re eating fresh food. Yes, lots of rice and beans, and lots of oatmeal, but with other good things added. And we like rice and beans anyway. Oatmeal we don’t like as much, but Coraline certainly does, so she helps keep us on track there.
I don’t think we were wasting a lot of food before, but we are wasting even less now. Used to be that when spinach was on the list, I’d buy two bags, because we want to have enough, right? But inevitably we would end up composting half a bag, or even a whole bag. So now I buy only the one bag. That’s only a $2 purchase, but all those little things add up.
It’s been a fun challenge so far. I’m not sure that we’re going to continue having conversations about every single purchase all year long. Maybe we’ll just really get on the same page about everything. Maybe we’ll get into a groove and be able to keep it under budget without the need to nitpick. Hopefully we don’t get overconfident and reckless. I don’t want to imagine a family having the conversation about the $8 toy because they legitimately can’t afford it. That would make it less of a game and more of an argument. And I never want to have to argue about food. Money problems suck. We’re damn lucky we don’t have to worry too much.