Experimenting with a Spending Diet – Who’s With Me?

I’m tired of spending money.

We’re enjoying Summer, and just got home from a lovely long weekend away.  But travel brings expenses: gas, car snacks, hotel room, restaurant, a few souvenirs. Money just flies out of my wallet – poof!

I read an article about a mom who instituted a Spending Fast.  The deal was, the family bought nothing for a prescribed amount of time, to use up their inventory and save money.  They paid regular monthly bills like utilities, cable and mortgage, but nothing else.

It’s certainly time to slow down our spending.  Yet, we can’t stop spending altogether.  We have high school textbooks to order, and a few other small but necessary expenses.  And with August (the month I refer to as the “Month of Writing Checks”) comes back-to-school expenses like registration, supplies and clothes.

So, I am trying a Spending Diet.

And why do we diet? With food, we decrease overall consumption.  We want to feel healthier. lighter and better overall; and we want to regain control over an area of our lives where we feel a little out of control. So, we will go on a Spending Diet for the next few weeks, for the same reasons!

It may seem counter-intuitive, but I started my spending diet by handing out money.  I paid allowances, and set aside $40 that my business owes a friend.  I can now see more clearly what I need for the next few weeks.

A glance at our checkbook indicates that most of our non-monthly bill expenses are on food, either groceries or at restaurants.  Sooooo…..

  • I planned our menu for the next two weeks incorporating food we already have. Our grocery expenses will be for perishables only, like produce and milk, and I’ll pay for these groceries with already purchased gift cards.
  • I skipped my bi-weekly Target trip for toiletries and household items, and will get creative with what we have in the linen closet (saving approx $100).
  • I also moved my Coscto trip to two weeks from now, skipping this week (saving approx $200).
  • We got take-out for dinner (we do this occasionally on the weekend), but we chose the restaurant based on gift certificates and coupons we had on hand. Dinner plus a few days of leftovers cost less than $6.
  • We celebrated National Ice Cream Month on Sunday, on the last leg of our vacation, but we used gift cards to pay for our treats. Total out of pocket was $7.
  • I collected and reviewed all the other gift cards we have, to determine what we can use over the next few weeks (side note, we purchase gift cards through a tuition reimbursement program at our sons’ high school.)
  • And finally, I packed my lunch for work, and will continue to do so for the next two weeks. It is so easy to fall into the bad habit of grabbing fast food between clients, and I can spend $10 a day on such a habit.
  • There is nothing else that we NEED right now.  My husband and I visited my favorite little boutique in the resort town we went to over the weekend.  Everything there was lovely, but I did not touch a thing.  We have all we need, and most everything we want.  And just a guess, you probably do, too.
  • With more planning, we could cut spending even more, by cutting reducing our monthly bill expenses and eliminating eating out altogether, but we’ll see how we do with these changes to start.

So, how can you pare down your spending this week?

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