Spending Challenge – Update

This is a guest post from Sheryl in Ontario, who is 40 years old with a grown daughter, and is trying to rebuild her retirement dream just 20 years too late for early retirement.

So I found out quickly that I didn’t plan my spending diet very well, but on the up side, it is forcing me to be very honest.   I needed milk two days after my decision to do this.

I also found out that some retailers don’t like to break larger bills for small amounts of money.  For my first trip, I had a nice crisp polymer $50 note (yes, in Canada, we have plastic money).  To redeem my points, I knew I had to spend at least $20, and then $10 increments above that.  I spent $20.08 on my first trip, used my points for the $20, and the cashier refused to accept a $50 bill for 8 cents.  I had a penny in my pocket that I had picked up in the parking lot, plus I found one in the bottom of my purse, the lady behind me gave me a nickel (she was paying with her debit card so had no cash on her), and the cashier let me off for the remaining penny.  I must say, it was embarrassing to be scrambling for small coins, especially when I had more than enough cash with me.  Within a few days, I changed that $50 for smaller denominations.

The other thing I forgot about was that I was hosting my mothers 80th birthday in January.  My sisters and I did a potluck so food costs were kept to a minimum.  My best friend raided her stash of party decorations, and we combined birthday with Valentines day decorations so I wouldn’t have to spend on that.  I decided that I would pay for my mothers cake from my bank account, and not out of my spending challenge.  It was $16, but $16 out of $50 is a relatively large amount.  My contribution for the food for the party came out of my spending challenge because I figured that because it was at my house, I’d have leftovers,  and that kept with the spirit of what I’m doing.

I still have $45.04 in my wallet, but I know that will be going down by $20 in the next few days.  The only part about this process I have an issue with is knowingly spending more for certain things because I am limited to the stores I can spend my points at.  My usual breakfast is a smoothie made with homemade yogurt, a banana with frozen strawberries, blueberries and what ever other fruit I have that needs using.  Costco sells frozen fruit at enough of a saving that I am willing to use some of my cash for it, at least I will be stocked for a few weeks.  Other than needing some fresh vegetables, I am well stocked for everything right now.  I have spent $100 worth of points, but that did include stocking up on some things that were on sale (pasta sauce, coffee, sugar, tuna, bacon).  I still have about $120 worth of points, almost half of them are Optimum points.  I will have to be more careful about buying things at the grocery store that I could be getting at Shoppers instead.

One thing this process has made me realize is that I had become lazy and sloppy about spending small amounts.  I’ve never been one for buying coffee or other beverages or snacks while I’m out, but I would justify buying take out if I was running errands during my lunch break or after work.  Now, I’m back to planning my time better to avoid expensive treats like that.  It feels good to be getting back into the habits that I know will make my life easier in the long run.

How are you doing with any goals you made for 2013?

4 thoughts on “Spending Challenge – Update”

  1. Thanks for the link!! It has some combo ideas I wouldn’t have thought of.

    I plan for leftovers for almost every dinner (unless I have a stockpile of leftovers, or the recipe just doesn’t lend itself to left overs)

    As much as I love carbs, I find I have to limit them to no more than a 1/3 of my meal, otherwise I start gaining weight and feel like I’m dragging my ass all day. Fresh fruit and veg use the lions share of my grocery budget, and I waste very little. I try to buy items off the reduced area for stews, and it is rare for me to allow something to go bad before I can use it.

  2. Take out took over my January no spend challenge and I underestimated how much gas I use in winter so my cash is all gone. My fault.

    You are doing much better than me but the lure of chinese take out after a stressful day of work was too strong or my resolve was too weak or I am just too lazy to cook. No excuses though. I just blew the challenge and my money.

  3. @Sheryl – your apparent penchant for honest critique of your own actions is astounding! You put me to shame so far on my own goal for this year, and I honestly believe that such a mindset will help you not only in this but in so many other things!

    Combined with your motivation, I’m genuinely inspired =)

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