Soooo...Essentials Only Month is 1/3 of the way through. Our money is almost exactly 1/3 of the way gone. Wow, how is that for being spot-on?
We started July 10 with $200, and we've spent $65.72. So far, we've spent money only on food and entertainment (I will admit I ate lunch out one day and saw a matinee with some girlfriends...). However, I will say that we are in great shape food-wise for the rest of the month and I am optimistic that we'll only need to buy perishable items, like milk, eggs, bread and fruit/veggies from here on out. We have plenty of meat in the freezer, and lots of pantry items like canned veggies, cereal, pasta, etc. I will need to gas up my car soon, but I have been really diligent about not using my car on my lunch break and instead just walking around downtown and getting fresh air. It's been good in more ways than one.
Alex is doing pretty well with it. He was gone the first few days of EOM for business, and when he travels for business he uses another account, so I joked that he was "living like a king" while I was brown-bagging it and eating Lean Cuisines from our stockpile for dinner. But once he was home, he was thrust into the middle of EOM and I think he was a little scared. He even asked if he could have seconds one night at dinner or if we needed to save the leftovers for dinner another night. Now if that doesn't make you feel like a horrible person....anyway, of course I told him to have seconds and I reiterated that we. are. not. starving. This. is. self-imposed. This. is. a. good. exercise. I'm hoping he gets into it soon, poor guy.
Now I will admit: it hasn't been all sunshine and rainbows for me, either.
Let's talk about the not-so-fun elements of this little experiment:
- Not shopping is hard. I really thought it would be easy not to shop. I didn't realize what a habit that spending money really was for me: it's sad! I also didn't realize how often I use shopping as entertainment. I always thought of myself as a savvy shopper who can find a good deal. That may be true, but spending money on something you don't need is not a good deal, no matter what. I have tried to combat temptation by immediately deleting all emails that tout a store's sale or includes store coupons (which is 90% of the personal emails I get). I am not visiting some of the blogs that I typically frequent that provide grocery store and drugstore sales and coupon match-ups. I constantly have to remind myself that I don't need to go to this store or that store: I have more than enough toiletries, make-up, clothing, shoes and yes, even groceries. I'm good.
- I don't like saying no. Aside from being pulled away from all the ah-mazing end-of-summer clothing sales, the hardest part is saying no. Saying no to friends, to myself, and to my husband. No, I can't go to lunch; no, we can't go to dinner; no, we can't get frozen yogurt. Obviously, I have said yes at times - to a movie and to lunch (which I will probably be kicking myself over in a week or so!). Saying no kinda makes you feel antisocial because you basically can't hang with friends for a month since 99% of social get-togethers involve spending money. But hey - we knew there would be sacrifices.
BUT - there are some things I'm enjoying:
- I like paying in cash. I like how it feels to pay with a couple of bills and coins, and knowing that money is already out of my bank account - anything left in the bank is literally money in the bank. Cha-ching.
- Planning out our meals is a great feeling. I have also been more thoughtful about each dish and the night I plan to make it. For instance, if I know I am going to open a package of shredded cheese on Monday for a recipe, I will try to use the rest of it the following night in a different way so we're not wasting anything (I hate letting food spoil! And unfortunately I've done that too much!). There are some items in my pantry that have been there for months, untouched - random ingredients that I have on hand but obviously don't need or I would have used them already (example: a 15-oz. jar of cheese sauce. Why in the heck do I even have this??). I have found some creative ways to use those items and so far, the results have been pretty tasty. Plus, it makes life easier to have all the meals for a week planned (I write them on a chalkboard in our kitchen as a reminder of what's coming up). I know when I leave the house in the morning what we'll be having for dinner, and that makes my job as a wifey that much easier.
- It makes you think twice - or three times. I am naturally a money-conscious person (just ask Alex!). But this is taking it to another level, and not in a bad way. I am giving myself choices - "If I have X, I can't have Y." Simple reasoning, toddler-style. I think adults often forget that we can't always have it all: just because we can buy it or want to buy it doesn't mean we need it. In the first ten days, I have already conditioned myself into these either-or scenarios: if I eat lunch out today, I can't eat lunch out tomorrow.
We have 20 days left, which seems like forever in some ways. But I am encouraged by the lessons we're learning so far. I hope to break some of my bad habits that I just learned I have, like recreational shopping, and begin filling my time with things that don't cost money.