If you’re a rule follower, our March fast was not the month for you.
We started with goals, parameters, and things we were working on in regards to excess spending. Some things ended up better than expected and some things…well…we gave it a good go.
We started with a budget on how much we could spend “excessively” ($150 on anything not grocery, rent, “needs” related). We kept close to that goal, but really my victory comes from the glorious fact that I spent LESS money than my husband this month. Not that it’s a competition, but if it was…
Here are the three best takeaways from our month of learning to hold onto the money that was flying right out of our paychecks and bank accounts into seemingly thin air…
3. We ate out a LOT less
And that small victory was a big deal for us. When you’re young with no kids and a little bit more disposable income, it’s so easy to waste money on semi-good food that’s just ready right now. Partially cravings, partially impulsive. We did eat out this month, but SO much less. We packed lunches nearly every day, ate breakfast at home, and made dinners far more than ate out.
It felt like a month of less social activities because so often the two go hand in hand, but it was good to say no to ourselves.
To say “no” to Target (and let me tell you, that was tough).
“No” to the Movie Theater and Comedy Club (our favorite winter date night activities).
“No” to just ordering in a pizza when I didn’t feel like cooking.
Deprived, we were.
It sounds funny to say that was hard, but it kinda was (#firstworldproblems). We did have a lot of great conversations about just how much we have. Which anyone can talk about, but until you’re starting to put limits on things do you really feel it. You become thankful for things like a vacation jar and anticipate what you will do when you finally spend it instead of just swiping that plastic as things come up. You enjoy food for nourishment rather than what you “feel like” all the time.
Needs over feelings. What we have over what we could have. Breaking the hold that possessions, food, and entertainment have on us has been challenging, but liberating.
2. We cut our grocery bill in half
I didn’t know such a thing was possible, but we did it. My mom friends have this down to a science, but I’m just over here wasting time and money perusing the many options Meijer has to offer. I’m used to just popping to the store whenever I want to make something we don’t have ingredients for, but not this month. I went the grocery store a grand total of 4 times and made do with what was in our cupboards. And I’m not someone who sits down Sunday and maps out meals, so I continued to wing it and STILL spent less. However, this resulted in some really interesting meals (gourmet ramen noodle soup anyone? you just chop up veggies and…ya don’t bother. It wasn’t any good).
We have just enough fresh food to carry us to the month’s end (and seriously not a day more), but I hope to continue making do with what we have, planning ahead a little more, and limiting my time roaming the aisles of Kroger’s seeing what “sounds good.” I learned that I don’t have to be a extreme coupon-er, meal planner extraordinaire, or have loads of fancy food already at home to make this sort of thing happen. Just a little bit of sacrifice, and if I can do it, you can do it.
1. Our credit card debt is completely gone
(cue “We Are The Champions”)
I mean, that’s a BIG deal! Not that we were in serious trouble, but part of the reason we started this whole fast thing was to trim down on our exorbitant ways of living post wedding season. And you guys, being debt free feels awesome. We do still have a small amount of student loans to pay off, but we are within reach of being 100% debt free. It’s in our 5 year plan, and we are going to continue pursing that goal (hopefully in less than 5 years!).
It was a good month. We learned a lot about our patterns and habits, and hopefully reeled in another element of our excessive living. And we’re starting the hunt for our first house, so it’s been great to shift our perspective back to a save/spend balance.
Adulthood, I think we’re starting to get used to you…
Next month, social media. I hate it already.