"1. The ultimate goal is to spend NO money except for necessities. For my family I consider necessities to be gas for work and appointments, monthly prescription medications, groceries (although very minimal, more on this later) and our basic bills and utilities. Necessities may mean something different for your family.
2. There will be no consumerism. My hope is to stay out of the stores completely. No new clothes, books, or any other impulse buys. No shopping the deals!
3. Groceries. I am allowing $25 per week for grocery shopping or $100 per month. I really just want to stick with eating from the pantry and freezers as much as possible. We will need milk for the baby, as well as fresh produce so I am setting money aside for those things. We should be good on most other items because our freezers and pantry are very full. I usually budget $500 for the month.
4. Zero money spent on entertainment. No eating out, we will cook from scratch and eat at home each day. No money spent on movies or impromptu ice cream cones. We usually budget $150 each month for entertainment.
5. Allowance. Everyone is giving up their allowance for the month. There will be no money in our pockets tempting us to spend it.
6. My gas budget is up in the air right now. I need to actually keep track of what we are spending so I can get a more accurate number. For this month though, I want to just try and stay home as much as possible. Combine our errands so that we aren't making multiple trips each week.
7. Get back composting, recycling, and shutting off. Our compost bin has been missing so scraps have been being tossed in the trash which makes me crazy. We are great at recycling but the bins need to be cleaned up. My family has gotten extremely lazy about shutting off lights and unplugging items when not in use. This is going to be enforced more.
8. Cutting back on water usage. Our water bill has done nothing but climb. We use alot of water. Mainly because of long showers and children playing in the sinks. Showers will be timed and sink time monitored to make sure we aren't being wasteful."
Sara says this is her FORTH year of doing this challenge. She posts her previous challenge results here and here. Reading her results are pretty motivating!
#2, #5 Cutting out other expenditures like clothing, toys, books & other wants should be pretty easy in January since it was just Christmas and we all have lots of new things to play with!
#3 My current grocery bill is about $130/week, so whittling that down to $25/week is going to be a real challenge, even with my Very Well Stocked Pantry! Our strategy is to have more simple dinners - like tuna sandwiches with tomato soup or french toast as opposed to the bigger dinners we usually like to have. Who knows? That may help us with our Weight Watchers goals, too!
#4 I will be honest with you and say that my husband and I both have a weakness for Sushi Saturday and Pizza & Football Sunday. But, cut both of those out and we save at least $80/week! As a compromise, my husband suggested we take out $100 at the beginning of the month and keep it in a jar on the counter in case we absolutely MUST have takeout. If we do, I will be using my lunchtime trick for saving on takeout!
#6 Gas and transportation are tough to cut, but we will continue to track and look at ways to combine errands in one trip.
#7, #8 Utilities are also tough because we've already cut so much. Last December, our power bill was over $500 (yikes!) and this December we got it down to $240 by dropping the thermostat to 65 degrees during the day and 67 degrees at night. However, I have a half-cord of wood sitting in my garage that I could use to supplement the furnace on those days we dip below 30 degrees. Plus, we call all be more diligent about turning off lights and unplugging appliances.
I hope you'll consider joining me! If you do, leave a comment below with some of your strategies!
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