We're at the end of the month and my spending break is almost over. I'll admit, I'm relieved. And that's only ONE month ~ lame. But it has taught me tons. Here's how I did on my goals:
Use What I Have
I used many art supplies I had on hand to create gifts like this. I "made do" with what I had in the pantry before buying new. Instead of purchasing water bottles, I assigned everyone their own and simply refilled. I used up lotions and soaps I found in the back of cabinets. I used up powdered drinks leftover from parties. I even reused morning coffee to create iced coffee drinks.
Get Rid of What I Don't Need
I cleared out my closet BIG TIME. I'm down to thirteen hanging items. I'll show you this at some point. I know that sounds like a tiny amount, but it makes 74+ outfits. That may seem extreme but it's helped me live simply which has reduced my stress. And nothing is ever wrinkled from squishing. As for the rest of the house, I didn't do so well. I'd hoped to really make headway in getting rid of excess in the kitchen and front rooms and I did manage a little bit but not nearly what I'd hoped. That's okay, I'm still working on it.
Take Advantage of Free or Discounted Stuff
I had planned on using MidAmerica Food to help with groceries this month but a weird thing happened with their online ordering and they had to refund my money; so I didn't get the food. Hopefully I can try it next month. BUT I did discover a cool store called, Whoops! They have brand name foods or items whose boxes got damaged. The stuff inside is still in good condition and marked waaaayy down. I ended up spending twenty dollars on food that I usually wouldn't buy because it's too expensive (I got 35 packages of instant Starbucks coffee for $2.50). I'll be returning! I only allowed myself a small allotment of grocery money so I wouldn't spend on things I don't need, which would be ~ wasteful.
Make My Own Fast-Food
I rocked this one in my opinion (my kids might not agree). I realized there are natural fast-foods for those too-tired-to-cook nights. Eggs became my hero: scrambled, fried, breakfast burritos, french toast, boiled, egg salad and beyond. Seriously, I think I could go on about eggs for awhile. Spreads are another quick food: bagels and cream cheese; hummus and carrots; or (the always famous) peanut butter and jelly. Not to mention smoothies!! You can pack a ton of vitamins and protein into one little smoothie and be quite cost effective. Of course I still used my crock pot for soups, stews and casseroles. I even passed barbecue tuna off for barbecue chicken (wait, don't gross out) and dished them onto hamburger buns like sloppy Joes. I know you won't believe me, but after simmering all day in the crock pot, you really can't taste the tuna. Really. But shhh, don't tell my family! (Oh, you want the recipe? Simple: 4 cans tuna + 1 bottle barbecue sauce simmered all day in crock pot = delish!)
I'll admit that while I learned so much, I am still highly spoiled. I am dying for Friday when I can actually spend on something other than my list. You better believe I'm going out for coffee and my kids are begging to go to Quick Trip. But what I did take away was that it's okay to say no to buying stuff we don't need; you can still meet people at restaurants even if you don't eat; and staying home is always cheaper. I'll be less inclined to reach for my wallet (after discovering just how often I do that) and more inclined to wait. At some point I'd like to try doing a spending break for a longer period of time, but I'm not sure I can do that without my family on board. I'll have to work on them. ;)
Have any tips on saving money? Or any go-to quick meals you'd recommend?