Posted by: Amanda | February 9, 2012

February’s Experiment: Week 1 Results

As I sat down this morning to log yesterday’s spending and put together the results from our first week, I found a story about a family who plans to not spend any money at all in February, going so far as walking instead of driving. They did stock up on groceries on January 31. Here’s the full story if you’re interested: Dunnings of California

Our first week of February? We spent more than our $100, but we have some major victories. Here’s the breakdown:

February 2: Purchased two toothbrushes to take to a friend’s birthday party. She requested toothbrushes for a children’s charity as her birthday gift (awesome idea, by the way). Total: $10.80

February 3: Purchased gas for the Mazda CX-7 for $60.00. Also purchased groceries at Randall’s for $25.10. Went back to Randall’s to get baking soda and paper plates for $2.61 (used money out of the change jar for that purchase). Total: $87.71

February 5: Purchased a Statesman for $2.00

February 7: Purchased hamburger buns for that evening’s dinner and milk at Randall’s. Total: $6.57

Weekly grand total: 107.08

Even though we went a bit (less than 10%) over budget, we’re pretty happy with the way the week went.

Victory number 1: We didn’t eat out one single time at any establishment. I work on Tuesday and Thursday nights, and usually, Paul treats the kids to a pizza. But, even a cheap pizza is $10. For one meal, that was too much to pay. Instead, one night Paul made the kids burgers with beef from our bulk stock and the buns he picked up at Randall’s. A goal of mine is to make all our bread at home. It would save a ton of money but it does take time. This week, though, Paul found a great deal on buns at Randall’s: buy one pack, get one free. So he already has his buns ready for next week in case he decides to make burgers again.

Victory number 2: We didn’t buy any junk. Usually the kids want to spend their allowance. We like to give them autonomy with their allowances, but I told them that for the month of February, they have to save all their money. Of course, their materialistic little minds are already figuring out how much money they’ll have by March and what they will buy. One exception to this victory: I bought a pack of the cheapest paper plates that Randall’s sells. We rarely ever buy paper plates, but this week we already had two events scheduled at our house. I thought it would be a good idea to have them on hand in case we ran out of plates.

Victory number 3: We had two events at our house. Friday night, we had a community dinner. We served a baked potato bar and made-from-scratch orange pound cake for dessert. Everyone seemed to have a great time. Even though some of the ingredients we had on hand, I had to do a little shopping for the dinner. After it was all said and done, we figured out that it cost about $10 in groceries to feed everyone. Our second event was a Super Bowl party on Sunday. I used leftover potatoes from the community dinner to make potato skins, and the second pound cake loaf from the recipe for Friday night, and mixed together some brownie mixes that I already had on hand and shaped them into a massive football. I was tempted to buy the football cake at Randall’s but stood my ground. Everyone who attended the Super Bowl party also brought snacks and treats, so there was so much food that we are now joking that the Super Bowl is the new Thanksgiving.

Victory Number 4: We didn’t waste much (if any). I read that as a nation, the US wastes 40% of its food. FORTY PERCENT!!!! That’s crazy. Before we decided to do this February Experiment, I had already started pondering this 40% waste thing. But, now that we’re more conscious of our money, I’m focusing on how to waste less. I’ve found some interesting recipes online to help with wasting less. One of my favorites: turn any leftover bread or bread pieces into bread crumbs or French toast. I made a fabulous cabbage soup yesterday with leftover veggies and some cabbage from my CSA. But, focusing on eating what we have sometimes meant I made some weird choices: roasted fennel for breakfast, say. One of my biggest victories here: I baked a sweet potato to take to the gym for a post-workout snack. I often buy a post-workout snack from the gym cafe, which runs about $3 plus tax for about a half cup of chickpeas, spinach, and pasta.

Victory Number 5: We spent the weekend at home, being practical and having fun instead of out running around doing errands, shopping, and eating out. We moved into our new house this past August, and we’ve had a pile of framed art sitting in the garage. This weekend, we decided to organize the garage which meant doing something with the pile of framed art. I’m proud to say I now have some of my favorite art (the vintage Last Supper painting, for instance) now throughout my house. I’m also proud to say that our garage is super organized. We do a lot of our homeschooling in there (we tend to get very messy during art and science projects), so the clutter was impeding our educational pursuits. Yesterday, the kids and I had a blast making Valentines for our homeschool group Valentine party this Friday. (And to make those Valentines, we used scrap paper, glue we already had, and envelopes we already had.)

The biggest challenges for me:

Not being able to buy books. I love to read, and I have a Kindle. Instead of buying the ebook I want to read, I put the ebook on hold with the library’s downloadbles account. Sometimes the wait can be weeks or months for popular titles! Right now, I’m number 66 waiting for The Night Circus.
Not going to the supermarket 18 times before a get together. While this felt challenging at first, it turned into a blessing. I got a lot more done on the day of events than I normally do because I wasn’t spending time in the store, shopping and standing in line.

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