We've decided to start our no-spend week Monday and carry it through next weekend. Today was hubby's payday, so that gives us a chance to do our grocery shopping and other errands this weekend.
When I was single, I was very frugal, mostly because I didn't have any money to spend! A shopping trip to Target to buy shampoo, deodorant, and other female necessities usually cleaned out what was left in my checking account each month. At that time I was only getting paid once a month -- talk about needing to budget well! -- so I simply had to plan ahead for rent, utilities, and groceries. After I got married and started working full time, hubby took over most of our budgeting. Sadly, he's really good at it because his parents are so bad at it. We got all our (my!) debt paid off and saved up for some big-ticket items (a used car paid for in cash and a refrigerator). We had a double-income then, and though living in Orange County, California is anything but cheap, we did pretty well in our $930/month one-bedroom apartment! (I shudder to think that that was actually a good deal!)
Fast forward a few short years and you find us plus a kid and minus an income. We were still able to keep up with our responsibilities, but we didn't have anything extra to put in savings once I quit working to stay home with the baby. We really wanted to get out of California (I should definitely write about that sometime), but didn't see how it'd ever be possible. Although hubby was born in the Philippines, he is a total California (city!) boy. I grew up in Nebraska, but the chance of getting him to move there was -- and is! -- extremely slim. So when my dad offered to let us live in the empty side of his duplex rent-free while we save up for a house, I didn't think hubby would go for it. The Lord must have been working in his heart, however, because when I mentioned it to him, he was totally in favor of it! I truly believe it was an answer to prayer because everything fell into place so perfectly! Hubby wouldn't think of leaving California without his parents. He's an only child and they're basically all the family he's got. It was a year ago last month that we packed up six people ages 18 months to 83 in two cars and drove all the way from California to Missouri.
Hubby was concerned that although the cost of living in Missouri is lower, so would the wages be significantly lower, but again God provided and he's making more money now that he ever has before in his life. I'm still able to stay home (my dream!) and we're putting aside money to buy a house. But somehow in the past year we haven't been doing as well as we were with our "extra" money. Sure, we're putting some in savings every two weeks, but we're also spending loads more on those little extras that drain away a good portion each month. We're particularly bad about eating out. Hubby loves McDonald's...and KFC...and Chinese take-out... Since we live in a small town and go into the city to do most of our shopping, we tend to be gone at least half, if not a whole day at a time. That usually only applies to weekends, but lately there have been lots of weeknights too that we find ourselves out and hungry. One weekend I actually planned ahead, packed a picnic lunch, and had everything ready for us to take with us on our Saturday outing....boy, was hubby upset! Apparently he cherishes those eat-out meals more than I realized.
So my goal in planning this no-spend week is to stay home (or at least stay in town!), eat home-cooked meals (no getting lazy because I'm pregnant and hitting up the local diner!), and basically avoid all those little extras that add up so quickly.
We'll go grocery shopping tomorrow (or Sunday, just depends). I always do menu planning beforehand, but this time I want to specifically include our bedtime snacks so we won't end up making extra shopping trips for junk food. I also need to be a little more effort-conscious than health-conscious at this point because I really do run out of the energy it takes to prepare a healthier meal rather than a quick-but-still-basically-healthy meal. In other words, from now until sometime after the baby comes, we'll have to eat less "gourmet" and more "basic." Another thing I need to be really careful about is making sure hubby has everything he needs to make his lunches for work. He tends to get lazy if things aren't just-so and wants to grab fast food for lunch. That means I need to have bread made by Sunday night (if not sooner), cheese sliced, and everything else in stock.
Hubby has a video game coming out Tuesday that he "has" to go get, so that'll be one trip into the city that's "unavoidable." He budgets for his video games, so that part isn't "extra" and as long as we don't go anywhere but Gamestop, we should be fine. It may seem silly, but it's quite important to hubby, so that'll go on our exemption list. But that one trip does mean that he'll probably have to fill up his gas tank sometime before the end of the week, so that'll go on our exemption list too. Thursday there's a downloadable expansion pack for his boxing game (if there are two things this man loves it's videogames and boxing! combine the two and we're talking serious dedication!), so that'll be $5, but at least we don't have to go anywhere for it.
I'm looking forward to seeing how this goes and how we work around anything that does come up during the week!