Too Thrifty Chicks

Think.Thrift.Create

Operation Do Better: Month 1 Update

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WE SURVIVED!!!!!!!!!!!

That’s right. We made it through 31 days of no Chipotle burrito bowls, no Domino’s spinach Alfredo pizza, and no Indian takeout. We said no to Happy Hours, Groupon purchases, new fitness gear, and trips to IKEA. No trips to Target or the thrift store and absolutely no dry cleaning.

Based on all of this “NO”,  you all probably think we lived a dreary, no frills, no fun life for 31 days and we’re ready to give up all this no spending money business. But you’d be wrong.

While pinching our discretionary income pennies, we cooked, we brought our lunch, we invited our friends over and we generally stayed at home and drank 3 Buck Chuck from Trader Joe’s.

But we took the first deliberate steps toward our financial freedom, though there were some setbacks and missteps along the way.

Here’s a roundup of how we did.

Ricks Month 1

The Good: I set out to pay down debt and save, and I got my first win in January. I paid off a small but lingering Firestone bill, which was nearly $500 and there are funds in the emergency account. The biggest thing is that there are funds in that account and I made it through January without spending that money. I wasn’t even tempted, and that’s a first. But since I didn’t have anything to spend it on, there was no actual temptation.

The Bad: I grossly underestimated what it costs to cook every meal and eat everything I cooked. I certainly thought that $100 a month would be more than sufficient. I was wrong.

The Ugly: I believe in reality checks, and I got several in this first month. When you tell the universe that you’re going to do something scary and awesome like, stop spending money on everything you want so that you can pay down your debts and save, stuff happens. Some of it good, some of it not so good. Though I’m going to have another bill pay off victory soon, the next victory will take a bit longer than I’d like to achieve. The reality is the bill is much bigger and even though I want it paid off now, there’s nothing more that I’m willing to give up to make that happen.

Lesson Learned: There will be setbacks and disappointments, but such is life. Go with it. My goal is to not lose focus as I have in the past. If I want to achieve the financial goals that I’ve set for this year, I have the keep the fire in my belly to do this stoked. I’m excited about February and am happy with the progress I’ve made so far.

Reese’s Month 1

The Bad: I’m a graduate student living primarily on a (generous) stipend from the National Science Foundation. My stipend is administered by my university. You’d think after three years they’d be able to get my money right, but alas this is not the case. They’ve messed up and I’m two paychecks behind, which means I’m did not meet the January savings milestones I had hoped, but…

The Good: …all my bills got paid! I still put some money into savings and I stuck to the plan to not spend on frivolous things!  Can I get an amen?! ::insert amen here::

Lesson Learned: I actually consider this (frustrating) setback a blessing. It gave me an opportunity to truly give thanks for what I have. This last 31 days taught me a lot about what I DON’T need. I’m excited about this financial journey and equally geeked about this emerging desire and quest toward simplicity.

Room for Improvement: Collectively, we spent over 400 bucks on groceries this month. Granted, we did cook every meal (that’s a total of  140 lunches and dinners between the two of us. I didn’t include breakfast because neither of us are traditional breakfast eaters). Our original $200 budget may not have been realistic considering what we eat and how much we eat (don’t let these relatively small frames fool you!) but we’re going to do better. We’re armed with coupons for the next shopping trip and a spreadsheet is being developed to keep up with prices at different stores. We have resolved to give up some of our “bougie” eats (sighs) in favor of savings, but since we both love cooking and food, we’re trying to find the right balance for us.

Overall, we’re pleased with what we’ve done. Two months ago, this was just a thought…one that we were not completely sold on. Now, we’re all in and looking forward to every milestone.

Stay tuned…

— R&R

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Author: M. Ricks

One half of the blogging duo known as the Too Thrifty Chicks.

13 thoughts on “Operation Do Better: Month 1 Update

  1. I love it!!! I start TODAY!!!

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    • As you can see it’s totally doable. We didn’t get everything right, but we still were able to put a dent in some of these financial goals we have!

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    • Love your excitement, Tosha! Try to remember this feeling and your goals in the times when going to McD’s (or a restaurant) would be easier or when you just tired of being so mindful of your spending. It’s totally doable, and we’re happy to be a part of your supportive community! Operation Do Better in full effect!

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  2. The only thing I disagree with is saying no to bogie eats. I live for good food! (or live off of good food…you know what I mean!)

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    • lol, I’m with you Kriss. We are all about our Basmati rice and Chipotle gouda, but we are not about this $400/month grocery bill.

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    • Everything in moderation Kriss. Last month, we just put what we wanted in the cart without any real concern for whether we could make more affordable substitutions that were equally tasty and satisfying. We’ve so far given up our beloved Chipotle gouda ($6.99) for pepper jack ($2.50 on sale) and oatmeal cream pies, while fairly inexpensive, but suspect on ingredients, for brownies in a mug, which cost even less and we know exactly what’s in it. Our wine bill has been greatly reduced and we buy much more affordable wine from Trader Joe’s. Already this month we’ve done a better job of laying out what kinds of meals we’re going to cook for the next two weeks and shopping based on those meals. We also studied our local circulars to look for better deals and to only stock up on what we needed.

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  3. I am very proud of you ladies! keep up the great work!!

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  4. Great job ladies! Keep up the great work. This is very inspiring.

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  5. If you guys need some grocery shopping tips, I might be able to help. I’m not an extreme couponer, but a normal one, and shop the deals. It’s usually easier to pick one store and keep up with that than to hop through a couple for the good deals. Check out http://www.hip2save.com or http://www.southernsavers.com. I spend about $120/week to feed a family of four, so your numbers sound a little high to me. It could be the cost of living difference between AL and DC. But we don’t drink much wine, either 😉

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    • Deirdre,
      I’d love to get some tips from you. You’re right…our grocery bill was on the high end. There is a definite difference in the cost of groceries here (when I came to DC from ATL, I experienced sticker shock), but that difference is not reason enough to explain how much we spent (lol). Some of it is about things we choose to eat (and we had to make some choices) and the other is about not shopping sales and using coupons. This last trip was sooo much better. We saved over 60 bucks using coupons and shopping sales.

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