January budget challenge: mid-month update

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Stack of billsAJ: Two weeks ago we introduced the “H” family and their month of Guest: Hi folks, this is Mr. H. Mrs. H wanted me to chime in with my perspective at the midpoint of this financial fast. I would say things are going very well… but the garage door broke during the first week of this commitment. My immediate reaction was to cut off a week or so of groceries to make up for the loss… but that was a nonstarter as soon as we ran out of goldfish crackers.

One budgeted item for me was $10 a work day ($200 a month) to eat at the office. At first I was a little nervous because it covers both breakfast and lunch. After two weeks, I am happy to say I have come in under the $10 by about 35%. I was able to do this by increasing my consumption of oatmeal, sandwiches and hamburgers from the cafeteria.

For months I have been planning to “cut the cord” (cut off cable TV service) and this seemed like a good opportunity to finally make that happen. After exploring our options I discovered that most competition has been pushed out of our neck of the woods and our choices were limited to two companies. Neither of the companies endorse cutting the cord. In fact, they both charge a higher premium for internet-only services and one even imposed a limit on data usage to discourage the “cut the cord” movement. Instead of cutting the cord we were able to downgrade our TV package and supplement with NetFlix. This is going to save about $30 a month.

Another commitment was to eat out much less. Of course, as soon as we did, some good friends asked if we could go out to dinner with them one night. These friends do not have kids (yet), so a night out for them is always a little extravagant. I could see dollar signs jumping out the window at the thought of going out. BUT my beautiful and intelligent wife asked them to eat at our house instead of going out. They agreed and ended up having a great time chasing the kids and playing Candy Land. This was so much fun we want to do it more often even after the financial fast is over.

Overall, I am really glad we are doing this. Through the process of digging through the fridge and pantry we have found that it can be fun thinking of new ways to eat old food. You know, like carving the moldy part out of cheese and bread. 😉 Just kidding, I only did that once, but don’t tell Mrs. H!

Signed,
Mr. H

AJ: “H” family, we feel your pain! I also shared my meal plan for the month and for the first month in almost two years my plan has been ridiculously off-plan. I forgot to thaw stuff, I didn’t even have some of the necessary menu items, things didn’t sound good, all I’ve wanted to eat was sugar, yadda yadda yadda. On top of that, we celebrated my parents’ anniversary and dinner turned into after dinner drinks, that turned into more drinks, that turned into dancing and live music – dang it! That didn’t align with our budget or our New Years resolutions! So, we reset and refocus and tip our hat to January for breaking our wills temporarily.

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4 thoughts on “January budget challenge: mid-month update

  1. AJ: Not breaking your wills, just being spontaneous and flexible, readjusting instead of being rigid. I don’t recall if your budget advice builds in a monthly “misc/unexpected” column but there is always going to be “that”…the garage door or a trip to a doc in the box or whatever so important to have that factored in.

    • Just proof that no matter how much you plan, there can always be the unexpected that crops up! It’s so important to build some wiggle room into the plan in the event that something does come up. Plus, all the more important to have an emergency fund to use if the expense is out-sized and can’t fit into the rest of your budget at the time.

  2. Mr. H – We had a great time at dinner! In fact we liked the concept of financial fasting so much we are planning to give it a try in February.

    • Great to hear that! It really is eye-opening with the knowledge (and experiences) you can get when you take a step back and work through an exercise like this. Thanks for sharing, and best of wishes for your February fasting!

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