I hope you all had a fabulous end to 2011 and are ready to get down to business in 2012. I am excited for the new year and the possibilities it brings. To get off on the right foot, my family is participating in several challenges other bloggers are hosting. They’re all related and have consistent themes – limit spending, save, use up what you already have.
Are you ready for the challenges?!
First, we’re doing an Eat from the Pantry Challenge with Good Cheap Eats.
We did this a couple of times in 2011 and I always love the bare cupboards at the end. It’s so nice to use up what we have and to find things I had forgotten about at the bottom of my pantry cupboards. I hate throwing out food and this challenge helps me use up things I probably wouldn’t otherwise.
I also love the different spins that different families put on this challenge. My goals are probably very different from a lot of other people’s, and that’s OK!
Here are my goals:
- Spend $127 or less on dairy and produce for the entire month
- Get back to baking more snacks
- Eat at least one meatless meal per week
- Eat soup at least once a week
With a $300 monthly food budget, this will save us roughly $175 for the month.
Next, we’re joining Learning the Frugal Life in her 31 Days of Nothing Challenge.
This challenge takes the pantry challenge one step further. I had been thinking of doing something like this before I knew about Sara’s challenge. See, we’re going to Florida in February and finding extra money for that trip would be swell!
At first, I thought this challenge would be really easy. It goes like this: only spend money on things we absolutely need. That doesn’t sound hard, does it? But then I started thinking about what I WILL need to spend money on in January. While I certainly don’t need to buy any clothes or toys, I have been meaning to order a new plastic dohicky for my Nutri-mill for some time. I have no idea how that thing got lost (well, actually I’m sure it has something to do with a 17 month old and a trash can). I don’t have to have that thing – I haven’t had it for about 3 months now, but not having it means that grinding flour makes my kitchen a big mess. And that deters me from grinding flour. And that’s counterproductive for baking. So, I’m going to have to think long and hard about that one.
Another thing I need is to renew our membership for the kid’s museums. Again, I don’t have to have this, but it could ultimately save a lot of money on our trip to Florida because of reciprocity with other museums. Hmmm…
And then there’s the kid activities and homeschooling. Dues for piano and dance lessons… bowling class and Gym & Swim. We’re also signed up to go tubing! Suddenly January is starting to sound expensive. But I still think we can take other steps to reduce spending in January.
And since we’re taking the 31 day challenge with Learning the Frugal Life, we may as well sign up for Frugally Sustainable’s 21 Day Challenge, right?
I love how Andrea says this is a challenge to redefine “enough.” Last February we moved into a smaller house and I have been living with a little less for a while now. What I’ve learned is that having fewer things is nice! There’s less to pick up, less to dust, less to clean. BUT, the things are creeping back in and taking over my house again.
Hip surgery for the 19 month old came with a lot of needed (and big) supplies. A bean bag chair, a spica table, new toys to take her mind off her cast. Three winter birthdays and Christmas have meant an influx of new toys. The kids’ rooms are cluttered and my living room is overflowing. So re-defining enough, purging and cleaning, is a great idea!
My goals for these spend nothing challenges:
- No eating out
- No buying new clothes or toys (get rid of some instead)
- No buying books (that’s what the library’s for, right?)
- And above all else, stay OUT of Goodwill!
Our monthly eating out budget isn’t huge, and the discretionary money I have to spend on things is also not a lot. But depending on how things go, and how involved my husband gets, we may be able to save another $200-400 in January doing those things.
Adding $400 – 600 to our vacation money would be awesome!
What do you think? Are you inspired to participate in any or all of these challenges? I hope you will join me in at least one. I’ll let you know in a couple of weeks how it’s going for us!