Half-Assed March Challenge

I’ve been inspired by the bloggers doing challenges right now, be they financial, nutritional, or otherwise. I was also inspired when I estimated my taxes and almost threw up. Self employment + moving into a new income bracket = IRS punched me in the stomach and stole my lunch money.

I’ve always budgeted very carefully, but I’ve gotten a wee bit lax with my new job. I still pull all the money for all my bills at the beginning of the month and estimate how much I need for gas, groceries, hairdids, etc., but I haven’t been keeping an eye on where my extra cash was going. Granted, we’re talking a tiny bit of money I allow myself every month, but it adds up. I’m not a frivolous person, but I do spend a lot of money on dance classes, and I recently discovered why $70 haircuts cost$70 — they are worth it, especially when your hair makes you wonder if you were the love child of Buckwheat and Roseanne Roseannadanna. See also: painfully expensive dye jobs that keep the silver from popping up on my 28-year-old head.

Dance classes and hair are two areas in which I allow myself to splurge while I don’t in others — I rarely eat out more than once a week (if I even eat out once a week), I take my breakfast and lunch to work, I drink very little alcohol,  I don’t buy clothes very often, I paint my own toenails, etc.  The dance classes are helping me take better care of myself, and I feel better when my hair looks good. Shallow? Maybe. Worth the positive results? Yes!

Unbelievably for me, the semester is hurtling to the end. We’re almost at midterm, and I am off work in June and July, which means $0 of income in July and August. I’ve been saving religiously (and I don’t mean as rarely as I go to church or only ten percent), and I’m about to hand over lots of that hard-earned money.  One of my spending areas that has wide variance is groceries and household incidentals. So, I feel a challenge is in order.

*cue trumpets*  The Half-assed $50/week Spending Challenge!!

For the month of March (but starting today), I am going to attempt to limit groceries and incidentals to $50/week for me and Mr. B. I will not include what I already have in my kitchen and pantry, as revisiting what I actually have and using it wisely are parts of this challenge. The $50 will include groceries and home products (TP, paper towels), and I am allowed to go over one week and make it up the next when buying bulk products (TP, paper towels, coffee) at Costco. The challenge will not include Mr. B making ribs next week. He’s had pneumonia and barely eaten for a week, and I refuse to deny him carnivorous pleasure (and it would wipe out half the budget for that week).

“Where does the kitsch come in, Ms. Bitsch,” you say?As an anachronistic50′s housewife wanna-be (hold the unemployment and misogynism, pass the apron and heels), I do take great interest in the home economy of that era, and I think it’s an area in which we lack much knowledge and practice today. I actually ditched my home ec class in high school because all they wanted to teach me was to thread a sewing machine 30 years newer than the one I owned and how to make cookies. Um, thanks. That ain’t home economy. Home economy is knowing how to use your resources wisely and get them affordably.

So: the plan.

I’ll be making a grocery run today to pick up a few things and making another on Sunday (after coupons). Before the Sunday run, I’ll be going through the pantry and fridge, tossing stuff that’s old and noting what I have. Another part of this challenge will be cooking ahead for the week — something I did at the beginning of the semester but have been lax with for the last three weeks. I’m going to attempt to post daily meal plans and the rundown of my purchases and how I integrated them with what I had to turn out meals and save money.

I realize that to some $50 will seem frivolous. We eat pretty high quality stuff — fresh produce, whole bean coffee, etc. Some of that is high priced. However, we also use generics and shop sales and manager’s specials.  I have an idea that I will actually come in below $50 a week, even though all my meals will be coming out of my home. The point is to give myself a goal and meet it, and I hope I’ll develop some new good habits (and revive some good habits) in the process. It’s not strenuous, you say? Well, my house is so filthy Neicy Nash would burn it down due to the foolishness and mayhem, work is busy and stressful, and Mr. B and I are coming off pneumonia and a virus, respectively.

Sound good? Wanna join? Speak up in the comments! (And offer criticism, too.)

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