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My Spending Diet: Week Nine

It’s hard to believe that I have been on this spending diet for nine weeks now. My goodness. I have come a long way from that first week when I ran out of all sorts of important items, and spent like crazy.

In the past nine weeks:

  • I cut my spending in half.
  • I’ve wasted way less food.
  • I’ve planned most of our meals, and usually follow that plan.
  • I’ve put a lot of money into my saving account.
  • I’ve bought way less unnecessary stuff.

So, what about this past week specifically? It was a mixed bag.

What Happened: I planned all our dinners and shopped for food on Saturday. However, my plan – which was more rudimentary than usual – left too much openness and I didn’t follow it closely. In fact, I changed up most of the meals. Some were minor changes, but others were major. It’s clear that my meal plan needs to be recipe-based, not just idea (“pork tenderloin and potatoes!”) based.

Breakfast was less of a struggle, although I am still seeking ways to make it an easy, healthy meal. One step will be to buy more fruit, as we go through fruit very quickly when it’s on hand. Also, I need to pay a little more attention to lunches as well.

Spending: I kept my spending down this week, which was good. But I didn’t totally limit it to the weekend — on Monday, I indulged in a coffee drink (half price!) and we ordered a pizza on Wednesday when I lost all desire to cook. Stress is a definite impediment to My Spending Diet. When I start to stress, I spend.

What’s Next: A few weeks ago, a reader mentioned that they give themselves an allowance for the week. That way, when they have the urge to splurge, they can use their cash to do it and it’s already budgeted in. This week, Cate also pointed me to a really interesting article about doing a cash-only diet. I love both ideas.

This week, I am going to factor in an allowance for myself. When I want to buy a coffee or whatever, I can use that money … and when it’s gone, it’s gone. This will give me more control over my budget.

As for the cash-only plan, I like the idea, but will have to think about it more before I make any decisions. When Will was a baby, I did cash-only for awhile and it was effective in controlling my spending, but hard to manage since I didn’t always feel like the grocery bill was predictable. Still, now that I know what I spend, going cash-only could be a little easier. Of course, then I would lose the Amex points that I love to cash out …

Have you ever gone cash-only?

Freeform Chocolate Walnut Pie Recipe
Freeform Chocolate Walnut Pie Recipe
Cooking with Kids: Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cate O'Malley

Sunday 16th of May 2010

Kudos on doing so well! I don't use credit cards and am strictly a cash-on-the-barrel girl. I think it makes a world of difference in how you evaluate each individual purchase. Keep up the awesome work! .-= Cate O'Malley´s last blog ..Ranch Oyster Crackers =-.


Sunday 16th of May 2010

I understand this one - I've been watching you do this the last few weeks and been rethinking my own ways lately. I've gone cash only before, where I was logging and tracking everything and putting aside what I had left, but I found as my kids got older (and ate more, and grew faster), I was having problems staying within the cash budget. Circumstances for us are even more different than they are then (two jobs, two cars, much less time to cook...) but I still need to re-examine the idea of cash only. I think it will work best for me when I end up loosing my income this summer and am more available to cook from home. Love the idea of an allowance, think I need to get my hubby one.

Heather @Critter Chronicles

Friday 14th of May 2010

My husband and I have been 'cash-only' for about a year and a half now, and I can't see us going back to any other system. I'm sure you've heard of Dave Ramsey, but some friends of ours introduced us to his personal finance theories and we've been hooked ever since.

We now use cash for: groceries, gas, auto repairs, going out to eat, family entertainment, veterinary bills, babysitting, and personal spending. My husband and I each get $80 a month of "blow money" to use for whatever. I use mine to buy coffees, or magazines, or to play my monthly dice game with friends. My husband uses his to play golf or buy lunches instead of bringing them with him to work.

Making the switch from using our debit cards wasn't easy, and there were months when we really ran short. But there have been many more months that everything has gone perfectly according to our overall budget, and it allowed us to pay off a significant amount of debt and get some solid savings under our belt. Using cash-only was a HUGE part of that.