Oh man, we need this spending fast SO. BADLY. We are literally watching money slip through our fingers like water the past month. We are going to Disney World in a few months and have just finished paying the trip off in full. So on top of regular bills and Christmas spending, we've been spending about $500 a month to pay off our Disney trip. The good news is when we get there other than souvenir money, we will not have to spend a dime (flight, lodging, food, tickets, etc-yep-all paid in full!). That's a freeing feeling.
It's also the Christmas season. This year we've spend about $1500-2000 on gifts for all our family and friends. Not sure how that measures up to other's spending but for us it's about 50% more. The vast majority of that increase is our kids. We now have 3 kids, all who understand (mostly) the concept of Christmas. Anne has started asking for more expensive things. Jamie has starting asking for things in general. And Libby is going to finally get the concept of presents this year. Add that up and it means we've spent about double on each kid then in years past. So yeah, this spending fast couldn't come at a better time.
So here are the rules and what we hope to gain from it:
1. We will continue to pay all our bills and essentials. Obviously mortgage, car payment, preschool, etc will continue to get paid. However, John is great about paying extra on all our bills every month. So there are quite a few bills where he can actually skip a payment or pay significantly less without penalty. All bills that he can do that on next month he will.
2. John will continue to fill up his gas tank as normal. He drives 80 miles each day for work. There's no getting around that one. I, on the other hand, am going to try and limit myself to 100 miles a week. This is actually going to be easy because we haven't gone out much at all recently. With snow, cold weather, sickness season and preschool three days a week we're lucky to do a playdate 2x a month. Nonetheless I'll keep track of my mileage and make the effort not to go over 100 miles a week. That means I'll only need to fill up a maximum of one time next month. (In the summer and spring when we're out and about a bunch I can fill up 3x a month easily so once is great.)
3. I will allow us to have $50 a week for groceries. By far our biggest expense each month is food. I'd estimate we spend $600-700 a month on groceries. Right now, with the food in our house, we could easily eat for a week straight and not run out of food. Now granted the combinations would get odd but there are physically enough calories to feed my family for at least a week. So the goal with the $50 is first buying essentials (fresh fruit, milk, eggs, cheese). Then with any extra to supplement food to make more complete meals. Our desire next month is to eat as simply and as cheaply as possible. That probably looks like a dinner of spaghetti sauce, noodles, bag of frozen veggies. I already have frozen sauce from the summer so that means I'll make dinner for my family for about $2.25. Those are the kind of meals we'll be eating next month. Bare minimum.
4. I hope to document on the blog how it's going. Write about any temptations we're having, document our meals and what they cost, etc. I also want to write about any actives we're doing-such as a big huge food inventory, de-cluttering, selling on ebay, and free family and couple things we're doing.
All in all, if we can stick to it John and I are expecting to save about $1000. Incredible! I've seen blogs where people have stopped all optional spending for a year and have saved upwards of $20,000! So I think $1000 is within our reach! Wish us luck-only 3 weeks til we start!