Putting my money where my mouth is, unfortunately

July 30, 2008 at 6:27 pm 6 comments

I am way over budget for July.

Well, I am using the term budget loosely. The way I have been budgeting up until now was by allocating rough amounts for my non-set expenses. My set expenses are things like rent, transportation, and the amount I put into saving & such.

My non-set expenses are, well, everything else, but I pretty much break them down into laundry, cat, food, and free. I really need to start breaking food down into groceries and eating out, and breaking free down so that I can see what will be easy to cut. However, I’ve been trying to start slowly. I think I am only now moving from learning to write down every penny I spend in my spreadsheet and put it under a vague category. So maybe that should go on my list of August goals.

This month I’ve had a bunch of irregular expenses. I went away for a day, I bought a couch, and I bought a bed frame. However, I really didn’t do too badly with those expenses. I saved on my trip by using Megabus, which I highly recommend. I could have saved even more if I had booked my trip further in advance, which is what I will do next time. I got the bed frame and the couch on craigslist, for $70 and $80 respectively. I overspent on the couch, but the guy delivered it & I figured it wasn’t fair of me to demand that other people do work when I could just pay a bit more. If I were capable of transporting a couch by myself it might have been a different story, but I’m not at all. Still, I feel like I didn’t do to badly on any of those things.

Really the problem was food. I’ve managed to cut back on lunches. I used to buy lunch by work three or more days a week. In July I’ve bought lunch three times total. The problem has been eating dinner out and ordering dinner in. I’ve been doing way too much of it, and spending way too much when I do.

As of about the 15th of August I’ll no longer be sharing food expenses with someone else. While generally speaking sharing expenses saves money on food, I am pretty sure this is not the case with me. First, I don’t eat meat, and meat is very expensive. When none of my food money is going to meat, I will spend less. Second, I am not a huge eater, so I need less food than the person I am sharing with. Third, I think when it is just me I will be less likely to order in. I don’t like using the phone, so I am unlikely to call places. Also, when it’s just me I am fine with having a sandwich, omelet, or mac &cheese or even just cereal for dinner if that’s what I am in the mood for and have around.

My worry is that once I am living alone I will be likely to eat out in restaurants more often for the company. The correct thing to do is to try and make plans that are free or cheap with my friends instead, or maybe invite people over for a home-cooked dinner and hope they invite me back. I’m really going to have to watch it though. I just have to remind myself every time I want to go out somewhere that I need that money for things that are way more important to me than one meal, and try and keep really delicious things in the house. If anyone else has any good suggestions on avoiding the temptation to eat out, however, I’d be glad to hear it.


Entry filed under: budget, food. Tags: , , .

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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Adiel  |  July 30, 2008 at 6:35 pm

    This biggest set-back for me is eating out as well. I don’t do very well at planning in advance so it is hard for me to bring lunch or breakfast to work. I’ll have to follow your lead and work on cutting back with that as well.

  • 2. Ali  |  July 30, 2008 at 6:52 pm

    Well, you know I’m hopeless with the NOT eating out, so no tips from me there. But I AM willing to alternate home cooked meals at each of our places every other Friday that we get together. We has major DDRing at home to do!

  • 3. debtfreesaver  |  July 30, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    Adiel-I find it’s really helpful to do something like brining in a box of cereal or oatmeal or breakfast bars for breakfast, because then I only have to remember when the box runs out. And for lunch, I try to pack up some leftovers from dinner the night before most of the time, or cooks something extra when I am making dinner. I had grand goals of brining awesome, well balanced lunches that I planned well, but it doesn’t happen. A friend of mine just keeps ingredients for lunch in the fridge at work-hummus, baby carrots, bread, lunch meats etc. Then she just puts it together at lunch time.

    Ali-That sounds like an excellent idea to me! Especially as the last meal we made was so delicious 😉 Really, I am all for that.

  • 4. Eric  |  July 30, 2008 at 10:15 pm

    First, I want to say this blog is helpful, really. I am in debt, but its scholl debt, not bad debt, so I too am trying to save and not figuring out where to get that money from.

    Also, anytime you fel the need for home cooking, we will be happy to eat some

  • 5. Donna Freedman  |  August 26, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    I live alone (happily!) and find it’s easy to short myself on food because, after all, it’s just me. While there’s nothing wrong with a scrambled-egg sandwich or some oatmeal for supper, it can easily degenerate into a week straight of eating crackers and cheese or soup from a can while standing over the kitchen sink.
    I try hard to have some kind of appetizer, even if it’s just a sliced tomato with a little kosher salt, and then a main dish with at least one vegetable and a fruit. That might be mac and cheese as the main dish, but there will be steamed edamame or corn or green beans on the side, and preferably fresh but sometimes canned fruit to finish.
    I recommend setting a place for yourself at the table — don’t eat over the sink — and putting on some favorite music while you dine.
    Add some extra touch to your food: a sprinkle of dill on the eggs, a dry rub of spices on the chicken legs before you bake them, some dried cranberries and sliced almonds in the oatmeal.
    Keep a selection of frozen vegetables on hand, in case you don’t have time to hit the market. Stock up on frozen berries and canned fruit, too, for the days when there’s no bananas or apples or grapes in your house.
    Make big batches of things you like to eat (lasagna, stews, casseroles) and freeze a bunch of it in one- or two-sized portions. On nights you don’t want to start from scratch, pull a container from the freezer and whip up a salad or vegetable on the side.
    Too often, food becomes just “fuel.” It should be another way we care for ourselves.

  • 6. debtfreesaver  |  September 2, 2008 at 7:57 pm

    Thanks for all the helpful thoughts Donna! Right now eating eggs for dinner is still kind of exciting & not just lazy, but I will try and sit down to eat & enjoy it, It’s true that I am less excited about cooking when there is nobody to cook for. I should also try & keep some fruit in the house for finishers-I love fruit but I am bad about keeping ti around.

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