Saturday, January 30, 2010

Adventures in Extreme Budgeting Challenge - Day One

Well, today was payday.  Under more normal circumstances, this would be cause for a small celebration but I'm furloughed (meaning, my salary has been cut by 10% each month) even though my expenses haven't changed.  I had already put together a spending plan for the month which included my normal bills: mortgage payment and food, car note and insurance, credit cards, student loan payment, cell phone bill, gas for car.  But I also had to add to this list, repayment ofnthe credit card that my husband used to pay for my car repairs in November.  I also have to double up on a credit card payment this month because I maxed out the card on basic expenses like gas and food.  So yeah, I'm up shit's creek right now and my side hustle doesn't begin until March.  In the interim, I will be living off of $40.00.  What this means is that my discretionary spending for the month of February is $40 total. 

I've never spent less than $100/month on discretionary spending so this is really going to be an adventure in extreme budgeting.  However, if I can survive this test, I will be back in the black again and my side-hustle earnings will help boost my payment on my credit cards and allow for some money to go into savings.

I must admit, I've been nervous about this particular challenge because it is forcing me to re-evaluate how I spend, how I organize my time and what's most important to me.  I do know that most of my discretionary spending has gone to eating out.  I am planning to take the bull by the reins and cook  I have a good sized Crock-Pot so that eliminates the need for me to slave over a hot stove all day long.  I have plenty of Gladware and Tupperware containers so portability of my meals to work will never be an excuse and quite frankly, home-cooked meals are better for my health.

I did make two separate discretionary purchases today.  The first was for $5.12 from the Dollar Store.  I needed to purchase some cassette tapes so I could record an interview I was conducting for an article I'm working on.  I found the tapes for $1.60 but the store I was in had a $5 minimum purchase policy in order to use a debit card so I also got some Ziploc bags (which we needed), and a bottle of rubbing alcohol (which we also needed.   The second purchase could have been avoided had I not let myself get hungry.  I spent $4.69 at Jack-in-the-Box on food I have no business eating.  This has to stop.  The reason I have no savings and living pay-check to pay-check (besides this furlough mess) is that I'm not planning ahead which in turns means I'm living by default instead of by choice.

Even though I look forward to coming out of the end of February, more financially stable and happy, I've got a feeling that with this challenge, February is going to feel like the longest month on record.

Day 1  
Spent: $9.81
Remaining:  $30.19

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