Monday, February 23, 2009

Challenge of the week

Over the weekend we made a few returns to stores that instead of crediting our account, the cashier gave us cash because we made the purchases using our debit card. I'd much rather have the money credited back to our account because I don't like carrying cash, but it is what it is. Also, my account is connected to my checking account so I can track my spending, which is something I can't do if I am spending cash. My husband challenged me to not spend more than the cash I have on hand this week - to see how long it can last.

I want to think that I'll be able to do that. The money is supposed to be enough for groceries and any other items I wish to purchase. That means that I need to think even more analytically about what I am spending money on (or delay my purchase until next week when the challenge is over :-) .

We did a very good job of spending a minimal amount on groceries lately and focusing on using up the items in our pantry; after all, we did buy those items so they may as well be used. However, now that we are running low on staples it is time to stock up again, and I was hoping to do that this week. Since I am home now I like to provide my husband with nutritious and filling lunches, so that takes a bit of brainpower for me. I like making interesting dinners - or at least rotate dinners so that we are not always eating the same thing over and over again. We've also found that theme nights are helpful - they can simplify the menu planning and assist with planning meals in advance by ensuring that we have the necessary ingredients on hand. By themes, I mean like a weekly grill night, weekly taco night (which really is more like Tex-Mex night), weekly stir-fry night (stir-frys are GREAT for using up leftovers!), and that's as far as we got. Sat night has, by default, become mac and cheese night lately. We don't always stick to these plans though, but when we do, I have noticed that it makes it so much easier to plan for dinner.

But the spending is not limited to food. I need to think about clothes, my hobby, and any other "miscellaneous" items that may come up. Obviously I can still use my debit card, but this is a good challenge for me to check my spending habits and help me further parse out my "needs" versus my "wants".

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