Wisedebther Weekly Spending 2/11/18-2/17/18

Happy Sunday! Like most evenings this month, the Olympics are on in the background. I’m in absolute awe of these games! The athletes’ dedication and talent certainly inspires me to achieve my own goals–ahem, debt free ;).

So, spending this week. As a non-rent week, it should be low . And the actual total is not too terrible, but I’m not gonna sugar coat it, there is still much to be desired! I’ll get into the numbers below, but I have to leave a disclaimer. There are a few expenses NOT shown in here, and one is for an odd reason. I bought The Simple Path to Wealth and pre-ordered Meet the Frugalwoods: Achieving Financial Independence Through Simple Living  on Amazon and accidentally used my partner’s CC as opposed to mine. Thus, we adjusted some of food expenses that he owed, meaning it’s higher overall, and the book expenses are not reflected. This is because weekly expenses are my expenses, not our total household. Phew, now that we got that out of the way, here is the weekly breakdown :

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Debt-Free Diet Part II

Food, glorious food ! If you are just tuning in, Part 1 of my Debt Free Diet can be found here. That’s where I explain my horrendous and expensive journey to getting real with my food costs. Luckily, I saw the light and have vastly changed my expensive grocery shopping ways.

Cashew the cat enjoys the Debt free diet too!

Alright y’all, let me be honest though. The truth of the matter is, I’m a newbie in the life of a frugal food consumer, circa November 2017ish or so. And listen, I use the term frugal super lightly. Let’s just say, it’s frugal my way. The things that work for me, I’m definitely NOT preaching for others to follow. Nor, am I suggesting this is the cheapest or ‘best’ route. What I would “preach”, is that if you are in debt or otherwise hoping to reach other financial goals…food expenses are worth looking into! So, without further ado, these are the strategies our 2 person + Cashew the Cat household have used to considerably reduce our food costs:

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Debt Free Diet Part I

 

Food has been my Achille’s heel on my debt-free journey. Certain things have been easy for me to sacrifice, mainly clothes shopping + “going out” to restaurants /bars. But, ‘food shopping’…man that was the bill that was getting me good, until now that is ! What changed? Basically, it was a lot of trial and error.

Per usual, I’d like to back pedal to HOW I got here. It’s more about the journey than the end point, right? In fact, I realized in writing about this, I have a lot to say about food. Hence, I decided to break this post into two. One with my food buying history and Part II with my  current food budgeting solution.

And now, for a trip down memory lane…

Back when I was single, circa 2011-2013, I was able to keep my food bills SO low, like $30-60(?) per week low, with the occasional spike or dip. One big meal, like a stew or chili, could feed me for days. I brought cheap, bag lunches to work such as PB & J with a fruit, or yogurt , nuts, & crackers. Looking back towards those days, it was not the most fulfilling part of my life, neither professional nor personal. Yet, damn I could learn a thing or 2 from my former self !

The inception of grad. school in 2013 coincided with the beginning of my courtship. Some may say this was perfect timing, or others absolutely horrible timing. Whatever it was, it happened! And like that, my food bills slowly crept up. Honestly, it probably wasn’t even that slow. I was mainly consumed with the following and not necessarily in this order: 1. not failing out of school, 2. adjusting to my new city, Miami, and 3. being in a new relationship <3.

Thus, my spending, particularly as it relates to food was not a priority. Not only did my weekly food shopping expenses go up, but so did my outside of the house food expenses. I was buying more food to feed a man + making more meals per week to feed said man. During our first few years of  dating, he always paid for our meals/drinks/treats outside of the house (90%) and I picked up more of the grocery costs (70%). By the way, these percentages are total educated guesses ! I was also going to Starbucks on the reg and buying salad lunches as “needed” ($5-8). I did occasionally bring my lunc (it came and went in spurts), but if I haven’t been clear enough already, food budget was NOT my priority !

To add some more fuel to the spending fire, my weekly shopping trips were haphazard. Nothing for dinner? No problem ! I would stop by one of my neighborhood’s 2 pricey grocery stores and drop anywhere from $20-30 on a ‘few’ items. Sure, I would make lists every week, but they were so disorganized and not always well thought out. Meanwhile, my partner was eating out for lunch EVERY day…yup every day. He doesn’t do this anymore, by the way.

Finally, add in dining out for coffee and/or dinner at Least 1 X per week. We lived in a fun city, we were young, we were tired, and the WORST — We deserved it. The excuses and the $$ were flowing…

Unfortunately, I can’t access my credit card statements from back in those days. Am I not trying hard enough? Not sure, don’t care! I know it was bad and I sure learned from it!

Now, to present-“ish” day. 2017 was my first full year in Tampa. The area I reside in currently is nothing like my former Miami neighborhood. We live much further from the majority of restaurants, bars, and coffee shops aside from those located in our little suburb. Unknowingly, we moved to the “baby raising” part of town without having any babies of our own, as of yet.  We immediately slowed down on our eating out expenses. To be candid, it was forced more than an active decision.

Food shopping expenses, however, did not slow down. For example, in Winter 2017 I enrolled in Hello Fresh for approximately 4-5 weeks. Bye, $300! Additionally, my haphazard shopping trips although decreasing in frequency, still prevailed. My partner would comment at times, “you are spending too much. Or, we don’t use all that we buy.” Mostly, I would bark back too stubborn and proud to listen.

I was still filled with excuses, and they sounded something like this: We need to eat healthy, We are ‘saving’ more than going out to eat, and the very familiar– We deserve it. Every time I left the register at the check out line, I would get a pang in my stomach. How in the world did I spend so much?

Here are some food expense numbers, directly from my Mint app:

-October 2017: $815

-November 2017: $455

-December 2017:$305

-January (up through January 18th): $236

Seriously, what the hell was October? Looking back at the receipts it was a few crazy high expensive weekly trips, with some  of those ‘rando’ trips for a few items spurted in. This was also one of our trickiest months as a household–Post Hurricane-Irma, Maria, Partner working at a commission based job). I was doing our household a HUGE disservice by not having my food budget/spending together !

Nevertheless, I had my “wake up call” in realizing that I was severely hindering my debt-pay off through spending so much on freaking Food! In the next post, I’ll outline what I *think* has been our “Magic Bullet” in reducing food expenses. Stay tuned …

 

Summer 2017: It’s a wrap!

 

Now that it is officially Fall, I figured I better jump my butt into gear and tie up all my Summer loose ends.  First up, personal life, followed by $$$$$! Disclaimer, this post is a ‘hodge podge’ of sorts and much heavier on the personal stuff than money.

Personal Life: 

August was a high point of the summer. There was 2 weddings + Vacation!

The first August wedding took me near my hometown and alma mater up in the Boston area. I took off Thursday and Friday in order to have ample time to visit with family and childhood friends. On Friday, my mom threw a casual get together with our close family friends and their “kids”. “Kids” because they are definitely not children anymore. In fact, one of my friends is expecting her first baby this upcoming winter. I’m so excited for my friend and her husband <3!! The rest of the weekend was a whirlwind of fun. We saved some $$ by bunking with one of my college buddies in the hotel and off we went to seriously one of the most beautiful weddings. The weather was iffy with clouds and a few sprinkles, and I kid you not that after their first kiss… the sky opened! How romantic! We danced and drank the night way and less than 24 hours later we were back in Tampa.

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Wine and Win: Cheap A$$ Coffee

The midweek slump is real. It is also the perfect time to revel in some positivity. Hence, “Wine and Win”. Every so often on a Wednesday – because hey it’s “Winesday”, I’ll plan to post a “win” meaning something learned or accomplished, by yours truly or others on a debt free journey. So grab your glass of red or white, and join me as I revel in the glory of my $7 coffeemaker.

First, let me describe my coffee love affair as it will set the context for the dilemma that follows. I started drinking coffee at 16 years old. It was a slow burn love, as I would only drink it on Sunday when I worked early mornings at a nursing home. I grew up in Massachusetts where Dunkin Donuts reigns as king. I didn’t have much of a taste for coffee back then, but I happily sucked down my iced coffees sweetened and lightened to the max.

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