Spending Freeze: Week One

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One week into January’s spending freeze, and I’m somehow already broke.

I know exactly why, of course–

You see, my school district does this thing that I HATE where they pay us much earlier than normal “to help with the Christmas expenses.” Normally, I get paid the last day of each month (as long as the banks are open), so I’m used to getting my paycheck around the 30th-31st. In December, though, they pay us on the last day that we actually work, which for last month was Dec. 19th.

And then we don’t get paid again until January 30th.

I’m not kidding.

So basically, money is always tight in January, no matter how responsible I try to be with that early paycheck.

Luckily, as far as the actual spending fast is going, we’re doing pretty well–we haven’t eaten out or bought any movies, and even though I’ve sorely wanted to not pack my own lunch a couple days this week and just get lunch at the hospital ($5 lunch special!), I’ve gritted my teeth and packed it every day anyway (or, let’s be honest, Matt has packed it for me every day).

We haven’t been perfect, though–Matt went out one afternoon to see a movie with his brother (but used the last of his Christmas money, so it was okay), I bought a couple unplanned things at the grocery store because they were having their case lot sales (and we were running low on some items in our pantry), and Matt had forgotten he had pre-ordered a book from Amazon months ago that just came out this week (and was therefore debited out of his account this week).

There also was a situation that almost came up that I would have for sure broken one of the rules for–a dear friend from El Salvador flew up for the week, and I was hoping to meet her somewhere down southwards for lunch or dinner. However, the reunion never ended up panning out, so I was spared having to spend any money, but I sure was willing to bend the rules for such a special occasion (something that truly might have been a once-in-a-lifetime chance).

Here’s a breakdown of our spending for the week:

Gas – $16.80 (joyous day! a full tank for under $20!)
Groceries – $75.00 (about $35 more than normal due to the case lot sale)
Utilities (Questar) – $30.36
Rent – $565
Auto/Renter’s Insurance – $106.51
Book (that Matt had pre-ordered) – $18.23
Movie Ticket (bought with Christmas money) – $6.75
Grad School Application Fees – $120.00

I don’t think I’d realized until I started this spending freeze how many social opportunities come our way that involve spending money. I was somehow in the mindset that since opportunities to go out to dinner and movies with friends and family were few and far between, we should take advantage of every one.

Now I realize that these opportunities seem to come up all the time–at least 2-3 times a month. Of course, I’m not saying that we should never use our money to go out and enjoy ourselves and create memories with our loved ones. All I’m saying is that I didn’t realize how much money was going towards that until it was no longer really an option.

It also made me realize that apparently I have a little bit of embarrassment about turning people’s social invitations down for money reasons, which is something I’ll need to work on.

Looking at our expenses for the last few months left me thinking about another thing, too–it seems like nearly every month, we have some sort of “special” expense thrown at us, like a car registration, Christmas or other holiday, or–as the case is this month–grad school application fees. I’m always wondering where all my paycheck seems to go every month (since on paper, I should have at least a few hundred dollars of flex money that can be spent on leisure or saved), but lately we haven’t had that due to those aforementioned “special” expenses (that somehow seem to come up every month…).

I won’t be able to tell how much we’ve been able to save until the end of the month, but I’d say we’re off to a decent start.

I didn’t buy us any ice cream at the grocery store, anyway.

I do have a question for you other people living in apartments though—how much do you spend per month on utilities, including water, electricity, and gas? Altogether in the winter, we’ll usually spend from $120-150, which seems a little on the high side for only a two-bedroom place. What do you think?

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