Wow! I am so happy to write about our successes in saving in October. We spent $370 less than we did in September (which was our record low for spending in years…or maybe ever).
I’ve included a snapshot of our monthly spending since December 2013 (from my Mint account):
Key areas where we saved money:
- Groceries: I’ve been keeping up with shopping our pantry for ingredients to make meals with, making a shopping list in advance, and sticking to the list (mostly)
- Restaurants & Fast Food: This is a big one for us. When I come home from 24h shift in the hospital, the last thing I want to do is think about cooking. This means that my default when I’m tired has been to order pizza or Chinese. I’ve been trying to keep the fridge stocked with a couple of frozen entrees for those nights…maybe not the healthiest, but I’m sure it isn’t worse for us than all that fast food! I’ve also gotten into the routine of making lunches for the week on Sunday evening, so that I STAY AWAY from the cafeteria or fast-food restaurants at the hospital. Even though I never spend a lot at one time, a $7 lunch here and there does add up to a lot!
We also were proactive about MAKING more money this month. Mr. DG took on extra work over the weekend — he’s a Carpenter-turned-high school shop teacher, so he is doing a home reno for a friend. I went through our storage closet and sold some things on Craigslist (e.g. a few of my Halloween costumes from my bar-hopping days sold really well this month!). Plus, I applied for a few extra scholarships and bursaries through my medical school, so fingers-crossed that one of those applications will be successful. And a reimbursement we’ve been waiting on from the government finally was processed, so we were able to bank that money as well.
Overall, we were able to put $150 into savings and all the rest ($3400!!) into debt repayment. Hooray!
Well, for our first month on a strict budget, we are actually $34.01 under budget!!
I’m pretty happy with this, especially as there were a lot of extra expenses in September that I hadn’t planned for. For example, my best friend got married in another city. This meant we needed to travel on the ferry to attend (we live on an island), stay overnight in a motel, get my hair done as a bridesmaid, and of course buy a gift for the lucky couple. In addition, another friend of mine had a baby at the beginning of September, and so I needed to get her a baby shower gift. Also, Mr. DG turned 28 this month and so we splurged for a new haircut for him, plus I got him a small birthday gift (a new case that he’s been wanting for his cell phone).
Where we saved money:
- Cell phone: I had a $50 mail-in rebate from when I signed my contract and it finally went through
- Electricity: Our bill was about $40 less than expected, as it was a relatively warm month and so we didn’t end up needing to use our electric heating much.
- Gas: This September, Mr. DG started teaching at a high school that happens to be much closer than the one he worked at last year. This means less money spent on gas, plus way less time commuting! I’m happy about the savings on fuel, and he’s happy about 15 extra minutes to snooze. 🙂
- Groceries: Firstly, each week, I tried to ‘shop’ our pantry for ingredients to make meals with. We used to this plan out meals for the week, and then would make a shopping list of any extra ingredients we’d need. Once we made the list, I scoured grocery store flyers and clipped coupons to look for the best deals. Then–and this is important–we actually stuck to our grocery list (we often have the bad habit of making shopping lists, but still tossing random things into the cart like chocolate milk or prepackaged foods!). On top of our planning, we were incredibly lucky with grocery gift cards this month. Firstly, I participated in a research study at my university (this involved being interviewed about my med school experiences for less than 30 minutes) and was given a $100 grocery store gift card for my time. Secondly. my husband was given another $100 gift card from his parents as part of his birthday gift. And we still have some money on left on the gift card, meaning we should save money next month too! Wahoo!
Reflecting on the month, I think one thing that this month taught me was to start planning for things like birthdays, baby showers, and weddings well in advance. Hopefully this will allow us to put some money aside for these events over time. Also, we could hopefully purchase gifts when they happen to be on sale, or maybe be more creative and make some gifts ourselves.
Overall, I think the month went well, and I hope that we can keep this up in October. Please feel free to share your tips for cutting costs, as we are certainly new to this!
Welcome to the first post of my budgeting series. Because I still have two years of school to complete before I start making any moola, my husband and I are living solely on his salary as a high school teacher. Thus, Mr. DG and I have recently locked down on our spending and our actively trying to embrace a more frugal lifestyle. Unfortunately, we didn’t stick to a budget in my first 2 years of medical school (or when we were both undergrads), so we have already accumulated a fair amount of student debt. But a late start is better than not starting at all, right?
I’m hoping to post monthly updates about how we’re doing and whether we’re reaching our budgeting goals. We’ve created a budget that includes our fixed expenses, a modest amount of spending money, and some money set aside for savings and emergencies (e.g. one of our fur babies gets sick or the ol’ DG mobile breaks down). We have decided for privacy reasons not to post exact dollar values for these categories.
I’m most worried about being able to stick to the our spending money limit, as that is definitely the area that we’ve cut most drastically. Frankly, in the past, the two of us could easily spend $100 on a night out – between dinner, drinks, and cover to the local bar. And I could certainly drop that at a cute boutique, buying clothes and other things that I think I ‘need’ at the time. But the truth is, we don’t need any of the stuff in that category (except for a hair cut once in awhile) and so it made sense to start cutting things out from there first. I am also hoping we can learn to plan our meals better, so that we will hopefully spend quite a bit less on groceries.
I am optimistic that we can do it, but only time will tell! Wish us luck 🙂