Boy, this no-spend thing is harder than it seems. It would be different if Karl and I lived an insular life and never saw any friends or family, but that would be a pretty dismal existence. So we hang out. And human beings like to spend money together. I have no problem with spending money...except for this month. [The flip side of this: that our friends and moms and dads and aunts often invite us over for dinner, and lovingly feed us. And we try to do the same for them. It's a way of expressing affection, the giving and receiving of nourishment. It's a good thing.]
So, the grand (and I mean grand) total for this week's spending was...$107! Wow. This went towards: produce from the market, some basic staples at Cub Foods, and some wine and snack purchases on our way to various parties and barbecues. We also had to fill up the car (he gets hungry too), but we won't have to do that for a while again.
Living in France, I'd forgotten about the gravitational pull towards the backyard grill and family and friends that Labor Day weekend entails. It sort of took me by surprise. And with that came proposals for moviegoing, let's go to the FAIR, BYOB, bring something to share, and lots of "let's hang out...we're at this bar, want to join us?" kind of opportunities. Terrific! But hard to balance with our specific financial goals.
We didn't do this perfectly, but we came up with some successful solutions. The fair was out-of-the-question (for us, not enough bang for the buck.) Saturday morning, the friend who wanted to go out for coffee or breakfast came over and we indulged in steaming cups of joe and warm, homemade muffins. For a girls' outing, my mom found a cheap matinée showing of Julie and Julia way out west (though since we got turned around, I'm not sure we didn't spend more on gas...but I've decided not to make that calculation. We'll just stick with "we saved money" on that one...) Going to a barbecue and have to bring something? One enormous watermelon for $3.99, plus the hilarity and excitement it generated at the party due to its exceptional size seemed like a super investment. Observe which of your friends really couldn't care less about saving leftovers (incredulous voice: "you're just going to throw this aWAY?") and take some home. Grilled corn doomed to the trashcan made a kick-butt corn salsa a day later, and everyone was raving about the flavor. Be free and buy a bottle of wine to share - in that category, what goes around definitely comes around.
This seems paradoxical, but there is a freedom that comes from having a budget. The feeling of "this is what we have to play around with" is a pretty stimulating challenge, good for the brain, and good for the pocketbook. We may have had an expense-heavy week, but we are determined to stay the course. Halfway there!