I really love the community of doing life together and joining in one another’s journeys as we share and talk and think and laugh and cry and keep on keepin’ on.
I also really love it when ladies who are a part of this community are like “I was wondering if I could share this thing” because the truth is, we are all better together and I am so excited to see someone else want to try something a little bit different.
All of that is a long way of saying that for the next few weeks, we’re going to have a guest blogger doing some of the posts. I’ve known Katie since college when we were bunking up with five girls in tiny Italian hotel rooms as we studied Paul’s missionary journey through Italy.
Katie emailed me about a project she and her husband were working on – cleaning out cupboards and freezers and fridges and trying to eat through everything that was in their house and spending as little on groceries as possible for a month. They called it “Operation: Clear It Out” and she documented it all as a way to share with and encourage all of us as we work through budgets, or meal planning, or balancing everything that we do.
[She inspired me. We tried this at our house to not go over budget in March and to use up all the produce I froze during harvest season. We had about 10 days worth of pieces and parts at our house so I’m super impressed that Katie and her husband did this for an entire month!]
5:16. Punch out.
In the six minutes (depending on traffic) it takes me to walk home from work, I frantically attempt to conjure up an idea for dinner. Then reality hits. Nothing is thawed, I could make ____ but we don’t have any ____. I guess we’ll just pick up a pizza.
The extent of our meal planning was me, casually thinking about what I was in the mood for. Or, asking my husband what we hadn’t eaten in a while. I never thought about groceries or menus more than a week in advance and I couldn’t figure out why we were always struggling to put dinner together and maintain a budget.
During my pregnancy it was easier to come home from work, relax in front of the news and indulge in takeout or my latest craving. Then, after our son was born, it just seemed to continue that way. Something had to give.
We started reading into Dave Ramsey’s baby steps just over a year ago – shortly after a visit with friends discussing our individual financial restrictions. It was as if someone injected me with a new surge of adrenaline. Here we were, 700 miles away from family and friends, married less than two years with a nine-month old and sitting on $60,000 of debt from student loans and medical expenses. At the rate we were going, we were going to run out of money in eight months. The time had come for us get serious.
Our first endeavor was to take a good, hard look at our budget. That’s when we saw it. Our conservative idea of spending between $400-500 a month on groceries and household items was nowhere close. At minimum we were staring at $700 and $800 worth of charges – most of which were things we simply weren’t factoring in. Add that to the other purchases we thought we needed and it was easy to see how we could be losing money every month. It wasn’t the addition of medical/loan payments. It was us.
With a lot of support and advice from loved ones, and a lot of financial…err discussions between husband and I, we started making a difference. Today we are down to $40,000 and seeing momentum. (Check out Leah’s debt-free posts here.) Still, we keep looking for additional ways to secure our footing. What else can we do? Where can we trim?
This past Christmas my parents bought us a 7 c. ft. chest freezer. Bingo. After months of research into freezer prep and once-a-month cooking we’ve adopted a new way of looking at menu planning and grocery spending, which has helped us cut our budget even more by avoiding dining out and buying in bulk. Taking it a step further, this past month we decided to clear out our pantry, freezers and refrigerator and for 30 days we would live off of $100. This “challenge” would be our way of intensifying our savings and wasting less food.
We had an idea. Now all we needed was a really cool mission name.
I give you…
Operation : Clear. It. Out.
This post is part of an upcoming series and there will be one post a week for the next 4 weeks. You won’t want to miss what they were able to do in a month!
Have you ever done anything fun or challenging to overhaul your budget for a month? What did you do? Tell us in the comments!
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