The first week of the challenge was Cash, Cash, Cash.
This week proved to be a little difficult for me. My mason jars didn't arrive until the end of the week, and I only receive money once a month into my bank account. My money arrives at the end of the month - so the timing as a whole was off to get started with using cash only and utilizing the jars. The truth be told - my money is usually gone by the end of the first week of the new month, after I pay my bills and pay for the children's activities. I would love if I could find a way to stretch my dollars out for the whole month, so, I am going to start fresh on March 1st and do my best. It might take a few months to get this part figured out.
A huge issue for me is the unexpected which pops up each month and eats up my cash. During the month of February I had irregular expenses such as the need for a drive clean, purchasing a license sticker, Valentine's Day, two field trip expenses, and two birthday parties to buy gifts for. Out of the whole challenge this is my largest mountain to climb.
The second week of the challenge was Food.
Food is a huge expense for our family of five. It is really important to me to send nutritious lunches with my children, so I load up on fruit and vegetables. We all know that this time of year is hard on the grocery bill, since nothing is local right now. An added expense to our food bill this week was my oldest daughter attempting to cut gluten out of her diet - we ended up purchasing a bunch of gluten-free choices which are more expensive.
We are super blessed to have a freezer which is often stocked with farm fresh beef, from my in-laws. We buy whatever meat (non beef) is on sale at the supermarket (for the week), and if we can, we freeze a package or two of whatever is on sale. We also stock up on household basics when they are on sale, such as toilet paper, paper towel, dish soap, laundry soap. We try very hard never to pay full price for these types of products, and couple our purchases with a coupon for even more savings. We also stick with the products we know and trust. Money is wasted when buying a product that doesn't live up to expectations.
Valentine's Day fell within this week and I think we did a really good job of saving. There weren't any expensive chocolates or flowers in our home. I made up treat bags for my kids from candy bought at the bulk store. And, my husband and I had a special lunch out, utilizing a coupon.
Coming up this week is Family.
Our community center is offering some free activities for Family Day, which is perfect.
Then, the last week of the challenge is Clothing.
I am queen of saving on clothing and will write a post at the end of the month how I save big on clothing our family.
Last week, we renewed our mortgage at a lower interest rate. It is good news, yet, things like water, hydro and heating are more expensive. A little saved in one place will be spent in another, but nonetheless, a good thing.
I am proud of how I refrained from over-spending for Valentine's Day. I like to spread the love, but didn't want to spend too much on an indulgent holiday.
Normally, I don't spend a lot of money on gas for our van. For the last month, I've been spending more on gas due to taking my Dad to his radiation appointments which is round trip of about 70kms.
A credit card company worked with me and offered me a hardship interest rate, which is awesome! It certainly is a big help and I am so happy that I was able to explain my situation and someone cared.
My daughter is having her birthday during March and has said that she wants a membership to our local YMCA. A friend told me that they are open to discussing a membership rate based on how much you can pay. Sometimes swallowing your pride can result in a savings, and I am not above that.
We've been actively locating receipts in anticipation of filing our income taxes in the next few weeks. It is really important to us to maximize our returns.
It's not too late to jump in and share your financial journey - your successes and your struggles. Use the #SavingMadeSimple to share, and also find out what other PG Moms are sharing throughout the Family Financial Challenge.
Disclosure: I am a P&Gmom/mamanP&G. As part of my affiliation with this group I receive products and special access to P&G events and opportunities.