My December Challange

You may remember that I was trying to spend only $100 this month, just for the fun of it to see if I could do it. Last Saturday was quite hectic and I didn't get an update done so I will update now.

I had $29.64 left for the month.

Some things that went on since that time was we went on a spur of the moment (well we did have almost a weeks notice) vacation. I did not count the gas for that trip as that was Ken's department (though I have counted gas money for the van otherwise this month). The vacation was actually really frugal though I ended up spending a few dollars that I wouldn't have had we been home.

Here are my expenses:
Walmart: $6.75 (vacation food and special toothpaste ($3.16!) that Ken requested)
Market Place: $7.14 (fresh veggies and a balloons and pump ($4) that Mara really wanted to use to make special balloon art for kids at the first church service in our new building.)
Dairy: $15 (5 gallons milk)
Walmart: $.88 (for juice, because I am bringing pastries and drink to church on Sunday mornings this month)

Total: $29.77 That puts me -$.13.

I didn't make it, but it was fun trying. Also today Ken picked up some milk and cheese at the store because we don't have enough to make it through next week. That should have fit in the $100 too. Oh well, I spent a lot less than I usually do. I will try to make it through the rest of the month without spending anything, which shouldn't be a problem.

Here were some of the challenges from the last 2 weeks:

  • Revising menus. There would be several times I would have a meal planned and then realize I didn't have everything that was needed. I would have to switch to work with what I did have. That included planning food for our vacation.
  • Low on eggs. We get the majority of our eggs from my parents (It is very nice to have farm fresh eggs!). Well they had company and so had less extra and then I was doing extra baking because of the holiday. I had to come up with a way to still do what I needed to do without so many eggs. Here were some of my solutions: ~1.~ We like to eat eggs regularly for breakfast but instead we had hashbrowns and sausage, pancakes with few eggs, oatmeal and stuff like that. ~2.~ In baking I used one of my eggless cookie recipes and then a friend mentioned that she had found one online that was Vegan. She sent me the link and I tried them (though I misread the recipe and put in 1/4 CUP blackstrap molasses instead of the TEASPOON that it was supposed to be, needless to say they had a very strong molasses taste!). That recipe got me to thinking that there were probably a lot of Vegan baking recipes that I could use. I found an eggless pumpkin bread recipe that we liked very much (though I reduced the sugar to 2 1/2 cups and would go even less next time. I would also like to try using a lot less oil.). When looking around tonight I found a site that is all about eggless cooking. For taking to church last Sunday morning I used this recipe for Biscuit twists that turned out to be quite yummy. ~3.~ I had decided on homemade pasta for our Christmas meal. Homemade noodles can take a lot of eggs. I decided to stretch them by adding either squash or pureed swiss chard to the noodles. They turned out fine.
  • We were running low on milk. I have had a recipe that I have wanted to try for a long time for rice milk. I finally tried it this week. It tasted all right but I think I still need to do some perfecting of it. This morning we used it and one egg to make french toast which the whole family enjoyed. Also I am seriously considering not drinking milk for a while. A book I am reading really thinks it is best not to drink milk but I feel a little sceptical and I really like it.
  • Potato salad without mustard. On Christmas Eve it is a tradition for us to eat Hamburgers. We like potato salad with them and I have oodles of potatoes so I thought I would make some. Well I had forgotten we didn't have mustard. For us that is rather essential! I looked to see if we had dry mustard but no, we were out of that too. However I noticed my container of turmeric and it was so nice and yellow. So I put that in as well as lots of other seasoning, dill pickles, onion and mayonnaise. Because of the turmeric it looked basically the same and the other flavors nearly covered up that fact that the mustard was missing. Everybody ate it fine.

Well that has been our adventure in finances this month. I don't think I will need to buy anything more, nor do I foresee any new challenges for the rest of this month but If I hit any difficulties, I will report. It is fun to figure out new ways to do things and make myself think outside the box. I think I will have to have more challenges throughout this next year. We still have a lot of food in the house (just missing a few of the things that we are used too. ) so I am looking forward to seeing how low I can get our food bill in 2009.

One thing that I found very interesting this month was the feeling of "I don't have enough money". That wasn't really true because it was just a "silly" challenge that I had made for myself but still it made me realize how some people actually feel, that they have to chose between things that they actually need. I realized how nice it has been to live in a very secure economic setting (not with a lot of money but where it is spent carefully so we don't run out) all my life. I have honestly never had that feeling that I don't have enough money to buy milk or toilet paper or any food that we truly needed. There have been lots of times however that I made the choice not to buy steak or roast or convenience foods or fruits over $1.50 a lb. because I knew that if I did that we would blow our food budget in no time.

Also this month I did make some unnecessary purchases (such as postage for Christmas letters, special toothpaste for Ken (I gets plenty of toothpaste free with deals at Walgreens) and balloons and pump for Mara.) but I weighed each one and decided that the reason behind each one (staying connected with friends and family, honoring my husband and encouraging my daughter in reaching out to others) was more important than any challenge of mine.

How is everything going with you? Are you finding the economic situation troubling or are you having lots of fun like I am trying to be prepared no matter what might happen? I think it is fun to practice in advance for any possible situations. I would love to hear what you are thinking! :-)