Well, the $1000 cash budget I put myself on is NOT going so well. It’s only my second month, but I have failed yet again to spend only $1000 (on everything except my rent and business expenses). I was hoping taking out $1000 at the beginning of the month could act as a natural limit, but I actually just…take out more cash when I need it. So much for that.
And what’s the damage this month? A cool $1287.
Here’s why I’m still happy doing this challenge:
- I’ve decreased my spending by $900, from my monthly 2016 average of $2200
- I’ve decreased my spending from June by $173
In other words, I’m trending downwards. $1000 is still something that I want to achieve, but it’s going to take time to adjust, and I’m happy giving myself that time. It’s a good reminder to us all that we don’t have to be perfect as long as we’re doing better.
So what did I cut back on this month?
- My nails
I used to get my nails on a biweekly schedule, and my toes every six weeks. I now do my toes myself, even though it takes me two torturous hours, and I leave my nails clearcoated and short. Oh, the sacrifices we must make.
I used to take Uber constantly and contentedly. It’s cheaper than cabs and only slightly more expensive than our woefully inadequate transit system. But avoiding it, as a side-effect of avoiding drinking downtown on the weekends, has been a money saver. This reflects more on a late-20s declining social life than a conscious frugal choice. Still, I’ll take it. Every $10 counts when you’re trying to spend only $1000!
I remember the days where summer in Toronto said only one thing: patios. Now, I don’t know if it’s because it’s incredibly overcast and muggy, or if its that’s late-20s declining social life again, but I haven’t really gone out much. I’ve had a few beers here and there, but over all, I’ve cut back dramatically on my casual drinking.
Here’s the full story:
Where did I go wrong this month?
- Late library fees
This was pretty dumb. To renew my library card I had to pay $25 in late fees. Easily avoidable, I just need to be more responsible
- Books and magazines
I was out at my friend’s country house for the weekend and I bought a National Geographic magazine. A $13.55 magazine. I did learn a lot about Augustus and the first century BCE, but still. Not a very budget-wise move when they’re all available at the library (that I can now use). I also bought Samantha Shannon’s The Song Rising on Amazon. I felt compelled to do so since this is a seven-series book and I already own the first two. It would just bug me too much not to have the full series! How could I re-read them or lend it out? Still, I know I should be using the library exclusively.
How the FUCK am I spending almost $650 on food? I am a 5″1 female. I have no dependants. I don’t lift weights or run marathons. I’m not obese. This is REDONKULOUS Although this number includes both groceries and eating out, I only ate out brunch three times this month, adding up to just about $60. Meaning I still spent $600 on pure groceries. How? How????
The main culprit I’m going to blame is Toronto. Food in Toronto is just more expensive than other places. I’m always astounded when I go to America at how cheap the groceries are.
For example, you can buy eggs in New York at $1.66/dozen. You can’t even get eggs on sale at that price here. They start at about $2 as a loss leader for Walmart and Shoppers Drug Mart, but are $3.70 at any other major grocery store.
Even take Cheerios: Our “Family Size” box is smaller than yours by four ounces, and it’s $1.20 more expensive at the same realtor: Walmart. Similarly, A 10lbs bag of flour is $2.80, while a slightly smaller 5kg bag of flour here is $4.50. Same realtor, same brand. Get the picture? We pay 40% more for 10% less.
YET, I’m sure other people manage in Toronto to spend less than I do on groceries, so that can’t be the full story.
The real culprit, I suspect, are my snobby eating habits. Instead of buying eggs at $3.70 , I buy the free-run ones at $7.
Instead of buying Black Diamond cheddar cheese for $4.50 a brick, I’ll spend $8 on goat cheese, or $10 on smoked gouda.
Instead of filling up my meals with rice and pasta, I’ll buy avocados, lettuce and bok choy as a base, all locally sourced.
Still, I buy all my meat 50% off and my fish frozen. I don’t buy boneless, skinless chicken breasts — I buy the whole chicken and cut it myself. I buy heads of lettuce and wash them myself. I shop mostly at small, ethnic produce stores and No Frills. I’m as responsible as I can manage while eating high-quality, nutritious food.
So it’s still shocking to me how this number gets so high.
The only way I can see to lower it is to radically change my eating habits: to care less about what I put into my body. To transfer from a protein and veggie based diet, to one centered around carbs, legumes and starchy vegetables. That sort of diet can still be very healthy, rice and beans and hummus and all that, but it usually leads to weight gain for me, and I’m not comfortable with that. Would I LOVE to eat whole wheat pasta every night? YES! Would it be cheaper? YES! But I’d gain 10 lbs in a year. Could I buy cheaper eggs? Yes, but then they’d have a yellow yolk and a lax consistency and I would stay up at night thinking about the poor hen who had no outdoor space. These are the choices we make when we spend, and I’m comfortable with the ones I’m making, for now.
I’m still going to attempt to reduce this number to $400 a month. Spending $100/week for groceries sounds reasonable to me. How? I’m going to focus on clearing out my pantry, reduce my avocado intake ($2.50 per avocado and I eat one a day!) and force myself to buy processed cow’s milk brick cheese, because we have to make concessions somewhere. And finally, vote for a politician who is trying to break apart our supply management dairy system and reduce tarrifs so we can finally have the sort of cheese at the sort of prices Europeans and Americans do! Vive la fromage! Vive la libre!