Mindful spending: September No/low-spend Challenge - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 44 Old 09-02-2014, 08:42 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Mindful spending: September No/low-spend Challenge

Here's something a bit different, because I think it will make a difference in how this thread can help keep us accountable and disciplined.

The goal of this thread is helping you spend and save your money in a conscientious, meaningful, intentional way, whether that is a little, a lot, or none at all! It has motivated so many of us in the past, and it can again!

Here are some new ways to challenge yourself using this thread:

1. My goal for this month...

2. My long term goals...

3. My challenges....

4. How I will use this thread...

You can check in daily, check in weekly, check in as you remember. You can set a savings goal, limit spending, track expenses in one area. You can use smileys or not; you can use this thread in whatever way is helpful. The support, feedback and accountability is wonderful!

For those of you who want the old set up, here it is:
Quote:
Quote:
This is a support thread to help you not spend your money.

Everyone is welcome to join and you can start tracking your spending at any time. It doesn't have to be August, NOW is a good time to start.

The plan is simple (although tough to execute):

1. Vow not to spend any money on unnecessary purchases.

2. Come on here and record your spending. We all record our spending in different ways. There are no rules. You record and update however you would like -- pick a way that will help you spend the least amount of money.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Please write an introductory message when you decide to join our thread. We would like to know:

a. Who you are

b. Where you are going (your financial goals) and

c. How you plan to get there

Good luck MDCers!! Keep that money in your wallet.
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#2 of 44 Old 09-02-2014, 08:50 AM - Thread Starter
 
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What this thread has become for me is a challenge to create a goal at the beginning of the month and see how close I can get towards that. August was understandably difficult, with vacations, fair, lots of summer busyness. Now things are getting settled and it's time to get back on track and develop a budget for the year.

1. My goal for this month...

Develop a yearly budget, especially for groceries. Start using it.

2. My long term goals...

Be able to keep girls in gymnastics and still build a savings. We won't see the bank account grow in the winter, but I'd love to see it not shrink. We need a "new" car, hopefully in the spring. No plans to sell our rental yet. Making a modest income on that, but really could do without it if it meant getting our money back out. We'd have a bigger budget for a car if that could happen.

I've calculated a basic average monthly income based upon the last 4 years of total income. Need to double check that it is entirely our take-home and there aren't other expenses like the work truck's gas that are included in that.

3. My challenges....

Seasonal, unpredictable income that varied not only month to month but year-to-year, sometimes by several thousand dollars.

4. How I will use this thread...

To vent, to crow, but mostly to help make my spending more mindful.

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#3 of 44 Old 09-02-2014, 07:22 PM
 
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1. My goal for this month.
To save enough from not spending on random things and following a strict grocery budget to payoff my truck.

Started a 2 week no spend (milk, gas and gave in to a bag of fresh carrots) 9 days ago. It finishes up on September 8th.
Grocery budget this month $200.
Eating out budget (house guest coming and going away one weekend) $200

2. My long term goals...
To pay off 2 vehicles, one student loan and $22k in cc debt

3. My challenges....
Husband who does not have gazelle intensity
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#4 of 44 Old 09-02-2014, 09:41 PM
 
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1. My goal for this month...
Pay off lowest credit card.
I'm also doing a no spend challenge for the first two weeks of the month. There are some allowances but this is an interesting experiment.
Purchase a new bike for DH at the end of the month/mid Oct. Not using credit of course.

2. My long term goals...
Pay off other credit card within a year (it's on a one year 0% interest and it is totally doable).
Pay off car by the end of Dec 2015. That's 15 months early.

3. My challenges....
Eating from the pantry. I've got too much going to waste.
Avoiding the new fall fashions. I love dresses and the new fall ones are so pretty. If I can stick to my goals I might just use that as a reward.

4. How I will use this thread...
I need to reflect on my goals more frequently.

Today is day 3 of my no spend and it was a true no spend day.
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#5 of 44 Old 09-03-2014, 08:39 AM
 
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1. My goal for this month...

Buy no food other than local produce. I think we have enough in the house to make it.

2. My long term goals...

Surplus by end of year

3. My challenges....

...are mostly over for the year; we typically spend least in fall & winter

4. How I will use this thread...

Keep me thinking about meeting my goals & encouraging others as well


Over the weekend I developed another meal to add to our rotation, it's a chicken curry that is lower than my median cost per meal so including this dish in our menu should save some $

I've also been freezing more sweet corn this year.
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#6 of 44 Old 09-03-2014, 10:38 AM
 
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Hey Friends, I am starting this month with excellent intentions and realistic expectations. This is a huge month for us, so forgive me if I disappear once in a while.


1. My goal for this month...

Keep my sanity while we transition into school and soccer season. Dh is teaching an 8am class this quarter, so I will be on my own 3 mornings a week with kids in 2 different schools and a 2 year old underfoot.

Control my urge to eat out/order pizza. We are buying a house and close next week. Then begins the mad rush to make repairs on the new house, move and clean out our apartment by Oct 1. I will need to be diligent about healthy meals. No pizza!

2. My long term goals...

Live on half of our income while raising 4 active kids.

3. My challenges....

The new house is in sad shape. It will be great, but needs paint and floor repairs to get there. I have some savings earmarked for supplies.

4. How I will use this thread...

I need somewhere to keep my focus. This month brings a lot of scheduling details. I make poor spending choices when I am feeling busy. When I feel overwhelmed I over buy or order pizza and then regret it. I will feel more successful if I can keep my head and just take it one day at a time.
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#7 of 44 Old 09-03-2014, 04:02 PM
 
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order pizza and then regret it.
Congratulations on the house

Something I do when I feel overwhelmed or have pizza cravings is to order a cheese pizza and top it at home with cold lettuce, tomato, onion, and ham. It tastes like a hot sub/hoagie and it's cheaper and healthier than a sandwich or pizza dinner.

Sometimes ordering out is a huge help; I try to get creative and keep it as cheap (and rare) as possible
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#8 of 44 Old 09-03-2014, 04:21 PM
 
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Congrats on the house!

Last month as the roof was being put on (we came out on budget but with better quality end result and used local cedar supporting a small local saw mill!) we had to resort to pizza for the sake of my sanity.

Megan ~ mama to the Mountain Man (9 years old)
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#9 of 44 Old 09-04-2014, 04:44 AM
 
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better quality end result and used local cedar supporting a small local saw mill!
Neat
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#10 of 44 Old 09-04-2014, 09:11 AM
 
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Congratulations on the house

Something I do when I feel overwhelmed or have pizza cravings is to order a cheese pizza and top it at home with cold lettuce, tomato, onion, and ham. It tastes like a hot sub/hoagie and it's cheaper and healthier than a sandwich or pizza dinner.

Sometimes ordering out is a huge help; I try to get creative and keep it as cheap (and rare) as possible

That is a good idea! Thanks.

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#11 of 44 Old 09-04-2014, 08:25 PM
 
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I don't really want to put my goals like that. My general goal is to spend less than comes in and to try and get a better job situation. The former I have a touch more control over than the latter...

Because our spending spiraled out of control, I still honestly don't know how, this week we did a no spend challenge. The only exception was the $20 co-pay for kiddo's doctor's appointment. It was actually really eye-opening, there were a lot of times we sat there and went "We need to get this", then realized that we really don't. We're going to try to be making a list over the course of the week and stick to large shops. The small shops were killing us- because it feels like nothing, but it adds up. If you've got a cart full of items, it's a lot easier to say "Okay, do we really need..." and to say no to anything extra.

We have a temporary membership at BJs that looks like we actually may be able to make work well enough to warrant a full membership. There's one fairly near to us (and also a Costco's and Sam's, so we may check all 3 out and see which looks best) and we bought what we plan to be a month's worth of food for $250. Not bad! Fortunately we have a chest freezer, which is currently completely full, otherwise that wouldn't work out for us. They don't have a lot of GF options, sadly. We did keep an eye out for whether or not things really cost less there and there are a few things that they have for more expensive than other stores that we get elsewhere. We also have an appointment with WIC tomorrow that should help with food costs. Right now the plan is to basically empty the fridge & freezer before we buy anymore food, which we're hoping will take 6 weeks.
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#12 of 44 Old 09-07-2014, 12:46 PM
 
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Cheap weekend so far. Lot of time outside. I have bought a few extra foodstuffs for all of our outside adventures, but not out of range of our normal budget.

I picked up new shoes for my son. $35. Good shoes always cost so much. The kids only have 1 pair at a time, so I usually go for brands that I know will last.

It will be an exciting week. We sign papers for the house tomorrow and take possession Wednesday. The kids have soccer practices and games on Saturday and of course there is lots of school and dh has one quick day trip for work.

I planned meals for the week and we have been loving our local farm stand. They have gorgeous fruits and veggies for good prices. I have been loading up on fresh food to eat -- lots of grilled vegetable burritos/tacos/salads this week. I will start a big pot of beans today and another of brown rice and that should keep us fed and happy for the week.

I m so, so, so crazy excited to get into our new house. It is almost 2,000 square feet and will feel like a palace after living in this 700 sq ft apartment for the past year and half. If I can work fast, I might be able to get some fruit trees planted this Fall. I drove by a nursery yesterday and all of their fruit trees and shrubs are on sale 50% off. Would love to score a few good deals and get our garden started.
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#13 of 44 Old 09-08-2014, 08:05 AM
 
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Because everyone got sick, we haven't really spent anything (besides on ginger ale- is it just me or have 12 packs of soda gotten expensive? I'm going to look at the price at BJs and maybe keep a stock for next time we get sick). We did eat out once, because neither of us had eaten in two days and were too sick to cook, and made the mistake of just doing fast food. It wasn't "expensive" but it was crappy food.

Kiddo's definitely got a mild/delayed onset cow's milk allergy. Dad (who, ironically, he got this childhood milk allergy from) decided to give him 2 gallons of milk over last weekend and so now he's covered in splotches. (yes, still) We did bring him to the doctor to test for other illnesses, but it came back negative and we already knew cow's milk gave him diarrhea and eczema flare ups. So right now he's dairy free and I'm having a "what the @#$@ CAN he eat?!" (also gf) and worrying about how to cover the costs of that. *sighs* If we had a kid without food intolerances, eating thrifty would be a lot easier...

We planned to do a shop this weekend, which got called on account of sick, which I'm glad for. I really like how delaying shopping like this is making it easier to decide what we legitimately NEED and what can wait a few weeks or even months until we can better afford it.
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#14 of 44 Old 09-08-2014, 08:29 AM
 
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No spend went well. We had a yard sale during the period and with the money raised purchased a new kitchen table and chairs. It was fully paid for between yardsale profits and $ I've made the last few months crocheting.

$19.89/$200 spent on eating out

$21.05/$200 spent on groceries

3 days so far no drive. DH even walked to the store one day to get milk.
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#15 of 44 Old 09-08-2014, 09:06 AM - Thread Starter
 
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So right now he's dairy free and I'm having a "what the @#$@ CAN he eat?!" (also gf) and worrying about how to cover the costs of that. *sighs* If we had a kid without food intolerances, eating thrifty would be a lot easier...
Oh, I've been there. My daughter is wheat and dairy free. Dairy even in tiny amounts is strictly out. Even at 9.5yo, she hangs onto this dairy allergy stubbornly. Wheat has been downgraded to an intolerance, but she is still off it because she becomes a devil with even small amounts, though we've cleared soy sauce. Gluten free can help us know that there are no "sneaky" wheat ingredients, but often they have almonds or dairy in them and teff has given her trouble in the past, and too much rice isn't so good for her moods either and....

I also have a lot of allergies, exactly opposite hers. Nuts and eggs and all the cheap sources of veg protein (nuts being "cheap" only because we use them in small amounts) are off our list.

Though everyone loves a good pot of smoky black beans.

We've managed to adjust so it really doesn't seem like it's so restrictive.

I have been neither here nor there. I have not been spending on unnecessary things. Did spend $400+ on the car, needed a new heater core and they flushed out all the drains which had clogged and flooded my car, but now at least I have a dry car to get through the winter with. That might even soothe our impatience to replace the car.

All in all, it's been uneventful.
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#16 of 44 Old 09-08-2014, 03:37 PM
 
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Last weekend we reconfigured the patio pavers to create a planter for squash & melons next year.

Added a $10 downspout extension to feed into above planter and keep basement dryer.

Made my last take-out lo-mein last for 4 highly nutritious meals instead of only 3 by adding an extra hard boiled egg to each meal.

Sowed some seeds I'd saved over from spring: radish, kale, lettuce & peas for fall harvest.

Harvested & froze more herbs this week, esp mint, which will save on tea over winter.
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#17 of 44 Old 09-08-2014, 08:45 PM
 
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Oh mamas, we have done our share of food allergy cooking here as well. Ds has had trouble with eggs, wheat and dairy. He is almost 11 and has out grown the worst of it, but there were years of cooking and baking and searching for safe foods.

We did a lot of meat, rice, veggie meals. And I can make decent wheat/egg/dairy free waffles and muffins. But there were some tough days in there finding things everyone would eat.

pumabearclan --- well done. Sounds like it was a frugal and productive day. I love those kinds of days.



I am tired and happy. We signed the paperwork for the new house and we get the keys on Wednesday. It has been such a long haul to get here that I can hardly believe it is finally happening.

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#18 of 44 Old 09-09-2014, 07:17 PM
 
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1. My goal for this month...
Save money for a house! We also have minor vehicle repairs (a few low cost small parts to replace) that are on the top of our misc. wishlists.

2. My long term goals...
Buy a house!

3. My challenges....
Grocery planning when I'm unmotivated to cook without an oven. Small spending and tracking dh's spending while he's at work.

4. How I will use this thread...
Report in and stay accountable so I save every.penny.possible. this month!


We have not started the month off to a great start. Dh has been home this past week and we of course spent money on dinner out, picking up things going to town, and movie rentals like always. I really need to get more creative with making home more entertaining when he's here and resist the urge to get out of the house.

Good news: We spent the entire week cleaning and selling things and made a large sum of money to go into our house savings. We actually have the majority of the money to be able to get a house we looked at on our "vacation" (town scouting trip!). I have to get the money sorted out in our checking and savings accounts and then I'll be calling the realtor to see what we can work out on the house. *fingers crossed* that the seller will just take what I've got!!! If not I'll just keep saving but will need to be diligent about not spending. Either way it's going to be a tight money couple of months saving for the house and the holidays!

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#19 of 44 Old 09-10-2014, 11:52 AM
 
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Today has been more than stressful! We did spend a little this morning at the store grabbing small items like bread. Not a bad spend though. The the big sale we were suppose to have made yesterday though my *()&*() husband ended up taking a check for though instead of the cash he was suppose to get. I had to go to town today and the bank said they couldn't give me the money for it. Now I've had to deal with him and those people on the phone all afternoon and am now waiting for them to supposedly be bringing the cash out to me. Ugh grrrrr!!!! I'm so not happy.

Called to talk to the realtor about the house though and have been beaten to it. It's under contract now. Seriously. So all of this and the rush and hassle today and yesterday were for nothing anyways. Now we put the money in savings and wait until we save more money and find another house we'd be interested in. I guess I shouldn't really care but right now I'm very upset about the whole deal.

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#20 of 44 Old 09-10-2014, 11:59 AM - Thread Starter
 
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crazyms, Boo! That really sucks. I'd be upset too.

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#21 of 44 Old 09-10-2014, 08:28 PM
 
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It does but it'll be okay. I was just hopeful since that house was very in line with our wants/needs with little missing. Oh well. Maybe the next find will have a better yard which was this house's big downfall for us. I did get the backhoe sold and have the money from that in my hands now though. One less stress! Now I just have to budget it out since we aren't trying to grab up that house find right now.
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#22 of 44 Old 09-11-2014, 09:05 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow, you had a backhoe to unload! I feel better about our dead riding mower that I need to sell.

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#23 of 44 Old 09-11-2014, 11:03 AM
 
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Called to talk to the realtor about the house though and have been beaten to it. It's under contract now. Seriously. So all of this and the rush and hassle today and yesterday were for nothing anyways. Now we put the money in savings and wait until we save more money and find another house we'd be interested in. I guess I shouldn't really care but right now I'm very upset about the whole deal.
Buying a house is incredibly stressful. We just went through it. My father in law liked to remind me that there is always another house. This kept me going when we saw so many houses -- some of them overpriced, all of them needing work, all of them selling quickly.

Big deep breathe. Your home is out there. And you are on your way with a bigger savings cushion which will be a blessing in the future.
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#24 of 44 Old 09-11-2014, 11:37 AM
 
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Wow, you had a backhoe to unload! I feel better about our dead riding mower that I need to sell.
Yep! It's gone now though and the old Durango that we gave up on fixing. Dh has a flatbed to sell when he comes back in and then we get the lovely task of cleaning out the storage building. Trying to get everything taken care of so we can put the property up for sell.

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#25 of 44 Old 09-11-2014, 11:39 AM
 
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I get to spend big money today. The new house has an ancient, dying refrigerator. It is filthy. Like college frat house gross. We knew we would need to replace it soon, and soon is right now. We went to the house yesterday and I noticed it wasn't very cold. Went again this morning and it was even warmer and rattling a death wheeze.

Because the house is older, the space for the fridge is quite small. Modern refrigerators are much, much larger. I think we have exactly one option to choose from and it is the cheapest one available at Home Depot. I am double checking with them right now, but I think I am on my way to buy it today.

I was hoping to get a fancy one with stainless steel and a water dispenser. Oh, and an ice maker. I need fancy, right? Meh, what I need is a way to keep milk and meat cold and a small, plain fridge will be just fine.

I have bought food and a couple of things for the new house -- spackle, a putty knife, some cleaning supplies. We have not eaten out at all which is awesome, though dh wants to get pizza and eat at the new house tomorrow to celebrate. I think I might pick up a couple of take and bake pizzas instead. Costco has them for about $9 each. That would be a fun, but frugal treat.

No other spending. The budget is holding, which is great because we will be spending money as we start working on the house. Everything needs fresh paint and the upstairs bathroom toilet is cracked. Everything is very old and not in a nice way... more like 'dirty crack house' old.
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#26 of 44 Old 09-11-2014, 11:41 AM
 
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Buying a house is incredibly stressful. We just went through it. My father in law liked to remind me that there is always another house. This kept me going when we saw so many houses -- some of them overpriced, all of them needing work, all of them selling quickly.

Big deep breathe. Your home is out there. And you are on your way with a bigger savings cushion which will be a blessing in the future.
I keep trying to remind myself of that also! House hunting is always so so so stressful and emotional.

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#27 of 44 Old 09-11-2014, 01:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I was hoping to get a fancy one with stainless steel and a water dispenser. Oh, and an ice maker. I need fancy, right? Meh, what I need is a way to keep milk and meat cold and a small, plain fridge will be just fine.
Just think of all the hours you will not have to spend keeping a stainless fridge looking nice vs. the traditional material. The only thing bad to say about cheaper fridges is that they can be louder than the more expensive ones.
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#28 of 44 Old 09-11-2014, 01:45 PM
 
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I get to spend big money today. The new house has an ancient, dying refrigerator. It is filthy. Like college frat house gross. We knew we would need to replace it soon, and soon is right now. We went to the house yesterday and I noticed it wasn't very cold. Went again this morning and it was even warmer and rattling a death wheeze.

Because the house is older, the space for the fridge is quite small. Modern refrigerators are much, much larger. I think we have exactly one option to choose from and it is the cheapest one available at Home Depot. I am double checking with them right now, but I think I am on my way to buy it today.

I was hoping to get a fancy one with stainless steel and a water dispenser. Oh, and an ice maker. I need fancy, right? Meh, what I need is a way to keep milk and meat cold and a small, plain fridge will be just fine.

I have bought food and a couple of things for the new house -- spackle, a putty knife, some cleaning supplies. We have not eaten out at all which is awesome, though dh wants to get pizza and eat at the new house tomorrow to celebrate. I think I might pick up a couple of take and bake pizzas instead. Costco has them for about $9 each. That would be a fun, but frugal treat.

No other spending. The budget is holding, which is great because we will be spending money as we start working on the house. Everything needs fresh paint and the upstairs bathroom toilet is cracked. Everything is very old and not in a nice way... more like 'dirty crack house' old.
Have fun picking your paint colors!!! The fun part is about to begin. I think take and bake pizzas would be a great celebration!

Michelle mom to DD , DS , & lil DD plus and spending my days
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#29 of 44 Old 09-12-2014, 05:05 AM
 
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I keep trying to remind myself of that also! House hunting is always so so so stressful and emotional.
We really liked one house we looked at and it went under contract before we had decided about it. The next day we saw our current house and bought it right away. The other house was quirky, an entirely different style from our current house. The other house is 2 blocks away and I thank the heavens every time we go by that fate thwarted us from buying it. Looking back I can't imagine what I saw in it compared to our current and beloved house. I remember that it was a very emotional process, as you describe. I'm sure that things will come to resolution for you!

**

Budget doing well so far this month. Still haven't bought any food other than produce. Listed some stuff for sale on ebay this week. Removed one of the more expensive meals from the rotation that wasn't terribly popular. Finished some mending yesterday.
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#30 of 44 Old 09-13-2014, 09:17 AM
 
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Just think of all the hours you will not have to spend keeping a stainless fridge looking nice vs. the traditional material.
Exactly! More reasons to buy small and simple.
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