Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The 20 Challenge

I'm a budget kind of gal. You can't really grow up in the Pickett household without being visited by my mom the budget fairy (Don't believe me? Were you required to budget your monthly allowance growing up?? I rest my case.). At least, theoretically I'm of the budgeting type of folk. But let's be honest--there's a lot of fine print that the Conquer the World Now That You're an Adult Book just doesn't warn you about. Such as the fact that unless you're an accountant (and even then I'm skeptical...) there is no perfect budget. And that with money, even just on a small scale, people mess up all the time. And you have to keep tweaking the darn thing! 

Here, my friends, is the system I've had working for me for oh, about....4 months. Ha, ha....long time right? But in general it's going for me so I'll stick with it until someone convinces me of a better system. Essentially I've got a butt load of envelopes that I keep in my wallet with me. 

I even bought a wallet that's super long with lots of pockets so that everything would fit neatly inside. Each category of our budget has a different envelope (assuming it's not something like bills that are just automatically withdrawn from our account each month). What's great about this system is that I always know tangibly how much money I have for any given category. Goodbye receipts! 

What's not so great about this system is that you always know tangibly how much money you have for any given category...or how little for that matter. So when I looked inside my grocery wallet this last week and saw a whopping 20ish euros, I figured this was just the week to pull out my inner cheapo. Yes, there was no way I was cheating. You just can't cheat with the envelope system (lol esp when the bank account agrees with your envelope!). 

So the 20 euro challenge began! I got out as many things as I could find to see what I already had (not quite everything is pictured here):

And thus began the menu planning. Since Matt and I are trying to eat healthy during the week days I knew I didn't want to compromise health for frugality. Thankfully, this last weekend was a three day weekend (yes, here too!) spent down in the south at a church retreat that Matt was speaking at. Thus, meals over the weekend covered! So here she was:

lunch: Cooked turkey and hearty corn and tomato salad with lemon zest dressing (pictured below)

lunch: Chili leftovers
dinner: Homemade hummus with cucumber and carrot sticks +homemade bread

lunch: Chili leftovers
dinner: Hummus leftovers

lunch: provided
dinner: provided

lunch: provided
dinner: provided

lunch: provided
dinner: whatever we could find on the road with the leftovers of our entertainment budget

lunch: Super salad (quinoa, hard boiled egg, chopped cucumber, corn)
dinner: Cooked pasta and spaghetti sauce

Breakfasts and snacks: homemade bread, oatmeal, oranges, peaches

And here's how it broke down:
1 kilo box of peaches....2.49
2 small boxes of cherry tomatoes (buy one get one free)....1.00
3 cucumbers....2.25
3 cans of corn...2.10
2 slabs of turkey...1.60
1 bag of oranges....3.99
 1 can of garbanzo beans....1.01
1 can of white beans....1.15
2 cans of diet coke....1.38
12 yogurts...2.49

and the grand total... 21.40! Okay, so it wasn't under 20 but pretty darn close, right?!? Okay fine, I was proud. And thankfully I had an extra euro or two "au cas ou...". And I pretty much stuck to my schedule. Oh sure I switched a few of the meals around, and we only ended up with half a week's worth of fresh bread (hey, what's a working girl to do, right?), I added an omelet in there but otherwise it worked out pretty much like that. So yes, I'm proud. One victory at a time, right? 


Kelsey said...

So proud of you! and impressed! yeah, my budgeting is not even at your level yet...

Anonymous said...

I'm very proud of you. Such a smart mother you have to teach you these things! :-) Came in handy didn't it. Well, you're a smart daughter for listening to the important things and creating even better things on your own. It's amazing how good it feels to "beat the system" and actually spend wisely.

...the budget fairy

Tal said...

That's right, it did! ;)

and Kels...trust me, for every victory I've had in the whole budgeting thing, I've had like 20 failures--so I totally don't have it done perfectly either!