It's been two weeks now since we ended our experiment – the two weeks of no spending any money. In the last two weeks, I think we have done much better about spending our money more carefully. But, have we really done a good job of saving cash? I can't say for sure, because we haven't been monitoring things closely. We can go back over our receipts for the last two weeks to check it out, but to be most effective, we need to review daily, or at least once a week. Tomorrow, on December 1, I plan to do a month in review for November, which will include our 2 weeks of experiment, and slightly more than 2 weeks of spending "normally." Stay tuned for the spending truth of November.
Most of our purchases are done through credit cards that we are paying off monthly, which earn us cash back or points for "rewards." Credit cards are easy to monitor, and various software or online programs like Quicken, Money or Mint give us nice feedback through pie charts and all. Tonight we will probably sit down and do some damage control, by reviewing where we have been overspending, and pat ourselves on the back where we have been saving cash! Oh, and while we're at it, I think we're going to see what credit card points we can cash in for various holiday gifts for friends and family. That should help us save money!
Tonight we splurged, and went out to dinner. My husband and I recently talked about how we feel it is important to support our local businesses while the economy is doing so poorly. (Not that we are going to eat out a lot, but when we do, we want to keep it local.) So we have made the conscious decision to avoid dining in chain stores, and to eat out in locally-owned restaurants. Ideally, I would like to do my holiday present shopping at unique, independent stores and boutiques, but I would also like to make things easier for myself by shopping online. Online shopping usually means national chains… I guess I'll wrestle with that issue later this week as I start my holiday shopping. Yes, I'm one of the few who did NOT do ANY holiday shopping on Black Friday or in the following days. I could regret having missed the big sales, but on the other hand, I didn't have a plan in place, which would have led to overspending, I'm sure.
Anyhow, back to dinner tonight. We went to a local Vietnamese restaurant less than 2 miles from home. We shared appetizers, and then got the weekend specially-priced Pho (soup with noodles, vegetables, and meat). Typically, a bowl of Pho is abundantly large, even in the "medium" or "regular" size, and we have found that we can share and leave full without being stuffed. So we got two of the Pho, and shared between the 4 of us. We all drank water with our meal. Since we all had a little room afterwards, we splurged and got three slushy drinks for all of us to share.
In the end, we ended up with a bill of $38, including tax and a generous tip for our server who happily accommodated all our requests for sharing . A typical dinner at our favorite independent Mexican restaurant has cost us $20 - $30 more per dinner, and we often share meals there with our children as well. Something to consider in the future…