Thursday, May 7, 2015

Monthly Personal Challenge Link-Up: April Results

Not Entirely Perfect

April's personal challenge link-up focused on finances. After wasting way too much money in March, I was ready to make some changes. While I didn't want to make extreme, unrealistic goals for myself, I wanted to challenge myself to think a little more before making random purchases.

In case you're new to the blog (or you just don't remember), my April goals were as follows:

1.  Completely cut out frivolous food purchases.

2.  Create a meal plan for the month and stick with it. On the surface this may not seem like a true financial goal, but I knew I'd be less likely to go out or pick up fast food or other snacks if I actually took the time to make a meal plan.

3.  Earn at least my first Swagbucks daily goal every day this month.

4.  Continue putting money into savings.

5.  Pay at least $50 more on my car payment this month.

So, how did I do?

1.  I honestly still can't believe I can say I completed this goal. This was (sadly) really difficult for me. Most difficult of all was giving up my beloved Starbucks Doubleshots. Last Thursday I said something about how I couldn't believe I didn't cave and buy at least one during the month, and one of my friends from work said, "I'm actually really impressed that you didn't! I thought you wouldn't be able to hold out that long." I obviously have a problem. (Or maybe I should say had? I haven't had one since the very end of March!)

2.  I'll give myself a pass on the meal plan. I wasn't as organized as I'd hoped, but I managed to put something together most nights for dinner (and if I didn't, Eric did). We didn't randomly go out a bunch of times just because we couldn't figure out what we wanted for dinner, and that was the whole point of the meal plan anyway.

3.  I've been using Swagbucks a lot more lately, so I was easily able to hit at least my first daily goal every day in April. I wish I could say that I'll keep it up, but I know that Swagbucks will be the furthest thing from my mind at certain points in the next 3 months. I'm going out of town in May, June, and July, and I'm definitely not going to spend my time away earning Swagbucks!

4.  This was a really easy goal for me since I'm already in the habit of saving. I have money automatically transferred from my checking to savings accounts (yes, plural ... I have 3 savings accounts) a couple of times a month. Additionally, I've been following a fairly aggressive savings plan and have managed to put back even more money each week. I feel like I still have a long way to go before I reach my personal savings goals, but I'm really proud of myself for sticking with the more aggressive savings plan.

5.  I actually paid a little more than $50 extra on my car payment, but not by much (I basically just rounded up to the nearest whole number). I've been paying a little extra for the last couple of months, and I'm planning to keep it up. I can't wait until I can say I owe nothing on my car! 

Overall, I stuck with my goals. Unfortunately, I didn't completely curb my spending.

As you may have already seen, Eric and I went out a couple of times last month. I didn't pay for any of the food, drinks, or entertainment (with the exception of putting $5 in a jukebox) out of my own money, so I managed to avoid the dreaded frivolous food purchases. (In case you missed this in an earlier post, we keep both separate and joint bank accounts so that's how I got away with that.)

Things I didn't avoid:

1.  Expensive plane tickets. I bought a ticket to Florida and a ticket to Ohio and spent over $900. Thankfully the purpose of each of these trips is to visit friends, so I didn't have to book any hotels.

2.  New clothes. In my defense, it was all necessary: a couple of pairs of yoga pants (all of mine were getting pretty worn), a bra to wear under thin white shirts (I only had one that wouldn't show through so I had to juggle when I wore certain tops), and a bathing suit (I needed one for Florida since I didn't actually own one that fit). I also used a $50 gift card and a code for 20% off my bathing suit, so that helped me feel a little less guilty.

3.  Beauty products. I didn't pull the trigger on a few of the more expensive items I've been eyeing (namely a curling wand and some skin care stuff), but I know I spent well over $100 on random beauty products last month. 

In addition, Eric had to get some repairs done on his car and they weren't cheap. Whomp whomp. Sometimes I really hate owning cars. And although I didn't pay for the repairs myself, it's worth noting since it was an unexpected expense for our household.

So yeah ... I stuck with my goals, but I didn't really save any extra money. Basically I just spent the money I would have spent on food and drinks on other shit. (Okay, I spent much more than that ... I mean, I definitely don't spend $1000+ on dining out in a month!) And while I spent quite a bit on plane tickets, it will totally be worth it to spend some quality time with my friends.

Tomorrow I'll post my goals for May. The theme for this month's challenge is read. I have a couple of things in mind, but I have to remember not to overwhelm myself and set unattainable goals. It's harder for me to stick with these challenges when I'm away from home!


  1. I think you did great - you transferred some of your spending to experiences (namely plane tickets) that will give you a much better return than extra Starbucks will!

    1. I love your comment because it's so true. It's easy to consider what I've spent during the month and think, "I have absolutely no control over my spending right now!" since it looks like a lot on paper. But, as you said, some things (especially travel/experiences with people I care about) are completely worth it and so much better than random, frivolous food purchases.

  2. Good job on the finances! I'm also a sucker for Starbucks but after making my own lattes at home, I can't pay for Starbucks again. My own bias, but whatever, it's cheaper ;).

    1. Thanks! I felt pretty good about how I did with the challenge last month (even though I still spent quite a bit).

      I need to learn how to make my own lattes! It's awesome that you've gotten into the habit of ditching Starbucks for homemade.