$25 Per Week Budgeting Challenge. I had almost twice my original weekly budget thanks to my good fortune last week, so getting through the final week was pretty easy.
That didn't change the lessons I learned with this challenge, many of them the same as the original $20 per week challenge, but I did learn a few new things this go round.
Before I get to the take away lessons, here is how I spent my budget in the final week of the challenge:
Thursday: $15 Gas
Gas: $15 (4.5 gallons)
Friday: $6.98 Groceries
2 Gallons Milk: $3.99
6 lbs Bananas: $2.99
Saturday: $18.11 Taco Bell
Monday: $8.39 Groceries
3 Donuts: $2.67
Coffee Creamer: $2.99
Starting balance for the week: $48.69
TOTAL SPENT: $48.48
Balance at end of challenge: $0.21
Knowing that the challenge was coming to an end, we spent a lot of the budget on treats and things I wouldn't have bought earlier in the challenge. I will admit I was losing steam on the whole project and was just biding my time waiting for it to end. I wasn't trying to make balanced and interesting meals, but instead we survived on hot dogs and chicken nuggets since I still had those in the freezer.
I was actually surprised how full our pantry still is, especially compared to the first time I undertook the challenge. I'm not sure if it was just a case of being smarter about using what I had, or if I just had a bigger stockpile this time. Having done this challenge once before I was definitely better prepared for what it would take to get through without going over budget, however it didn't mean that I didn't miss some of the things I gave up.
The things I REALLY missed this month:
Eating out.. HANDS DOWN. A side effect of not eating out at least a few days a week was the extra dirty dishes and kitchen clean up. I forgot how much work it is to put together 3 meals for 5 people every single day.. And I am reminded that when factoring in the cost of eating out, I must include the time and energy I save not having to clean up. On some nights when the schedule is full, it is TOTALLY worth it.
Brow Waxing and Haircuts: If your budget is really tight, haircuts, manicures and waxing are things I would definitely consider "wants" vs. "needs" but it doesn't mean that the minute the challenge ended, I wasn't making an appointment to get my highlights touched up.
Thrifting: For other people this category would probably be shoes or clothes, or maybe makeup or online shopping, but for me, hitting the thrift stores is about more than just what I bring home. It is also part entertainment. I missed the excuse to leave the house and just walk around the aisles of thrift store junk.
If it weren't for the restaurants, I think I could continue this challenge for at least a few more weeks. I could definitely get by supplementing what is left in the pantry with some fresh produce, but I will admit I just don't want to. I completed the goal of making it through the month, and we saved up some extra spending money, which is a nice perk, but I'm ready to be DONE!