Monday, June 24, 2013

Day 48: Food Budget 3 Week Update- Learning

By some crazy miracle, I finished the first 2 weeks of the food budget challenge with $2 left over. The miracle came in the form of generous people in my life. Week 3 sadly was an all out fail, but I knew that it would be hard going into it. With that in mind I will call it a week of learning about myself and my food spending- I don't regret the experiences that came with the spending, but I think I could have easily spent less, but it would have hurt my pride just a little bit.

Here are the challenges with trying to hold myself to intense (for me) spending rules-

  • I think there are valid reasons to break my own rules (good-bye parties and guests) 
  • I sometimes use that as an excuse to spend money when I can have the same experience not spending it (ordering more expensive food than I need) 
  • I am really bad at communicating my need to spend less.

Recapping week 3: First, there was the dinner that cost me my entire weekly budget so I could say good-bye to a friend, followed be another good-bye dinner that I justified over-spending on because I had babysat that day. Then, I was great at not spending money, because my parents were in town and covered all but one meal and I insisted on paying for that meal. (Did you notice the theme that for all 3 weeks, I had other people spoil me? I did, and I am grateful for them. I am grateful, both because they spoil me and because it challenges me to recognize that I have everything I need.)

The good-bye dinner for Christie was well worth it. Moments like that are an experience I would rather allow myself to enjoy than freak out about. We went to Cha Cha Cha, a reasonably priced tapas place- the issue I need to figure out is how to be polite about the reality that I don't want split a check on a family style meal when I can't eat half the food on the table (I am gluten free). I have read other budget bloggers take on the social side of budgeting, but it is still crazy awkward to announce "sorry, I can't do this because I can't afford it" especially when it isn't an over priced request. My friends are very responsible spenders and spending the money didn't put too much of a dent in my bank account it just prevented me from meeting my arbitrary goal of $25-35 per week.

In the post linked above one of the best tips she gives is not treating it like I am missing out. The truth is: I could have ordered a salad, skipped the sangria and still enjoyed a wonderful meal with amazing company. I wouldn't have been missing out. I mean it is kind of like being on a diet. Sure you eat less amazing food, but you feel better, you're healthier, and you are less stressed. After all I am talking about learning to live on a healthy budget, I am not trying to go on a hunger strike. 

The actual finical fail was the next day- at a table of 3 good friends I need to learn to be responsible for myself and just order one taco and load up on chips- seriously if there are free refills on chips there is no reason for me to spend extra money. Plus, I need skip the margarita already! They would have all been super supportive of me ordering less and spending less and I would have enjoyed the same experience with less food and no alcohol (even if Tacolicious has the best tequila in the city.)

Buying one meal for my parents while they were in town I think is extremely valid. I am an adult and they were my guest. They paid for so many great meals while they were here so I really can't justify not buying them one dinner. In fact, I have a hard time justifying the reality that it was the only meal. (I know they enjoyed their time and were happy to pay, but still one of the reasons I want to get out of debt is so that I can afford to be a host.) The meal I paid for was very reasonably priced. Dinner was just $80 for 4 people- we even had wine and desserts for that price! I also chose a place that I really love. If you are ever looking for a great meal that helps the community you need to check out Old Skool Cafe in the Bay View. I do some volunteering with them and I love their mission. They employ low-income youth, empower them to run the restaurant, and help them develop the skills they need to find jobs in San Francisco. Sharing a meal with my parents at a place that has meaning is worth the budget cheat. The wine and the dessert, however, was something that I could have skipped. I justified spending a bit more for the experience, when I could have had the same experience without the wine.

In conclusion, Cheers to the learning experiences! Succeeding in the first 2 weeks tells me I can do it, and I probably should do it more often. It also helps me feel better about 3 meals that were out of the budget challenge. Nonetheless, it is a humbling moment when I feel like I am going doing so well on my spending but I look at my bank statement and realize my little cheats are adding up.

If you have any tips or stories to share I would love to hear how have you handled dieting or budgeting while celebrating people who matter in your life? or if other thoughts pop out from this post, let me know!

Oh, and my outfit for the day:
Day 48 
It is a typical Summer day in SF
cold, wet, and foggy
Scarf: Free not sure who gave it to me, Top: Vintage from my grandma's closet, Jeans: Gifted by Christy they are Mossimo and can be found at Target (They fit me better than my $200 jeans. I might need to rethink where I buy my jeans when I am allowed to buy them again. But I don't like the way they are faded, so I might be experimenting with fabric dye soon, and that makes me happy.) Shoes: Izod on sale for $16 from a store on Haight Street.


Anonymous said...

I think one easy way to celebrate together while saving some dough is to stay in and have a pot-luck meal.

Simple Diva said...

Erin- I totally agree that it is a great way; however, I am thinking more about how to do it while not making the other person change what they want to fit my budget.

Still, for my own celebration I do need to remember to keep that in mind. Thanks for commenting!

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