by Elizabeth S.
As I mentioned last week, I had some financial slip ups towards the end of October. So, I took corrective action in the form of financial purgatory. What did I do?
Lived out of my pantry
I have a veeeeeery well-stocked fridge and pantry for a childless, unmarried millennial. I love cooking and entertaining, and I always have stocks of staples. Dried beans, rice, pasta. Canned veggies, soups, seafood. Frozen meat, veg, seafood. I tend to buy a few of something good when it’s on sale, and most of my grocery shopping (as you know) is pretty frivolous. I’ve certainly cut way back on my bad habit of stopping for fancy impulse groceries on the way home from work, but haven’t entirely eliminated it.
I was in a good place when I realized I had spent all my spending money last week. I’m all set dog and cat food, as well as their supplies. My bills are all paid. I don’t drive much and I have gas in my car. My transit card was loaded. Phew!
I ended up making a huge batch of soup from freezer stuff. There was a turkey carcass in my chest freezer from (Canadian) Thanksgiving and I always save veggie trimmings and scraps for making stock. I made a very hearty chicken soup that I ate for many days, which was probably a good idea with the raging bronchitis.
I had flour and yeast, so I made a double batch of pizza dough. One ball of dough is in my freezer, and with the other one, I made a delicious veggie skillet pizza.
I was proud of this meal. There was frozen broccoli, some tomatoes and peppers that were getting a bit soft, and cheese I had laying around in the fridge. Win! Skillet pizza is super easy and cheap. I served this with a simple arugula salad (the last of my fresh veg, alas).
That’s pretty much all I ate last week. I don’t mind leftovers one bit.
Hijacked my grandparents’ pantry
I helped my grandparents pack up this weekend, and I took three full car loads of things back to my house. The overwhelming majority of the stuff was food! They go to Costco and stock up like it’s Armageddon, and I ended up with flats of barbecue sauce, jam, and juice. I don’t really eat any of that sweet stuff, so I’ll be donating it to the food bank. In addition, I received steaks, a giant beef roast, lots of frozen fruit and veg, and a wide assortment of cheese. They can’t bring perishables on the truck (mind you, it’d be fine – we have ten inches of snow outside…), so I hit the jackpot.
Didn’t go to work
I’m very lucky that my work allows for me to work from home when necessary. I was sick, so I didn’t go to work last week and worked from home instead. That meant I didn’t have to pay parking at the subway ($4 per day) or transit to work ($6.20 per day). I also usually buy a coffee and a bagel once a week, which is only a few bucks, but adds up.
All in all, I spent $11 in seven days. If I continue not spending this week, I’ll be back on track with discretionary spending. And that’s a good thing, because I need to rent a ballgown for an awards evening for work next week. The evening won’t cost me anything more than the gown rental, luckily. I’ll be sure to get a picture to share with you from the event!
Elizabeth is a single woman in her early 30s, working as a manager at a software company and living in the most expensive city in Canada. She hopes to blog about her journey to eliminate debt and build savings for home ownership someday. Whenever she has taken two financial steps forward, she’s always taken a step back with a bad credit card purchase (we’re looking at you, unnecessary iPhone of May 2019). Elizabeth lives alone with her fur kids, a dog and cat, and when she’s not in front of the computer, she enjoys running, camping, reading, and baseball.
Sounds great. Really important to realize how fast these “small” expenses add up!
This is awesome! You were not too pleased with your spending – but look how you turned it around. I say going forward, keep an eye out on the good pantry stocking deals – and you can have more weeks like this going forward!
Good job! You recognized your over spending and took deliberate steps to correct it. You are learning valuable skills that will benefit your financial future. Truth is, we all overspend once in a while. I overspent just this weekend on groceries so it looks like i will have to be very frugal for the second half of the month!
Renting a ball gown seems like an unnecessary expense. Is it possible to rewear something you already have or borrow a dress from a friend? Absolutely no one will care (or likely even notice!) if you wore the same dress to a wedding once before, but you will (should) care if you can toss the extra cash on your debt.
It’s a black tie event that says gowns and tuxes are mandatory. It’s being hosted at the Ritz and it’s a swanky affair. I have nothing remotely appropriate nor do I have any friends with proportions even close to mine, unfortunately. I love the rental idea! $110 includes delivery and dry cleaning – the whole shebang plus I get the dress for four days. I can’t find anything in consignment, I checked already. For curvy ladies, it’s all matronly, gaudy attire with shoulder pads.
Good for you to get back on track. My girlfriends and I swap dresses for special occasions. Is there someone you could borrow a ball gown from without feeling bad instead of the rental?
It is always great to make conscious small choices and see how they add up. It sounds like you are being very proactive about addressing the big chunk of spending you had so that it still worked within your budget. That is always the goal for me – to get it to all balance out in the end even if the exact details aren’t as I first expected.
I tried to leave this comment before, I think, but not sure it got published. Meal planning has been a great help for me in terms of not being frivolous at the grocery store. I especially like “Work Week Lunch” which is not only menu planning but also meal prepping.
And lots of good recipes!
Overall it sounds like you are making progress.
Congrats on a good spending week! It sounds like you didn’t feel deprived by eating from your pantry; remember that feeling going forward when you’re tempted to splurge on gourmet groceries, that the things you stock at home are enough to make a delicious and satisfying meal.