Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Junk Food Delusions: What I've Learned by Saving $2 Daily

I don't eat a lot of junk food, but when I do it really kills my budget. That's the first major insight from my $2 a Day Savings Challenge. The junk food tally has caught me by surprise. With my house stocked with organic veggies, herbal teas and tofu, I've never thought of myself as a junk food queen. I do yoga! I walk miles!

But while trying to save $2 a day, my daily savings candidates have often come from the junk food department: Chips, ice cream, & candy. I'm stunned and the savings were real. In nearly every case, the money was in my hand before I veered away from the cash register.

Of course, I was traveling last week and earlier this week. But still, I see a disturbing pattern.

Here's what I've learned so far from my daily $2 a Day Savings Challenge

1. Hunt down your delusions. On some level, we all periodically lie to ourselves. From shopping rationalizations to bold lies about our savings accomplishments, we aren't always honest about our money and consumption. If nothing else, my little $2 a Day Challenge forced me to realize that I was lightening my wallet and thickening my waist by spending money on junk food.

2. Pack carefully when traveling: I thought I was a careful packer. But while on the road, we overspent because we failed to pack or misplaced a few necessary items. For example, when we switched hotel rooms, somehow we lost my son's dress clothes and spent a tidy sum on a new dress shirt, pants, and black socks. Thankfully, he looked great for the evening anniversary party.

We should have also packed more snacks for the road and the hotel room. Packing more of our own treats would have prompted us to spend less at the Super Target near my parents' home. I'm embarrassed to report that on one mini-shopping trip, we spent $92* and I'm not quite sure exactly what we purchased. (I'm seeking advice about this expense. See below.)

The good news: I felt guilty about our over-sized bill. Therefore, when I walked over to the Starbucks counter at Target, I couldn't bring myself to order a Latte. I put the money back into my wallet and stepped away from the friendly Starbucks server.

Bottom line: saved $3 @ Target
Spent: $92 @ Target

My $2 Daily Savings Challenge

Day 6 Aug. 24: (away from home)

$2.58: daily portion of $500 telecommunications savings
$3.00: skipped Starbucks coffee (drank the free coffee from the hotel)

But overspent @ Target

Day 7 Aug. 25: (away from home)

$2.58: daily portion of $500 telecommunications savings
$3.00: skipped Starbucks coffee

Day 8 Aug. 26: (away from home)

$2.58: daily portion of $500 telecommunications savings

I also found steep Florida resident discounts for a water park, but someone else paid the total bill, so I can't claim the savings.

Day 9 Aug. 27: (traveling )

$2.58: daily portion of $500 telecommunications savings

Day 10 Aug. 28 (back home)

$2.58: daily portion of $500 telecommunications savings

$5.44: saved on mini notebooks from Walgreens. Full price: $1.29 per book. Sale price 20 cents each. I really use those little books, so purchased five for $1.

Subtotal Days #6 - #10: $23.34

Year-to-Date Total: $201.00*

*By the way, I'm torn about the $92 Target splurge. Should I deduct the amount spent during that -unscripted, undisciplined shopping trip from my daily savings challenge total? Any advice?

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1 comment:

debbie said...

I'm loving your $2 challenge and although I'm not doing it in an organized way, it's motivated me to avoid those drive-thru coffee and iced-tea stops, among other really useless ways I too have been tossing money out the window. Thanks!

About the $92. Part of it perhaps should be consumed by your vacation/travel budget. Another part should be offset by your food costs if you were at home. And I guess it depends on what you bought. Maybe the only part that you should charge against your savings would be stuff you bought that duplicates what you already had at home but didn't think to bring along? Just some thoughts...