Cash Fasting Round 2: $400 food budget for one month

Here’s another round of cash fasting! Round 1 may have been a failure, but there were some silver lining results that I would love to capitalize on this month. Originally, I wanted to make this fast for all my expenses, but, with rent/dance classes/commuting costs/wedding traveling included, then it would be such a huge number that it wouldn’t really feel like a fast. Plus, I’ve learned from my mistakes. We’re taking baby steps now. Instead, this month I’m going to target one of my biggest expenses, FOOD.

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When I was living in DC, my monthly food costs were anywhere between $400 and $600, depending on how frequently I went out for dinner or drinks with friends. Now, my monthly food expenses are closer to $600 during a good month (in August, I spent $1,000 on food – that could pay for TWO MONTH’S RENT). Since I’m still somewhat newly-moved-into the city, I’ve got lots of friends visiting on weekends, which means there’s been a lot of eating out and general food exploration. In October, no more!! …actually, that’s a lie. I already know I’m spending one weekend at a wedding in Baltimore and another weekend celebrating my first Halloween in the city with friends, but I will not let that ruin this budget!

Here’s how I netted out:

WEEK 1

Oct 1: $30 on groceries. Ian and I ended up in Staten Island for a birthday party, so I convinced him to go to Trader Joe’s afterward to stock up on groceries. It was more expensive than most of our grocery trips, but such a great haul of food!
Oct 2: $0. Daytime date to the Statue of Liberty! Ian and I went out for lunch, but he offered to pay (normally we split meals). When we got home we did some serious meal prep.
Oct 3: $0. Brought lunch from home, and resisted going on a coffee run.
Oct 4: $0.
Oct 5: $0.
Oct 6: $9 on groceries. Got to have more salad ingredients on hand!
Oct 7: $14 on a little box of macarons bought in K-town. TOO GOOD NOT TO GET. I’d add a picture except they were gone too quickly… just picture in your head a Nutella macaron, and then multiply it by 3. Yup.

Week 1 total: $53. THIS NUMBER IS SO LOW I’M IMPRESSED WITH MYSELF.

WEEK 2

Oct 8: $0. I stayed indoors all day, which was absolutely blissful.
Oct 9: $34 on some groceries and dinner. Ian and I split the costs here, so the damage wasn’t too bad.
Oct 10: $0. 
Oct 11: $0. Bringing lunch from home is a beautiful thing.
Oct 12: $21 on groceries and office snacks. $6 was on snacks from Walgreens; I really shouldn’t have done that.
Oct 13: $9 on a cheddar and scallion scone and a Chipotle dinner (it was BOGO, don’t judge!). I’m typically not a fan of scones, but this one was really spectacular. This also makes 2 days in a row that I have bought (expensive) snacks… IT’S A SLIPPERY SLOPE Y’ALL.
Oct 14: $9 on dessert. Whoops.

Week 2 total: $73 (even with the slips, I’m still ahead of my goal so far!)

WEEK 3

Oct 15: $68 on meals and snacks. Surprise weekend trip to Vermont! We’d been talking about seeing the fall foliage up north for a while, so we decided to go for it! We literally booked a hotel 3 days prior to going.
Oct 16: $41 on meals and a grocery run. As fun as this weekend was, it definitely put a dent in the budget.
Oct 17: $0.
Oct 18: $45 on office snacks an dinner with old coworkers. The dinner was unexpected, but now I have leftover Indian food for days.
Oct 19: $12 on lunch with a friend.
Oct 20: $4 on a croissant. It was a coffee run with coworkers, and I was just really happy to be invited!
Oct 21: $38 on morning bagels for the drive down to Maryland, plus a grocery and booze run once we arrived.

Week 3 total: $208 (Ouch. This was a crazy expensive week, and now I’m officially running behind my goal.)

WEEK 4

Oct 22: $0. Wedding day! I spent the day with the bridal party. Didn’t even get the chance to spend money.
Oct 23: $26 on lunch for me and Ian. He paid for one of my meals earlier this weekend, so this one was on me.
Oct 24: $11 on groceries.
Oct 25: $0.
Oct 26: $18 on dinner and drinks at an unofficial class reunion.
Oct 27: $20 on dinner at a friend’s birthday party.
Oct 28: $52 on groceries, a round of drinks, and late night dinner.

Week 4 total: $127 (Whelp, this week put me over my budget! It’s been real, folks.)

THE HOME STRETCH aka how do I save money while partying:

Oct 29: $36 on meals.
Oct 30: $16 on more groceries. Sunday night means meal prep time!
Oct 31: $4 on insomnia cookies that my team and I split. We were all just in the mood for sweets. Happy Halloween!

Budgeted: $400
Total spent: $517

The Takeaway:

This cash fast was as much of a failure as the last one; I ended up 30% over budget. While I still failed, at least this time I don’t have a bunch of additional expenses that I’m going to sneak in on the 1st (although I guess that doesn’t really apply to food as much). Accounting for 2 weekends away from home and Halloween, this month has actually been a great food month, considering.. Not too shabby! Definitely lower than most of my other months. Looking at the huge differences between the weekly totals, it’s clear that there’s a lot more I can cut out if I’m serious about sticking to my budget. Even though my reduced spending here is impressive, I’ll admit to everyone now that I still ended up overspending in other categories this month. Between early Christmas shopping, the house rental for the wedding weekend, and the cost of getting my dress tailored, I went over my overall allotted budget by a few hundred dollars… I’m a little ashamed, alright? There are definitely still some cash flow issues I need to manage better with my checking account. If you’re curious to see what I ate during this month, you can read about that here.

I’m getting tired of not making my goals. It kind of defeats the purpose of creating this blog. Unless, that is, you’re far more inspired by my failures than my successes. One can hope, right? I’ll be the everyone-else-can-do-it-better-than-me blogger, not the I-did-this-so-you-should-too kind.

More cash fasts to come! I’d love any ideas about potential cash fasts. Give me some ideas below!

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