My name is Caitlin, and I have a spending problem.  :(  Welcome to Day 1 of the Responsible Spending Challenge.  This challenge was inspired by a little conversation that took place last night:


  • Husband: “Caitlin, can you look at this?” (Points to computer screen)
  • Me: “Uhh, what is that? Our bank account? Wow, that looks low.”
  • Husband: “Yeah, I’m kind of wondering how we’re going to pay rent tomorrow?”
  • Me: “Uhhhh.” (Awkward pause)


We are currently experiencing a little bit of a liquid assets problem.  Part of the problem is that I don’t have a regular paycheck anymore, and the Husband only works part-time. But, truthfully, the real issue is that I’m really, really bad with money.


Not I’m-$100,000-in-credit-card-debt bad, but more like I-never-plan-for-a-rainy-day bad.   I don’t like to save my money; I like to spend it!  I’ve mentioned that I’ve done a lot of traveling – been to Europe four times and Mexico twice.  I’m not rich enough to travel like this – I just don’t save.  Ever.  That means I’ve cleaned out my bank account six times (i.e. from $2,000 – $4,000 to zero) over the last decade to go on awesome vacations.  Oh yea, and I cleaned out most of our bank account for our wedding and honeymoon. 🙂


Was it worth it to travel so much?  Honestly… yes.  But it’s not the big-ticket items that are hurting the Husband and I right now.

After that earth-shattering conversation with the Husband yesterday, I signed up for a account, which analyzes your bank account to see where you are spending money.


In the month of November….


  • We spent $700 on Food and Dining, which includes a Costco trip, weekly grocery shopping, date nights, eating out, etc.
  • Out of the $700 we spent on food, we spent $50 on STARBUCKS COFFEEIn one month. 
  • I spent $75 on blog stuff.
  • I spent $60 in race entry fees.
  • We spent $122 on shopping (Clothes, etc).
  • We spent $283 on gas, insurance, and tolls.
  • We donated $59 to charity (Yay, us!).
  • I bought a $500+ camera (Worth it).
  • We spent $250 in dog care (Hopefully some of this will be reimbursed because we have pet insurance).


What does this tell me?


I NEED TO GET A GRIP. I am throwing money out the window.  I feel bad because it’s NOT the Husband’s fault – I know it’s mine (I am the person in charge of finances in our marriage, which like putting the alcoholic in charge of the bar).


What does Responsible Spending Month entail, you may ask?


  • Before I purchase anything, I must ask myself the following questions:  Do I really need this right now? Is there a cheaper version of this product?
  • Keep all receipts so I can track my spending more efficiently.
  • Stop using my credit card to make purchases (because I then “forget” about it).
  • No eating out.
  • Eat the contents of my fridge and pantry before buying groceries.
  • Turn off the air conditioning and take shorter showers (our utility bills are insane).
  • NO MORE STARBUCKS (it hurt to write that).  🙁


What are the exceptions to Responsible Spending Month?


  • Christmas presents for each other and our parents.
  • The Husband and I each get a freebie:  I want to buy a new pair of boots for my trip to England, as well as tights.  He can buy whatever he wants.
  • I want to make Christmas cookies at least once.


How long will Responsible Spending Month last?


  • The challenge is taking place from TODAY to December 24 (Christmas Eve; when we leave for England). 
  • I’ll be posting Financial Tips on the blog for the entire month.
  • Anyone can join the challenge!  It’s a great pre-New Year’s Eve Resolution experiment.


Onwards and upwards…


I made a very cost-efficient lunch.  😉


I used a Flat-Out wrap to make a sprouts, melted cheese, and black bean veggie burger sandwich:


With a Clementine:


What kind of saver or spender are you?  Did you know I actually have a frozen block of credit cards in the freezer?  Cause then I’ll have to wait to them to thaw out before I can use them.



  • Julie @savvyeats November 30, 2009, 12:36 pm

    Maybe you and the husband should get an espresso maker as a gift to each other… and you can recreate your own starbucks favorites! You can even get the syrups, etc to add to your at-home drinks!

    • caitlin November 30, 2009, 12:36 pm

      we have one… a really nice one. we just don’t use it. 🙁 LAZY.

      • Julie @savvyeats November 30, 2009, 12:38 pm

        Well, maybe not being allowed to go to Starbucks will inspire you to use it 🙂

  • Julia November 30, 2009, 12:36 pm

    What an awesome idea!
    I’ve been pretty bad with spending lately. I’ve used for about six months now, unfortunately I seem to go over budget on some things every single month…groceries, shopping.
    Anyways,I can’t wait to hear the financial tips and see how you do, and I’ll be trying to spend more responsibly as well!

  • Christie @ Honoring Health November 30, 2009, 12:36 pm

    I’m with you, girl. Our spending is completely out of control. I have a massive yoga and organic food habit that needs to be nipped in the bud, for sure.

  • Dotsie November 30, 2009, 12:36 pm

    I’m signing up on right after I leave your page!!!

    Also–I used to love Flat Out wraps until I tried La Tortilla Factory brand–have you tried those yet? If so, like or dislike?

    Good luck on your challenge!!!

    • lauren November 30, 2009, 1:01 pm

      OMG in RI La Tortilla Wraps are $4.49!! It is driving me crazy. I just “stole” some Flatout Wraps from my Dad, I was so astonished at the $2.99 price tag that he sent me home with them. Why is the good stuff so expensive?

      • Dotsie November 30, 2009, 1:22 pm

        Ohhhh my goodness, that is expensive!!! Yikes!

  • Julie @savvyeats November 30, 2009, 12:37 pm

    Also, at least eating vegetarian is cheaper than buying meat, etc!

    • Sarah @ See Sarah Eat November 30, 2009, 2:38 pm

      I agree with this! I did a cost analysis for a nutrition class I took and meat was the most expensive thing my husband and I purchase, but now only he eats it so that helps 🙂

  • Jessica @ How Sweet It Is November 30, 2009, 12:38 pm

    OH girl. I am so with you. I am a terrible spender. I save nothing. Isn’t it crazy that I married an accountant? We spend that much on food per month, too, because my husband eats like a bear. I need to join you in this challenge!

  • Angela (Oh She Glows) November 30, 2009, 12:39 pm

    your tweet almost made me spit out my tea…lmao

    I love this challenge…I need to check out mint asap.

  • Jordan November 30, 2009, 12:39 pm

    We’re both spenders, and that really sucks for our bank account (and credit card balances). We’re working on it though! I’m also an avoider when it comes to budgeting. I hate thinking about money.

  • Lauren November 30, 2009, 12:40 pm

    I’m in the SAME boat. I LOVE to travel and do it often which requires me to spend my savings. I also shop way too much and get suckered into buying yoga and running clothes when I don’t REALLY need them. But that is great you are planning a little better. Maybe I should check out I saw it on Jenna’s sight too. Very Smart! good luck!

  • Brie (The Fit Bride) November 30, 2009, 12:41 pm

    Oh, I am so in. I feel like between our massive student loan payments we just can’t quite stay as liquid as we would like to. It sucks, hard.

    I think I’m going to play “let’s clean out the freezer and pantry” this month and hopefully use the grocery savings to finance our Christmas trip and gifts to see family (non-negotiable). I know I’ve got a ton of stuff up there, I just have to use it!

  • Caitlin@TheTwentyFifthYEar November 30, 2009, 12:41 pm

    I just froze my credit card in the freezer a few weeks ago and even made a video and posted it to make it more real. Now, I ask myself before every purchase if I really need it. I have definitely seen a shift in my spending already and I feel a lot smarter having done this – although it was the hardest thing I have done to date. It’s so easy to rack up debt and yet very difficult to begin the journey to get out of it. You are smart for taking a step and making commitments. I’ve heard great things about Mint – guess this is my little nudge to go check it out.

  • Karla November 30, 2009, 12:41 pm

    I’m a terrible spender too! I love clothes and shoes and food! I tried doing Meghann’s $100 on food challenge and failed halfway in…

    I realized that veggie patties are REALLY expensive ($3.50/box of 4 at the grocery store since I don’t have a Costco here). Maybe I’ll try to do some cheaper homemade ones.

    I need to cut back on my spending too. I live on loans at the moment since I’m in school full time and it sucks. Why can’t we all be millionaires?!

    • legalstyle November 30, 2009, 12:46 pm

      Karla: there is an awesome recipe for chickpea sensation burgers in veganomicon. I made them a few months ago and am still eating them! They freeze so well, and I haven’t bought veggie burgers since. The entire recipe is like $4.00 to make and it makes about 20 burgers.

      • Karla November 30, 2009, 2:41 pm

        Thanks for the tip! I’ll check it out!

  • Evan Thomas November 30, 2009, 12:42 pm

    I think this is a challenge I could use this time of year, too. I just want to get everyone the perfect present and along the way “treat” myself but I need to question if all of that is in my budget. I can’t wait to hear tips and how mint works for you. I’ve signed up but since I use cash mostly it’s not so helpful

  • Meg November 30, 2009, 12:43 pm

    I’m a saver. But I just quit my soul-sucking job to concentrate on grad school, so with absolutely no income (and a $3000 tuition bill), I’ll have to be really, really careful about my spending habits. Especially when it comes to eating out and shopping. Which really sucks. Maybe Santa will bring me a bag full of money for Christmas…

  • Julie @ Peanut Butter Fingers November 30, 2009, 12:43 pm

    i’m actually quite a saver but i love this challenge! i definitely buy clothes i definitely do not need… but i just WANT them. i need to learn to reevaluate the things i need vs. the things i want.

  • Kath November 30, 2009, 12:44 pm

    Have you watched the NERD KERF Budget videos yet? They will change your life.

    And gorgeous photos today!

    • jessica November 30, 2009, 1:51 pm

      Totally agree. Kath did an awesome job on these videos! Everyone should keep track of their finances and budget in some form. The key is to save in the GOOD times so that you can survive the not so good times. But it is never too late to start planning and budgeting. Good luck!

  • Side of Sneakers November 30, 2009, 12:44 pm

    I love Mint, but it doesn’t really stop me from going over budget–just rubs in that I did 🙂

    I always ask for Starbucks giftcards for birthdays/Christmas. That way I can still treat myself occasionally, and it keeps me in check because I try to make the card last as long as possible.

  • MelissaNibbles November 30, 2009, 12:45 pm

    I’m the opposite. I won’t spend money on anything unless I absolutely have to. I think it comes from growing up in a poor family. I promised myself I would never live that way or put my kids in that type of situation.
    I could use tips on loosening up a bit. Seriously, I haven’t gone clothes shopping in almost two years (I bought a jacket online this morning and I almost had a heartattack over spending $23 at Old Navy). Maybe we can give each other equal parts of our spending habits 😉

    • Sarah November 30, 2009, 2:45 pm

      I was in a similar boat. With two people working and no kids, we had a decent income but I was terrified to spend. For some reason, it has been a bit easier in the last year or so. I think a lot of it has been getting older and realizing that I’m not happy with the way I look or the way my house looks and the only way to change that is to spend some cash on new things. I feel for people who have a tough time saving but having money that you are scared to spend is not a good feeling either!

  • Bobbi November 30, 2009, 12:46 pm

    Hey sweetie I know how you feel, our first year of marriage was a huge wake up call on our finances. Hubby is in charge of paying the bills but now I am very active in know our budget. We use Mint(it’s an app on my iPhone too) and it really helps. We also have something we call BLOW money, the money I make from my kickboxing teaching and need a sitter buisiness I take and cash and I can spend on whatever I want without feeling guilty. I love our budget sheet on google docs too hubby keeps it updated but I can check it at all times. We recently paid off all our debt minus house and school loan and our actually starring to save next month. This year we want to have a cash Christmas which means we have to dip into savings, but that’s what it is there for and traveling:) so my advice to you is to create a BLOW budget and when that’s gone don’t use your bank card!!! Lol it’s not easy but well worth it!

  • Nicole November 30, 2009, 12:47 pm

    I am a serious spender. I am very bad with money, and I really do need to participate in this challenge. Heading over to right now!

  • Foy November 30, 2009, 12:47 pm

    This one really hits home. We are both currently unemployeed and we were very good and have quite a bit of rainy day money. The only problem is with no jobs insite we need to budget the money so that we can make it through. I’m going over to and we’ll see where that money has been going.

  • Diana (Mymarblerye) November 30, 2009, 12:47 pm

    I try to eat 2 meals a day at home on the weekends unless we are out of town. not only is it HEALTHIER but it’s also cheaper. Also no matter what I buy I always try to get it cheaper by 1) googling coupons online first 2) using coupons sent to me through the mail 3) using a cashback credit card 4) going to marshalls/tj maxx FIRST before hitting up the mall. 5) when they ask you if you have an email at a store you frequent…GIVE IT TO THEM they send you coupons through email!

  • Ari November 30, 2009, 12:50 pm

    Can I make a suggestion? Just because I am a finance person and I am interested in fixing problems like this. If you can, you should make a budget of the things you and he buy together – rent, utilities, groceries (limit yourself, but be realistic), household expenses, etc. as well as fixed expenses you pay each month, even if they’re separate, like your cell phone bills, gym memberships, whatever. Overshoot a little so you don’t come up short. When you have a figure for the month, take that amount out of your monthly income and put it in one checking account. Take what’s leftover, split it between you, and put it in individual checking accounts for yourselves. That way, you know you’re covered every month for the things you HAVE to pay for, and you can’t spend the rent money on a camera. You’ll also have your own money to buy your boots or your camera or whatever without feeling guilty about it later or justifying the expense to each other. It makes things much easier. In my experience, mint isn’t that helpful because it doesn’t alert you to your overspending until after the damage is done. It’s good for people who don’t overspend, because it aggregates your accounts and keeps your organized, but if you’re having trouble, you need a system that stops you from overspending in the first place.

    Also, I tell people to freeze cards all the time! It’s the best method, because by the time it defrosts, you’ve had time to think about whether you really need to be using it.

    • caitlin November 30, 2009, 12:51 pm

      great suggestion! we kind of do this already, but “not really.” we need to get strict about it.

      • Allison K November 30, 2009, 6:44 pm

        I second this suggestion. My husband and I have been doing it since the day we got married, and it works SO WELL. My husband is also a nerd, so we have spread sheets for every budget category, and a “snap shot” to see where we are at for the month, it’s really helpful, as I tend to be a spender like you.
        It does take a bit of tweaking, figuring out how much money you should budget for food etc. But it’s great.

  • julia November 30, 2009, 12:51 pm

    I allot a certain amount of money per month for miscellaneous spending, which includes starbucks, buying lunch when I am too lazy to bring something from home, candy, and anything else random that I want. The catch is that I only use cash for this and I take it out at the beginning of the month when I get paid. That way I don’t have to track spending for little things and most importantly, I don’t overspend. When I run out of the cash before the end of the month (and I always do!), I’m out of luck! I started doing this about six months ago and it really works!

  • Lisa November 30, 2009, 12:51 pm

    Hi Caitlin!
    Isn’t it amazing to see how much we spend when we actually look at it? Crazy! I’ll admit that I’m one of those crazy people who enjoy taking care of my finances. My hubby and I have been using Quicken for a while now to make a budget and keep track of purchases and it has really helped us (we don’t make a lot of money by any means and we also love to travel- so it helps us prioritize where we spend our money). Good for you for taking a look at you can’t change your spending habits until you know what they are! 🙂
    Best wishes with your challenge!

  • Kara November 30, 2009, 12:52 pm

    Good for you for tackling your finances this month! I’m working on the same thing myself; I pay for things with my credit card, then have total spending amnesia until I check my bill online and my jaw hits the floor. The husband and I don’t have our finances merged just yet, but we probably will in the next year or so. I don’t want to be the one weighing us down with silly CC debt, especially when we both have big student loans and would like to buy a house sometime before we retire!

    A friend introduced me to this site a few weeks ago:, and it has a bunch of really helpful checklists and guides, depending on your spending/saving goals and what you’d like to accomplish in the future (saving for a down payment, setting up an emergency fund, etc.).

    Good luck!! 🙂

  • Susan November 30, 2009, 12:52 pm

    Ha, well Starbucks shouldn’t be a problem for me seeing as I just started working there!! With that though, means a much smaller paycheck, so I am SO in! My biggest issue isn’t eating out or clothing – it’s groceries. I spend SO much on groceries. I’m just one person, and on average buy about $100 worth of food a week. Albeit I eat every last (expensive) crumb. But I need to try harder to spend less at the grocery store.

  • audrey w. November 30, 2009, 12:57 pm

    oh god, i am so bad with money too! every other week when i get paid, i account for whatever bills need to be paid and put away very minimal (considering my salary) into my ING account i say to myself ‘what can i buy’ instead of ‘what do i NEED’ its such a bad habit but i just love shopping/going out too much. hopefully watching you will inspire me to cut back too!

  • Stephanie November 30, 2009, 12:58 pm

    I’m an accountant.. so I tend to be pretty diligent (read: anal retentive 🙁 haha) with keeping a budget and tracking each penny. Drives my boyfriend crazy I think, he doesn’t even keep a checkbook (I would have a panic attack?!)… my excel budget file is my lifeline, I would be lost without it! typical nerdy cpa here

  • Jessica (Mile High Jess) November 30, 2009, 1:00 pm

    I am in charge of our finances as well. I am definitely a saver and never leave for the grocery store without coupons in hand. I’ve saved us about $300 this year alone! My husband is definitely a spender. We seem to balance each other out. Lately though, as our bank accounts gets larger, I’m finding ways to spend like our fabulous Italian vacation we’re taking over Christmas and New Years!

  • Deb (SmoothieGirlEatsToo) November 30, 2009, 1:01 pm

    Oh man can I relate. I am actually pretty low maintenance, but I am an overspender by nature, so I have to rope it in. It’s the food that gets me- the fresh produce(often organic) and specialty items I can’t live without-silly things: roasted carob powder etc. I WISH WISH WISH I could eat out of the pantry/freezer. I threaten to do it all the time, and there I am again in the health food store- “Oooh, mesquite powder is on sale, better try some of that!” …have yet to open package :-/ Stuff like that. Must stop.

    I’ve been more aware, but your post today will recharge my Thrift batteries!

  • Britt - Runnerbelle November 30, 2009, 1:02 pm

    I’m awful with money too. If I have it I tend to spend it. It has helped that we each have our own “fun money” accounts. Each pay period we each have some money put into our own accounts. I use mine for clothes, coffee, haircuts, eating out, etc. (I also argued that mine should be more since upkeep of a girl costs more) 😉

    We did freeze money once. We sold our living room furniture and while we did work on the living room we froze the money so we wouldn’t spend it. Otherwise if we had spent it, we would have had no money to buy new furniture when we were done with the project!

  • jessicaamc November 30, 2009, 1:02 pm

    thank you SO much for writing this post Caitlin! I definitely face the same problems as you.. except I’m not married and still live at home. Yet, I have still managed to get myself into a bit of credit card debt. Every time I tell myself to stop spending I don’t and I do it even though I know I don’t have the money. 🙁
    I am totally down for a month of responsible spending!

  • Kristie Lynn November 30, 2009, 1:02 pm

    Groceries are so expensive! My hubby and I barely eat out and we really budget our grocery shopping but last month we still spent over $700 on both 🙁 Organic (and even non-organic) fruits & veggies are really expensive, no doubt about it!

  • Angi November 30, 2009, 1:02 pm

    I’m a student, so I’m kind of terrible with money as well. I tend to order out and do random things with money. Like you, I’ve emptied out a bank account to go on a vacation!

  • Sarah W. November 30, 2009, 1:03 pm

    I think kath’s budget spreadsheet might help you.

    I also HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend DAVE RAMSEY – google! AND go spend $12 on the money makeover book – it will change your life. you can also friend him on myspace. I also like suze orman too. Dave Ramsey touts that everybody must have AT LEAST $1,000 in an EMERGENCY FUND. Obviously that would be the shortterm goal. The next goal would be to gather 3 months of living expenses into that fund. and then another 3 months until at the very LEAST you have 9 months of living expenses. I would eventually shoot for 2 yrs of living expenses b/c what if one of you gets sick? has cancer? wouldnt it be nice to have the spouse stay home and care for the other without freaking out about money??? etc tons of scenarios for ya.

    I like Kath’s idea of an individual and joint monthly “allowance”.

    If you have any debt – dave ramsey will help you focus and pay of debt in an orderly fashion. HIGHLY RECOMMEND DAVE RAMSEY1!!! emailm me for more info

    I <3 mint – altho i've been lazy and just using the Amex tag function to figure out breakdown of groceries, eating out/entertainment, gas, etc.

    also your emergency fund would be great in an ING savings account. currently the money market, cds, etc are not making great returns so best place for your savings is in ING. apparentyly there are SUB ACCOUNTS so you can SEE what you're saving for. you can have unlimited sub accounts. for instance if you label them "vacation" "emergency fund" "new car" "house" "pets" etc.

    you should also be budgeting for future medical expenses (i know that eeach spring i drop about $500 on medications to get me thru the season – horrible allergic asthma).

    you can put a little bit of cash away for 'clothes"

    etc. hope this helps!!!!

    you can also try the envelope system for spending. if you know you have $300 to spend on groceries, take that money out of the bank and put it into an envelope. thats the ONLY moeny you can spend! If you go over one week then you have to ration for the next few weeks. Same for eating out/entertainment for the 2 of you – put the money into an envelope and when its gone, its gone until next month. – harder to spend your cold hard cash – easier to just swipe the plastic without being concious of it! dave ramsey totes getting rid of credit cards – I disagree, I think ONE credit card is ok as long as u pay it off each month.

    • Liz November 30, 2009, 5:49 pm

      We are starting the Dave Ramsey plan too…good tip about the ING account. Our friends traded in their cars, got 2 older cars and walked out of the dealership with $15,000!!!

  • Jen November 30, 2009, 1:05 pm

    this is a great idea! i am a terrible saver and just went back to uni so really stuggling adjusting from a full-time wage for the past two years to getting hardly anything from my little part time bar job. I’ve been pretty good at cutting down from buying clothes and fun things but finding recently that because I am so busy I’m just taking the odd £20 here and there out of my account for things like lunches / coffees / dinners and it just all adds up. Must start making more lunches! The good thing is that now I get a student discount again so when I do want to buy fun things I get a wee discount 🙂 happy days.

  • Chrisitne November 30, 2009, 1:06 pm

    I have to side with you. I am horrible at saving money. But I did set up a special tax free savings account in the summer where $25 a pay cheque is automatically put in there. I also have RRSP’s set up through my work. So I am saving without even trying. But I should try harder.

    I think that will have to be my New Years Resolution. The month of Christmas is never a good time to try and control spending. Although the BF and I have decided to make a lot of our Christmas gifts for family! Here come home made candles 🙂

  • Kailey (SnackFace) November 30, 2009, 1:06 pm

    Ughhh, money. I hate money. Well, I love money, but it scares me. I have one goal with it: don’t spend it. This, clearly, is impossible. Now that I’m in NYC I’m spending money multiple times a day. When I’m at school, though, I rarely spend. Paying the bills is grueling. I’m OK with spending money on two things: food and dranks. Other than that, no thanks. Sugar daddy, anyone?

  • Sonja @ ActiveFoodie November 30, 2009, 1:07 pm

    I am right there with you! I just spent all morning doing the same analysis! However my catalyst was the CC company doubling my interest rate! Yikes! Now I have to cut all spending and pay off the balance – very frugal x-mas and new year for us too!!! Boo!! That means no DSLR for Xmas 🙁

  • Allie November 30, 2009, 1:08 pm

    you’ve totally inspired me to challenge myself this month. thanks!

  • RhodeyGirl November 30, 2009, 1:09 pm

    I don’t really track my money but I do put money in savings each week and try to keep our food budget to $110/week. We buy all of our produce, dairy, meats, and breads at Whole Foods so it might be higher than most, but we are willing to spend that on good food. Besides that I put the equivalent of his mortgage into savings (since my mortgage is paid by my tenant right now) so that we always have savings building up.

    I would say though that we are spending way too much money lately on random things (ummm races, will need to buy bikes, snowboarding helmet, etc) so we are working on that too.

  • RhodeyGirl November 30, 2009, 1:10 pm

    P.S.1. I LOVE your photos today. and…

    P.S.2. PB and I save over $12/week now that I make him coffee every morning! You should DEF use your machine!

  • alli November 30, 2009, 1:10 pm

    i love this new challenge! i’ve always been a saver, but that doesnt mean i am good with money! i like to see a big number in my saving acct. however, in the past couple of years i have been shopping more and more and not saving as much. i justify it because i mostly shop at second hand stores. so really i’m saving atleast 50% right? 😉
    i like to automatically save 10% from each paycheck, i put it right into my savings so it’s not even there to tempt me. i use BofA and use the keep the change program so all the extra change goes right into my savings. that’s been fun to watch it go up. (“that’s what she said” hahah! sorry! 🙂 love that michael scott!)
    the first 3 months they match it 100% then after that they match 5%. i’ve never had a credit card, i would get into trouble, but we try to only use the hubby’s for gas and emergency.

  • brandi November 30, 2009, 1:10 pm

    first, great lunch!

    I think having this challenge is a great thing to do, especially around the holidays.

    Because of our jobs/salaries, we’ve always had to budget every.single.thing we’ve bought. We don’t have much wiggle room, and we could have more if we didn’t save, but we do.

    I want to know that we have money in case something comes up, and we don’t have much extra money, so that’s the only way to guarantee it.

  • Kelly November 30, 2009, 1:11 pm

    I know how you feel. I think I am pretty good with money, but there never seems to be quite enough for everything huh? I look forward to reading all of your financial tips 🙂

  • Mica November 30, 2009, 1:12 pm

    Good luck with the responsible spending challenge. It sounds like a really great way to get one’s spending under control.

    I don’t buy very many things, but I could definitely clean my budget up a bit…

  • RhodeyGirl November 30, 2009, 1:13 pm

    OK last point I swear. I charge all “household” items (groceries, home repair, light bulbs, paint, electric, etc) on our Amex card so that it is all in one place. We can see that we spent $$/month just to run the household which is really beneficial for overall budget tightening, but not if you want to specifically lower certain zones. Anyway, that is how we bought our Garmins AND my new Rebel (with help of some of my dad’s points). I prepay the account $400 at a time and then transfer more to it as needed- that way the cash isn’t in my bank account either but is already allocated for household needs.

  • Lex November 30, 2009, 1:16 pm

    Oh wow, I can totally relate to this post. I always knew I was spending spending spending, and the credit card is a lovely (scratch – terrible) convenience to have. No money in the account… meh – toss it on the CC and forget about it!
    bad news!

    BF and I just started out with our budget. There is a canadian financial advisor that posts a spreadsheet (*heart* Excel) that tracks fixed & variable expenses. She goes by the ‘cash’ way of things which really helps.

    Check out her site and you can download her spreadsheet. She also has a blog linked on there for tips & tricks & advice!

    Budgeting is a scary eye opener but is sooo good in the long run, especially if there’s not a super steady source of income coming in.

    Good luck – can’t wait for the Financial planning posts! 🙂

  • Tasha - The Clean Eating Mama November 30, 2009, 1:16 pm

    I am the saver and my H is the spender. I let him do all of the finances as I seem to freak out by seeing the numbers. I stay at home as well so the only thing I buy is groceries… which can add up! But my H always leaves cash in my wallet so I have some spending money for my own – like a new book, makeup and so on. If I need something bigger I just have a quick chat with him to get his opinion. He has never denied me 🙂

  • Vicki November 30, 2009, 1:17 pm

    What a great challenge!! December is our most expensive month (both of our kids are December babies, plus Christmas for everyone, plus our Colorado trip) so it’s already my careful spending month.

    My husband can be a spender at times (he has car problems–such as he feels the compulsive need to buy a new one annually) but usually he is incredibly responsible with our money (IRAs, savings, etc.) and way better than me about making sure our rainy day account never drops below a certain amount. Actually, I’m not sure I’d ever even think to save for something other than a vacation, etc. if it were up to me. I’m pretty bad.

  • megan November 30, 2009, 1:19 pm

    My husband and I are definitely savers. He’s a CPA though, so he’s good at that stuff. We have a budget that we set up once, but, honestly, we don’t use it that much because neither of us really spends any money. we are pretty lucky to be on the same page..saves lots of arguments 🙂

  • Kat (kats daily plate) November 30, 2009, 1:20 pm

    Great post! I think this will be so fun and educational to follow. I’m not the best with money, either, but I’ve gotten a lot better in the last few years!

  • Diana November 30, 2009, 1:21 pm

    I’m a SPENDER! I know how you feel. Good luck with the challenge! Perhaps I should try it also?!

  • Jen November 30, 2009, 1:23 pm

    I have the same problem. It’s awful. I think I will be joining you on this challenge!

  • Lauren November 30, 2009, 1:25 pm

    Have you set a concrete financial goal to work towards? Like having X amount of savings by X date, or paying off X amount of debt in X months? You seem to be pretty good at reaching goals once you set them…that method will probably work better for you than just challenging yourself to scrimp.

    • Lauren November 30, 2009, 1:25 pm

      That sounded like I was criticizing your challenge…quite the opposite! I will definitely need to buckle down and participate as well!

      • caitlin November 30, 2009, 1:27 pm

        i dont think it sounded like a criticism. it’s a good idea!

  • Cynthia (It All Changes) November 30, 2009, 1:26 pm

    So funny I just started writing this post for my blog for tomorrow. I realized I spend to freely and get in a bind. I’m doing the same kinds of things you are and going to make it to Jan 1.

    It’s weird though because I’m super vigilant with my churches finances because I control those but with ours I think somehow we have more money than we ever do. Must use the same mindset for both…the good one.

  • Brittney November 30, 2009, 1:27 pm

    I can kind of relate to this. Fortunately (unfortunately?) I still live at home with my parents so I don’t really have many expenses. Though, I do have to pay for medication for a digestive disorder I have (I don’t have insurance) and a monthly interest payment for my student loans. On top of that, I try to buy some of my own groceries since my family doesn’t really eat the way that I do. I only work part time (I’m in grad school) and make minimum wage so I can’t say I’m rolling in the dough. I’ve had to make some cuts in my spending (ie: no more weekly trips to Old Navy or buying health/fitness magazines, which are two things I’m addicted to). I’ve been paying attention to my spending in the last month or two and, thankfully, I’ve noticed some improvement 🙂

    Anyway, good luck with your challenge. I know you can do it 🙂

  • Nicole Mullins November 30, 2009, 1:29 pm

    I just signed up for Mint too. Husband and I are both pretty bad with money and I always say i’m going to track our expenses but I never do. Thanks for this!!! Oh, and good luck to you!

  • Vanessa (Last Night's Leftovers) November 30, 2009, 1:30 pm

    I use Quicken to keep track of my personal finances. Having a constant reminder of where my money is going is enough to stop me in my tracks when I realize that I’m spending far too much money in one area.

    Good luck with your challenge!

  • Jenna November 30, 2009, 1:38 pm

    I’ll have to check out!

    I am definitely a saver, for the most part. But the man and I spend a lot of money on food and drink that ends up going to waste. Like, wayyy overboard. We need to get a grip too. We just talked last week about how we need to cut back in this area.

    Tonight is our first night going to the grocery store ‘on a budget’. I am definitely going to participate in this challenge in the ‘food’ area. It is tough!

  • Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg November 30, 2009, 1:41 pm

    This is a VERY timely post for me…I just dropped a LOT of money on Christmas decorations…probably not a totally wise choice. I feel like I go back and forth between being a crazy frugal saver, and a no-holds-barred spender. Not the healthiest of habits.

  • Red Head, Yellow Dog November 30, 2009, 1:45 pm

    Money is always such an issue when you’re in school and on a tight budget!! I would love some more money saving tips!

    i’ve been tempted to use but it makes me so nervous to give out my bank information. If someone hacked into their site, that would be the end of it. I love the idea…but it just makes me nervous!!

  • Jennifer November 30, 2009, 1:46 pm

    I froze my credit cards once. It was great until I needed one to confirm the three digit code on the back to a wedding vendor. Yeah, he laughed so hard when I told him it would take me a few minutes while I thawed the credit card out.

  • Amanda @ Cakes and Ale November 30, 2009, 1:49 pm

    I’m a really diligent saver. I find that if I save well, I can live well – take more trips, buy more things I want. It seems counter-intuitive, but if you create and stick to a budget (that includes outlining how much you will save each month), you can enjoy everything you want guilt-free. is a great tool – it’s sort of like a dieter using portion-size tools. It will show you where you are overspending and where you need to cut back to.
    Good luck!

  • Ali @ Food, Fitness, Fashion November 30, 2009, 1:57 pm

    I am so bad too. I save nothing and spend everything!!!! I am going to start being more careful!!! Thanks for the inspiration!!! I think I will do my own version of this. I look forward to you financial tips!!

  • Carrie...On The Cheap November 30, 2009, 2:00 pm

    I’m a saver, not a spender!! he he, we are opposite!! I am ALWAYS thinking about that rainy day to save for. 🙂

    You should check out some personal finance blogs (like mine and I have several listed on my blog). I’d love to give you some financial tip ideas for your posts this month!!! Let me know!! 🙂

  • Mel @ She Runs Brooklyn November 30, 2009, 2:01 pm

    Frozen block of credit cards? GENIUS!!

  • Colleen November 30, 2009, 2:01 pm

    Ugh, I used to be horrible with my money! The only thing that saves me now is my super-frugal husband. When we first got married he put me on “a plan” to pay off my $16,000 worth of credit card debt. Somehow I got that paid off in 19 months, and bought a new car (which we desperately needed) the following month. Since that time we’ve managed to squirrel away $30,000 in savings in about 2 years. I don’t know how he does it! (Side note: we DO NOT make a lot of money) We keep separate bank accounts (with a joint savings), so every month I just give him whatever I can to put towards savings. It’s almost like an addiction now…I cut expenses where I can because I want to see those savings grow!

    I used to do the same thing with my credit card – spend it and then forget about it! After I paid off all my debt I closed all my accounts. I don’t care if it affects my credit negatively or not, the husband has two credit cards should we ever need them. Caitlin, I agree with the commentor who said you’re good at achieving goals – you can rock this challenge! 🙂

  • Jessica November 30, 2009, 2:04 pm

    I think I may have to join this challenge! I definitely spend way too much money on food… Panera and Starbucks eat up my funds for sure. Best of luck on saving $$!

  • Matt November 30, 2009, 2:04 pm

    Maybe you should try to do this everyday instead of just for a month 😉

    I am trying to cutback on spending right now too. My biggest weakness is running the A/C!

  • Jennifer November 30, 2009, 2:06 pm

    Wow, I’m surprised that the majority of readers seem to be bad with money. Warren Buffet could’ve predicted the economy credit crisis solely from reading these blog comments on spending trends!

  • Jennifer November 30, 2009, 2:08 pm

    Disclaimer to previous comment: Not that pricey veggie burgers caused the economic downturn…just sayin’!

  • Lindsey @ EatReadRun November 30, 2009, 2:09 pm

    I read this post as I was scrolling through a bag Website and promptly closed out. I do not need another bag – Cyber Monday almost got me!! I will give this challenge a shot, but I have to cut Christmas gifts for others out of it. I really love to give people gifts they will like and sometimes that means I overspend. Yikes!

  • Kara November 30, 2009, 2:12 pm

    I’m so bad with money these days. It seems like I always look at my bank account at the end of the month and wonder, “where did all my money go?!”
    I recently decided to put myself on a similar challenge, especially when it comes to food and eating out expenditure, so I can’ wait to come back for some financial tips!

    PS…If you’re looking to save more on your utilities try using CFL light bulbs and unplugging electronics when you don’t use them – everything from your cell phone charger to your toaster – I swear it works! Plus, you’ll be helping to save the environment too 😉

  • stina November 30, 2009, 2:14 pm

    It’s like you read my mind Caitlin!

    I’m not bad with money, but my spending has been out of control lately. I realized yesterday that I really need to reign it in and get back to putting money in my savings!! The upside is I know the two basic roots of my problem – 1) new homeowner = bye bye money. I’ve spent SO much money on stuff for my condo in the last couple months; and 2) With all the weight I’ve lost I’ve had to buy a whole lot of new clothes (way more than I would usually buy in the same time preiod!)

    I am really good about making sure the money to pay the bills is there – as soon as the bill comes, I set it up to pay online and then immediately subtract the money from my check register. Then it’s like I don’t have the money even though it’ll sit in my account for at least 2 weeks before the bill is due!

  • Lizzy November 30, 2009, 2:15 pm

    hahah! okay the frozen credit cards thing is probably one of the funniest things i have ever heard. that totally made my day. i think i should do that, though………

  • Erin November 30, 2009, 2:16 pm

    I like this idea for a challenge and will be interested to read your tips. I’m a mix between spender and saver — I like to get a bargain and understand the importance of saving, but traveling is my love and I usually end up blowing everything over a trip.

    It’s so worth it though. 😀

  • Leah @ L4L November 30, 2009, 2:18 pm

    I am a spender as well. Once, I got my savings account to over $1k. But it didn’t stay that way. I’m feeling the pinch this season and since we are getting married in May. I also recently signed up for

    The 2 main contributors to my financial woes at the moment are a) I was a spending freak in college and racked up a ton of debt that I am now paying for… but I can barely pay more than my minimums because b) I spent 6 months unemployed last year and had to settle for a much lower paying job and have never fully recovered. I think that lately, I have been a pretty good spender. And I am aware of where I splurge: food. Being aware is half the battle, right?! I also picked up a part time seasonal job for the month to help out some. And I am actively looking for a better paying job. We’ll see what pans out!

  • Paige (Running Around Normal) November 30, 2009, 2:19 pm

    My husband is more of a spender than I am. I am an indecisive spender, which means I usually decide not to buy it. However, if I have it set in my mind that I really, really want something, I will get it.
    We also have “no spend days” where we don’t buy anything unless it’s an emergency. We also have part of our paychecks go to savings each week.

  • anne November 30, 2009, 2:24 pm

    I agree with Sarah’s comment above, check out Dave Ramsey! Good stuff! I also really like some of the personal finance blogs out there. Get Rich Slowly is a good one.
    Good luck on your challenge!

  • Meg @ Be Fit Be Full November 30, 2009, 2:26 pm

    Like you, I love to spend and am awfful at saving. My husband is much better at saving! And we spend close to $700 on groceries/dining out as well. What a great challenge! I just may have to join you..

  • skinnyrunner November 30, 2009, 2:28 pm

    ive heard about before, sounds like a pretty useful tool! im in charge of all our finances too, and i recently had a MAJOR overdraft in our checking acct, oops.

    • Emily December 1, 2009, 1:58 am

      Make sure to check with your bank – a lot of checking accounts have fine print that says the bank will cover X-amount in overdraft fees per year. Trust me, ask. I did not find that out until I went in to change some of the terms on my checking account and they told me about it. It is completely worth it.

  • Lauren @ Eater not a runner November 30, 2009, 2:30 pm

    That sounds good! I am definitely a saver, I have loved saving money since I was like 5! But I can’t say no to certain extravagances (like lunch at whole foods haha)

  • Laura Georgina November 30, 2009, 2:30 pm

    I’m totally with you on curtailing everyday expenses and questioning all my purchases–very good advice! I’m terrible with money, and for the most part my big spending has been travel. I know that I should save more for rainy days, but I’d rather have a lower credit line,less stuff, and less money in the bank than trade it for all the traveling I’ve done–those memories are worth a million times more than the money I spent to gather them.

  • laura dishes November 30, 2009, 2:34 pm

    I’m a saver. I put everything on auto-pilot– 401k, Roth IRA, and $$ out of each paycheck that goes straight into ING.

    Within ING, I have two sub-accounts: emergency fund and flex savings. I’ve had so many car problems over the past 4 months, so having money saved has eliminated some of that stress.

    I just bought a new car on Saturday, so I am definitely in on this challenge! I’m sure I’ll quickly realize that the little things add up… yikes!

  • Nicci November 30, 2009, 2:38 pm

    I can’t wait to learn new tips. Im saving money by doing homemade gifts for friends and cutting back on eating out. IMy car just started smoking and now I must have it towed (free trhru insurance) tomorrow. Then I’m happy i have some money saved.

  • Sarah @ See Sarah Eat November 30, 2009, 2:41 pm

    I’m not a saver either, even though I try. I always end up transferring or withdrawing it for what I think is necessary.

    After hitting the $12,000 mark a couple of years ago, I got a consolidation loan to pay off all my credit cards and sent them through the shredder! I thought it would be impossible to live without them but it hasn’t been, yet. It was the best thing we did too because when you can’t use them, you get smarter about what you buy and you don’t rack up the interest charges.

    I carpool or take the bus to work, limit coffee purchases to 1x/week, only eat out 1-2 times a week (usually cheap places) and I clip coupons and price shop for groceries like it’s my job.

    I love this challenge!

  • Ashley November 30, 2009, 2:49 pm

    Can you please take a picture of your frozen credit cards??? I’ve never seen it before except in movies.

    • Caitlin November 30, 2009, 3:12 pm

      haha yes. i will!

  • Heather November 30, 2009, 2:55 pm

    I have to say, saving is something I’m pretty good at. Hubs, uh, different story. We actually keep seperate bank accounts for our spending and one joint account to pay bills. That’s the only way I could deal.
    However, in the past couple of years, I’ve been making more money that I use to, so I have defintely seen my spending increase, but also still saving a lot too. I’m too chicken not to save. Always prepared for the unexpected!
    I put everything on one personal credit card (which I get cash back on) and everything else that I can justify on my business credit card (which also earns reward points). I ust pay them both off a couple times a month.

  • Sarah November 30, 2009, 2:56 pm

    I’m not so bad on spending–except when it comes to food!
    I saw your note about “Eat the contents of my fridge and pantry before buying groceries” and decided I need to adopt that one. I swear I have things in my freezer that have been there waaayyyyy too long and I’m buying new groceries nearly every week.

    I will have to buy some things (fresh fruit, milk) because I have a toddler at home and she eats three meals a day there, but I need to get a grip on buying too many pantry/frozen items for no real reason.

  • Katharine November 30, 2009, 3:01 pm

    Hi Caitlin! I will definitely be joining you on reining in spending this month! Due to a move and some unnecessary shopping I spent WAY too much money. I can’t wait for your tips and tricks, and to have some support while pinching pennies.

  • Nicole November 30, 2009, 3:01 pm

    I’m also not bad at spending except when it comes to food, and I was pretty bad during the month of November! I need to really make it a point to go into Whole Foods and only purchase what’s on the list. I also need to eat what’s in my fridge before I buy additional items. I think this might also help me to be a bit more creative in my cooking than I have been recently. Thanks for post, hope this helps me to also get into gear!

  • kilax November 30, 2009, 3:02 pm

    Great post. I don’t talk about this on my blog, but my husband lost his job in the beginning of June and we have been relying on my income since then. He used to make 2x as much as me, so it’s been a huge adjustment. BUT, we save so much now and live so much cheaper than before. And it’s kind of fun. He started to use mint too.

    Caitlin, I wanted to let you know that I am giving away a copy of Eating Animals on my blog. I just wanted to tell you because I’ve mentioned it to you a few times. And it’s friendly to the wallet. 🙂

  • Teacherwoman November 30, 2009, 3:04 pm

    Wow! Another way in which we are sooo similar! I am the same. For the life of me, I just can’t seem to get my savings above a certain amount and I am getting all this extra income from a renter… that I should be saving for emergency fund and a new car in the near future. I look forward to following you on this adventure and might make a little personal challenge for myself! 🙂

  • Amanda@thegrainsofparadise November 30, 2009, 3:09 pm

    Whoa! Totally in the same boat as you guys are!! Just got back from a month in Australia and New Zealand ( ummm not the best move right now ) I’m changing jobs next week ( and I get paid practically nothing during my 4 weeks of training!! ) and we live in the most expensive place in the world…Maui ( however, worth it! ) but seriously….no Starbucks, no Christmas Tree, going out to eat or even driving across the island for December 🙁 Good luck to you guys xo Aloha

  • Luisa November 30, 2009, 3:12 pm

    I once gave up starbucks too. It only lasted a couple days unfortunately. You can save a lot of money there though by knowing how to order. If you order mistos of coffees rather than lattes it’s a lot cheaper, plus cheap refills. And if you have a registered card you get free syrup and milk choices. Plus you get a discount if you bring your own cup–only 10c but it adds up, and is good for the environment. I sound like a starbucks pimp, but really I’m just a coffee glutton. Good luck with the budget!

  • Island Girl Eats November 30, 2009, 3:13 pm

    What an interesting and very honest post. Not many people would admit to what you have. I used to be a big spender, but I realised that it didn’t really make me happy. At the end of the day, it is only stuff! My husband has always been a good saver and has always encouraged me to do the same – though it didn’t quite work out that way at the start! I guess as you get older you start to look differently at things. I still like nice things, but I also like to have money in my bank account. What’s the point of buying a new handbag or purse if you don’t have any money to put in it?!!! Good luck with your new project. I think that it will make for really interesting reading.

  • Joelle (The Pancake Girl) November 30, 2009, 3:14 pm

    UGH, I feel your pain.. I just hate even having to think about or worry over money, so I choose to ignore.. not the most adult option, obvi. I should join your responsible spending challenge!

  • Laura November 30, 2009, 3:15 pm

    I’m not married and I work full time so clearly my situation is a little different than yours and your husbands – but I have to tell you I used to be EXACTLY like you! Seriously everything changed for me when I became much more involved in my finances. I keep a record of all my spending in a checkbook and write down every single purchase! I also have a spreadsheet for every single paycheck showing what bills (and savings) will be paid and how much money I have left over. Each time I get paid I sit down and write down in my checkbook ALL my bills for the next 2 weeks. Almost everything all my bills is on an auto-pay schedule, so recognizing that the money is gone as soon as I get paid in my checkbook is the key for me. The auto-pay also keeps me from paying things late, which I used to be notorious for doing. I have an “invisible balance” that I DO NOT let myself fall below. This isn’t very much for me right now – only $250-$300, but at least I’ll always have that money in my account no matter what. I have a savings account and a separate checking account (strictly for rent/housing expenses)and I have automatic transfers into those accounts after every check. I also pay my big expenses in halfs since I get paid twice a month. Each check I’ll put half my rent into my separate checking account and I’ll log on and pay half my car payment. That way there is NO chance I can spend that money and therefore I’ll never be default on my rent or car. Another thing I do (this would take you a while to do but is totally worth it) is have one full month’s rent in my separate account so no matter WHAT I am at least one month ahead on my housing.

    The only place I struggle with now is my personal spending – so that is money left over after all my bills are paid. This is where the food, clothes, personal items, etc all come from. I’ve been working extra hard lately to manage this money better and always be aware of how much I have to spend. I had to make myself stop buying frivolous things and if I do, it’s usually less than $10. I try to balance my checkbook and write down all my purchases at least twice a week so I know how much I have. And I’ve started shopping and eating more cheaply – buying the brand or variety on sale, planning around the sales in the stores, etc. Instead of just walking into the store and buying whatever I want, I have a meal plan for the entire week in my hand and I do NOT deviate from my list. This way you can ensure you use all the things in your freezer/pantry/fridge but still buy the few things you might need.

    Sorry this is long but hopefully it helps SOMEONE! Good luck! I can’t wait to hear your tips 🙂

  • Carrie H November 30, 2009, 3:17 pm

    Random question, sorry if it was answered above … my husband and I are both cheapskates, so I’ve never heard of “freezing” your credit card. (We actually only have one between the two of us and it’s emergency only.) Anyway, do you just like, drop your cards in a bowl of water and freeze them in an ice cube? If you just stuck them in the freezer, wouldn’t they only get frosty and defrost in a couple minutes?

    Just curious.


    • Caitlin November 30, 2009, 3:21 pm

      haha i’ll post a pic tonight – i froze it in a baggie of ice.

  • Heather November 30, 2009, 3:19 pm

    Also, since you’re technically working for yourself now, I hope you have set up some sort of business entity. That is a great way to save on money, ecspecially when it comes tax time! Get your business set up and then get a business credit card and run as much as you can through your business. TOns of savings there!

    • Caitlin November 30, 2009, 3:21 pm

      uhhh. shit.

      • Heather November 30, 2009, 3:24 pm

        WHAT?!?! lol. About the business thing??? If you haven’t already, do it now and it’s a perfect time, since we are going into a new year. It’s not hard. I did it myself, but it’s always easier if you have an accountant help you.

        • Caitlin November 30, 2009, 3:25 pm

          the IRS is going to hate me this year.

        • Heather November 30, 2009, 3:27 pm

          THey hate me every year! I look forward to my daily letter awaiting me in the mail from them. They get there $$ and that’s all that matters. heehee

  • Becca November 30, 2009, 3:22 pm

    Mm, that veggie burger looks delicious!

    And I have a few comments on the spending challenge. First, good for you for realizing there is a problem! Secondly, you mentioned that you are in charge of the finances in your marriage and that is totally a wrong way to go about it (in my VERY nice opinion). Money between two people isn’t a one way street, you BOTH need to be involved and know what is coming in and out of the account, what you can spend, what you want to save, etc. My husband and I learned this the hard way because I was also the one in charge and in the end, when we hit a really low point, I was the one “blamed.” Because I was the one in charge! So, we nipped that problem in the butt right away and now we BOTH manage the finances and we’re onward and upward into a MUCH better place.

    Good luck!

    • Caitlin November 30, 2009, 3:22 pm

      hmm interesting point. something to blog about!

      • Becca November 30, 2009, 3:26 pm

        I hope that didn’t come off as nasty or anything, I totally didn’t mean it that way at all. I just know what happened to ME and my situation and if my experience can help someone else, I’m all for it!

        By the way, I was born and raised in Orlando. I miss it!

        • RhodeyGirl November 30, 2009, 4:00 pm

          I actually like that one of us is in charge of the finances because I can just figure it all out in my free time rather than waiting for him to come home from work and explain why I did each and every thing. I guess different ways work for different people!

        • Becca November 30, 2009, 4:13 pm

          That’s true also!

  • Quinn November 30, 2009, 3:23 pm

    The hubs and I each have a “gift fund” that is an account directly deposited into ING. Each paycheck we have $20 automatically desposited in it, and then when it comes time for Christmas, we’re not in a bind. We’ve got about $600 together, or around $300 to spend on one another or families. And trust me, you’ll never miss $20.

    This year, I ran-sacked my closet and took unused clothing, purses, etc. to a consignement shop. They gave me money on the spot. So, if they were going to sell a top of mine for $20, they gave me half, $10. It really adds up.

    You could also consider purging some old items and either having a tag sale or put them on Craigslist. You could then put the sale money toward your new boots or holiday gifts and not be as worried.

    Another tip is for online shopping (or grocery shopping). I google whatever store or whatever it is I want to buy to see if there is a coupon code for it. Saves big bucks.

    You also said you did a Costco run. Sometimes I split big items (paper towels, tp, etc.) with friends or family. That way, everybody wins!

    Good luck to you in regaining your financial freedom. Trust me, I’ve been there and it’s not a fun feeling, but you can do it!

  • Becca November 30, 2009, 3:23 pm

    Oh and I totally forgot to say whether or not I am a spender or saver. I am a spender turned saver. I hardly EVER spend money unless it is at the grocery store (where I always buy store brand) or on gas or bills. Literally. Okay, I did go see a movie this weekend but I went during the matinee and I didn’t get popcorn or drinks! But yeah, I’m definitely a saver now.

  • Tania November 30, 2009, 3:36 pm

    🙁 made me feel REAL bad about myself!!!!! Lol! Awesome site though!

  • SarahF November 30, 2009, 3:44 pm

    I’m kind of half saver, half spender. I love making budgets and tracking what I spend-but I also got frustrated with it every once and awhile (especially since I’m a student and so have to watch every single penny) and end up buying something on the VISA. Right now I’m saving for three vacations, Christmas with family, Vegas with a friend, and then a 65 day trip through Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos, so I’m really trying to watch every single penny I earn/spend. I’ll definately be watching for your tips.

    Also-today while at school someone had posted a bunch of OperationBeautiful notes. There were about 6 of them in the bathroom at school (University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada). It made me so happy. Totally made my day-especially since I’ve been reading your site since it was See Bride Run and saw the emergence of the Operation Beautiful notes! Thanks for starting such a wonderful thing.

    • Caitlin November 30, 2009, 3:49 pm

      THANK YOU! That is awesome.

  • Foy November 30, 2009, 3:47 pm

    Okay so I feel weird about giving access to my bank accounts. Is it safe?

    • Caitlin November 30, 2009, 3:49 pm

      its a really popular site and has been reviewed by WSJ, NYT, etc. it’s fine!

  • Liesl November 30, 2009, 3:55 pm

    Good for you, budgeting is hard, but so worth it!!
    I’m actually kind of a budget fiend…and something that has really helped me in our marriage with using the credit card is when I use it I record the purchase in a check register in my wallet just like using a debit card. That way I have deducted it from my checking account already in my head. Does that make sense?
    Then when the credit card bill comes I go through the register make sure I’ve recorded all the purchases and pay the full amount. It works awesome, because I never over spend.
    I also make a budget for each month and stick to the amounts no matter what…unless it’s a complete emergency.
    It feels so good to save, and anyone can do it! I believe in you and know you’re going to do great with your new challenge!

  • Jenny @ nutmegger November 30, 2009, 3:58 pm

    i’m a safe saver to the max! but my goal for the month is to indulge a little bit. I never want to spend because i feel like I have just wasted money. I need to enjoy the money I make and do great things with it!

  • Tracey@tropicalhappiness November 30, 2009, 3:59 pm

    This is clearly a topic that everyone can relate to, whether or not you have a decent amount of money in your savings. We all need to be conscious of our spending! One thing that really helps is to write it all down BEFORE or WHILE you are spending it. is good because it analyzes WHAT you have spent, but if you have to write it down, it makes you think twice about whether that little tiny $2 purchase is really worth it.
    Another thing that I do is that I set up an automatic transfer from my checking account to my *big* savings account. I receive my paychecks every other Friday. The Monday following payday, I transfer a certain amount of money from my paycheck into an *untouchable* ING Direct savings account. This isn’t an account for random purchases or splurges. This is an untouchable account that I DO NOT EVER use. (I have a regular checking account and a regular savings account.) The ING account has a much higher interest rate on savings, but it is online only, so it takes a few days to transfer money out of it.
    Also, if my regular savings/checking seems to be a little *large* with some extra funds, I’ll throw in an extra transfer of $500 or so, just to beef up my *untouchable* account!

  • Christy November 30, 2009, 4:00 pm

    My husband and I stopped eating out and instead invited friends over for potluck dinners on the weekends. It’s a lot more economical and more rewarding since you get more quality bonding time with your friends. We play games or watch movies or just talk for hours! It’s saved us tons!

  • emptynutjar November 30, 2009, 4:05 pm

    I really enjoy your blog. Apparently so does everyone according to the number of commenters you have 🙂
    Great blog though, I just started one up. Would love to know how you came up with an idea for your book. I have so much interest in writing and used to do it avidly (short stories, articles, etc). I am a reader of all things. But every time I sit down to “write”…start a fantasy…write a nonfiction…anything….I just have a big block…nothing. I wish I could productively create something!
    Great blog anyway.

    • Caitlin November 30, 2009, 4:06 pm

      the book is based on, so i never really came up with a ‘book’ idea.

      i feel you on the writers block!

  • Lisa (bakebikeblog) November 30, 2009, 4:10 pm

    Great post Caitlin. I can SO sympathise – and generally get the monthly “um Lisa what did you spend all this money on..” talk when the credit card statement comes online….oops. I find this time of year especially hard with Christmas, 6 birthdays in our family and the general ‘party season’. I am trying to focus on a ‘homemade holiday challenge’ too!

  • Lola November 30, 2009, 4:11 pm

    I’ve always been a saver, but sometimes I feel like I’m too hard on myself and miss out on things because I don’t think i should spend the money. It’s a tricky balance of enjoying the moment, while still preparing for the future so that you may enjoy that as well! Good luck and I look forward to hearing about your experience!

  • Amanda (Two Boos Who Eat) November 30, 2009, 4:12 pm

    ugh I feel you. Signing up for Mint is what made me realize how out of control our spending was. Especially on food. We spent about $700 on groceries and dining out one month. I was disgusted!

    This challenge will be awesome. I am definitely trying to do the same. Being unemployed is actually helping me cut back on spending a lot. But I can always afford to do more!

  • Allison November 30, 2009, 4:14 pm

    This is such a coincidence! My dad just gave me the “your a big girl” speech over Thanksgiving, i.e. I’m being cut off. I’m a full time graduate student living on loans and I’ve been lucky enough to have my parents pay for my extra expenses. Well, the luck has run out. I just made a “Receipts” envelope and have decided I can no longer eat out which is my biggest vice. I honestly wouldn’t even be able to give you a ballpark number of how much I spend in a month, so I’m kind of excited to find out and gain a bit of control!

  • mayct November 30, 2009, 4:27 pm

    Definitely take a look at these two blogs if you haven’t already. Both have excellent tips for your project. I read them religiously.

  • maria November 30, 2009, 4:28 pm is a great tool. I used it when we lived in the States, unfortunately I can’t use it in Japan. Have you thought about setting up a weekly or monthly allowance for each person. You could use that for the things you want like starbucks or races.

  • Traci @ Approaching the Drop Off November 30, 2009, 4:30 pm

    I used to be really bad with money when my husband and I first got married. He came from a family that was much better off financially that mine was, so I suddenly had this attitude of “I have money now, I can get things!” and went TOTALLY overboard on spending. Now I’m a diehard saver, focusing mainly on getting out of debt. If we keep going at our current rate we should pay off about $10k in debt by this time next year. And the husband and I make VERY VERY little money (thankfully we live in a place where cost of living is also very low). I can’t recommend Dave Ramsey enough – I read Total Money Makeover and started keeping a budget about a year ago and as such was able to take a different job with a pretty hefty paycut and still be financially okay.

  • Jason @ Cant-Coach-Desire November 30, 2009, 4:36 pm

    I’m a saver due to my OCD nature. I highly prescribe to the 60% rule that one should live on 60% of their earnings and save the remaining 40%. What can I say? Its very conservative. is great switched to it from MS Money about 9 months ago. Not sure how say this, but should you be going on a trip to England(where the dollar is worthless) when you have a “liquid assets problem”? I know seeing family is important, but weighing the cost is important as well. This maybe a non-issue, but thought it was worth bringing up.

    • Caitlin November 30, 2009, 4:47 pm

      i wont have the liquid cash asset problem in a week or so – i havent received my book advance yet (that’s the big issue – there’s NO income).

      • Jason @ Cant-Coach-Desire November 30, 2009, 7:37 pm

        I understand its a timing issue. Also, sorry, for the brain lapse you already bought the tickets months ago which would be the largest expenditure. Good news on the book advance.

  • Molly @vegandorm November 30, 2009, 4:36 pm

    I’m totally doing this with you – I have a habit of saying “My paycheck comes in tomorrow – why not spend some money? I’ve earned it!”
    No self control – so no unnecessary spending for a while!

  • Jenna November 30, 2009, 4:50 pm

    your lunch looks superb!
    i am glad you sat down and now know where you are spending all your money!
    i think it is soo funny how you have frozen credit cards!

  • Samantha November 30, 2009, 4:59 pm

    I’m a little spendy, too – Luckily, my husband isn’t as bad as I am so he handles the finances. xD We don’t put much on credit cards anymore and have worked on saving/paying down debt, but we do eat out a LOT. It’s an area we greatly need to work on.

    We’re aware of our issues, though, and we’ve noticed that when we allow our selves small indulgences, it pays off in more frequent savings. For example, my husband had a similar Starbucks problem for a while; he agreed to cut down on them to one/week, and after a few months he stopped going to Starbucks, to about 1/month! Not cutting cold turkey resulted in him never “rebounding” badly.

    We still have bad habits to clear out, but cutting back without cutting OUT completely really worked for us.

  • Anne P November 30, 2009, 5:12 pm

    Interesting post. I’ve usually been pretty decent at keeping my spending under control, but I’m having a little trouble now that I’m only working part time and not bringing in nearly as much as I was before. Sigh…

  • Serena November 30, 2009, 5:17 pm

    Great challenge Caitlin. I work at my college’s financial aid office and we do a bunch of workshops around campus to help students manage their money so I will love your financial tips. I thought I would give you some of mine.
    I use a credit union and have 5 savings account with them. I can label them with different names (rent, trip money, etc.) I am a visual person so being able to break my money into separate goals and separate accounts really helps me.
    My last tip is don’t give up Starbucks! haha, I love that place. Just get creative on ways to pay for it. I am a member of a survey site and I get paid $3 for each survey(I get one or two a month) and that becomes my sbux money. I also use ( is a search engine (like google) but they give you points for searches. Then you can cash out points for gift cards ($10 gc to sbux!). I installed the toolbar so it makes it easier to look stuff up and get points. If you do a search and don’t see points on the first page of results then go to the next page and the points are usually on there. Hope that makes sense. Sorry this is so long, good luck with your challenge.

  • Hollie November 30, 2009, 5:49 pm

    I’ve been blogstalking for a long time now but never commented before 🙂 I had to have that same conversation with my husband about a month ago which was hard! and kinda embarresing but also very good in the end. Together we revamped our budget some and made 2 other changes that I think are quite helpful. 1) We each get $20 a week cash for our “allowances” so we can get a coffee here or there or something else. We don’t use are debit cards for any of those kinds of purchases any more which has made all the difference! When the cash is gone for the week, it’s gone! and 2) I’ve started menuplanning, which might be kinda hard for you since you’ve mentioned before that you don’t always eat the same things your husband eats, but it has really helped me with grocery shopping only for whats on my list and also making the most of what I have on hand too! Love your blog!!

  • Lauren November 30, 2009, 5:54 pm


    Also, I have a spending problem too. & I need to work on this as well.

  • Jill November 30, 2009, 6:26 pm

    This is exciting to me! My two favorite things – working out and saving money, combined in one blog. I’m so curious to read along with your month of money tips. Maybe I’ll have a few to share too
    Good luck and remember that good financial health feels just as good as physical health! You can do it!

  • Anne@ the doctor takes a wife November 30, 2009, 6:50 pm

    I’m doing something somewhat similar over on my blog. My husband and I are trying to spend less on groceries, but also trying to prove that you can eat healthier on less money!!

    It’s scary how fast money goes… I’m a big spender too, so I feel your pain!!

  • Allison November 30, 2009, 7:12 pm

    OMG we literally have the exact same problem right now! I just realized we spent $700 on dining out last month. WHAT?!?! Granted, that included a trip back home and the Husband’s birthday, but still. We are not eating out for three weeks (just like you) and I am dropping my weekly Starbucks treat.

    I put a list on the inside of our door of things I would rather do than eat out. It includes save for grad school, travel to cool destination races, and other short- and long-term goals. Hopefully this will stop us from grabbing the keys and heading to Chipotle any time we want. 🙂

  • Nicole November 30, 2009, 7:29 pm

    So crazy that you posted this today since right before I came to your blog I nearly had a heart attack when I checked my bank account. Granted I just started a new job so I’m kind of stuck waiting to get paid but still, I spent a lot of unnecessary money this month. UGH. I am just like you-I hate to save. I see money and it’s gone before I can say it. Why??? I don’t KNOWWWWWWW
    Thanks for this post because it made me realize we’re all human and I’m not alone with this problem. Yikes!

  • Suzanne November 30, 2009, 7:48 pm

    Ugh I need to do this challenge, too. I owe my boyfriend so much money for rent! I just spend way too much money on little things I don’t need (like eating out and starbucks). I will be joining you for this one!

  • Amanda November 30, 2009, 7:55 pm

    I did this about 2 1/2 months ago when I realized that in 1 month I spent $1000 on food and groceries! Every since then I made myself a strict budget on and have been trying diligently to stick to it. I’m working hard to pay off my debts and I’ve cut my spending by more than 25%. Good luck you can definitely do it, and you’ll feel really good when you have the extra bucks in the bank.

  • Becca H November 30, 2009, 7:56 pm

    I am a saver but that was not always true. When it comes to Starbucks I take money out in cash at the 1st fo the month and when thats gone no more starbucks.

  • Pam November 30, 2009, 7:57 pm

    I used to be a spender but am getting to be a saver now. I think the key for me was figuring out what I want to save FOR specifically…it’s really helped. I’d recommend the books “I Will Teach You to be Rich” or “Smart Cookies”…they’ve really helped me!! Worth the price of purchase 😉

  • Priyanka November 30, 2009, 8:12 pm

    I totally get what you mean, I am a recovering shopaholic. I mean its an addiction. Blogging has taught me many things and one of them is to manage finances. I realized I had this problem when I reviewed each and every spending for the month of October. I was simply shocked with the amount of money I was spending. Being close to Starbucks and the UC snack store does not help either, I mean they are small expenses but in the long run they add up. Apart from easy accessibility, my impulsiveness is a major flaw. I see something ,I have to buy it. So now I really think before swiping that card and when I mean think I really talk myslelf out of it. Its like two people sitting on my shoulder. One says to go and make that wasteful purchase and other saying no.

    I don’t know why I am writing so much, it may not even mean anything to you. But it felt good to write about my problem and steps I am taking towards it.

    Gosh I feel like an addict 😉

    • Caitlin November 30, 2009, 8:23 pm

      oh god, i feel you!! im the same way – buying things is like a rush! it’s a problem. we must stop!

  • Lee November 30, 2009, 8:19 pm

    I am really bad about it too. I always have just enough, but I don’t budget anything. Nor do I have anything more than a 401K.

  • pen November 30, 2009, 8:21 pm

    I totally feel you! My problem was going from a job where I could spend lots on frivolous stuff to taking a (much happier lifestyle) job in the public sector. It took me 7 months to figure out that I can’t spend like I used to or wanted to.

    What helped me was not carrying credit cards in day to day life. I carry my debit card, so I cannot overspend. The credit card got to easy to mindlessly spend with…

    Also cutting out my daily starbucks trip helped a ton. 🙂

    Anyway, Good Luck!!

  • Melissa November 30, 2009, 8:27 pm

    I’m actually a super saver and I don’t own a credit card anymore. My parents weren’t so awesome with money, and I got to see them go through a lot of heartache over debt. My dad didn’t want that for me, and after he went through the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University program, he bought me the home kit. A lot of it is common sense, but I think it was worth the investment. I know exactly what I need to do in order to get ahead – and that doesn’t necessarily mean depriving myself. If you’re really having trouble with spending, I highly recommend it.
    Oh, and big kudos to you for recognizing a weak spot and taking steps to fix it! Not unlike how you reexamined your health. =)

  • Nikky November 30, 2009, 8:32 pm

    I’m for sure unorganized when it comes to money, and so is the boyfriend. We make decent money between us, but we’re probably about 6k in debt over old bills that we just would forget to pay (yea, all old utilities and such, only about 1k is credit cards!), and then by the time we thought about it (i.e. – opened the mail instead of tossing it aside and losing it) it was way out of control and we shoved it aside “until we could afford it”. But we’re impulse spenders, so there’s never any extra cash, and we sure as heck don’t have savings. It KILLS me that we shouldn’t be in debt at all, but we were just so irresponsible when we started out on our own (to be fair, we were 18 and 20 and stupid at the time, my mom had just lost her house).

    So yea, now we get to spend the next three or so years clawing our way out of a totally avoidable mess. I’m hoping by time time I graduate college and we look for a house we’ll have things on track. Good luck to you!!

  • Julie November 30, 2009, 8:37 pm

    I’m a total spender, I litteraly live paycheck to paycheck. If I have extra money in my back account I never think to save it, my first thoughts are to spend it. I mostly spend it on random things at Target that I don’t even really need. I love buying toiletries for some reason…not make-up, but toiletries like shampoo. Weird, right? I feel so guilty for not having a rainy day fund. God forbid I ever lose my job…I’d be totally screwed.

  • erica November 30, 2009, 8:39 pm

    Caitlin seriously I hear you with the spending thing. I recently moved from one state to another leaving a job behind. I am living with my fiance but I have student loans to pay for my health insurance phone bill etc. It’s crazy and I think he is just waiting to have this talk with me and it makes me really super nervous. I mean we have to buy groceries… i can`t find a job and I know that I do a lot of baking and probably spend more money on groceries and cookie decorating stuff and things for the apartment then I need to. Good luck with everything!

  • Laura S November 30, 2009, 8:43 pm

    I’m a saver-especially when it comes to shopping for new clothes! I look at it as a game and don’t buy anything unless it’s on sale. If you think about the huge mark up these retailers make and how the item itself probably costs less than $5 to make, it will make you not want to throw your money away on full price items. The best time to shop is at end of season sales-last spring I got a pair of Antonio Milani boots for over 75% off-I wore them a few times and then put them away until fall came and now I wear them all the time! I do the same for winter workout wear and summer clothes. Also, once November hits I try to avoid buying myself gifts and telling people to give it to me for Christmas. For instance, I would have held off on the new camera and had the parents/husband give it to me as a present. Good luck on becoming a saver!! 🙂

  • Adi ( November 30, 2009, 8:54 pm

    I’m a big time saver… I started saving for retirement when I was 22. Weird, I know! I’m petrified of debt to the point that it worries me to buy a house, even though I know it’s a financially sound investment. So the pendulum swings both ways! Saving too much can also be something to work on!

  • Katy @ These Beautiful Feet November 30, 2009, 8:54 pm

    I am the spender. Phew, felt good to admit it. Adam takes care of the finances, and we finally caught up on some things and are back on a budget. We use one of those small receipt holders and in each pocket we have an envelope with different titles. Examples: “Credit card payments”, “Grocery”, “Dining Out”, “Recreation”,”Katy’s fun money”, “Adam’s fun money”. Every month we take the amount we budgeted for each subject and take that amount out in cash and place it in the envelopes. It’s much better then using the credit card and we can keep track as we go with how much we have in each pocket. It works really well, I just like having cash better. I could swipe that card all day long but that would be no bueno! Love these new goals!

  • Annalisa November 30, 2009, 8:58 pm

    I tried mint a while ago and found some of it to be too tedious and I couldnt hook up all of our accounts. We enter in receipts but not in a timely fashion….

    We sit down two times a month to pay bills and set a budget. I’ve found sticking to the budget is helpful. We get creative at the end of the month with meals and entertainment! Sitting down together lets us talk about upcoming expenses so we are on the same page.

    Right now, our main goal is to be out of student loan debt (two masters degrees are costly) and retire at 55. Consequently….we spend very little. New clothes are rare, Goodwill has some great finds, we shop at the farmers market or through local farms, we don’t buy coffee out (except on long car trips or meeting old friends), etc. I own a bookstore so coming across used books is pretty inexpensive 😉 Or the library has a ton of great things – magazines and DVDs!

    The biggest lesson is — When it’s gone, it’s gone. No going over budget. I put stuff back constantly at the supermarket register.

    I’m not a fan of credit cards BUT everything we buy goes on our amex (blue cash) for cash back. This year we got back $800 for normal spending! If the merchant doesnt take amex we use a chase freedom card which gives some rewards. I also like having a 12 or 24 mo. 0% card around for just in case emergencies. We put my husband’s grad school on the card and pay it over 3 months instead of all at once.

    We also think it’s important to start retirement planning asap (compound interest). Check out – they are probably the least expensive and easiest investment options for doing it yourself.

    I guess overall, financial management is a lot like dieting or athletic training. You start of meticulous, learn how it works, and then come up with a system. Over time, you get better and better.

    Good luck!

  • ashleigh November 30, 2009, 9:31 pm

    i suck at saving and i try really hard! i have a mint account but i got annoyed with it because i also have a save the change thing from BOA so it was becoming a pain to track everything. it did make me want to throw up when i saw that i spent something like $700 a month on entertainment. i am excited to see your saving techniques! i always try and use coupons and coupon codes but the one thing i HATE is that you usually need to install a coupon printer and i can’t do that at work, what a pain!

    good luck 🙂

  • chipped nails and all November 30, 2009, 9:31 pm

    hey there! I was actually thinking the other day how funny and ironic it is that I had more money to spend in college versus now that with a full-time job. I agree with Kath and think her budget worksheets are off the hook and I use something similiar, but when I was looking to drastically reduce my spending recently (ummm….christmas gifts?), I had to take matters in to my own hands.
    I created a google doc basically mirroring what told me with their graphs and I would document literally every cent I spent. Every day I would review my receipts and bank account and put each expense in it’s own category. I even broke the categories down in to groceries, coffee shops, eating out, pet supplies, medical expenses, personal “upkeep”, shopping, etc. Literally EVERYTHING, every day.

    One tip I would suggest is to not even give yourself the option of using your card or purchasing something. I often won’t take my wallet/card in to the store with me if I’m with a friend as company. I’ve also changed my thinking of how I can/do use my card…I get it in my head that I CAN’T use my card, so the option isn’t even there anymore. If I don’t pack a lunch that day, I improvise with what I have at my desk. It may suck, but it’s money that you still have, not money you’ve given to somebody else.

    Money is certainly a valuable assest, yet learning how to handle it isn’t taught in schools….my mantra is this: Learn to manage your money so it doesn’t manage you (hello, overdraft fees!).

  • Lindsey @ Sound Eats November 30, 2009, 9:35 pm

    Hooray for responsibility with finances! If you need any tips or suggestions, please let me know. Having gone through nearly a year total of unemployed time out of the past two years (ish), plus moving, living off of Ross’ teacher’s salary, dealing with his sh!tload of student loan debt and more, we keep our spending VERY minimal. Having little to no spare money forces financial responsibility – definitely a blessing in disguise with tight finances. 😀

  • Danielle November 30, 2009, 9:39 pm

    I think that we are a lot alike with regards to our spending habits. I don’t really like to save (although we do) and would much rather take the hit to have something now than to save for something and get it later – what fun is that?! I’ve gotten so much better since Carl and I saved money for our wedding. I do get out of control every once in a while and have to reign it back in. Glad to know that I’m not the only person who struggles with these things and I can’t wait to read your tips this month 🙂

  • Allie November 30, 2009, 9:43 pm

    We did something a lot like this for “Frugal February” last year, except to the extreme. We cut out everything besides bills and groceries, cut alcohol out of the budget entirely, and only got a $20 allowance each. We managed to save several thousand dollars in one month, though, which was totally worth it! Especially now since those savings are helping us live on a major budget now (the husband is a student, I have an internship that pays about $100 a week). Good luck! I definitely learned that I don’t need much to live a good life, and I bet it won’t be as hard as you think.

  • Margie November 30, 2009, 9:45 pm

    At least you know where your weakness is and you are going to do something about it. Good luck with your challenge. Tracking spending can be a big task.
    My tip on weekly grocery spending is to take the cash out each week. Once the money is gone than that’s it for the week. Also remember to budget your toiletries, because some people forget and that can turn into a unexpected expense.

  • Sammi November 30, 2009, 9:59 pm

    Eek! I hope your money problems work out!

    I’m definitely a saver. I started mowing grass when I was like 10 years old (riding lawnmower ;)) and my dad told me to put 1/3 of the $ in the bank for long term (like a car and college) 1/3 in the bank for a short term goal (like a tv) and I could spend 1/3 right then. It ended up with me usually just putting all of it in the bank though. The only problem is, I can run through $90 easy at CVS. Nailpolish is really expensive after a while. Thankfully I don’t wear makeup! I was able to buy my first car in January and kept myself in my $15k budget range for that (honda fit) rather than letting myself get the 2 door honda civic with a sunroof that I really wanted! I try not to let myself spend very much money because I always freak out about not saving my money. Waitressing makes it so hard though because all of my money is in cash!

    Good luck on your responsible spending! (my sisters need to do this with you!)

  • Mandee Lei November 30, 2009, 10:01 pm

    Thank you for posting the link to that website! It is wonderful. My husband and I are in a situation very similar to yours. So this website is something that will really help us with budgeting. We were using an Excel document before but I have to say this takes the cake!

  • Jolene ( November 30, 2009, 10:08 pm

    Very strict plan girl! But you can do it!!

  • Hillary @ Nutrition Nut on the Run November 30, 2009, 11:09 pm

    That wrap looks excellent!!! It’s so easy to spend money at Starbucks. I need to get out of that habit too.

  • Pat November 30, 2009, 11:11 pm

    An older friend once told me ” pay as you go and you don’t owe”
    something I follow to this day. Get rid of your credit cards. Keep one if you have to. Pay off debt, credit cards first. The interest is financial suicide. Saving is like a marathon. Start slow and over time it can become something big. Like living healthy it has to become a life style change. You have to get into it. Good luck.

  • Cindy December 1, 2009, 12:13 am

    Good luck! Money is such a tough thing to come by nowadays. What you spent in food this month is more than I made at my job! It’s so frustrating to work so hard and get paid so little. I am sure you will be able to reasonably balance the budget and still have a chance for that occasional latte.!

  • Penelope December 1, 2009, 5:09 am

    Count me in!!!!! I really need to start saving money, and my credit card must disappear…

  • Lisa December 1, 2009, 10:11 am

    great post! love it!

  • Melanie Z December 1, 2009, 1:23 pm

    Great post Caitlin! Not sure if someone else posted this yet but I just found this link for great ways to trim your holiday budget.

  • katie December 1, 2009, 2:13 pm

    i will definitely be joining you in the responsible spending challenge – i end up literally eating so much of my money each month it’s ridiculous. i need to save up so i can take some nicer vacations in the future..and just have more in my savings account in general 😉

    good luck!

  • Kim December 1, 2009, 4:41 pm

    I have this really weird thing where I can save up to a certain amount. But when I get to that dollar amount, I start spending. I guess I look at my bank account and say, “Look how much I saved. I’m so awesome!” Then to reward myself, I go shopping.
    I mostly spend money on food. I love to go out to eat. I also cook a lot for my family and for friends. Maybe I should start charging admission to my dinner parties? Just kidding.

  • Amy December 1, 2009, 4:45 pm

    I’m on both sides of the spectrum. I’m a super good saver, pay my credit cards in full every month, etc. BUT I tend to spend too much on silly things I don’t need. New pens for school when I already have a zillion, a new backpack when I have so many at home, etc. It’s wasteful and silly but I do it. I’m definitely up for not spending foolishly between now and the 24th. I really shouldn’t be spending much anyway because I’m in school full time and am not working right now. I’m doing fine because I’m living at home so that saves money but really… I need to cut it out and stop spending as if I’m still working!

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