Welcome to week four of the Debt Snowflake Challenge.

One expense that people often have trouble containing is food costs.  Do you go out to eat too often?  Even if you pick up fast food at the end of a busy day, you could easily spend $20 to feed your family.  If you do that once a week, you will spend $1,040 over the course of a year.  I am not saying you should avoid going out to eat, but make sure it is planned and that you have the money set aside.  Perhaps you can carry non-perishable snacks in the car for those times when you would normally pick up fast food such as when a meeting runs late or after a doctor’s appointment when the kids are hungry.  As extra motivation to avoid spontaneous eating out, you may want to try this little trick: every time you want to pick up food but resist, snowflake that money!

Unfortunately, even when you curb your appetite for eating out (excuse the pun, but I couldn’t resist :)), groceries can also get out of hand.  I am the perfect example of this.  This month I budgeted $300 for groceries, which probably wasn’t enough for our family of 5.  I haven’t added up all of my receipts for the month, but I know I have spent well over $300 on groceries this month.  My first warning sign was when I kept running to the store a few times a week to buy “just a few” items.

Just like you should plan when you go out to eat, you should also plan to curb your grocery expenses.  Hopefully you regularly make a menu plan.  You might want to consider implementing freezer cooking too.  I do both of these things, but clearly I am still struggling.  To solve this problem, I sat down and developed a 30 day meal plan for the rest of January and February.  I based it around the ingredients I already have at home, so hopefully there will be no more little emergency trips to the grocery store.  My plan is to only shop twice in February and to limit my spending to $200, which is low, but only because I spent SO much this month on food.  It will be our mini-pantry challenge.

What are your strategies for saving on food?  What difficulties do you have curbing and controlling your food budget?

Our Progress

This was a great week.  I can’t wait to see how much debt we have paid off at the beginning of February.

I took on a new virtual assistant job recently, and since that is extra money that we don’t technically need to make our monthly budget, I decided that all money I make from that particular job will be snowflaked.

Virtual assistant job: $44

I also designated one different, small virtual assistant job to our snowflake. I make $15 at this job per week.

Second designated virtual assistant job: $15

Once again, I got an out-of-the-blue advertising offer for $400.  After expenses, I used all of it to snowflake on debt.  Having said this, I have been very lucky with advertising this month and don’t expect to see such high revenue next month.  I wouldn’t be surprised if I have very little, if any, advertising.

Unexpected advertising deal: $340

We did many different activities over the last week to find money to snowflake on our debt, and the result was that we were able to snowflake $399 since my last report a week ago. In the last fourteen weeks since we have gotten gazelle intense, we have “found” $5704.45 to snowflake!