Our Frugal August Challenge just wrapped up. For the month of August we pledged to ban eating out, reduce our grocery spending, and cook every meal at home. Let me tell you, it was way easier than we expected! We thought this challenge would be difficult, and we feared losing steam halfway through the month. But we ate tasty meals, hosted friends and family, and saved tons of money without feeling deprived or bored. If you don’t believe us, take a look at our spending breakdown for the past 90 days.
We knew we had saved money, but we didn’t expect saving this much money! That’s hundreds of dollars saved! It goes to show how easy it can be to overspend without realizing it. The changes we made didn’t feel too significant, but they made a huge difference.
We gave ourselves a grade for our spending based on our goals for the month.
Frugal August Challenge Scores
Ban Eating Out: B+
At the beginning of the challenge, we thought we would miss eating out. For us, eating out was considered entertainment. Hanging out with friends, date nights, and weekend outings all revolved around heading out to bars and restaurants. We pictured ourselves stuck at home while everyone else was gallivanting around the city at rooftop bars for Sunday brunch.
It turns out we weren’t shut ins. No one turned down coming to our apartment for game nights over a six-pack of beer. We shared our home-cooked meals and made cocktails that rival any trendy bar. We saw our friends just as often. In fact, we spent more quality time with friends and family than most of this summer. It was easy to plan celebrations and get-togethers that didn’t destroy our monthly budget. The important part was being together, not checking out the hottest restaurant.
Of course, we weren’t perfect. We did eat out three times this month. It was due to poor planning more than anything else. We would be running errands and find ourselves starving, which meant buying lunch instead of waiting until we got home. A little planning ahead could have kept our spending at zero. But look at that graph – our restaurant spending plummeted this month! We saved hundreds of dollars by making simple changes to our usual habits. We both packed lunch for work, made dinner at home every night, and avoided pricey happy hours. It’s not zero, but it’s a vast improvement. We’ll call that a win!
Cutting Grocery Expenses: A+
We are thrilled with our grocery spending for August. We expected our grocery spending to shoot up since we were cooking at home for every meal. Not only did our grocery spending stay the same, but if we factor in expenses for hosting parties, cooking our anniversary dinner, and buying the occasional six-packs of beer, our grocery spending actually went down!
Switching from farmers market meat to store-bought meat saved us a ton of money. We also chose recipes that shared ingredients to spread our purchases across multiple meals. Spending less on everyday meals left room in our budget for small luxuries. We could splurge on fresh local produce or salmon filets that gave us more variety in our meals. These small luxuries made a huge difference in sticking to our budget. We would have lost motivation weeks ago without them.
If we continue this trend, we expect to save even more money through the rest of the year. We learned how to meal plan, and we have an arsenal of recipes that we can rotate week-to-week. It’s possible to save on groceries and cook delicious meals. We just proved it!
Our Frugal August Challenge Takeaways
- Saving money on groceries is way easier than we expected. By planning ahead and sticking to a budget, we were able to cook anything we wanted without worrying about the cost. We found cheaper alternatives to our favorite staples that didn’t sacrifice taste or quality.
- Frugality doesn’t mean deprivation. Eating frugally doesn’t mean eating boring food. We ate healthy and delicious meals that didn’t cost a fortune. And we still indulged in guilty pleasures (beer and chocolate chip cookies 😉 ) without the guilt.
- Restaurants aren’t worth it. This is a no-brainer, but restaurants are grossly overpriced. Happy hour deals seem like a steal until you see the final bill. Make those cocktails at home for a fraction of the cost. Re-create your favorite restaurant dishes. We promise it will taste just as good!
We are excited by our progress this month, and we hope the lessons we learned will carry through month-to-month. It’s so easy to make small changes that make a huge impact. We just have to do it!
Have you reduced your grocery or restaurant spending? What tips do you have for saving money on groceries and eating out?
~ Ms. RW