As I mentioned in the last couple of Janathon posts, Eric is doinng Februthon, which I thought we made up, but a little research reveals others made it up before we did. I guess I inspired him with Janathon? Who knows, but he seems motivated.
I decided to keep him motivated, and myself, by betting who could get the most days of exercise in February. Losing my bet wouldn't be the end of the world, but I really want him to lose, because if he does, he has to detail my car. :) So far, we've both exercised the first four days of the month.
Two months in a row of exercising (almost) every day. Crazy, maybe. Habit-forming, hopefully. I've also made a commitment to someone I work with to start the Insanity workout in the middle of the month, after Valentine's Day and Mardi Gras, on February 16. (Thanks, Jen!)
Frugaling's $200 Food Budget
Sam at Frugaling is trying to stay below $200 a month with his food budget, and failing. For me and Eric, my dream food budget is $400. So this month, I'm going to try to do it. Unlike when I did the SNAP Challenge, I'm going to use things already in the house and not worry about the cost. But I'm going to add up everything we buy this month, whether we plan to use it or not.
You can read all about Sam's challenges here. I found lots of good suggestions in the comments.
We started off today with a Costco run, so that's a good chunk of the budget gone right there. Now that we're putting a ton of fruits and veggies into smoothies every day, I picked up every ingredient we use that seemed like a good deal. I started a price spreadsheet, so soon I will know average prices and the best places to buy things. We also picked up cases of organic diced tomatoes and tomato sauce, both of which we use a lot, and I bought a huge can of tomato paste, which I plan to separate and freeze in snack-size baggies. We won't use it all this month, not by a long shot, but it still counts for this month's food budget. What doesn't count includes a lot of frozen meat we already have in the basement.
Sam is trying to stay away from gluten and is incredibly busy, working 60-80 hours a week, so understandably he feels challenged trying to keep his food budget under control. One suggestion I gave him was to have snacks with him during the day, so he can try to avoid "I'm starving" expensive food purchases.
Lately I've been splurging on Powercrunch bars for that purpose, but at $1.29 each, they're pretty pricey. I was already trying to come up with more frugal options when my friend Emma brought some five-ingredient oatmeal cookies into work. They were made from oatmeal, chocolate chips, banana, applesauce and cinnamon. So I started looking for recipes and made my own this morning, with steel-cut oatmeal (it was all I had), banana, peanut butter, a handful of raw trek mix, vanilla, and a bit of apple butter I had left over in the fridge. They turned out to be pretty good, but next time I'll add more raisins and get rolled oats. I don't know for sure how much they cost, but I'd guess less than two dollars for the entire pan, which I cut into eight bars.
We don't do a whole lot of meal planning, but we do try to prepare something we can eat for lunch at the beginning of the week. Last week we had chili and macaroni; this week we have black bean and sausage soup. Something hardy like that is more than enough, along with a snack and a smoothie. When I'm not at work, I'll eat whatever's here. Sometimes I make something simple, like macaroni and cheese, eggs, or a sandwich. Other times I just have another snack. But when I don't have something ready to take to work for lunch, I spend more money.
Brian sent me an update on his 2015 challenges. In January, he read 517 poems, 20 novels, 41 short stories, almost 770 lines of Greek, and looked at hundreds of paintings.
Compare that to my list. I exercised 29 days, decluttered the laundry room, did a few affirmations and ate some vegetables and fruit.
Okay, so that doesn't compare well at all! But it's not about comparison, is it? Someone else is always doing more, doing better, having started with less. The point is we're all doing something, and we can build on that something and get ideas from other people's challenges. I want to do all that stuff, too, but I can only do so much, and then build on what I'm doing.
Move forward. That's all you can do. And if you're backsliding, keep looking forward. It's just like driving - you're gonna steer toward what you're looking at
.When I talked to Dave, he hadn't set a challenge yet for February! Sometimes life gets in the way, I guess. I tried to talk him into starting training for the Go! St. Louis half-marathon, which is in April. I'm on the second week of my training plan, so if you're reading this Dave, I'd like to say once again - it's not too late!
Katy's blog is going strong! She's in Asheville, North Carolina, right now, so there are pictures of beautiful scenery and lots of beer. When they're not traveling, though, you can read about their chickens and their garden plans.
Finally, I want to give a shout out to another work friend, Fuji, who's given up chocolate for over a week! Fuji was the biggest chocoholic I knew and now she's not eating it at all. She might be drinking chocolate milk on occasion, but that's it! Impressive. Maybe someday I'll try that. Or maybe not.