March Mortgage Update: And a challenge update

Last month (February):
Balance: $63,643.06
Years left:4.916666667
P =$954.07, I = $260.34, Escrow = 613.58

This month (March):
Balance: $61,508.58
Years left:4.75
P =$962.48, I =$251.92, Escrow = 613.58

One month’s prepayment savings: $4.64

So how did we do with the challenge month?  As predicted, it’s more fun to do a saving money challenge when you don’t have to than when you sorta do have to.  Especially when you can “cheat” by going out for lunch a few times (or dinner when there’s a speaker or job candidate!)

The first week our grocery bill was crazy low (for us), something like $70.  But then the second week it was more like $200 (which is average/high for us since DC2 started us with hir no wheat thing).  Third week, $90.65.  Fourth week we went into the city and that doesn’t count.  :)  So eating nothing but cheap meals does seem to have an impact on our bottom line.

Other than the arepas and the fresh spring rolls, most of what we made was stuff we ate a lot in graduate school– and most of that was stuff my parents taught me how to make as a kid.  If we had to permanently lower our food budget, I think I’d get bored of mostly the same American/Mexican fare.  For a month, it’s comfy-cozy, but after that I’d need to do a better job with our quick and easy ethnic cookbooks.  There’s a lot of cheap quick healthy ethnic food out there, it just needs to get worked into our repertoire.

I was also reminded how important it is to know what’s in season and to have flexibility at the grocery store when you’re eating on a budget if you want fresh veggies.  I didn’t exercise this option because we’re pressed for time more than we’re pressed for money, but I would be much more careful about the kinds of soups and stirfries and so on that I do make.

And, of course, it’s seriously difficult to eat cheap food when you’re trying to balance not eating refined carbs (because of the PCOS) with trying to avoid gluten (because of the diaper rash).  Mostly we’ve been going the refined carbs route (as you’ve seen), but as DC2 weans (and my metabolism returns to sucking), we’ll probably go the other extreme.  Fruits and veggies, of course, are always good, and it’s nice to be price insensitive to them.

[Update:  On Saturday we hit a sushi place and dropped $73 for comfortably full with no leftovers.  I am reminded that even when we eat out on the cheap, ~$30, the price of one meal is generally about the price of 4 meals from scratch from the grocery store.  I'm still not used to having enough money to drop $73 on a meal out with the kids, but we do have enough and it was really good!  I don't think we'll be making sushi-from-the-good-sushi-place a weekly thing though.]

Most of all, I’m reminded that it’s nice to not spend time thinking about the price of things, and focusing on what looks fun, interesting, and quick and easy to make.  Being semi-mindful cuts our grocery budget a third to a half, but we’re willing to spend more to just not have to think about the monetary aspects of our eating, and to occasionally splurge without guilt.  (Plus, free reign at the grocery store may cut down on our restaurant expenditures!)

How do you balance money and time with food?

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13 Responses to “March Mortgage Update: And a challenge update”

  1. plantingourpennies Says:

    Right now food is taking about the same amount of money as we typically spend, but a lot more time as I’m really concentrating on cutting processed and pre-made foods out of our diet. But boy does cooking from scratch take time! Strawberry jam took a couple hours at least this weekend, but at least we’re set on jam for the next few months…

  2. Holly@ClubThrifty Says:

    I grocery shopped at a new store for the first time yesterday after only grocery shopping at Kroger for the last ten years. I think I’m a convert now. I tried this big fancy Meijer by my house and found their produce department to be amazing with incredibly low prices. I only spent $85 and bought a ton of stuff including laundry detergent, batteries, and some other relatively expensive non-food items.

    Anyway, I don’t have time to coupon and I don’t want to go to more than one store to snatch up different deals, so it’s important to me that one store has everything I need at a reasonable price.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      We’re also one-store shopping, though we do buy things at Target when we need to get diapers. Though we don’t have to buy diapers as often for DC2 as we did for DC1 since ze potty trained at home so early (and cloth works just fine overnight).

  3. Liz Says:

    Love the sushi splurge! I totally get why my female elders’ favorite meals are “ones prepared by others, and I don’t have to clean up afterwards.” I usually count eating out (with friends/family) as an experience, though, not in the Food budget category. Eating out on my own – like grabbing breakfast or lunch while working – goes in the Food category, like all the groceries.

  4. Leah Says:

    We go back and forth on food. I don’t like eating out too often, but our super cheap food option is the dining hall (free!), which feels like eating out to me. My thesis must be finished by March 31, and I’m hoping to do more at-home cooking then. It costs more than the dining hall, but it is more satisfy. And definitely a savings over eating out!

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      If the dining hall food was good, I’d have a hard time not eating there every night. If it’s bad though… (OMG, our high school cafeteria was SO BAD.)

      • Leah Says:

        It’s not bad (except that I am super picky about how my veggies are cooked). There’s always salad :-) But I just get sick of the food. Plus, there’s more carbs and fried food (not every night, but often enough) than I should be eating. Thus, lots of temptation. I do eat lunch there every day, and I sometimes eat breakfast, so we save plenty that way.

  5. jlp Says:

    We have to do gluten-free and refined-carb-free for health reasons here, too. We invested in a (cheap, but great) rice cooker and can easily have brown rice or quinoa (or a combo of both) with minimal fuss, for whatever that’s worth.

  6. First Gen American Says:

    Its funny how I can go literally forever without bipuy inc clothes no matter how desperately I need them but food is something I don’t skimp on. There is no worse feeling than the grossness one feels after eating a cheap/non-nutritious fast food meal or junk food.

    Most of the cheap, nutritious foods take prep time which I don’t always have. That would be a good post actually…cheap/nutritious convenience foods. What are they besides bananas.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Food is so much more important than clothing!

      Most of the stuff we listed this past month (on Mondays) takes very little time to make. Fried eggs are also quick and easy (DH will even make them at night when DC2 is hungry). Any kind of sandwich. Some folks will pre-cut their carrots or celery (or other veggie tray snacks) so they’re easier to just grab. Keeping fruit on the counter instead of in the fridge also makes it easier to grab and eat.


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