Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Great June Experiment

As mentioned a post or two back, during the month of June, I challenged myself to not spend money on eating out or on "junk food." Also during this month, I wanted to do some sort of physical activity every day above and beyond my normal routine. Below is a picture of the calendar I used to keep track. The X's are the days I did physical activity and the check marks are for the days that I made no extra food purchases.

As you can see, the exercise days are a bit spotty, but the "no-spend" days were very consistent. There were only four occasions where money was spend needlessly on dining out/snack food that wasn't part of a normal grocery run. I think I was so successful with this endeavour because I kept track of it on a consistent basis. However, it wasn't a complete success since there were those four times where money leaked out of my pocket. Thus, what follows is an explanation of the meals/snacks that I bought and what I learned from them.

Day 1: I ate a southwest chicken combo at the MacDonalds at Wal-mart. This came from poor planning on my part. I had to take the car in to Midas since we has some issues with the braking system. Once the diagnosis came in, we decided to have the repair done then rather than wait. The reapir, unfortunately, took place over lunch time. So I was pretty hungry and I didn't care to wait until the repair was done so I hoofed it over to the Wal-mart and ate there.

Lesson Learned: When knowingly entering a situation that has an unknown time frame to resolution, bring a snack to hold you over until you can get home for a meal.

Days 2 and 4: I drank a pop and a few handfuls of candy. Where I work is a virtual cornucopia of junk food temptations. From vending and pop machines to those 25 cents-a-pop candy dispensers, if I have change on me, I usually succumb to their sugary goodness.

Lesson Learned: Stop carrying small amounts of change/cash on me when I go to work until I determine that I can withstand the neon glow of vending machines.

Day 3: My fiance and I ate lunch at Wendy's. We will always have a place in our hearts for Wendy's as this is where we initially met. It is by far our favourite fast food place, or Quick Service Restaurant to use the new lingo, and we hadn't eaten there in a while. We ran some errands and chose to eat there for supper.

Lesson Learned: Making dining out a rarity makes you enjoy it more. Even though it was only Wendy's, it was a satisfying meal that we could savour since we hadn't been there in a while and likely wouldn't go again for at least another few weeks. By going much more frequently, you end up wasting more money for what, at this point, is just a regular meal. You are much better off financially cooking and eating at home for the majority of your meals and by treating eating out as a rare event to be enjoyed.

Where to go from here?
I'd like to keep up this mentality and behaviour for July, but I've already gotten up to five days of eating/out snacking during the month. One occurance was justified as we celebrated my fiance's new position within her organization by eating supper at East Side Mario's. While there, we shared an entree which helped cut the costs. Another day was again poor planning on my part and went to Subway for supper. Some snacks at work grabbed hold of me for third and fourth offenses and we treated s neighbour to lunch at Wendy's for the loan of his car. While not terrible compared to some people's routines, there is room for improvement on our part and I will try to make the rest of July spend-free. on the flip side, my exercise routine is much more consistent now that we have some good biking weather.

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