Taking Up the Everygirl’s 30 Day Challenge: Budgeting for the Holidays

Everygirl, 30-Day Challenge, budget, saving tips, money, kindle, parfait, Apple Macbook Pro

I’m a huge fan of The Everygirl, a site for, well, every kind of girl, whether she is just about to graduate university, is seeking to make a career change, is seeking to de-stress or seek new forms of self-improvement, whether she is in her 20s or 30s, married or single, travelling or home-making. It is such a great site for women, I can’t help but wish this site had been invented 10 years ago!

One thing I’ve been looking forward to is The Everygirl’s 30-day challenge. Each month, the founders of The Everygirl issue a new challenge that we are then invited to take up and work towards over the next 30 days. Previous 30-day challenges have included 30 days of Motivated Mornings, 30 days devoted to 20 minutes each day to improving whatever aspect of our lives we wished to improve, and 30 days of social media-free socialising.

For October, The Everygirl is looking ahead to the Christmas holidays and challenging its readers to find some way to cut back on our spending and start saving so we’ll have a nice little stash of cash set aside in time for December gift-shopping. A little too early to start thinking of Christmas, you say? True, it’s not even November yet. But I for one, as a self-confessed procrastinator and panicked last-minute Christmas shopper, am embracing this challenge as a way to stay ahead of the inevitable oh-no-it’s-Christmas-Eve rush and also to set my mind at ease about my Christmas budget. I love buying the perfect presents for family and friends, and always hate it when my gift-buying is at cross-purposes with my bank account. Also, it’ll be nice to head into the New Year’s for once without being broke!

I have another reason for embracing this month’s budget challenge. As some of you may know, I have been letting myself go simply cray-cray with the online shopping last month and when I looked at my bank account just a couple of days ago, well, I gave a great big gulp and decided, all right, that’s it, no more shopping for the next few weeks! 

And in the most timely fashion, just as I’d shut off my bank account (plus erased that big checkout list of clothes I was just about to purchase from yet another online clothes store), I went into the Everygirl site and discovered their new 30-Day Challenge. Is it fate? Predestination? Or just good timing? Who knows, but as of today I too will begin the 30-Day Budget for the Holidays Challenge and what better way than to read one of the new books in my School of Life toolkit, aptly titled How to Worry Less about Money by John Armstrong.

Besides learning how to worry less about money, I’ve also racked up my strategy list for cutting back on unnecessary spending, which I’ve tacked on below:

Cut back on drinks: I am not a coffee drinker. What I am is a hot chocolate drinker (such a kid). Working in the media means I work crazy shift hours and on the days I’m forced to trudge into work before the crack of dawn, the only thing that keeps me going is the thought of a sinfully dee-licious hot chocolate in my cold little hands when the cafe downstairs finally throws their doors open a couple of hours later (this is how early I have to get up that even the cafes aren’t open yet for the early morning rush. A truly dire situation, I know). And when we get especially busy or hectic, I sometimes stretch my wallet out for not only one hot chocolate a day, but two. A hot chocolate as a treat? Great. But certainly a hot chocolate a day (or two a day) isn’t healthy, not for my bank account, nor for my hips. So this month I vow to turn instead to my stash of green and herbal teabags in my drawer and restrain myself to only one hot chocolate a week (heroic, I know). If I can go an entire week without a hot chocolate, that’s even better. But let’s make this clear right now – no hot chocolate in one week does not equate to two hot chocolates for the next week. Oh, how hard I am on myself sometimes!

Pack a lunch/dinner: Anyone with shift work would know how hard it is to plan prepping, cooking and bagging your own meals from home to take to work. This will take a bit of time, effort and planning (which I don’t feel like most of the time) but I know it will save me some serious doolah-doolah here, especially with the outrageous prices Perth cafes charge these days for food and drink. As if we’re all gold miners or iron ore mine proprietors or something. (Okay, I kid. Working in the media, I’ve heard this debate over and over again and I do kind of understand why they have to charge the prices they do and I won’t go into the full economics of the situation here. In fact, I really enjoy the high quality of food many of the restaurants and cafes in Perth seek to give their customers and I really don’t mind splashing out the cash for a really good meal. However, eating out once or twice a week as a treat is one thing;  eating out every single day is always pricey and packing your own brown bag for work or school definitely saves money in the long run).

Eat simply: Every week, as I do my grocery shop, I tend to go a little crazy. I buy things I don’t really need. I buy gourmet cheeses and lots of expensive fresh fruit and vegetables, and a lot of the time I don’t even eat them and have to throw them out when they turn brown and gross. I think of exciting recipes I could cook from day to day and buy the ingredients for said recipes, only to turn sloth-like when it comes time to actually prep and cook, and do my best to convince the BF we should have takeaway instead. But come this October – no more! Instead, I will plan healthy yet simple meals that are easy to make. Basic ingredients only. And I will do my best to purchase only seasonal fruits and vegetables. So – no mangoes yet, not while they cost $7 each. :sad face:

Resist the urge to splurge while eating out: Can you tell how much of my budget goes on food and drink? I could just simply ban myself from eating out at all this month but my partner and I are relatively social creatures. Don’t even think about saying no to a night out – my partner will just look at me in disbelief and howl me down. However, I will pledge to refrain from buying expensive but incredibly yummalicious cocktails all this month. Only house wine for me for October – and let’s try not to drink too much of that either. Perhaps I should volunteer myself as designated driver this month, but no, let’s not overreach here. And when it comes to meals, I herby pledge to do my best not to order appetisers and desserts. As for mains, I will not – I hereby state – I will not go crazy. I will order something reasonable, rather than the organic grass-fed, hand-massaged-with-beer Wagyu beef steak served with champagne-soaked porcini mushrooms, truffle oil and solid gold bars.

No more books/magazines: This will be hard, but I will not allow myself to buy any books, especially not on my Kindle (sob) for the month of October. Instead, I’ll be re-reading my old books and finishing some books I’ve bought and partly read and never quite got around to finishing. Same with magazines – no impulse purchases except, of course, my monthly Collective Hub mag. A girl has got to have at least one treat (to go with her weekly hot chocolate).

No more clothes shopping: I’ve already gone crazy last month with online clothes shopping anyway so it will be relatively easy to stick to this one. My one secret weapon? The Zara gift card my workmates surprised me with for my 30th and which I haven’t used yet. That ought to be tide me through October! *fist pump*

Fuel up on Cheap Fuel Days: In Perth, the fuel stations follow this weekly cycle where somehow it’s much cheaper to purchase fuel for your car on either Tuesdays or Wednesdays. I try to fill my car up on these days when I can, but sometimes when you’ve been busy all day and it’s late and it’s raining and you’re tired and all you want to do is go home, it’s easy to think, “Feck it, I’ll just fill up tomorrow. How much more can the price jump in one day?” To be honest, quite a bit. So this month, I pledge to be strict with myself and ensure the car gets filled up on either a Tuesday or Wednesday, rather than a Thursday or, worse still, Friday or the weekend when the prices have gone sky-high.

Additional savings: I already put a certain amount of cash away into my savings account each week but I figured if I put in an extra $100 or even $50 along with my current weekly savings, that would round up into a nice little sum for present shopping come December. Plus, putting the money straight into my savings account means I can’t otherwise use it for an impulse buy.

No unnecessary big purchases: The only two things I can think of that I’d allow myself to spend big on this month are things I have already been planning and saving for for ages – a new phone (my old phone is half dead) and a hair cut. I always splurge big on my hair after being traumatised by the budget hairdressers my mum made me go to when I was a kid and it’s something I don’t spend on very often so I won’t blink too much at it. Other than these two things, though, I will definitely be holding back on any massive purchases, even if it comes with a great big shiny bargain tag screaming, “you’ll never come across a bargain this good again!” As the BF says, there is actually no such thing as a true sale, and for the month of October, I will not – I will not (hopefully) be suckered in by the bargain counter temptations.

Are you planning to do The Everygirl 30-Day Challenge for October? And what are some of your best money saving tips? Let me know below!

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