Challenge Day 2

Today was an easy day. I had a mystery shop at a restaurant for lunch. This might be considered cheating but I had it scheduled before deciding to do this challenge. It will be the only restaurant mystery shop for the month. Here is the breakdown for today.

  • Money Spent= $435 for Rent which is necessary.
  • Exercise=Lower Body BFL workout

Food eaten for the day:

  • Breakfast-Oatmeal= 225 calories
  • Lunch-Chicken Sandwich,chicken caesar salad,chips=830 calories
  • Dinner PB&J=350 calories,banana=100 calories,corn=91 calories

Total calories for the day=1596. Calories were higher today due to the restaurant lunch but still well below my maintenance level.

Challenge Day 1

There were no problems staying on track for my goals on day 1. Of course it will likely get more difficult as the month progresses. Here are the details.

  • Money Spent $0
  • Exercise-20 minute run

My $30 food budget seems to be allowing me plenty of food to eat. I had three meals and wasn’t hungry. Although I did have a craving for something sweet. This was only day 1 though. Here is my food eaten for the day and the approximate amount of calories.

Breakfast- 3/4 Cup Oatmeal= 225 calories, sweetened with free Splenda
Lunch-PB&J=350 calories, banana =100 calories
Dinner-Ramen =380 calories, 1/3 can corn=91 calories

Total calories for the day=1146. This is not sustainable for the long term but I am about 35 pounds overweight at my current 205 pounds. This should be enough to keep me going for the month.

Challenge Preparations

I went shopping yesterday and bought the following items as part of plan to eat on only $30 for the month of February. The price by each item is an approximate price, the total price is the actual money spent.

  • 5 packages Oatmeal (18 oz.) $2.00
  • 1 loaf white bread $0.65
  • 1 jar peanut butter (18 oz.) $1.29
  • 1 jar grape jelly $1.00
  • 12 cans of corn $4.00
  • 8 bananas $0.80
  • 1 box pancake mix $1.00
  • 1 bottle syrup $1.00
  • 1 package margarine $0.50
  • 1 package mac & cheese $0.30
  • 10 packages ramen $1.00

My actual total amount spent is $14.34. I got a really good deal on the oatmeal. They were on sale for $1.00 each and I had coupon for $3.00 off any 5 Quaker products. This gives me a month of breakfasts for just over $2.00.

I’ve already spent over half my budget but I think I have more than a half month’s of food. The ramen and white bread are not the healthiest choices but they are cheap. I won’t be buying any more ramen. I might buy wheat bread next time but it is about double the price if you get actual whole wheat bread. I’ll be posting my meals daily if you want to see what my meals are.

One Month Challenge Mash-Up

I have been lazy and lacking self-discipline lately and I have decided that it is time to change. I have set several goals or challenges for myself to accomplish in February. The resulting challenge takes some of Steve Pavlina’s 30 days to success, The Simple Dollar’s One Month Challenge, Maggie Wang’s Cheapass Challenge, and the idea of Hungry For a Month and mashes them up.

For the Simple Dollar‘s One Month Challenge I need to keep track of everything I spend in February and ask myself whether it was neccessary or not. This shouldn’t be a problem for me because I already keep track of all my expenses. To make it more challenging I am going to try to keep my expense total as small as possible.

The idea of Hungry For a Month is to spend only $30 on food for an entire month. I have already purchased some items but they will be coming off my $30 total. Ketchup, mustard, salt, etc. will not count against the total because they are freely available to most persons. There is an opportunity to get free pizza or other meals at my school fairly often but I won’t be eating them because I don’t think the average person has these free meals available.

From Maggie Wang‘s Cheapass Challenge I will be doing the exercises from Body-For-Life. I can’t incorporate the food portion of the challenge due to my $30 limit. I am going to try to eat as healthy as possible within that limit. There will be at least one serving each of fruit and vegetables in my daily diet. That might not sound like much but it is better than I eat now.

The idea of Steve Pavlina’s 30 days to success is that you can establish a new habit in 30 days. While I don’t want to make eating on $30 a month a habit I can make eating less a habit. Exercising regularly is another habit I want to establish.

That is the basics of my one month challenge mash-up. I’d like to hear any ideas people have on how to meet this challenge. Any ideas on how to eat healthy and cheap would be especially appreciated.

My Monthly Expenses

Here is a list of my monthly expenses to give you an idea how I spend my money.

December 2006 Expenses

Car expenses 85.43
Household 549.28
Food 79.71
Entertainment 8.82
Books 87.76

Total $811

This was a slightly lower than normal total. My food expense was lower because I stayed at my mom’s for over a week for Christmas. That also caused my entertainment expense to be lower than normal. My car expenses included gas and a $25 parking ticket. Household expenses included my $435 rent plus gas, electric, and miscellaneous including Christmas gifts. Books were for school so that isn’t an expense I have every month but there is usually some large non-monthly expense every month.

This shows one can live on very little money if they have to. And I also don’t feel that I was deprived of anything I really wanted.

$7.08 A Month Phone Plan

My monthly phone expense is $7.08. Here is how I managed to get my monthly phone costs so low.

First, I already had an old T-Mobile phone that I wasn’t using. The good thing about T-Mobile phones is you can just pop a new sim card in them and you have a working phone again. Since I already had the phone my next step was to buy a new sim card for it. I bought a new sim card with 1000 minutes for $85 off eBay. The retail price for 1000 minutes is usually $100. The drawback to buying off eBay is the card already has a phone number assigned to it which will probably not be in your local area code. This wasn’t a problem for me since most of the people I call are long distance anyway. You can change the area code of the phone number but you have to wait 90 days.

When you buy 1000 minutes from T-Mobile the minutes won’t expire for one year. The biggest benefit to buying the 1000 minutes though is you qualify for the Gold Reward status. This means in the future I could buy as little as 30 minutes and they wouldn’t expire for a year. If I only bought a $10 card the second year my monthly phone cost would only be $0.83 a month. Of course I probably will use more than 30 minutes in a year. I might be able to get by with 1030 minutes in two years though, that would make my average monthly cost $3.96 over two years. If you keep repeating this for a third,fourth,fifth year you can bring the cost even lower.

Right now my cell phone is my only phone. Last year I supplemented my cell phone by using Skype or Messenger phone when I planned on having extended phone conversations. I haven’t used Skype this year since it is no longer free. At $14.95 a year though it wouldn’t add much to total phone cost. I haven’t signed up for it yet though since the people I usually have longer conversations with also have Yahoo Messenger and I can call them for free.

This plan works well for me but probably wouldn’t work for those who use their phone more often. I don’t really like to talk on the phone much so it is easy for me to talk less than 83 minutes a month on my cell phone. I usually use much less than that. Even if you couldn’t use this as your primary phone it would make a cheap secondary phone.