February Finances

March 5, 2011

In Not Buying It: My Year without Shopping, Judith Levine wrote, “My consumer desires this year are all channeled into food.” I hear you, Judith. Because of my CSA payment, I spent 2 percent more this February than I did in February 2010. Had I not joined the CSA, I would’ve spent 12 percent less.

Aside from grocery expenses (which increased 70 percent, thanks to the CSA payment), my biggest increase was again in restaurant expenses, which were 154 percent more than last February. This time I didn’t shell out for any big, fancy dinners in the city. Instead, I bought lunch the afternoon we celebrated my boss’s birthday, and after a trip to the movies one Saturday, I treated Channing to dinner at a chili joint in Fairfax. Apparently a pitcher of beer and an order of onion rings (on top of our respective entrees) were enough to more than double what I spent last year on two lunches out.

Oh, I also had to buy gas for my car this February. Last February I did not. Even though I live in the suburbs, I fill up only about once every five weeks. I drive a hybrid, and on top of that, I’ve cut my driving significantly over the last couple years. Most days I walk to work (the office is a little more than a mile from home).

My “other” expenses—which this month included a couple credit card payments, a haircut, and a trip to the movies—dropped 33 percent compared with last February. In February 2010 I spent more than $300 on stuff, namely, clothes (for the new job), fabric, yarn, and a magazine subscription.

I put 91 percent more in savings this month than I did last February.

Although I haven’t seen much in the way of a dip in expenses during these first two months of the experiment, I think I’m laying the groundwork for some huge savings in the months to come. For one thing, like I said in my last post, joining the CSA should reduce my food expenses in the summer and fall by about 40 percent. For another, I’m not putting any additional debt on my credit cards, so those payments will drop significantly starting in March.

In unrelated good news, my blog views increased 5 percent in February. Thanks for reading! Also, at the library this morning I found two new cookbooks to play with: Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse Cafe Cookbook and, because I have a friend with a gluten allergy coming to dinner next weekend, The Gluten-Free Gourmet.

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