Financial Challenge #1: Spending Freeze

We are super excited to kick off our Financial Challenge Series! Each month, one of our employees will complete a financial challenge and then blog about it right here on our Blue Chip FCU News Blog! Be sure to let us know your favorite challenges, suggest future challenges and share your own challenge results! Let’s jump into our very first challenge…

Financial Challenge #1: Spending Freeze

What is it: A spending freeze challenge is when you “freeze” or stop all extra (non-essential) spending for a specific period of time with the goal of saving that extra money.

How long did we do it: We did the spending freeze challenge for one month.

Here’s how it went…

After going a little overboard at Christmas, we decided we needed to take a big break from extra spending. We revisited our monthly budget to remember exactly how much money we had allocated to each area of spending. There are many areas where you just don’t have a lot of control to change. Your mortgage payment will always be the same amount each month. We really focused on the areas where we could control how much extra we were spending… groceries, gas money, dining out and extra personal spending money.

Our grocery budget has always been based on planning meals and then buying groceries at the least expensive stores. The majority of our grocery shopping is done at discount grocery stores such as Aldi’s or Sharp Shopper. However… this requires a lot of planning and time. It is way more convenient to pop into the local grocery store and just buy whatever you need or want and pay double the price. That was the first thing to be cut during the spending freeze. I spent time creating a meal plan for the week and then making a grocery list and buying ONLY the items on the list. This resulted in two very big wins… 1). I stayed within the grocery budget. 2). We lost weight! There was no eating out and all of the meals I planned out were healthy. It was a huge WIN/WIN.

Because we did such a good job of planning our meals and having the groceries on hand, there was no need to eat out on a regular basis. We did treat ourselves to two date night meals during the month. But… those dates were also cut back from going out to restaurants, to grabbing take-out and having a movie night at home instead.

We also cut back on personal spending, so… no more weekly trips to Target or the Outlets. This saved on both spending money and gas money.

At the end of the month, here is what we discovered:

Pro’s List
  • We ended the month with $400 in extra, unspent money!
  • We lost 10 lbs! I mean, could there be a better unintended plus?
  • We thoughtfully considered every extra dollar we spent. And honestly, we didn’t really miss those extra $50 worth of items we would have bought at Target that week.
  • Having money left at the end of every week became a challenge in itself. It felt good to set that money aside knowing we were accomplishing our goal.
  • It was great to have money set aside when fun opportunities came up that required a little extra cash. I think we are all guilty of saying yes to night out with our friends before figuring out where that money is coming from. This spending freeze created that extra spending cushion.


Con’s List
  • It was hard and not a lot of fun.

Hopefully, you got a little chuckle out of the con’s list… but honestly, it is very hard to deprive yourself of all extras. This month has taught us that life is about balance. You set up the extra spending money in your budget to treat yourself to those extras, but the key is to stay in control. Overall, we stick to our grocery budget which also helps to cut down on eating out. We may not save an extra $400 EVERY month, but we do truly consider what we spend money on and if it is worth it.