Planning to save

When we first got engaged, I thought we could plan our entire wedding for less than $10,000. I would love for us to have a big wedding in front of an old tree in our backyard. Unfortunately we live in an apartment, so that’s not an option. 

With that in mind, we started sending out inquiries to different venues and were shocked by the cost. Some places wanted $10,000 for an empty room! So we adjusted our expectations and our spending.

I mentioned yesterday that I paid off a credit card bill that had been nagging me for months. I don’t go out too much but I instilled a few practices to cut down on my costs to really attack my balance. I knew if I could get that paid off then I could really focus on saving for the wedding, so it became goal #1.

Full disclosure: I made one large payment to kick things off by taking from a savings account. I had gotten a small raise at my old job and had direct deposit send the difference between my old pay and my new pay ($90) to a savings account every paycheck. That savings account wasn’t making much interest and my credit card did charge interest, so I made the decision to clean it out and make a payment. 

So how did I cut my costs? I started by going to my mint.com account and examining my habits. I was spending way too much on food, the receipts proved it. I also saw a pretty great segment on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. You can watch it Here and be prepared to be sad.

How do I cut down on food cost and waste? Planning!

The most important step to planning is honesty. I knew I spent more on food during the week primarily due to boredom and over sleeping. If I’m home then I am totally capable of pulling together a good healthy breakfast, but my monthly total of receipts from Protein Bar showed that oversleeping and rushing out of the house led me to spend between $30 and $50 a month, at least. 

This is where it gets creative. Sugary cereals make me feel like crap and I can only eat so many bagels before my pants don’t fit. So I needed healthy options that were quick and easy. 

I sometimes make protein pancakes in the weekend when I have more time to get something together. I love the taste but don’t have the time during the week. Enter protein waffles!

  
On Sunday nights, I spend a few minutes preparing a batch of waffles for the week using my favorite protein powder (Perfect Fit) as the base. In the morning I simply toast, top with 100% maple syrup, and eat. Quick, delicious, healthy, and cheap. Exactly what I need! Here’s the recipe: 

?3 scoops perfect fit vanilla 

?2 small bananas (about 4.5 inch each) 

? 4 tablespoons almond milk 

? 3/4 cup egg white 

? 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

? 2 tablespoons almond meal 

? 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour 

? 1 teaspoon baking powder 

? half teaspoon cinnamon

I also give myself two days a week where I bring a smoothie to work (usually the days I over sleep). I bought this thermos and a pack of smoothie straws and simply blend some Perfect Fit with almond milk and frozen berries. We go picking every year and end up with delicious fresh berries in quantities that we can’t finish, so we freeze them and make amazing smoothies later. It’s weird to say but the straws make all the difference!

For lunches, the Mr and I pick out a few recipes for the week trying to tiling similar ingredients so we don’t waste herbs, double up the recipes, cook on Sunday, and simply grab and go during the week.  Here’s a sample week:

 
Salads with sweet potatoes and homemade honey mustard dressing and stuffed bell peppers. We each have two of each and then usually leftovers from a dinner once a week.

Interestingly, I’ve saved a good deal of money over the past few months planning my meals like this and starting my day with a protein heavy breakfast has helped me drop 6lbs! I’m happier with how my clothes fit again and am less tempted to go shopping as a result. It’s a nice chain reaction just from trying to save money.

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