Monday, January 7, 2013

January Challenge - Week 1!

As I don't plan on spending any money today, or accomplishing much more on my decluttering challenge after work, I'm going to wrap up week one & share my progress!

You can find my initial post about the January Challenge here. And, thanks to Carla for hosting the January Challenge.

I found the first week of the challenge to be very enlightening! I honestly didn't think it would be terribly difficult - after all, it was just sticking to my budget. ;-) I thought that would be cake in the first week of January.

For the financial challenge, my goal is to keep our weekly variable spending to $360/week. This  does not include standard bills like the mortgage, child care, etc.
And, here's how we did:
  • Groceries - $94.39
  • Dining out - $33.10
  • Gifts (returned a Christmas gift, & exchanged it for the correct item) - +$3.88 (slight price difference between the two, so I received a credit).
  • Postage - $9.68
  • Gas - $136.51
  • Dry cleaning - $35.73
  • House - $54.76
For a grand total of $360.29!!! We were over by $.29, so . . . close enough. I actually expected to be well under our weekly budget, but a few things caught me off guard. M's cousin paid us a visit (which was a fabulous treat), but I wasn't planning on having guests when I devised these numbers. M took him to lunch as a thank you for some electrical work he did around the house (he's an electrician), so that was unexpected money spent in dining out. We also bought the supplies for the electrical project (again, unexpected), & I sold a book on Amazon & had to pay for postage. $9.68!! What was I thinking when I listed it? I'm barely going to make the money back on the sale when it comes in. C'est la vie.
Also, the gas tanks in all three cars must have been practically dry at the beginning of the month, because we filled up all three this week, which is very unusual.
Next week will bring new challenges, because I just received our car licensing bill for $234. .. . Almost our entire weekly budget! I'll have to be very creative to hit our numbers, but I don't think we need too many groceries, we certainly shouldn't need any gas, & I'm not expecting any guests or other unusual spending to come into play.
For the decluttering challenge, my goal is to get rid of (either sell, toss, or donate) 20 items per week in January. Bonus goal would be to clean my closet & dresser!

And, here's how I did with the decluttering challenge during week 1 . . . I got rid of 14 items of clothing that the kids outgrew, & cleaned my jewelry armoire. I donated at least 35 items of jewelry that have been sitting there for years. I also got rid of all of the old receipts, paper work, & just junk that accumulated. I also decluttered my nightstand and one of my dressers!

As a bonus, I went through my closet & found about 30 potential items to list on Ebay. I've used Ebay very sparingly in the past (to get sell higher end items), but I'm willing to try a few things out & see how they do.

I'm very, very pleased with my decluttering challenge progress, & aim to continue decluttering my closet this week.

I would insert a picture of some of this, but Blogger still won't let some of us add new pictures to posts (you can, however, add pictures that are already posted on your blog in older entries.) I promise to add pictures once I can.

How are you doing on your January challenges?


  1. I would call it a win in every category! Especially if you had company and only went over by $.29!
    I need to start doing no spend weekends. That is what is killing us.

    1. I was laughing to myself this morning when I totaled up the numbers. I did buy the boys french fries while skiing ($5.05 for FRIES!), & had I known how close we were, it would have been tempting to skip. But, there little sad faces probably would have swayed me anyway. :-)

      Yes, weekends are a killer. We look for cheap(er) activities & have a few. Skiing (not cheap, but we commit the money early in the year, so now it's just about getting our money's worth) & our gym offers free bouncy house/swim days on Saturdays & Sundays. We're going to try & take more advantage of those, especially on rainy days.

    2. Sounds like your first week went perfect!! :) I'm doing a bit more decluttering today & will share photos tomorrow! We're on track with the budget thankfully as well!! :) Good luck next week!

    3. Yeah for being on track, Carla! That's awesome news.

  2. You nearly made it!

    I've been caught out by the postage on heavy books before - the postage you're allowed to charge doesn't always cover the cost :(

    This challenge is really motivating us all to get de-cluttering. Good luck with week 2.

    1. Laura - I know. What a bummer of a surprise. I was so delighted to sell my first book, only to discover that I was committed to providing a certain level of postage that ate up 85% of my profits! I'll have to pay more attention next time.

      Yes - love the challenge & the extra focus. I always need it in January. :-)

  3. Postage is the killer for any little guy who sells online. You just can't compete with the companies that can offer the cheap(or free)shipping and make it up somewhere else in their business model.
    One of the biggest mistakes folks new to selling online make is not to charge enough to cover all those incidentals(cost of shipping/paper/ink/packaging/etc.)costs in the price of their items. And then on amazon you can get in the midst of a book price war between mego-sellers and can lose your shirt. 8-(

    At least you came out ahead. 8-)

    1. Oh yes, mam! I made $.47. I'm just delighted with my profits. ;-) That doesn't count my gas getting to the post office, of course.

  4. Did you mail the book "media mail"? I've found that drastically cuts the cost of the book. It is my understanding that it can only be for books. With being $.29 over, I would say that is a successful week. I like your idea of delegating a certain amount every week to incidentals and posting about it.

    1. No, when I read the Amazon fine print, it said something like I was committed to sending it first class? I don't know if that was correct or not, but I was in a rush to get it mailed by the deadline since we were out of town. Lesson learned!

      Yes, I'm finding the tracking of the incidentals to be very helpful!

  5. I think you had a very successful week! Sorry about the postage thing...that is why I very rarely sell on Amazon or ebay anymore. Not worth it once all the fees are taken out.

    1. Yep, I'm with you. I'll try out Ebay, since most of my items are light, & remember to increase the postage fees. Amazon? I'm probably done unless I can figure out a smarter way to calculate the fees.

  6. Hi! Visiting from the link on Carla's page...our goals for the No/Low Spend Challenge are so similar! I'm trying to stick to $399 pw. Good luck for the challenge :) - Fiona

  7. Someone left me a comment the other day about pictures in blogger. They said a lot of people were having problems, but there is a way around it until it is fixed.
    When you are typing there is a box at the upper left with the choice of compose or html. Click on html and it will let you load the picture. When you click done you will see a bunch of script. Now click on compose and it will turn into a picture. I hope this helps.
    By the way, I love your blog!