Try It Out: Survivor Week!

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Like many of you, we've been keeping a tighter grip on our purse strings, from cutting back on ordering takeout to limiting our time on eBay. Last week, a friend of ours challenged us to do "Survivor Week": For one week, we aren't allowed to spend a dime. This means eating everything in our fridge instead of going out for meals, no impulse purchases online or otherwise, and definitely no stopping to get a coffee on our way to work. Here's what we've learned so far...

The rules of Survivor Week are simple: No spending during the week, and you are allowed one trip to the grocery store and/or convenience store before the start day. Also, persuading someone to buy you something is, in fact, considered cheating. This past Sunday afternoon, we dutifully hit the grocery store with a long list, detailing everything from meals to stress snacks to dental floss. One of our biggest financial pitfalls is that after a long day of work, it's hard to motivate ourselves to cook dinner: we'll either run out to Whole Foods for a healthy (but pricey) meal or we'll order takeout. However, everyone knows that it's never a good idea to go grocery shopping when you're hungry...which is exactly the state we're usually in when we're scrambling for food. As a result, there have been many, MANY times when we've stopped by Whole Foods or Trader Joe's with the intent to pick up one or two items, and then walk out with around $40 worth of snack food. But this week? Our meticulous meal planning yielded more leftovers than we anticipated, meaning that we could have done without a few things. Additionally, we've been discovering quick and easy meals to use up said leftovers (so far: quesadillas and stir fry are good dishes to use up lingering vegetables). Even though our grocery bill on Sunday was definitely a bit higher than usual (by about $30), that's still a heck of a lot better than a pricey mid-week snack pickup.

Another byproduct of planning ahead is waking up early: Since we can't spend money on our usual morning coffee run, lunch dates, or even picking up a Gatorade after a strenuous workout; we've been waking up a little bit earlier to have coffee at home, pack a lunch, and remember to throw a reusable water bottle in our gym bag.

In terms of entertainment, we've already discovered a few ways to save: Opting to go for a hike at Eaton Canyon instead of going to see a movie; inviting friends over instead of meeting them for happy hour, checking out books at the nearby library, and even trading plant cuttings with neighbors instead of buying them at the nursery. We have to admit, we were a little worried that we'd be feeling cabin fever--but we're pleasantly surprised. If anything, we're appreciating our home more, making an effort to beautify the outside and being more vigilant about picking up after ourselves.

So here's our challenge, should you choose to accept it: Try Survivor Week, and share your experience with us! If anything, you'll put your planning skills to the test--and see how it pays off...

(Image: MereBearLandon's Flickr )

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