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In our first episode of The TFD Test Lab, host Jazmine lets her husband dictate her budget for 2 weeks — and shares all her progress everything along the way!

In The TFD Test Lab, we're sharing real-life experiences challenging ourselves to live better, more budget-friendly lives. Whether through attempting a no-spend challenge, switching up a budget system, or tracking progress on a new healthy routine, we'll be highlighting all the risks *and* rewards of frugal living.

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I'm Jazmine Reed-Clark for The Financial Diet. And this is The Test Lab.

The Test Lab is a place where I take on challenges to live a better, more budget-friendly lifestyle. And in today's challenge, it incorporates my husband, AKA "Frugal Frank," where he gets to decide my budget for a whole two weeks. Yay!

And this is a particularly interesting challenge because my husband and I are pretty different when it comes to personal finance. If there is a saver and spender in every relationship, my husband is definitely the saver and I'm the spender. And there's a lot of different reports out there.

But on average, I have found in my research that 48% of couples report having serious fights over finances. And we're honestly no different. In fact, I will get into that more during this challenge.

But I thought this challenge would be really interesting because currently, Jordan and I have two pretty different philosophies when it comes to how we budget our money, i.e. he has one. But I pretty much lived by, hey, if I've paid off my credit cards, I put all the money that I want into savings, then the rest is mine to play with. Whereas Jordan, he likes to apply percentages.

So he likes to save well over 50% of his income. And then the remaining goes into various accounts. He wants to know where every single dollar is going. [UPBEAT MUSIC] I'm Jordan.

I'm 33 and married to Jazmine. I like to be outside walking the dog, or riding my bike, or reading, et cetera. My relationship with money is, I think, a pretty healthy one.

I try not to obsess too much about how things cost. But I do try to make sure I'm spending as little as I need to. I tend towards more inexpensive hobbies and habits.

So I think Jazmine's really-- you're really good at making plans and setting goals for yourself. But I think maybe, just the way that your personality is, consistency and staying on target is probably your biggest issue. If there's anything that's going to trip you up, it's going to be that it can be easy to lose interest or shift your interests.

Maybe it's shift interest more than anything. So I gave him full rein to look over my spending. We went over what I currently love and can't live without.

And here's what he came up with. As a freelancer, my income fluctuates a lot month to month. But on average, I bring in roughly $3,500.

Now I put 30% of that away for quarterly taxes, leaving me with around $2,450. We do our best to save 50% of our income, something we've been doing for most of our marriage. Because my income can vary so much, I instead put $1,600 away each month into savings and more when I can, leaving me with $850 for groceries, bills, entertainment, miscellaneous.

After factoring in the expenses I have on autopay, like Netflix and my Peloton payment, we realized my budget should be somewhere in the ballpark of $75 per week. For the week, I have $75 to spend on groceries, entertainment, miscellaneous, and even incidentals. Currently, because I am a solo entrepreneur, Jordan is paying our rent, which is $1,420.

And right now, I handle our subscription services, gas, and entertainment purchases. And that breakdown is as follows. We spend $200 a month in subscription services, things like Peloton, Netflix.

We spent about $40 in gas each month, and then $100 for my cell phone. Now that we have the budget established, let's see how I did. [UPBEAT MUSIC] It's right about this point that I'm like, why did I do this to myself? You know, my therapist and I definitely do a lot of work on self-sabotage.

I think this is something I'll bring up in our session this week. So [CHUCKLES]. No.

But jokes aside, I'm excited because tomorrow is my best friend's birthday and we are going to get sushi. [MUSIC CONTINUES] I ordered $12 worth of food. OK. And we went in and you said, I'm just going to order this thing.

And I'm going to order a Diet Coke. OK. But you have to admit, it does feel awkward when you're at dinner with everyone-- I'm not saying I'm right.

I'm wrong. So you got-- so peer pressure. Yeah.

And it's honestly dumb, because it's intrinsic peer pressure because no one at the table would have cared. But I know that's something I need to work on in my financial journey. It doesn't matter-- first of all, the server probably didn't care because when I was a server, I had too many tables to give a shit what you were ordering.

But in my head, I don't want to look like the cheap person at the table or something. Yeah. [MUSIC CONTINUES] All right. So this is what I have going on today.

This is carrot, clementine, purple cabbage, almonds, lemon, and coconut oil drizzled. So if I want something a little sweet with a dash of savory, I've got that guy. And then I love things that are crunchy.

So to replace my salt and vinegar potato chip addiction, at least through the week, I have been doing this for a couple months now. And it's been really, really great for me personally. It's cucumber.

Typically, I do olive oil. But we're out of that. So coconut oil with sea salt and then everything but the bagel seasoning.

It's so, so, so, so good. And then I have made mashed potatoes, like lumpy mashed potatoes. It was actually kind of a meal prep fail, but I don't know.

Add some butter. Mash it up. Call it mashed potatoes.

It's fine. I will have no excuse to order Postmates. And sometimes they actually have Pop-Tarts and Larabars there, so maybe I'll get lucky.

Maybe not. It's Memorial Day weekend. And we are going to go hang out with my in-laws.

We're going to be in Arkansas watching the Indy 500. It's just very wholesome fun. So but because I have $35 to last me five days, I can't do my usual Mickey D's treat.

I typically get a quarter-pounder with fries, and at the very least, a large fry and a Diet Coke. So instead, I've packed some road trip treats. Look at this Susie Q bullshit I put together!

OK. Celery, apples with lemon so they don't get brown, and then peanut butter. Look!

Look how cute that is! But because I knew I was going to have a little French fry craving, I got these hard-ass French fries. Potatoes are potatoes.

I'll take them dry, stale, expired. Nuts, pretzels with peanut butter on the inside from Trader Joe's, apples, and dog food. This is Winslow.

Look at this! Look at my doggo! Did you mention that you shopped what you already had in the house?

Yeah! And I shopped when I already had in the house. Thanks, Jordan.

I learned it from the best, right? I realize this video is not about me, but-- It is. Ooh!

Update. We're making our second stop. Eating my French fries.

You want one, Jordan? No. Actually, yeah.

For science. Yeah. That is somehow worse than I expected.

Yeah. But the taste of savings is so good. OK.

Mama D and Daddy-o, I have to be on a budget made by Jordan for two weeks. Do you think I will be able to pass the challenge with flying colors? Yes.

Oh, yeah. Yes? Amen.

That's a yes. [CHEERING] Let's go get a dollar ice cream downtown. Yeah, buddy! I got the vote.

I got it. What do you think, Winslow? To stay on budget, I'm going downstairs to get my free intercontinental breakfast.

So sausage, two English muffins, and then pancakes and a banana. I will make it work so that if I need a snack later on, I do for free. So my week one breakdown is as follows.

I had $75 for the week. I spent $42 of that on the sushi, $18 of that on gas for our road trip, and then I spent $25 over Memorial Day weekend. So I did go over by $10, but that's because I did treat my in-laws to brunch.

And I think it was well worth it. [UPBEAT MUSIC] I feel low-key a little defeated. But so because I had gone approximately $10 over for Memorial Day weekend, I thought, all right. Instead of buying any groceries this week, I'm just going to use things that we already have at home, things like frozen tuna that's in the back of the freezer, a ton of black beans.

I actually completely invented a new black bean meatball recipe and it is just amazing. It uses mushrooms. So it's super-umami.

And all of that to say, I felt really great. So I felt like, OK, I kind of had replenished from my "surge spending." And I had my $75. And I even had plans to go hang out with my best friend.

We were going to go to this big warehouse sale that was happening in Dallas. And I even was like, OK. I have $50 and that's what I'm going to spend.

And I mean, I had to work. So unfortunately, I had to cancel. So I was even like, well, now I haven't spent any money this week.

Let's go! And then I went to Target. I spent $63.

Nothing that exciting, like generic Claritin, Pedialyte for my dog, two face creamers. I got some more bars of soap. And while I think if I was not doing this challenge, I would equate it to, well, I have to get those things, I really want to stick to this budget and prove it to myself and like at this moment, I'm like, damn!

I planned. I made sacrifices. But I mean, you can't plan for certain things.

I didn't plan to have an allergic reaction. I didn't plan to have my dog get sick. Those purchases are real just because they're "adult purchases." That money comes from something.

So it just reminds me to make sure I'm also budgeting for life to happen, because it happens. Well, cheers to nearly two weeks of being on a budget, a Frugal Frank approved budget. Did you stay under budget the whole time?

No. I went over because I ended up treating our parents to bagels. So that zapped it.

And then we had pupusas. But I only went $10 over. That's great.

Yeah. [UPBEAT MUSIC] My week two breakdown is as follows. While I technically had $75 for the week, I went ahead, took off $10 because I wanted to finish the challenge strong and account for when I went over in week one. So I really started with $65 this week.

I spent $14.59 on one skincare product, $17.89 on a second skin care product, $5.89 on soap, $5.99 on a new razor, $4.99 on Pedialyte, and $5.89 for a generic allergy medicine. After tax, my Target total was $63.64, leaving me with a nice, astounding $1.36 for the week and for this entire challenge. So that is still in budget, and I would still consider that a win.

I was most worried going into this challenge that Jordan was going to forget that we have different ideas of fun. He is someone who is what I deem very outdoorsy. He rides a bike.

He goes on a lot of walks. So a lot of his enjoyment is already free. And he's been on his own personal finance journey for years.

He graduated grad school with about $60,000 in debt. And he was able to pay it off in a matter of years by being really diligent with every dollar, whereas I graduated with zero debt. And I did have the space, the freedom, and the privilege to develop really bad habits, like only paying the minimum on a credit card.

And though through just life, experience, and growing up, I was able to put a lot of those habits in my past, still when I met Jordan, I didn't prioritize saving. Now again, after being together for over five years, I've changed as a person. I've evolved.

So has he. But still, he is never going to be the person who thinks going out for a $30 brunch is fun. I was just nervous that he was going to forget that I still-- I shouldn't say I need to spend money to have fun, but that some of my favorite ways to spend time with my friends, going out for drinks, getting dinner-- I didn't want him to forget that that's still a part of my personality.

And I wasn't willing to sacrifice that. I would say the most challenging part of this Test Lab episode was having to plan everything out. Well, I don't feel like I'm a spontaneous person.

I've been called impulsive. And I definitely make decisions based off of my feelings. While I think that is a beautiful, healthy way to live life, I'm realizing it's not necessarily the most optimal way to handle my relationship with money.

For me, the biggest lesson was budgeting does not mean you get to have no fun. In fact, as a creative person, I realized budgeting was another avenue for me to be creative. For example, we all saw that I went to my best friend's birthday and we had sushi.

But in the past, I've given her really extravagant gifts. I love to treat my friends really well, especially on their birthday. To me, it's like your holiday.

And I was a little bit nervous giving her a homemade gift. But what I ended up doing was I got all of her childhood friends together, some of her family, and just loved ones she had just really been missing through the pandemic that she hasn't been able to see. And we made a home video for her.

And I coordinated the whole thing, got all the videos. And we were able to put together this really sweet treasure that she really enjoyed and said it was the best gift she had ever gotten, ever, and that it's something she can keep forever. It was affirmation.

It does not matter how much you spend on a gift or spend on someone. It really is the thought that counts. I now love-- OK.

Maybe "love" is a strong word. But we have an upcoming vacation. And it was nice to have that financial intimacy.

I feel like this challenge really brought us closer together. Emotional intimacy has never been an issue in our relationship. But knowing that money is that one thing we do fight about, and we don't always see eye to eye on, I felt like this challenge really brought us closer.

I was able to see life through his lens. So I can now understand when he's planning things out in advance or asking me more detailed questions around money, it's not because he wants me to feel deprived. It's really his way of showing up as a spouse and as a partner, and protecting me, and making sure that we are making wise decisions so that we can enjoy things now but also enjoy things later.

So I'm going into the next week, I think, having just a much deeper appreciation for some of the habits I previously resented of Jordan. And the other thing I would say is I now see just how quickly I can spend $75, which that sounds like a lot of money. How am I already going through $75 in a few days?

So that said, I now am asking myself, do you really want to get drinks with this person? Or is there an alternative? Can you get coffee and walk through the park-- which I have done-- in lieu of getting happy hour with friends?

Even filming this a couple of weeks later, I still continue to live by the 75 a week rule. I know I won't hit it every time. And of course, we'll have things like travel and life happening.

But it's also made me realize I can't-- I have to hold myself more accountable. And that's something I'm taking with me from this challenge. Again, I'm Jazmine Reed-Clark with The Financial Diet.

This is The Test Lab. And I hope to see you guys in our next episode. Please be sure to subscribe.

And leave a comment down below of what challenge I should take on next. Bye!