I go in phases of how successfully I save my money. I still have been doing well but I could tighten the proverbial belt another couple of notches. My steady employment will be ending in the middle of June and I do not know what I will be doing after that. As this has been the case the few previous years, I want to be even better at saving my money. I have a few goals I want to reach:
- contribute more to my home
- travel more and take Z. on a trip (he's taken me on tons of trips, it's my turn)
- eventually buy a new car; while I have a down-payment saved I do not want the monthly payment to be a burden
- I pay for my own health insurance out-of-pocket and this is fine and I am happy with my coverage but I would like to add dental to my policy and this is extra.
- buy my own violin. This is a more long-term goal (I am imagining sometime in 2013) and I have been setting aside a portion of money earned from teaching music lessons to help cover this but it is slow going.
I have gone through phases of being really frugal but then I get burnt out. There are lots of great frugal living websites and blogs out there with plenty of tips and suggestions (including my own!). But they do not address the challenge of living day-to-day frugally. I am going to share the process of becoming even more frugal for two reasons. The first is I want to share this information. I read all these posts and the authors make it sound so easy: just don't spend your money, find ways to make some, and when you do spend your money make sure it is as little as possible and it's great.
Well, I find it a little more challenging than that; hence, the phases of commendable frugality contrasted with the periods of slightly looser purse strings. I am sure I am not the only one who struggles.
I also thought by chronicling my frugal journey I might be better about sticking to the plan. I have no idea how long this will last but let's see.
Week 1: April 15 - April 21
Week 2: April 22 - April 28
One place where Z. and I could save more money was by eating out less. For a very long time we were very good about eating out as a treat and it was a special occasion. The last few months, eating out has become more normal. So, eating out is once again relegated to a treat. We did eat out once during this week but that was planned and purposeful.
Saturday and Sunday of that week we made a point to buy all our groceries. Normally, we pick up a couple items here and there throughout the week. This is where I get in trouble. If you are only spending a couple of dollars at a time, it is easy to lose track of what you are really spending.
To help me combat this, I have a plan for myself. I am starting off with an envelope, this format or form of record keeping may evolve as we go along, that has my grocery money. I began with $20 and an intention of making it last two weeks (Z. and I split the cost of groceries by each paying for some of them or paying for the items that only one of us eats). I accidentally made a point of keeping the envelope where I would see it frequently. I had recurring reminders of how much money I had spent and how much I had left. When I saw the money spent, I would think about where that money had gone. I think this was very helpful in impulse control and I think I will explore this topic further.
My $20 did not include eating out or what I spent at the farmer's market. Nor, did the envelope take into account the money spent at Costco over that first weekend. I have to take baby steps or I will not follow through for very long. That is one of the biggest lessons I have learned from my previous falls from cheapdom: baby steps are key.
So, it is now April 30th and I have $2.07. I exceeded my goal! What is left will be added to another $20 which will have to last until May 13th. My money went towards:
- 8 cans of beans for $4 (thank you Fred Meyer for finally having beans back on sale) and no I did not eat that much in two weeks; they are sitting quietly in the pantry
- a bunch of junk food (Cheetos - it was a present to myself and they were cheap because of coupons, M & Ms - for Z.'s lunches and to bribe my students with and I used coupons, and 2 doughnuts to share with Z. yesterday morning)
- lots of produce (carrots, onions, cabbage, tomatoes, and some special fruits and veggies I used to make some recipes for the blog)
- and other essentials like half-and-half for coffee.
- I really wanted to buy a gallon of milk but just never did. That would be close to $3.
- We bought two loaves of bread at the Costco at the beginning of this Operation (which was not a part of this budget). And, Z. bought a loaf of bread yesterday.
I still have to figure out how to budget farmer's market, eating out, and purchases like the ones I made at Costco. Baby steps, baby steps...
What to expect in the near future:
I will share some of the ways that I was successful this week that are ongoing. Tomorrow I start keeping track of all my expenses on my new iPhone. And new recipes are on their way!!!