Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Frugal Accomplishments - December 2013

My friend Carrie, author of the blog "with all that I've been given", has been writing posts over the past few years highlighting all the different ways she's been able to save a penny or two with the practice of frugality. 

I've also practiced frugality much of my life, but most often in seasons.  I hate to admit we often have a "feast or famine" attitude. When we have abundance we live in abundance, and when we've had little we've lived with little....Except over thr past few years when we were used to abundance and started living that way with very little.  Not a smart financial move.

So over the past few months I've been trying to get a true handle on all of our finances and get back into major savings mode.

I wanted to start keeping track of all the ways we've been frugal. Not to show off, but to share tips and hints. Carrie's posts have been so helpful to me,  I'm hoping my posts will also be insightful to others who are trying to live more frugally. So here's my list for December 2013:

Frugal Accomplishments 12/2013
  • Christmas cards: used cards I bought last year in an after-Christmas sale at Big Lots. Also used postage stamps I had bought through 2013, so we had no immediate costs for buying or shipping the cards.
  • Groceries: saved over $90 (about 30 percent of our total) on all groceries over the month of December by combining coupons with store sales. 
  • Pet supplies: we received two free bags of cat litter (with five cats we go through a lot of cat litter!) after writing to the company with questions. This was a savings of $40.00.
  • Holiday parties: limited the amount of items we took to holiday parties/get-togethers (usually I go overboard with lots of extra cooking) - we took one or two items only (per event) and used the same recipes for multiple events to save on groceries.  This was helpful not only in grocery savings, but also in time and energy.
  • Travel expenses: while we were home over the holidays we combined trips and only went to town if absolutely necessary outside of the combined errands. We saved a lot of money in gas this way. When I went to visit my dad in the hospital over Christmas (several hundred miles away) I stayed in the hospital overnight with him to save on hotel costs. (Thankfully the hospital was gracious enough to allow this!)
  • Cash only: after the recent Target debit-card fiasco, hubs and I were left without debit cards for 3 weeks starting on Christmas day (our bank cancelled all cards that were used at Target during that period). This was incredibly frustrating at first, but we went cash-only for 3 weeks (okay, it was only 2 weeks, but it sure felt like 3 weeks!) and then realized how much less money we spent overall when we only had cash. A silver lining in my book. Now we are committed to living cash only for groceries, home supplies, and gas, etc... we're only using our debit cards for emergency purchases in the future.
  • Frugal entertainment: ONLY watched movies and TV shows that are included in our Netflix and Amazon Prime memberships (thanks to not having debit cards!) - We had not realized how much extra money we had been spending on movie and cable show rentals. Those little expenses were really adding up! ALSO: bird feeders are really fun and inexpensive entertainment, both for us and the kitties! Birds are great fun to watch!
  • Cold weather savings: started wearing lots of layers instead of buying new clothing when the weather became much cooler a few weeks ago. (Double t-shirts are going to make me quite the fashion icon this year! )
  • Kindle savings: Again, thanks to no debit card,  I stopped buying books for my Kindle and have only been reading books that are available for free via the Kindle store.  I've found some really great reads this way as well!

What are some ways you were frugal during December 2013?

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