Monday, March 24, 2014

Frugal Accomplishments during March 2014

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March is always a good month for frugal accomplishments! It's a long month and money has to stretch as much as possible to make it through to the end. That means we have to get creative in how we spend our money and how we budget. March is a great month to find free activities, the weather starts getting nice and you can spend more time outside with a good walk or time with pets or your yard. We actually have a lot of yard work I should get started on to prepare spring beds! 

Here's a pictorial review of some of things we accomplished this month in our frugal and savings goals: 

  • 52 Week Savings Challenge: First we've continued a special savings plan we started at the beginning of January called the 52 week Savings Challenge. If you haven't heard of this, there are tons of different websites explaining the process, for example check out this great board on pinterest with different ideas of implementation: 52 Week Challenge. Basically the way it works is for each week of the year you put the corresponding number of dollars into your savings jar or savings account. There are good reasons to follow this challenge at home or by using a savings account. Using a savings account will (of course) allow you to gain interest on this money, but sometimes people need the visual reminder of a jar at home. We are saving this money to use for Christmas next year, along with a few other items we'd like to have to improve our home. What has worked best for US in this challenge is to simply save the weekly average of the total amount of $1378.00, which we rounded to about $30 a week. Since the amount grows each week that you save, you would end up having to put a LOT in the jar/savings account by the end of the year, so it's been beneficial for us financially to simply use the $30 weekly average as opposed to the assigned weekly amount. Still, if we can keep this up for a year, this will make Christmas next year SO much easier than it's been in year's past! We won't have a credit card balance! 

  • As a Non-Consumer Advocate/ Less Stuff: One of the things I'm working on this year is buying less stuff, especially "stuff" we don't need (and it's amazing how your needs vs. your wants change as you really think about how much things cost and how you can stretch of the use of items you already have! One way we practiced this this month was by repairing several items at home. Last month I patched my favorite pair of jeans. This month I spent 2 hours mending and repairing the edges of this old comforter I've had for the past 10 years. I bought the comforter for my first apartment out of college as a brand-new (but slightly damaged) set at Goodwill for $30.00. The sheets and matching pillowcases are long gone, but we still use the comforter! I rotate comforters since we have cats who like to throw up and drag tushes... but this one has been able to outlast all of that even with constant washings! I'm hoping to get another 10 years out of it with the repairs! 

  • Leftovers for breakfast! We have always eaten leftovers for lunch, but I've expanded the practice to include leftovers for breakfast too. My favorite leftover breakfast is a baked sweet potato topped with butter, cinnamon, a little sugar, and pecans! 

  • Less Products/Less Plastics: One way we're cutting back on buying products and packaging has been to cut out store-bought shampoo & conditioner. I've gone the "no (sham)poo" route and I use a variety of different ingredients to wash my hair. You can learn more about this method from a variety of blogs and facebook groups. My favorite facebook group is called: Toxin Free Hair Care: No "Poo"/ Low "Poo" Forum. Not only are you removing toxins from your home and body by using hygiene methods like this, but you're also helping to use less unnecessary containers and plastic packaging, so less "stuff" for the landfills. A great blog to help you get started on "no poo" or if you're simply curious about the process is: becoming peculiar (I love this title! lol). Also... you start to realize that "crunchy/hippie/granola" is not nearly as weird as you once thought... lol! The picture above shows a before/after on one of my mid-week hair days. I generally "wash" my hair about once every 4-5 days and by the 4th day or so it can look "greasy" so I use a "dry shampoo" that consists of a little cornstarch and a little cocoa powder. I sprinkle the mixture on my roots, rub it well into my scalp and then brush it out with a boar bristle brush. I fluff my hair with my hands and on the right you see the results after the dry shampoo. Again, for more details on HOW the process works and why you would even bother with such a crazy thing, please check out this blog post or MANY others (google it.. you'll be amazed at how many people do this!)

  • Shopping store sales/ less grocery costs: I generally shop once a week for groceries. In the past month our grocery budget has been between $50 and $60 a week for two people. This is for mostly food only. I get our toiletries in bulk on amazon for much less about once every 5-6 months. The picture above shows my groceries from last week. This was a $49.38 purchase from Food Lion. I buy ONLY items that are on sale and I create my menu around the store sale items or items that I have a store coupon for. This way I save nearly 15%- 20% on all my groceries. This means the menu is not always exciting! However, we've saved a lot of money this way and  we certainly haven't gone hungry! I also focus on making sure MOST of what we eat is naturally healthy. Hubs (who is NOT gluten-free) is the cereal fiend and I'm hoping one day I can convince him to try the store brand cereals... we'll see... lol

  • Homemade homemade homemade!! Gluten-free food products are ridiculously expensive, especially if you want something baked. Contrary to popular belief I actually don't bake that much. I did when I was writing cookbooks and creating tons of recipes for the blog here, but since I don't bake all that much anymore, you don't see nearly as many recipes (my apologies! lol! I need an ingredients allowance!)  I was craving pizza last week so I made the recipe out of my "Everything Gluten-Free Baking Cookbook" (this is NOT an affiliate link, I do not make money by you clicking the link to amazon) and honestly we had forgotten how good that recipe is. We'll definitely be making that homemade pizza more often! 

  • PANCAKES! In the same homemade savings arena... we've been making these homemade pancakes a LOT! This is by far my favorite pancake recipe and I discovered it and tweaked it a few months ago. I will share it on the blog soon. Seriously, I've made a TON of different types of gluten-free pancakes and these are by far my favorite! I can't wait to share it with you... I do not like admitting I finally started using a kitchen scale to make them... (and yes, I still prefer baking with cups & spoons, HOWEVER... I can admit that I see why serious bakers enjoy using a scale for I hate admitting that... LOL)

  • Choosing Joy, every single day! Being frugal not only means you spend less, it means you can choose to find great joy with less. And that has become a huge priority in my life. By choosing joy every day, I have been able to find joy in the most mundane of activities such as washing dishes or putting up clean clothes. I used to HATE these everyday tasks... and somedays are better than others... but by having less and enjoying what I do have, I have found SO much joy. I've written about this topic before, and I will write about it again soon. I hope you can find joy in being frugal! If you have... will you share in the comments below? 

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