frugal living Archive

How Low Could you Go?

I know, I know…you are probably tired of hearing me talk about money. Well considering it’s the season when most of us lose our heads in the quest to give the best gifts we can (or cannot) afford I figure you can never talk enough about money.

I have been reading this blog almost since it’s inception, I think I mentioned here once before. Basically it’s about a family that lives off $1000 a month! Yes, you read that correctly a thousand dollars a month. Long story short, it’s a married couple with 3 small kids, they live here in Maine and actually seem to do ok. Ok at least as defined by the blogger.

I must admit that while I strive to reduce debt and be frugal that there is no way I could live off that little, hell I couldn’t do it as a single Mama almost 17 years ago. That said, while there are a lot of choices this family makes that I couldn’t see doing personally, I have to admire their desire to live within their means…even when they don’t have much.

This weekend, while I was happy to have solved the car problem without going into debt, I must admit I was having a bit of a pity party. See, I busted my ass to get my bonus from work. If you read this and you know me personally, you know the work I do and at times how grueling it is. I love it but at the same time it leaves me drained. This organization has never given the director a bonus…so you know a sista was grinding away to get that extra cheddar. (translation, I worked hard as hell to convince them to give me a bonus).  Now I had not planned anything specific other than to visit family with that cash, I had planned on there being some cash left over for Mama to have some fun. Fun? Oh yeah, simple shit I no longer do like getting nails done and actually a trip to get my hair done since the fro has gone crazy. Well all that is history at this point thanks to the car situation.

Now I know I should be grateful that we were able to resolve the car problem yet human nature being what it is, I was feeling pissy yesterday and realized what a hypocrite I can be at times. Hell, I was just telling my sibling the other day you have to focus on what you have and not what others have….great advice, even better if I were to heed it myself. Truthfully I do a great deal of the time, but this weekend was not one of those times.

This morning though as I made the rounds to blogs I read while I feed my coffee habit, I was once again struck with how some folks are seemingly able to make do on so little and appear to be content. So I wondered again, what would it take for me to be one of those folks? I don’t have the answer yet but I am thinking about it and when I figure it out I will be sure to share, in the mean time I ask you, could you live on a thousand bucks a month and be content? If so, why? If not, why?

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Saving money…let me share

Time to make a public update on my money situation. In the end, Oct was an okay month with my money, but I think I shared that recently. What I want to share is how I have started saving cash at the store, now for some of ya’ll this is kid’s play but you gotta understand for me this is huge. Like many folks I have always poo-pooed the idea of using coupons after all, most of what I see for coupons is stuff I would never buy since we don’t use a great deal of convenience or processed items. Yet recently I have been reading more and more about folks who shop the sales and combined with some coupons end up saving a great deal.

Well times are tough, money is tight and I have a lot of plans in the coming months chiefly some trips to visit family and friends and since I haven’t seen my raise yet and still don’t know exactly what it is going to be, I know I need to reduce my spending.

So last Sunday, I actually took an hour with the sales papers from my local grocery store along with a few coupons and decided rather than making my usual grocery list that I was going to only buy what was on sale, stock up on those items and plan my meals based off what I bought rather than my usual way. Normally I make the meal plan and shop based off what I think we re going to eat.

Well in changing things up I have saved over $120 this past week and stocked up on quite a few items. Now I mentioned this to a few folks and there seemed to be an assumption that I must have a crate load of junk food. No, darling not at all. Examples of things I bought in volume only using the sales would include 5 lbs bags of King Arthur flour that I got for $2.50 a bag. King Arthur is a decent brand and generally pricier than the cheaper stuff, I now have 15 lbs in the cabinet. I also stocked up on sugar, shredded coconut and other baking goodies. I rarely buy chicken breast but the store had a buy one get one free deal on Purdue Split Chicken Breast, so I stocked up on those too.

The only processed items that I stocked up on were Annie’s Mac and Cheese, the girl child will not eat my homemade mac and cheese no matter how much I try to make it look like Annie’s and frankly there are times I don’t feel like cooking. Also the boy will be home soon, and he likes to snack on these as well, so I took advantage of the 3 boxes for $4 sale.

In the end, I spent maybe an hour and a half poring over the sales and creating my list and clipping coupons for toilet paper and paper towels. (I tried to give these up but it created more laundry and sadly juggling family and my outside job, creating more laundry is not an efficient use of my time)

I even took advantage of the new chain drug store opening up and saved a bit there on items I would normally purchase with their $10 off a $20 purchase coupon. At that store I stocked up on laundry soap (el cheapo brand I use for linens since due to skin sensitivity, I can only use 1-2 brands for my clothes) toothpaste, and other related items. The Spousal Unit has been teasing me that I have become one of those women, but I admit I kinda like getting deals especially when its stuff I would buy anyway. Yes, it took time to actually read the flyers and plan but if saving money and switching up things means I can head home for a visit soon its all good.

I admit, I doubt I will ever be the lady getting $200 worth of food for $5, since unless coupons start coming out for fruits, veggies and meat, there are still only limited items that I can use coupons for. However by shopping the sales it seems I may be able to reduce our grocery bill by at least $100 which is a plus since currently it stands at close to $600 which is a tad insane for 3-4 folks.

So I share this with you to say if this not the way you shop, it might be worth looking into, after all what might you do with an extra $100 a month?

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Financial failure

Hi there! My name is BGIM and I am addicted to spending money. Yeah, it sounds like I am kidding but lately as I strive to live a simpler life and get a handle on my finances, I am realizing I have a problem. For the life of me I cannot go a day without spending money. Even the days when I plan to spend it’s not uncommon for me to overspend by a good $50 to a $100.

So what am I buying? Um, food…we don’t do a great deal of eating out anymore but I am a sucker for any and all local foods and farmers markets. I average over $100 a week going to the farmers market. Then there is my coffee stops which while I drink cheaper drinks now (no $4 or 5 beverages) the fact is they add up. Despite the fact they are not daily occurences.

Then there is that thrifting habit, now this is a tricky one, having lost a lot of weight my existing wardrobe is a piece meal operation and there are still a lot of things I don’t have and only realize it when I have a meeting or conference to attend. Yet I am starting to feel, it would have been cheaper to devote $400-500 at one time and hit the outlets rather than the constant thrift shop search for clothes since $20 here and $30 here adds up.

The thing is, I am planning a few getaways to visit family and friends who I have not seen in years and now that girl child no longer goes to the insanely overpriced full-time childcare it is realistic that in the next 6 months we can visit family but only if I am not nickeling and diming our cash away.

Just today, I set aside $50 for the week (house filled with food) yet already I have spent half of that and we have a trip to the city planned later this week which will take the remaining $25. Which means either I have to spend no more money all week or go over budget.

So all you frugalistas out there…how do you not spend money? And no not leaving the house is not an option since I do have to go to work this week. I do pack water and today I even brought snacks for girl child in the car yet still spent $7 buying her and I drinks at the evil Starbucks. Somebody? Anybody? Help me! My name is BGIM and I am addicted to spending money and I need an intervention.

Happy Monday!

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