Living Simply…what does it mean to you?

I have noticed lately that folks talk a great deal about living simply. Yet when I think about that term I wonder what the hell does that mean exactly? For some folks it means living within their financial means and not accruing debt, for others it means getting off the grid and living off the land, for others it means  crossing the country in a veggie fueled RV and taking whatever job they find to put food on the table.

Right now for me living simply means struggling with getting out of debt, yet I still succumb to a daily iced coffee on the way home from work…this is down from the multiple espresso drinks I used to buy daily, yet it still involves spending cash, just a lot less than I used to spend.

I no longer visit malls unless I know exactly what I need, I go in, get what I need and leave quickly before I buy something just because it was cute or on sale. Yet I still get weak in thrift and consignment shops, hence the second vintage dress I bought recently that no one in my family likes…what do they know?

I cook a lot more from scratch, yet I still eat the occasional meal out especially in the summer time when I just don’t feel like cooking. However it tends to be an inexpensive salad or tart from a local eatery. Gone are the days of the $75 lunches. Though I know there are many that would say that I still waste money, true but I strive to find my balance between living a lot more simply but not feeling deprived. Drugstore lipstick probably could work at $5 a tube but MAC lipstick at $14 a tube definitely works and if I save 6 empties I get one free.

So what are you doing to live more simply? Do you even think about living a more simple life? Let me know…I can always use ideas to streamline my life.

Frugality on hold

The past couple of months, I have been diligently recording all expenditures and trying to abstain from the use of plastic including the ever faithful debit card. In the past two months  I have been working hard at seeing where my money goes. I learned that the reason my budgets always seem to never work is because I am never completely truthful during the budget writing process. Its easy to forget small reoccurring expenses like Netflix, etc…

I also have a habit of running to the store for one small item to make a recipe, I am happy to say that I have cut down on extra trips to the store. Lately I have taken to doing one large grocery trip every 2 weeks and only running out for milk, water (my tap water taste like Donkey ass and the Brita filter doesn’t fit my faucet) and produce. It definitely cuts down on spending. It also meant that when the girl child’s nitrate, nitrite gluten free turkey hot dogs were out, she went a week without her favorite food and guess what? She survived.

However after 2 months of being a good frugalista, I have to confess it was driving me crazy. So this month, I took a break. My son also known as elder boy was home for spring break and truthfully while I know he would not have said anything if we just sat around the house, it was time to go out and have a little fun…sadly fun in Maine in April when the weather doesn’t quite know if its spring or winter, will cost you.

So I figured I blew the budget by at least $400 and you know what? Its okay, I realized that I will get back into my daily financial journal by May 1. While living within your means or even below should be a goal, there comes a time for some when it starts to feel like a burden and at that point I am realizing its OK to give myself permission to spend a little.

So frugality will be on hold until May 1 around here. Hopefully I can get those electric blue Chucks I spied the other day before I go back to no-spend land.

Results from the low spend February

Thanks to the economic downturn deciding to get up close and personal with my family in the form of less work aka less money coming in, last month I decided to record every expense we made. I started last month rather excited by the challenge and half way through the month realized that this new adventure was going to be a lot harder than I initially thought.

I have not considered myself a shopaholic in a number of years but as I recorded every purchase I realized there are some areas that I needed to tighten up in….I spent a whopping $1300 in food and miscellaneous expenditures which is a tad over what I budgeted. We ate out 10 times which is a great reduction for us and considering a couple of those meals were legitimate business discussions, it was a little less than 10. Still we have to do better.

I must say that not trying to spend money is hard as hell, look, I don’t do mall visits but its always little shit that seems to trip me up. There is also the fact that I need to make a more realistic budget that includes clothing and grooming items especially with kids since the girl child has decided to have a mid winter growth spurt that required clothing to be purchased. (pesky child…stop growing!)

However the biggest single trap that I seem to be stuck in that undermines my grocery budget is that while I do cook most meals at home, I have a tendency to cook what I am in the mood for rather than cooking what is in my house. I am the type of person that if I in the mood for say steak sandwiches and there are no steak sandwich fixings in the house, I run out to get the items to make the meal. Yes, its cheaper than eating out but the reality is it would be better to just cook what is available.

So for the month of March, my goal is to cook from my pantry. I am off in a bit to do some grocery shopping and from this point on, we will eat what is in the house. I suppose by the middle of the month, I may be salty as hell but my savings account will love me.

Speaking of savings, we actually did manage to put a little something in savings despite having less income, so all was not lost.

While I am not completely happy with the first month of reduced living and see definite room for improvement, all was not lost. So here’s to a better March, by the way tell the weather folks we need spring up here, a sista is tired of snow…almost another foot fell here yesterday.