C and I realized that having me at home has changed our finances, but not our mindset. We shop for the same fancy meals at the same fancy stores and eat out lunch and dinner somewhat regularly with a nicer meal out maybe once a month. We also had been pretty lax when it came to energy use and gas usage in the car. Luckily, when it comes to entertainment and clothing, we were already pretty controlled.
We started dreaming of the family that could be ours that became frugal and what “this family” did over the course of a year-ish to become so. We’ve decided to make this our loose goal for the next 12 months. The list includes:
Turn our thermostat to 80 in the summer when in the house, and 85 when away– We used to keep it at 77 or 78, whether or not we were in the house.
Run dishwasher and washing machine on short cycles and washing most things on cold. The seventh generation detergent we use is formulated to clean just as well in cold water as warm or hot. We still wash sheets, towels and obviously cloth diapers on warm or hot.
Stop eating out for fun, for a year- Over the past few months, we’ve found our eating out to be stressful with a toddler, not very nutritious, and costing more than we have to spare. There will be times when we don’t plan perfectly and have to eat a bite to avoid a starving child.
Always check for used goods before new- We have been looking for birthday ideas for Little C and finding almost everything at better than half off on craigslist.
Never buy supplies or household goods at full price, and always shop around- There are so many coupons available online and in the circular that makes everything a little better priced, and I feel like when we buy new, it’s just because we are too lazy to look around.
Start using a piggy bank, literally- We are terrible savers when we can see the balance, and often transfer all of our savings right into checking when times get tough. We have an adorable chalkboard piggy bank that we have started stashing all our “extra” cash in. C makes some money doing stand-up comedy and I sell the occasional thing on ebay. These go in the piggy bank to be opened once a year on our wedding anniversary to fund a small trip or something we need in the house.
Master crock pot, bulk and freezer cooking- The crock pot makes such good food out of relatively cheap meats. Also, sales often exist on bigger quantities of meat that are easily frozen. I am also considering measuring the cost benefit to costco items. Side note: I also want to get better at using up what’s in our pantry and fridge before things go bad.
Eat vegetarian when possible- Meat is often among the most expensive items on our shopping list, so we are trying to find creative ways to eat nutritious meals without meat at least a few times a week.
Make our own non toxic cleaners- There are great resourses online for cleaners that won’t cost us the pretty penny seventh generation, and especially Mrs Myers are costing us.
Scale back dramatically on buying anything processed- granola, flavored yogurt, etc.- I’ve found fantastic granola recipes online that will cost about $5 to make 7-10 cups. The bare naked brand costs about $4 for 2 cups of granola. Other items like snacks, crackers and cookies also add to the grocery list, we want to replace them with healthier, home made options.
Start using a kitchen garden- We thought the moment we moved into our little rental house, we would somehow automatically become crazy active gardeners. That hasn’t quite happened yet, but we have purchased one basil plant and not killed it. We are planning to add from there.
Only use car twice a week for errands and kid activities- Currently, my mom is using one car exclusively so we are sharing the other car, which means driving C both ways when I want the car. This is killing us in gas milage. I realized Charlotte and I don’t need to go out 3-4 days every weekday, we have plenty of good activities at home.
I am hoping to focus on one or more of these each week and measure at the end of the month where our savings has been biggest. Maybe kinda fun? Ha. We’ll see.