Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Let's talk Frugal

I have mentioned it in recent posts all ready, but THANK GOODNESS for Casey's foresight when it came to money. His planning is paying off for us right now, making it so we don't feel as stressed as we could be about money. Our business is greatly effected by the economic worries of many large companies. One of the first things to go when companies want to cut corners is training, which can leave us without an income. And we are all ready feeling the crunch this month, only 6 days in.

So in order to make the money that we do have stretch further, I am going to be exploring and implementing some frugal and thrifty ideas. I figure that any way I can save some money, then I am going to do it.

A Budget: I have struggled with a budget for years. I have made my own, have used others, have done it on paper, in Excel, in Access, but none of them have been "easy" to build or maintain. That is until I stumbled across Pear Budget. They have an online version, with a 30 day free trail membership, but really when I can get it for free and not have to go to a website all the time I am going to do that. Enter the ORIGINAL Pear Budget Spreadsheet, which is still available with a free download on their site. I love it! It's Easy! And all the hard work is done for you! Awesome.

A Menu Plan: Just like a budget I have dabbled with this plan in the past. I always have the best intentions, but don't really ever follow through with it. Rachel has a great post about Menu Planning right now, with lots of great tips. I have figured out that my struggle has been that my plan is too strict. I always felt that if I said we were have Enchiladas on Tuesday then that was it. But what if Tuesday comes and I am tired, or I forgot to buy tortillas, what then? Enter my new menu plan with BACKUP easy meals. I started off Monday with dinner planned for each day, including a leftover day, I don't plan breakfasts or lunches, figuring that we will do basic oatmeal/eggs for breakfast and sandwich/leftovers for lunches. But tonight, the Split Pea Soup that I planned on for dinner just wasn't ready. Enter the easy meal, I planned four of them ( making sure all the ingredients where on hand), which for us was a tater tot casserole that ROCKED with some upgrades AND it stash busted our freezer and pantry. Which leads me to...

A Stocked Pantry and Freezer: I grew up with my mom always building our food stockpile, which she says is something she learned from her mom who lived through the Depression. All I know is that those habits she taught me have bailed my family out of many a lean times, both growing up and current. I tend to buy lots of basic canned goods, tomatoes (all types), beans (great source of protein and fiber), soups (broth, savory, and cream), canned protein (tuna, chicken, etc.), rice, pastas, and baking supplies. For the freezer we usually always have it stocked with chicken breast, ground beef, fajitas, Italian sausages, waffles, veggies, and select meats like roasts, chops, ribs ( all depending on the deal we can find). I don't stress out about coupons, because I found that our store brand is usually cheaper and better than national brands, so coupons were worthless for us. Plus I get as much in bulk from Costco as possible. You just have to make sure to use your stock before it goes bad, which leads me BACK to the menu plan.

A Craft list: I have a confession, I am a craft hoarder. I love to collect it all, thinking that I will use it, but rarely do I. So in order to stop the urge from craft stocking, I have made a list of all the crafts I have started and not finished. So I am essentially shopping from my craft room, digging in all the bins and closet nooks. But for those quick urges I have bundled five crafts with all their supplies in bags for those quick fixes. I have hard projects and easy projects, so now I have no reason to shop. Plus I am purging and building a nice stash for Christmas all at the same time.

Craft Mondays: In order to make sure that I stay on track with my craft list, my mom and I are going to have a Craft Monday each week. We will get together at each others home, craft in the morning, then have a nice lunch. All without spending a dime. That was a rule, only craft and eat what we all ready have. Sure our schedules won't mesh every Monday, but we can spend a lot of time together doing what we love and supporting each other in our New Year's Goals, of Zero Craft spend.

A Clean Home: Not only does cleaning and organizing your home give you something to do, thus stopping you from spending money. It also shows you what you all ready have, so you don't go out and buy more! For instance, Casey discovered that I had two bottles of Worcestershire sauce in the pantry on top of the bottle I all ready had in the fridge. Can you say poor planning?? Keeping our pantry organized as well as the fridge and freezer will help cut those grocery bills. I also had Alex try on all most every shirt he owns just to weed out what doesn't fit and what he has in excess. Seriously the kid is so good on tees and hoodies till next winter. Tomorrow we will tackle shorts, pants, and PJ's. At the end of the enforced wardrobe purge, we had an organized closet, a bag of donations to a family friend, and a pile of broken hangers. Nice! That felt great and it wasn't hard to do, just took a little bit of time.

A Routine: I am usually one of those people who just goes and does what she wants whenever she wants. I drive all over the city just to run an "errand". Enter Errand Day, where I have planned my route and all the places I want to stop on the way. For instance, tomorrow I need to pick up a check from a client, but I can also stop at the Scout shop for some supplies for Thursday meeting, the bread shop to redeem a frequent buyer card, and the Natural Foods store for some whole grain flours. All on the same route with only a little bit more gas being used up. Just plan ahead, make a list, and stick too it.

A Laundry Ultimatum: Laundry, oh Lordy the mountains of it we do here at the house. Towels alone are daunting. Enter in my laundry ultimatum issued to Alex today. Casey still has yet to hear it. :) One towel per week! ONE, so that means after a bath you hang it up to dry. Wash clothes are something else, but one bath towels. Clothing, if it isn't dirty than don't throw it in the bins. Which also means, if you can't hang it up for some reason, than ASK FOR HELP, instead of stashing it back in the bin. PJ's, one set for the week. Wear them, wake up, change clothes, tuck PJ's under your pillow. Please!!! Not only will we save money on the water bill, power bill, and laundry soap, but TIME as well!

I am going to explore many more changes but for now these are the ones that are on my mind. Be on the lookout for household experiments about Power Vampires, DIY gardens, entertaining on a budget and more.

So now I am off to clean the kitchen up from the after dinner mess, brew a cup of tea, fold towels, and knit some rows before bed.

1 comments:

lisa 1:06 PM  

FABULOUS list!

My mother did many of these things. She had the routines for food. We always weeded through our closest twice a year, trying things on so we knew what we had. We always used one bath towel per week, and kept our pjs to reuse under the pillow until Saturday- laundry day. Saturday was when we got fresh pjs and towels for the week. mom did laundry, and we cleand the house. Bri and I had to dust our furniture and vaccuum. Later we were in charge of the bathroom and common rooms too. Monday was sheet changing day. There was always a routine.

My mom was the master of organization and efficiency!

I am trying to do that to some extent right now too!

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