Planting the fall garden
Spending my time frugally...

Being Frugal

Scones (1 of 1)

Lemon Blueberry Scones - Made with some "almost bad" lemons, frozen blueberries and items from the pantry. 

The last few months have been a whirlwind of writing, photography, and teaching.  I'd been working on a giant monster of a project that left me with little time for blogging, or much of anything.  I'll be sharing that project with you soon.  

As the workload eased up, I've found myself with actual "free" time.  I've been able to bake, knit, and focus more of my energy towards home.  With the opportunity to "think," I've been concentrating more on frugality.  We don't really have an official budget.  Tim's income is so variable, it's better for us to just make sure we spend as little as possible.  Therefore, I've been more concerned with reducing our bills and our monthly discretionary expenses.

Tim and I have never spent extravagantly, but lately I've noticed some ways to improve.  The start of our "new year" really began on February 1st, so most of these expense reductions have been relatively recent.  I thought I'd mention some of the reductions I've been able to make.

1.  We don't have cable, but we do have Netflix and Amazon Prime.  We had a "2 DVDs at a time" plan, but we weren't really watching the DVDS in a timely fashion.  I cut our plan to a "1 DVD at a time" plan. - Savings - 4 dollars a month.

2.  We have Time Warner Cable for our internet.  It's a convenient monopoly, and there aren't really many alternatives.  We had been "renting" our modem and our router.  By purchasing our own (at a cost of 60 dollars total), we'll be saving 17 dollars a month.

3.  Tim and I developed a habit of visiting a local bake shop every Saturday for a pastry and a coffee.  It was delicious, but it had gotten to the point where the waitstaff recognized us, and they were saving me a pastry.  We went about three times a month, and spent 9 dollars per visit.  We were sad, but the visits had to go.  - Savings - 27 dollars a month.  

4.  Baking - In the fall, I really fell out of my habit of baking, and most of our bread products were purchased.  I really do know how to make bread, English muffins, scones, tortillas, and all kinds of bread products.  I've gotten the hang of kneading bread, and it really doesn't bring me stress any longer.  Each cup of organic flour costs me about 25 cents.  Although it'd be difficult for me to exactly estimate how much we save by baking our own bread, it's approximately 20 dollars per month.

Total amount saved per month - 68 dollars.  If we keep this up until the end of 2014, we'll ultimately save  748 dollars.  Wow!

I've also been putting more thought into our meal planning and reducing any kitchen waste.  We grocery shop once a week, and any items left in the fridge from the previous week are the first to be added to meals in the next.  I've been making more use of the glut of food saved from summer in our pantry or freezer.  I used to hoard our food with the idea that we had to "make it through the winter."  This year, I've changed my mindset.  It's better if we run out of food in our freezer, than leave items to languish.  

To keep us on the right track, we installed a little incentive jar in our kitchen.  Every time we're tempted by a careless impulse purchase, we put the equivalent value of the purchase in the jar to remind us of how much we can save.  Pocket change and other "found money" is thrown in there also.  

I haven't mentioned all of the frugal activities that have been keeping me busy indoors during the winter.  Maybe I'll save that for another post soon.

What have you done to save money?  Any tips?