Wednesday, May 13, 2015

My current frugal life

My friend, Kristen, recently posted about what her life is like now here. That got me to thinking about recent choices our family has made to be frugal. Here's a glimpse into my current life.

Since we moved here Ram usually shops at Costco twice a month with a list. We almost always combine errands to buy gas at Costco instead of another gas station. Even for trips we fill up at Costco on the way out of town and the way into town. We often buy gas at Costco without going in to shop.

Each week I shop at an average of 3 stores for what we don't buy at Costco. Some weeks this means stocking up on toilet paper and printer paper at Staples. Some weeks we need items from Walmart or Target. Most weeks I hit two main grocery stores. About once a month we shop at a cheaper grocery store and stock up on items that we need that weren't on sale at the other grocery stores. This year I am attempting to stick to my food budget including paying food sales tax. I frequently do rebates on Staples paper and on alcohol (to make vanilla or for a treat). I do the Staples rebates online so I don't pay postage.

I buy chicken and ground beef from Zaycon. I split chicken with a friend so buy it more often. I use the whole ground beef case myself, rationing it out so it lasts longer. I buy organic if it is on sale, but I shop close to home, not drive to Whole Foods. Recently I bought organic carrots on sale, but I don't always buy organic carrots. We are heading in the direction of eating Paleo, but don't buy very much processed marked gluten free foods. A normal Paleo meal is baked chicken and veggies, not something extravagant.

In the past we did Bountiful Baskets, but they changed the location and raised their prices. We have not participated in BB recently. We will still participate a few times a year, but not regularly. In MN we were often given garden produce and we also had a garden. We haven't been as successful at gardening here nor do we get very much produce from members and friends. I do use what we are given. I also pick blackberries and watch sales for other berries. We bought some plants to try again this year. We do get lots of strawberries and raspberries from what we have planted.

In MN we made our own bread, yogurt, and ice cream. We haven't done that here as we no longer eat very much of those. I still make my own kombucha, vanilla, and granola.

I have been more conscious of our utility usage. I check the thermostat more frequently and evaluate if we really need the heat or A/C on. (I have loved the last several weeks without using either!) I remind the Lambs to take short showers. We waited to use irrigation water to water our lawn instead of turning it on earlier in the season with city water.

We have our old cell phone plan that we were grandfathered into. We have to pay for our texts and we don't have unlimited talk time. Ram and I rarely send texts, but we do when necessary and we also reply to texts we receive. Even paying for texts, we save a significant amount compared to the latest cell phone plan. We do not have a home phone. I do not have a Smartphone. We have done our research and for the time being we are keeping this plan and saving dollars even if it means a little more planning ahead of time on my part without a Smartphone. Some months I have to watch talking during the week, but most of the time we have plenty of weekday minutes because we talk when we have unlimited weekend minutes.

I always check the almost expired section at one of the grocery stores. Last week I got 32oz plain yogurt for 45 cents. This week I got two Simply Cranberry juice for 30 cents each. We eat those items in the next few days before they expire. Sometimes I buy frozen cookie dough there for 50 cents or less and immediately put it in the freezer and have something fast for when I need to bring something to church.

I am continually cleaning out clothes/toys/books that the Lambs have outgrown and try to resell them at the used kids store. Almost all the Lambs clothes are either presents from Grandma or purchased with credit at the used kids store.

We do not have cable TV, we only have "free" TV with an antenna. We have never used Netflix. We only went to the movie theater once last year using gift cards.

We primarily use American Express in order to get the rebate but we pay it off each month. This rebate pays for our Costco membership each year. We also use a AAA Visa which pays for most of our yearly AAA membership. We began using Bing Rewards this year and get $5-10 per month. We participate in our health insurance rewards to earn Amazon money. We are busy getting our exercise and eating our fruits and veggies for this. A lot of this reward money is spent on school books, but we use some to get treats for ourselves too.

We homeschool but I create most of the curriculum, we do not use a custom system. We do not participate in a co-op, but the Lambs do participate in track and field and take piano lessons. The Lambs would like to do a lot more sports and lessons, but we are at a good balance now both in time and finances.

We rarely eat out unless we are traveling. We use Amazon Local deals to occasionally get frozen yogurt for the family. The only time we have had pizza delivered here is on the day we moved in to feed our helpers.

We are not part of a fitness club or the Y. We exercise by walking or biking or swimming in our neighborhood. Ewe walks during track practice. We have a high HOA but it pays for our internet and our pool.

We were blessed to buy our house for a good price and a good interest rate. We try to pay extra on the principal each month. We were blessed to be able to purchase a new minivan so we have free maintenance on it for a couple of years.

Cow's milk is a treat at our house, not an every day drink. Often if you come to my house there is no milk in the fridge.

We combine errands when possible. We recently purchased plants for our garden by stopping by the garden center on the way home from the eye doctor.

We were able to get a shade tree for our backyard for free from the power company. It is growing well and we look forward to the shade for our bedroom in a few years plus hopefully a lower electricity bill.

I pay attention to my e-mail and participate in Shutterfly deals like free photo books. I don't do every deal that comes across my inbox though-we only need so many magnets even as gifts. I remain on some e-mail lists like Joann Fabrics just to get deals like this.

Last year we replaced our washer with a more energy efficient one. I have noticed a big difference in water usage and also use less soap. In the past I have made my own laundry soap but decided to use soap on sale since I use so little now. I do less laundry since more fits in a load.

We use a lot of coconut oil. We buy two kinds of coconut oil. Louana coconut oil from Walmart is cheap and used as body lotion and as cooking oil at our house. We also buy nicer coconut oil such as Tropical Traditions and use it in cooking where we would taste it such as in granola.

We try to go to the chiropractor once a month which I believe keeps us all healthy. When we skip months we either get sick or I can really feel it. Paying for the chiropractor does mean a cost once a month but I believe it saves us money and we feel better.

Last year I was better about keeping track of our spending than ever before. I enter in receipts and bills paid immediately on a spreadsheet. I have been bold to take back receipts when I catch it didn't ring up correctly. When family members have become allergic to unopened products I found the receipt and returned the items to get my money back. I wasn't always like this-especially when the Lambs were little. But I know being organized saves money and is worth the time.

I'm sure there are more ways that we are frugal that I didn't list here. After you do some things long enough they become habit and you don't remember that others don't do things  your way!

1 comment:

Kristen @ Joyfully Thriving said...

Great list! I love it! Thanks for sharing the many ways you are so frugal. This is a perfect reminder of what I was trying to say. We can all be frugal in so many different ways!