Thursday, February 18, 2010

The one where April makes excuses

Well. It's official. Frugal February blows.

It's been a few days since I posted because I wasn't really prepared to admit the truth. The frugal wagon and I have separated. You could say I fell off it. Payday was a couple of days ago and my plan what to transfer the full amount of one check to our savings account. But we had friends over for Valentine's Day brunch (and I felt obligated to buy tasty treats and few decorations). We also had a bill I wasn't expecting (what??) for our CSA (Community Sponsored Agriculture)--essentially we needed to pay for all of the vegetables we'll get from May-October this month. I didn't think they would take too kindly to me calling them up and saying, "hey guys, I'd love to pay the bill right now, but I'm in the middle of this crazy experiment, so can I wait until March?" And I like to pay extra on our mortgage. Again, I'm not going to skip paying extra on the mortgage just so I can fulfill the terms of an experiment I've set up for myself. (Did you like how I justified my choices right there?) And it was Tuesday. No seriously, Tuesdays kill me. I get in the car at 2:45 and proceed to spend the next 3 hours shuffling the kids around town to various activities. By the time I pick G up at 5:25 I'm done. If I don't have something in the crock pot it is very hard to resist the siren call of pizza. And from my last post, you know getting something in the crock pot sometimes means tardy slips for the peeps.

So, I'm resolving to keep trying. A small amount of glory is better than no glory, right? I have resisted many things. I keep reminding myself that the things I want are big ticket items (a new car, a laptop, a Kindle) which will require giving up lots of small ticket items. I also keep reminding myself that the things I want are only "wants." Not needs. We're good. We've got a roof over our heads, food in the pantry, jobs to go to and our health (knock on wood) and I'm grateful for that.

The month is halfway over and there's still time...

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Day 7 update

Frugal February is going fairly well so far. Today was the real challenge. We went to my version of the happiest place on earth. My mecca. My little spot of sunshine. Costco. Oh Costco, how I love you. I mean really, what's not to love? Delightful prices, great options and lovely social policy. Plus free samples! (Side bar, what is up with those samples? I do wonder about them sometimes. Are there honestly people who don't think a Milano cookie is delicious? Or tortilla chips? Or chocolate covered almonds? Do these items require a free sample to convince people to buy them? Really?)

The biggest negative in Costco's corner is that I love their products too much. It's gotten to the point where I just automatically allow myself one impulse item, knowing that there will be an impulse purchase regardless. This is where I knew Frugal February would met its match. Costco vs frugality. Who would win this showdown?

Call me a coward, but I didn't want to find out. So I went to lunch with a friend and sent MD. The only items purchased were those on the list! So impressive! Someday I hope to be this strong. I'm working on it, I swear. For now, avoidance seems to be the best (and most frugal) policy.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Another excuse for being late!

Do you know the Seinfeld episode where they keep saying "these pretzels are making me thirsty?" Well, in the same tone say "this frugality is making me tardy."

This morning I was made aware that there really weren't enough leftovers from dinner last night to make 2 lunches for today, let alone enough for tomorrow (I was at PTA so MD cleaned up and put the small amount of leftover chicken in a container for one lunch). I remembered that I had planned breakfast for dinner tonight (a favorite around the short arms house) but breakfast for dinner doesn't give you any leftovers for lunch the next day. So my first thought was, "I'll just swing by the grocery store, pick up some turkey and some rolls and we can have sandwiches for lunch tomorrow." My second thought, "Really? You can't go one day without buying something?" Then I remembered I had a crock pot recipe that called for frozen chicken and BOOM, problem solved!

Not so fast. I don't usually (ever) allow much spare time in the morning. AND I hadn't set anything out the night before. Cut to me trying to find the cans of beans in the pantry, splashing myself with chicken broth because I'm trying to pour it too fast and realizing I only have one cup of salsa instead of the two the recipe calls for. (Believe you me, I was thinking of another word that goes along with Frugal February.) But I persevered. Everything was in the crock pot, ready to go, I quickly packed myself a lunch and then looked at the clock. Hmmm, suddenly I had two minutes to make the seven minute drive to school.

So, the peeps were a bit tardy, but dinner was tasty and they will also be delicious for lunch tomorrow.

Since we're all being honest here I did spend one dollar today (on a package of M & M's from the stupid vending machine). I wanted the 90 cent package of cookies so I could have 1/2 today and 1/2 tomorrow. However, when I (repeatedly and aggressively) pressed its number I kept getting the "make another selection" message. Then when I pressed "coin return" it wouldn't give me my money back. Then the nice person behind me offered to push the button and it didn't work for her either. So her friend offered to push the button, no dice. I contemplated asking them to just give me a dollar and they could use mine which was already in the machine, but I try to avoid being looked at like the crazy lady at the vending machine. Hence the M & M's. Next time I'll just have a piece of gum.

Monday, February 1, 2010

February is Frugality Month!

Back in January, after the bills had been paid from Christmas gifts and all of the holiday fun, I started thinking about February. And how it might be time to buckle down on a few things. Every now and then I like to set a challenge for myself, plus I'm a big fan of alliteration, therefore I have declared February to be frugality month. Frugal February.

This month I have decided we will live on just one income, just to see if we could make it. Thankfully, this isn't a necessity. So far both MD and I have managed to survive the numerous layoffs that have occurred at the company we work for (knock on wood). However, it has been stated that another 13 million dollars in cuts will most likely need to be made this year, and we all know you don't cut 13 million by just eliminating pens and copy paper. So I thought it would be good to see if we could survive on less. We've done this before. Years ago, before I got pregnant we did the same thing, just in case I decided I wanted to stay home with the baby we (I) needed to know if we could pull it off. It worked out OK. Not great, just OK. Even for a cheapo like me, sometimes it was a bit too much. The fact that I knew we could do it was comforting though. I've always liked working for pay so I returned to my job although I've now worked half time, 75% time, full time and 80% time trying to find the right balance. I also don't want to turn this into a post about working at home vs. working for pay (I would be the first to tell you working at home as a "stay" {ha ha} at home mom is HARD, HARD, HARD work).

I digress. Back to the challenge. I decided we would start the month with whatever money was "left over" in the checking account. Side note--I love that idea--"left over" money. HA! It reminds me of the days in college when people would ask you if you had "any extra beer" like the case suddenly came with 25 or 26 instead of 24. Not that I was drinking a case of beer, or with people who were doing such a thing mind you, this was only an example...

ANYWAY, I figured the "left over" money would be enough to make it to payday on the 10th. Piece of cake. Most of our bills are due after payday and I really couldn't see any surprise expenses in the next couple of weeks. Only January was kind of expensive. Insurance was due. We also typically pay the full year of our shared cell phone in January. We had a date night at a fancy restaurant. A deposit on Boy Scout camp in the summer was required. After making our usual transfers to the savings account and minus a donation to the Red Cross, it appears that our "left over" funds total...gulp, $42.40.

And so we begin. I'll let you know how it goes.