Monday, January 12, 2009

Thrift Report week #1

I'm going to preface this with saying some of the things I'm trying, you probably already do. Most of you could give me tips out the yingyang for how to be thrifty, and I'm learning a lot out there in blogland.

It's not that I've never been thrifty or on a budget. But we've been in a far better financial position the last few years than ever before, and now that DD's been graduated from law school and we don't have to send her money every month, it's been easy to just get the little things we wanted, or eat out whenever we took a notion to. We pay gobs more on our credit card than the minimum payment, and in 18 months, the SUV will be paid off, so the credit card will be done shortly thereafter. We only use it for emergencies or major purchases now, like the heating and cooling system last year, and the gutters the year before, etc.

But I'm hoping to retire in 8 years, and it would be nice to get the house paid down and to get in the habit of being thrifty before it is absolutely necessary.

Besides being thrifty with our money, I'm looking for ways to be thrifty with my time, space, health, energy, and relationships. I miss opportunities all the time, but I'm trying to become more aware of them.

So, this is what I've done this week:

1. Used 1/2 dryer sheets instead of whole ones. I've not noticed a difference, nor does the static electricity seem to be any worse.
2. Am using the myriad of sample shampoo bottles from past hotels to clean the toilet. Soap is soap and it works just fine. I don't use the shampoo/conditioner combos, but I'm thinking this is probably better than harsh chemicals.
3. I bought way too much lunch meat when the family was here at Christmas. Ordinarily, we would eat off of it until it went bad, but I took half of each package and put them in zipper freezer storage bags and plopped them into the freezer for now.
4. This I started last year, but will continue; as my quilting magazine subscriptions run out, I will not renew them. With so much available on the internet via blogs, tutorials, and websites, there really is no need to clutter up my house with the magazines.
5. Began clipping coupons. What I can't use personally, can be used to buy donation items for the local foodbank.

1. Culled through the Christmas decorations for donating. Actually had one bin that wasn't full!
2. Pulled the box of 1997 tax info down to shred. It's been 11 years, so all that I need to keep are my returns and W-2 forms. The receipts and bank statements can be destroyed now.

I had to learn this the hard way. After going through all my CDs and loading them onto the computer, I was laboriously clicking and dragging each song into a folder or playlist to categorize them before loading onto my iPod. It was taking FOREVER! When DD figured out (though IM) what I was doing, she showed me how my iPod automatically does that for me, and I will only have to do a playlist for those songs I want to categorize by exercise, or blogger friends. If I'd asked for help, I would have saved myself lots of time and frustration. Independence is a good thing, but not when it costs needless time and energy.

What I didn't do:
1. I didn't separate out the Christmas lights to see which strings still work and which ones I want to group together by tree, outside, windows, etc. By the time I got to putting it all away, I just wanted to be done with it, so dumped them in the bins. Next year I will regret this.
2. By not checking all the lights, I couldn't make a list of what needs to be replaced, so as to check the sales now, or in July when it all comes back around again.

Goals for this week:
1. Begin sorting through my quilting magazines and either copy or pull out those patterns I want to keep. The rest will be taken to my quilting bee to give away. This will give me more space in my sewing room to get things off the floor and out of my way.
2. Get the flyer from my grocery store (forgot to buy a paper yesterday) on the way home from work tomorrow morning and see what is on sale.
3. Menu-planning, based on my coupons, and the sale paper. I hate grocery shopping and I hate planning the menu, but I have to admit, I am less likely to impulse buy or stand in front of the fridge at 6pm wondering what I'm going to cook for supper.
4. Write 2 friends, either email or snail mail, that I have been neglecting. Relationships are too important to lose.


Libby said...

All fabulous ideas! We should all follow along. With the economy in such bad shape there is no better time than now to start practicing thrift. Once we make it a habit, the rewards will only multiply when the economy returns.

Catherine said...

I think each little step leads to another little step and before you know it you've started saving a lot in a lot of different ways.

Anonymous said...

So many good ideas! You should participate in Works for me Wednesday this week!

MightyMom said...

"If it's yellow, let it mellow."

from my Crazy Grandaddy.

Stephanie D. said...

MM, I did that during the drought this summer, but I don't like to, because I think it contributes to the ring around the bowl, and I have to wonder just how sanitary it is. Besides not wanting to smell it when I walk into the bathroom, I'm afraid something will fall in and I'll have to fish it out, because although I might put the lid down, J-Man doesn't. Just one less thing for him to have to bend over and do the next time, and as precarious as he is, it might just be him that falls in. Yuck!

audreypawdrey said...

These are fabulous ideas! We will be doing some of the same at my house this year, too. It does become amazing how every little thing helps out tremendously!

jacquie said...

good for you...i got some good ideas. thanks!

Pat said...

Sounds like you've gotten off to a great start! and many 'do-able' goals. Keep up the good work! :)

Lori in South Dakota said...

Great ideas all of them. I have been watching for things to do at our home too.

MouseChirpy said...

I have been reading a message board for eons that is actually a support site to something called "The Grocery Game." Although I am not a subscriber to the game, I do read the message board. They do hide the author's secrets (because you have to pay to use the plan) but you can kinda get what they are talking about without it. They have info on how to stock up on groceries and household and beauty aids and they have some very inspiring pictures of their stashes. Anyway, if you haven't been there, it is worth a look for the inspiration alone.
I'm not as thrifty as I should be, but I have introduced many elements of thriftiness into our household. I have found that menu planning (been doing it for at least 20 years) is one of the key elements in saving money at the grocery store.
Good luck in your venture!