"She refused to be bored, chiefly because she wasn't boring." Zelda Fitzgerald

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Painless Penny Pinching

Last night A and I made an important career decision together.  It was one of those crystal times when I felt clearly that we were making an important, life-altering choice. Sort of a weighty, fork-in-the-road kind of a sensation. We're taking the left fork and things will be different from this time on. This is not only a your-life-will-never-be-the-same kind of choice but a hard-work-is-ahead, you're-playing-for-all the-marbles kind of choice. On the one hand, I love adventure and am a survivor so I believe in living on the edge so last night I felt pretty excited and motivated, but in the background is the pale and quaking me that hates change, feels secure in the known and believes contentment "the way." This morning I feel kind of wobbly and scared by the enormity and intimidating nature of making a big, scary choice like this.

We're on a new austerity plan now. Time to trim the needless waste in our life, time to live on less financially and make more happen with what we have already. I'm a person who walks this kind of line uneasily. On the one hand I'm not a high-roller, I kind of hate money and status items and I get a great deal of satisfaction from clever, frugal-living. On the other hand, I don't like stifling fun, rationing pleasure or forgoing enjoyment and I'm a bit lazy about doing everything myself to save a buck. Time to figure out not only how to save money objectively but how I will best and most happily save money. What things do I truly not need? What things can I change that will make me happier or just as happy and also thriftier? And what ways can I trim a little off the edge and still leave enough to make life feel pleasant? This whole discussion feel selfish and egotistical and entirely white-collar America. Argh. But you know, this year my theme is acceptance, this is part of it. This is where I honestly am psychologically about saving money and I know that if I plan a bleak, bread and water system for the next four years it will never work, I don't really believe in forced, purposeful, chosen deprivation and I'll never do it if that's what I attempt.

Last night I sat down and made up this list. Here's my current ideas for "Painless Penny Pinching"---the way I roll. Got anything to add? Books to suggest? Tweaks you think would help? Please contribute. We'll need all the help we can get.

•No more Amazon book buying (use up A's closet stash, inter-library loan, and
borrow from friends instead)
•Make our own cards for holidays and trim the list for who gets one
•Make birthday gifts for friends
• Grow our own veggies and freeze what we can for the winter
•Shop at Stop and Shop, Save Rite, Aldi, or Grade A and wave goodbye to Whole Foods or Fairway
•Borrow homeschool supplies or books from my circle of friends
•Limit dates to $20 dollars or less and get more creative
•Buy annuals in Michigan when we go this spring, prices are wayyy cheaper
•Shred newspapers or junk-mail for guinea pig bedding and feed them grass and weeds from our yard and scraps instead of buying bedding and pellets and hay from the pet store.
•Kill Netflix? (EEP!)  and instead watch YouTube stuff, and borrow movies from friends and the library
•Only go to single $ restaurants and limit frequency (once a month?)
•Unsubscribe to anything I am not using or don't need online and make sure that the menu planner I am using is the best deal financially.
•Use coupons and shop sales for food. Stock up on good deals.
•Get a new lid for my travel coffee cup and make myself coffee instead of buying it
•See if we can get better insurance rates
•Turn house temp down a touch, maybe even just at night?
•Only run the dishwasher when completely full.
•Wash clothes in cold water when possible.
•Weatherize the house.
•Keep an active inventory of what is in our freezer and pantry that is used in the coming week's menu plan.
•Menu plan every single meal...not just dinners.
•Get plant divisions from neighbors and dig wild instead of buying any new perennials.
•Buy special paleo foods online where I can get cheap prices.
•Get energy star appliance upgrades ASAP.
•Vacation close to home....maybe even at home
•Shop carefully for gas (even Carleen)
•Stop going to the extra Saturday yoga class and go to my studio more instead if
I want a weekend boost.
•Pack food for vacations and make a pact to stay out of stores while
driving to and fro and set a cap for any shopping we do at our destination.
•Shop ahead for holidays
•Make more easy clothes for the boys (simple knit pants from t-shirts?)
•Envelope budget for groceries for the week.
•Make our own cleaning supplies
•Carpool with friends
•Use the city bus
•Go to free classes at the library for kid-fun.
•Wash, vacuum and wax our own car instead of going to the car wash.
•Regularly freeze any food in the fridge that isn't getting eaten to reduce waste
•Shop clearance sales for kid clothes and also thrift shop when in Michigan when visiting family because prices are much cheaper.
•DIY for home repairs, teach myself what I need to know. I can do it!
•Make tangible financial goals and reward ourselves when we meet them!
•Save our change
•Review our utilities and be sure we are getting the best rates possible from our providers
•Line dry clothes, especially in warm weather
Refinance our mortgage again.
•Use the local library passes for area activities.

What do you do to save money without feeling sorry for yourself?

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