Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Only one cellphone

In an effort to get rid of money-wasting habits and purchases, I cancelled my cellphone.  We still have my husband's line and will be upgrading his phone (for "free") soon.  I also cancelled our texting and camera phone options.


A long while back, my cellphone stopped working correctly.  I planned to upgrade it, but never got around to it.  Whenever I did, the phones I liked (always basic) seemed to sell out before I could order them.  Then my daughter was born and only a couple months later, my family relocated to a different state for my job.  Basically... I just couldn't seem to get around to dealing with the cell phone issues.  My husband and I debated switching to a lower plan and knocking out the text and camera option, but we needed to get our phone's photo galleries saved before that, or all our photos would be lost.  Our service provider made it time consuming to download the photos, so that took time that we didn't really have.

Finally, last week, my husband got all the photos downloaded from both phones.  We discussed if we really need a second phone, especially since we've gone this long without it, and we decided that we didn't.  So, today I put in the request to remove the phone from my account and deactivate the line.  It won't take effect until the end of this month, though I may have my husband call and confirm with another rep as to whether we can have it removed earlier and get the cost prorated.  The rep I spoke with said it couldn't, but that doesn't sound right.

We are going to also look at the replacement phone options tonight or tomorrow and look at our phone useage.  If the useage for the past few months is low enough, we may also switch to an even cheaper plan.  My basic family plan was $70 with the texting/camera option of $5, totalling $75.  Since we will have one line and no additional options, the plan will be $40.  But... the next step down is only $30.

This, with the other changes we will (hopefully) be making in our lives, may add up to a decent amount of savings.

My end goal, for now, is to cut our expenses enough to put my son into daycare while also continuing to pay down our debt.  We'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Brushing Off The Dust

It's been nearly 2 years since I last wrote here.  Since then, my little family went through several changes, two of the largest being my daughter's birth (note that the header has two kids now) and our relocation to another state.

I'm planning on making some big changes in my family's spending and saving.  I also might take up a self imposed challenge or two, though I have to figure out the "rules".

Regardless, it's nice to be back.  :-)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

More Frugal Blogs

Here are some interesting blogs I found in some of my thrift searches...

Still Finding Cash - I thoroughly enjoyed the entries I skimmed over and love the feel the writer gives to this blog. Very down to earth and with some nice suggestions.

Pat Veretto's Frugal Living Blog - A little more hardcore, but not as much as some blogs I've read. I love her thoughts on different aspects of frugality, some of which I've thought about as well. Her entry titled "A hundred years ago..." is a fine example of what I mean.

Random thoughts on last night and the true purpose behind Thrift/Frugality

I was a good girl and a bad girl last night. We wanted a treat for our "date night", which is really more of a "Granny Night" since we don't really do what people are supposed to do on "date night"... ie. not talk about how wonderful our son is, not buy groceries, not clean our living space, and so on. So, as our "date night" indulgence, we got dessert at Outback amidst our quick asian market grocery errands. The price was low... since all we got were desserts... and we felt suitably spoiled. I do have to note, however, that I have no desire to repeat this. I can't help but think, "Hmm... we could have made the gluten free brownie at home... we had icecream, chocolate chips, and whipped cream, as well as some fruit. That would have saved us *fill in the blank* dollars." But really, it's not bad to treat yourself on occasion when you've been good, and I still made dinner (after) for us to enjoy, which saved us a bit more too.

The rest of the evening was spent getting some ingredients for some meals this week, working on our Alice in Wonderland commission (which is on my Sew Mankycat blog), and cooking dinner. This was a far cry from all the things I had hoped to get done... but one of my problems is planning too much for what small bit of free time I actually have.

Anyways, I was a good girl though. I resisted the temptation to buy a Dunkin Donuts coffee because I knew my husband could make me some at home (and because I had some limeade in the fridge), I resisted the temptation to pick up some snacks at Crown Palace asian market because I knew I would be making dinner soon (and my husband was really looking forward to the desserts we were going to get), didn't get an appetizer or entree or salad at Outback to go with my dessert (for the same reasons), I didn't stop to check out bicycles (though that is in the near future, I'm thinking), didn't buy soda, didn't go on Ebay to look at some of the bento stuff that JB and I are toying with the idea of buying (more thought needed), or any of the other temptations that cropped up. I knew I just felt like spending money, and that's not a good reason to do so. I did, however, buy extra rice cakes and fish cakes... but I am making meals with those and it's good to have extra so I don't have to make the trip out too soon.

One hard thing to accept is that, like any other lifestyle change, being thrifty or becoming frugal takes many steps, both large and small. It doesn't serve any purpose to beat yourself up for spending a few extra cents because you didn't know the best price for gas was around the corner or because you decided to get your nappa cabbage at Shoprite rather than Wegmans (though the best price is at Crown Palace and HMart... korean markets typically have certain produce for amazing prices). You also have to consider that worrying like that will also eat away at you in the form of stress. Just take the lesson and try to remember for next time. Besides, how much more would it actually cost to go to that other gas station or to two stores for produce rather than one? $0.10? $1.00? $5.00? Extra gas and 'wear and tear' on your car? Extra time that you could use in other aspects of your life? What's the point of working your tush off to save $2.00, but taking away how many hours of your time away from your family? That just doesn't sound too balanced or prudent to me.

Thriftiness and frugality takes more into account than just nickles and dimes. It's also an attempt to look at the big picture. To get the most out of your life, money, and time as you can.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Growing "Free" Green Onions

Green Onions... aka Scallions... The cute little powerhouses grace many of my family's favorite dishes. They are used often enough that when I heard a tip on one of the Food Network competitive "so you want to be a star" type shows, I gobbled it up and tried it out as soon as I could...

And I'm pleased to find that it actually mostly works.

To grow "free" green onions, you simply cut no lower than a half inch to an inch of the bottom part (the white area with the roots) and place this part in a small container with a little bit of water (I'd say no higher than 1/2 or 3/4 of the plant clipping). Place on a sunny windowsill and be sure to change the water every couple of days. The roots and the greens will begin to grow fairly quickly. By doing this, you can squeeze out a few more uses from these plants without having to by new green onions from the store.

I understand that the whites are delicious. I love them too, but I also love free food and saving money on groceries. I also know that a lot of recipes don't actually call for using the whites (to the point that one friend of mine didn't know that the white parts were edible).

I plan to take the ones I already have growing and planting them in a nice pot to see how much longer I can get them to last. If they are left in the water/rooting stage, the whites tend to shrivel and the greens will stop growing, so hopefully planting them in soil will have a different effect (and possibly a multiplying affect as well... which is a speculation of a gardening co-worker).

If, however, you must buy green onions, my best suggestion is to go to an asian market to do so. They are usually a much lower price and of a higher quality than the regular grocery stores tend to offer.

What's next? Hopefully celery, carrots, and/or radishes! We shall see. :-)

The above image was found on www.quantum-immortal.net.

Growing "Free" Food

One thing I've always admired about some people was their ability to grow food from produce they bought at the grocery store. I always found this an extremely nice trait in people, even if they are growing the plants simply for aesthetics.

The idea of buying a fruit or vegetable and growing a plant from the seed, ends, or top of it just wreaks of thrift and frugality. Sadly, since I rent a second floor apartment with no balcony and no window boxes allowed (on the outside), I'm limitted in what I can actually grow.

I'll be adding different plants that can be grown for food purposes and ones that can't as time allows. They will be tagged as "growing food".

Friday, June 5, 2009

Simplification and Decluttering: Clothes

I figure, a working woman only needs:
  • 4 or 5 well fitted work slacks
  • 2 to 3 skirts (if the woman like the option for warmer weather)
  • 2 to 3 tailored suit jackets that match the slacks and skirts interchangeably
  • 6 dress shirts of various colors and textures for those outfits, preferably of a light weight so as to be suitable for warm weather, but also can be layered under heavier items for cooler weather
  • 2 short sleeve blouses for the summer
  • 2 flattering sweaters (sleeved or sleeveless) for cooler weather
  • 2 sets of pant suit appropriate
  • 2 sets of nice heels for skirts
  • Possibly 1 extra set that's playful, just to mix things up a bit
  • The lower of the numbers is taking into account if the office has "casual fridays" in which case, one less of each item would be an option.
  • 1 long tailored heavy business appropriate coat (for days with bitter cold or rainy weather)
  • 1 short tailored heavy business appropriate coat (for days that aren't as bitter but still cold)
For casual wear:
  • 2 to 3 well fitting jeans
  • 1 to 2 pair of khakis or other nice casual pants (especially helpful when jeans are not acceptable for "casual fridays" or you are going to an event that casual but not jean-appropriate)
  • About 5 nice tee-shirts
  • 2 or 3 sleeveless tees
  • 2 heavier button down shirts
  • 2 comfy pullover sweaters (or hoodies)
    2 zipper or button down sweaters
  • 2 nice casual dresses (that can be spruced up for casual evening date wear), if so inclined.
  • 2 casual skirts (that can be spruced up for casual evening date wear), if so inclined.
  • 2 tops that can be worn for dirty projects (like artsy pursuits or playing in the dirt with the kids)
  • 1 casual light weight jacket
  • 1 casual heavy coat
  • 1 coat for dirty projects (like shovelling snow or playing at the park with the kids)

Total amount of clothes, give or take (not including under garments, socks, or sleepwear): 38 minimum, 51 maximum.

I know that sounds like a lot, but it really isn't when you are considering that the idea is to have enough for cold weather and warm weather and for various activities. Also, if you're particular life situation might require less casual clothes, less (or nearly no) work clothes, and so on. In that case, definitely adjust as necessary. (Me? I'm a full time working mother who plays in the dirt, works on various artsy projects and cooks for fun, but also needs nice dress down items for casual-nice get-togethers.)

In all honesty, my husband and I have a lot of interest which tends to call for different types of clothing and garb (costuming), but do we really need as many as we have and how easily are the items replaced if or when we pick up certain interests again? We don't really do much in the way of Renaissance Festivals anymore, so two outfits would do (one for nicer weather, and one for muddy weather... though this could possibly be reduced to one outfit). We have been getting involved in Steampunk type events and outfits, but really, we only need one outfit each for that too, which we've been actually slowly been fine tuning. We don't LARP anymore, though it is a possibility that we would pick it up again... and for each character we play regularly, we'd need one outfit at least (possibly a few additional pieces for incliment weather). The problem is that these extra hobbies of ours can really add to having too many items... because it's so easy to try to justify getting a new item here and there. That's where will power really comes in handy. We are working on paring down in these areas.