I have been online searching budgeting blogs in the wee hours with the roosters and early morning train whistle. Actually, I was trying to find this blog I just loved from a single mother who lives quite simply. Instead, I found all the fancy budgeting websites. These said sites are supposed to be about frugal living but I’d have to agrue that.
I’m going to sound critical or snarky here, but most of these sights, although very smart and creative, aren’t what I need right now. They are shiny, trendy and have “shops” where you can buy budget calendars and time schedulers, cute money envelopes and many other colorful baubles and stickers to keep you on track.
I do have a JoAnne calendar that I love but I only use a quarter of it. I tried stickers and had a field day reconnecting with the child in me that had a sticker book. I stickered that calendar right up…and never followed through with those scheduled bake days or laundry days despite the pink washer sticker or house cleaning sticker or loaf of bread sticker on Mondays.
I don’t do well with spreadsheets. Reminds me of days when I attempted a very corporate job and detested it so much I walked out after a month of grey, grueling days inputting numbers.
An old calendar that the Humane Society sends me yearly works just fine. A notebook for a dollar from the Dollar Tree is perfect for a budget. After all, you only need to write it out on one sheet of paper. Old envelopes from paper bills work as money envelopes. Pencils, calculators, highlighters…all great for diagraming all the ways you won’t be spending money this month. Or the next and next and next.
Frugal blogs that sell sparkly stuff to help you save money are silly. Fun, perhaps, but when you are in the trenches and bleeding money…a spreadsheet ain’t going to save the day.
What will save the day is simply to stop all spending…full stop! Don’t even leave the house, don’t order anything online, just stop moving and thinking for a bit. Then get some good old fashioned advice. The Complete Tightwad Gazette is old school but those old school gals new a thing or a few hundred things about saving some big-time cash.
Here is a plan (phase 1).
- Stop spending. You pay the rent/mortgage, the groceries and utilities, and gas for the vehicle to get to work and/or school…or bus money.
- Cut the groceries in half. No dining out. No coffee at Starbucks. No take out or take in or take about! You eat, snack, and make lattes at home. You make food in your kitchen that you take to work/school.
- You write out a budget and stay with it.
- Cut out extras. Cable…so not necessary in this day and age. The gym (I’m having issues with this). You can walk outside for free (line from Brittany Runs a Marathon).
- Get a job near your house.
- Get a cheaper house.
- Walk to work.
Then, once you have mastered all this over the next few to six months, you go on to phase 2.
- Reduce utilities, learn about the green movement…use less water, go solar, yadda, yadda…
- Drink ice water instead of soda. Your intestines will thank you.
- Learn to cook from scratch.
- Bake your own breads, cakes, bran muffins. Be your own bakery.
- Learn to use what you have. I highly doubt you need to make a trip to the Dollar Tree. You have whatever it is in a drawer or closet or garage, attic? Storage unit?
- Get rid of the storage unit.
- Find frugal friends.
- Learn the joys of pot lucks and dinner parties at home instead of $200 dinners out.
Then there is phase 3. Boy oh boy, this is where I’m at and it’s fun but takes a year or more to get there.
- Get really hippy, granola crunchy and make it all from scratch.
- Plant a kitchen garden.
- Sew up those holes instead of throwing clothes away.
- Dye old clothes.
- Water down dish soap, shampoo, laundry detergent.
- Buy Mexican cleaners and laundry soap (love them and they smell so good and super cheap).
- Make all your own cleaners.
- Go plant-based.
- Buy in bulk.
- Take up a lot of hobbies that you can do at home for free or minimal cost.
- Learn to DIY with decorating the home and fixing things. Olivia’s Romantic House is a channel that is very fun to get ideas on home and holiday decorating for super cheap.
I’m in the Golden Girls phase. I don’t make our clothes yet or sheer the sheep that we don’t have. I don’t milk our goats…that we also don’t have or chop wood for the winter. However, I have learned a bit about canning and have a nice supply of spaghetti/pizza sauce for the next year stocked up. We have also gone plant-based yet again after being inspired by The Game Changers and I’m getting really Zenish in my kitchen with making “wheat meat” also known as gluten and cooking my own soy milk.
We have not only gone plant-based, but fully organic as well and I thought it would cost a pretty penny. Not at all. I think I will be using far less in my grocery envelope than ever before. I have found that stocking up on large amounts of bulk foods through my co-op is saving hundreds. Making it all, and I mean everything, from scratch is a huge saving step, and changing to organic homemade soy milk and making gluten “steaks” is unbelievably cheap and surprisingly delicious.
I have gone back to ordering only from the library and not Amazon. I’ve put my Health Club Membership on a freeze but soon to be a cancel. I have to break up with them slowly as I have loved that place so very much. I keep trying to cut off Netflix but first, it was a Spanish soap and now Nailed It! that keeps us stuck in that relationship.
I have sewn and resewn the inner thighs of my stretch pants until a large skylight appears and then I turn them into cleaning rags.
I cut open my first toothpaste tubes and found 4 days worth of goop despite all the meticulous squeezing I do. Then my husband threw them out thinking I was just littering the sink.
I’m having fun with it all and I feel like this new way of cooking is very therapeutic. I know that sounds strange but the last week it’s been warm and breezy here and I have the doors and windows open to feel the last of an Indian Summer, to hear the chirping of all the birds in my yard, and I work in my kitchen washing starch out of the wheat or chop up a large salad, or stir my soy milk on the stove and I feel blissful. I’ve also been stocking, cleaning, and organizing my homemade pantry while listening to my spiritual talks and getting myself in a wonderful space.
I’m having these experiences because I’m home and finding ways to save money while increasing our quality of life. It takes creativity but there are so many hidden blessings and joys in a simple life.