frugality

UFM 27: What we repeatedly do

It’s amazing how quickly human beings can acclimate to their conditions. I’m thinking specifically of frugality and spending right now, but it applies to most things. Last week, when I went out to eat with friends four times, I found myself craving restaurant food, instead of the humble (but delicious) quinoa and tomato stew I had at home. The same is true of my frugal habits. When I bike to work, I want to keep biking to work.

Aristotle said, we are what we repeatedly do. If we repeatedly stop at Starbucks each morning for our coffee, we will spend a shit ton of money on coffee. We’ll also habituate to the act of getting coffee at Starbucks–the interaction with the barista, the smells and sounds of the cafe, the branding of the cup and walking into work with it. Skipping the daily Starbucks trip can seem like a loss unless you can build a different habit, and maybe more importantly, a different mindset to go in it’s place.

In this coffee example, you might buy nice coffee to make at home (it’s really easy to get nicer than Sbucks) and savor the act of making coffee in the quiet of your own kitchen. You might take a few minutes to enjoy the peace and quiet. Or you might pack it to work in a travel mug that brings back favorite memories. I bought a mug from my favorite coffee shop in college and I carry it with me to work almost every day. It’s a little dented because it’s survived falling off my bike, but I love that thing, and it makes it easier to build the habit of self-sufficiency.

It’s still hard. Right now, I’m struggling because I haven’t found a really good way to replace restaurants and bars with friends. We can eat at home sometimes, and that’s good, but all the time? It’s just not the way people my age do things. I know, peer pressure and excuses, but I haven’t come up with a better alternative yet. I need to figure out a way to make eating at home (or packing a picnic or going for a walk or whatever) as appealing as going out. I’m playing with it in my mind though, and that’s the first step.

 

UFM 17: Plan Ahead (aka A Planner’s Autobiography)

I am a planner. 100% Type A personality, the type to have a five-year-plan in 6th grade. The tips and tricks I learned then still serve me well.

It all started back when I was playing the double bass, and getting pretty good, despite the idea that I had “no time” to practice. I made the mistake of mentioning this to my private teacher, Ms. Crisman, one day, and she suggested I try tracking my time. She gave me a handout from her side-hustle, Mary Kay Cosmetics, which was basically a spreadsheet (this one, in fact!) of the week from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day. “Just see what happens,” she said.

Immediately, I noticed where all my time was going. Television and playing The Sims, and just the knowledge that this was how I was spending my time (and that my idol Ms. Crisman was going to see it) was enough to get me to practice more, and probably to read more, clean my room, and do all the other things that I thought I didn’t have time for.

It wasn’t always so effective. Often, I’d start the week great right after my lesson, and by the end of the week, I was playing a lot of computer games again. But just the accountability of the chart helped.

From there, I moved into planners, and fell in love with them. The new planner was my favorite part of the new school year, and I liked looking back through them at the end to remember everything that I’d done and the things that had mattered to me at the time.

Sometime in college, or maybe a bit before, I started writing out full daily schedules, either in my planner or on slips of paper, which may have been where my planning and attention to detail really spun out of control. I liked the satisfaction of crossing items off the list as the hours ticked by, and I was overly influenced by a brief passage in Jane Eyre, when she was visiting the cousins who were horrible to her as a child, and one had become self-indulgent and the other puritanical. The puritanical one, Eliza, advised the other, “Take one day; share it into sections; to each section apportion its task; leave no stray unemployed quarter of an hour, ten minutes, five minutes–include all; do each piece of business in its turn with method, with rigid regularity.”

Eliza was not meant to be a model, but I made her one, and tried to contort my days into that kind of clockwork. It was not a great system, though I was extremely productive. It finally ended with me showing my week’s schedule to my therapist and her pointing out that I had not scheduled a break for in five days. This was apparently unhealthy and she made me change it, which made me less efficient, but ultimately got me out of therapy, so win.

Nowadays I use a bullet journal and I’m pretty pleased with the system. It has the shapejuly 17 of a planner with more flexibility, the space to schedule every hour of my day (including breaks) if I want to, and the ability to see what I actually do if I remember to write it down. It’s the system that works for me now. It helps me see where my day has gone, to note anything I want to be aware of like what I ate or how I felt, and to make longer, more elaborate plans whenever I feel like it.

This morning that meant planning out the first part of August with packing and cleaning the apartment. I also added a few things to my monthly to-do list which helps me see where my likely spending will happen. For instance, I need to change the oil in my car and I have a number of things to take to the dry-cleaners july(normally I would just take my chances and throw my clothes in the wash, but these are actually nice interview-y type outfits and my wedding dress so it’s probably not worth it). This helps me remember, even more than my budget, that I actually will spend money on my optometrist appointment and the cat’s vet appointment, etc. and that keeps me from giving in to the temptation to spend on a meal or a drink out. Though I may have actually scheduled one of those with a coworker today as well. At least I’m planning ahead?

UFM: things I’ve in-sourced and things I want to try

This list has been developing over time, and most of these things were things I started doing well before the UberFrugal Month Challenge began. I don’t want anyone to think I’ve been this productive in just sixteen days! But these are some things that I am glad I have “in-sourced” and that I don’t pay absurd amounts of money for anymore:

  • Cutting my own hair. I would only ever go to a salon every six to nine months before, and I always had sticker shock, and even though I loved the way my hair looked immediately after, I didn’t much care the rest of the time. So I watched some videos on youtube, got a good pair of shears that I don’t use for anything else ever, and now every six to nine months I just snip my own hair off. I don’t think it looks noticeably worse; in fact, most of the time I don’t think anyone notices that I cut my hair at all, which is fine with me.
  • Threading my eyebrows. This one I still miss a bit. I can be quite vain about my eyebrows (they are very good brows) and I’m lazy and don’t like to tweeze, so often they are a hot mess (thanks genetics). I used to go to the salon and it was a lot like getting a hair cut: I’d come out feeling fabulous, but within a couple of days I wouldn’t really notice anymore. And unlike haircuts you have to go back every month or so, so the prices are about the same as my six month cut. Now I’ve given up and I tweeze when I think they look unbearable, and try to accept that I won’t ever get them to look as good as they do from the salon. And that’s actually okay.
  • Learning web design. This is a pretty recent development, but I was planning to just pay for it previously, but it’s satisfying and fun to learn a new skill, and I feel much more confident with my computer in general.
  • Biking. As mentioned before on this blog, biking boosts my happiness by at least 10%. When I bike I’m happier, I’m fitter, I have to spend less money on gasoline, and I don’t lose my hard-to-come-by parking spot.
  • Doing my own taxes. I’ve paid to have them done before, and it was nice not to have to think about it, but it also meant I really didn’t understand what was going on, and that decreased my confidence. Now even though it’s more work, it’s satisfying to have a better understanding of the system.

I still have a way to go on things that I could in-source and a lot of excuses for not doing it, most of them around my perceived idea of time and return on investment. But, I tend to think that these are mostly excuses not to change, so here’s a list of the things I’m most interested in learning how to do myself.

  • Change my oil. I don’t understand a lot about my car, and doing even one thing myself would make me feel more comfortable with it. I know there are a lot of arguments for not changing your own oil, like the hassle of finding a proper disposal site, but we have a great property team at work that changes the oil on company vehicles, so I think it would be pretty easy right now to get a quick lesson and not have to deal with the messiness of disposal. Even if I never changed my oil again, I think I’d be glad to know that I knew how.
  • Sewing. Again, taking time and labor into account, I don’t necessarily know that this is really efficient (knitting certainly isn’t), but it seems like it would be a fun, creative outlet, and that has value. Not everything has to be about priming efficiency.
  • Gardening. We don’t have any space here, but fresh produce is such a wonderful treat (and the good stuff is so expensive) that growing my own would be pretty satisfying.
  • Woodworking. I have a really beautiful bookcase that I paid a reasonable amount of money for, but that is essentially pretty basic boards and two by fours screwed together. I feel like I should be able to do this and also charge people reasonable prices for attractive furniture pieces.

I’ll talk to the property director about helping me change my oil this week. Other than that, these other in-sourcing opportunities may have to stay on the list for awhile, but they are nice to think about!

UFM 12 & 13

The challenge for Day 12 of the UberFrugal Challenge was to banish excuses. I’m still not quite ready to banish my excuses because they’re so good, but I’m willing to acknowledge that frugality might be more fun. Time spent baking bread, reading, learning new skills is time that is enjoyable and satisfying. A restaurant meal is certainly enjoyable, but it isn’t satisfying in the same way.

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Day 13 was a reminder that you can look good without spending a bunch of money on makeup. Which, yeah, you can. Guys do it all the time.

I don’t wear makeup almost ever. I got started late to the makeup game because my mom didn’t wear makeup, so I didn’t have anyone to learn from besides girlfriends, and I never really felt like I got the hang of it. I remember one of the first days I wore makeup to school, a boy in my math class pointed it out to everyone because it was so unusual(so not the point of makeup, dude).

At the time, I remember being embarrassed and thinking my mom was weird because all the other women I saw wore makeup. What can I say? I was a teenager. All teenagers think their moms are weird, and if they don’t then they are the weird ones. Now I look back on it, and I’m appreciative because I have a role model for my own non-makeup-wearing journey.

I wore makeup regularly from high school into my early twenties, but when I started working with girls, I stopped. First it was because I was working at camp and I was sweaty and dirty most of the day. Then it was because I was still working with girls, and I began to realize that most girls didn’t often see adult women without a full face of makeup. Did they even know what that looked like? I wanted them to know it was okay not to wear makeup. I figured all the rest of society would let them know that it’s also okay to wear makeup. And then I just sort of forgot about it for the most part.

Nowadays I’ll put on some lipstick if I’m feeling fancy, or a full face if I’m going to good as hellsomething important and I don’t mind breaking out the next day, because I also still only buy cheap, drugstore makeup because the non-drugstore, non-make-you-breakout kind is expensive! And I just can justify that for something I only wear once or twice a year.

I’m not committed to my no-makeup stance. It’s not a political statement, except in the sense that I want girls to see women’s faces as they really are, but I’m not saying I won’t ever wear makeup again. I still sometimes dream of closets full of power suits and bright lipsticks and whatever that creamy stuff is people put on their skin to make it look even, but also not like a corpse? Foundation? Also blush maybe? But that’s not where I am in my life right now. And I’m okay with that. I’m feeling good as hell (follow link for a great song).

UFM 8 & UFM 9, plus a realization

Actually, the realization comes first. I’m nine days into this little month-long frugal and blogging challenge and I’ve already missed posting two days. It’s possible that I’ve bit off more than I can reasonably chew! And as I would like the frugal changes and writing habit to stick, this means I need to sloooow down and get the most out of this process that I can.

This realization came around after Thursday when the Frugalwoods’ email had 4 steps of tracking your money, three of which I’d done before, but wasn’t up to date on, and one that I’d never tried but now highly recommend: calculating your savings rate. I was writing after work and running and dinner and dishes and probably some relaxing (real talk) but it was getting later and later, and I was getting grumpier. Staying up late to manage my finances and then write something about it was a lot to add on! And things that feel like a lot don’t stick.

As a perfectionist, it’s hard for me to back down once I’ve set myself up for a challenge, so I’m going to practice taking a small step back: I’m going to keep up with the frugal challenge, but I’m going to drop my blog posting down to every other day (the odd days in case you want to keep track). I’ll cover whatever was interesting in the previous two days of the challenge, and on my off days I hope to spend a little more time on other writing projects (as soon as I started back up with the blog, my other writing stopped and I don’t like that).

So, now that that’s out of the way, what’s been happening!

Yesterday was the wedding that I thought I might need to buy a dress for. Turns out, I had a perfectly suitable one in the my closet! I’ve actually worn this dress at other weddings before (there’s even a picture of me in the dress on our dresser) but I hadn’t even thought of it until a friend suggested it. I did feel a little under-dressed because I forgot my heels at home, but–guess what? No one cares! And my feed didn’t hurt at the end of the night, so that was a win.

My man and I drove back this morning, and I spent the day pretty casually. I read my book (Helter Skelter currently–really enjoying it), napped, and then we met up with some friends for an inexpensive happy hour. Two of our friends are departing on a months-long tour of the United States before moving abroad, so it was important to wish them a fond farewell. This is the couple that got me back into biking to work, which I’m very grateful for, and I hope to see them again someday. 3 grain salad

Then the evening was spent meal prepping. I used up some more amaranth, brown rice, and all my quinoa making a Mexican inspired 3-grain salad with black beans, frozen veggies, and cilantro. I meant to add a tomato and pepper, but forgot, so they’ll have to go in the curry later this week.

waffleSince I have a lot of flour to use up and I ran out of oatmeal on Friday, I also decided to make waffles for my breakfasts this week. My plan is to take a couple of waffles with me to work and eat them with some homemade jam, peanut butter and banana. Yum! Not the healthiest breakfast, but certainly one of the most decadent for its price. I also had one this evening for a small dinner. I got the very basic recipe from Spice Up the Curry, but subbed more regular flour for whole wheat since I didn’t have any.

What about the challenge you ask? Well yesterday’s challenge was to talk about money with your partner. I didn’t, but only because my man and I already talked about money and our goals recently. While we’re not always in perfect agreement, we respect each other’s desires and support them. And this move has been helpful in opening up our communication about money because it’s one of the bigger expenses we’ve had as a couple.

Today’s topic was the options that frugality provides. Having set aside money and saved has allowed me to leave jobs I haven’t liked, to handle stressful car repairs quickly, and yeah, travel when the opportunity has presented itself. Only the last one has really felt like an option, but it’s been a huge relief to know that the money for major expenses, and pleasures, is there. I always think I could be doing a better job of setting aside more: for the move, retirement, eventual car and laptop replacements, emergencies, etc. but at least so far I’ve been lucky to have always had enough. I hope that by strengthening my frugal muscles I can set aside for those things I know are coming so that when they happen I can focus on the joy, the adventure, maybe even the sorrow, instead of the cost.

UFM 7: Groceries

Today’s mantra: I will eat everything I buy at the grocery store!
Today’s action: Make this week’s grocery list with the above parameter in mind.

I made the grocery list and also bought the groceries! I like grocery shopping on a Friday afternoon because no one else is doing it. Apparently grocery shopping does not count as fun Friday times but it’s also when the stores are the least crowded.

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I’m not sure if I’ll actually be able to make it through the week with what I’ve got, but here’s my plan:

  • I have some basil that I need to use up, so tomorrow I’ll make some cashew basil pesto for use with pasta, maybe throw in a tomato (not pictured–all stuff I already have).
  • Saturday night we’re going to a wedding, so who knows what will happen there. But at least there will be food.
  • Sunday is my meal prep day. I’m planning to make a big three grain salad with black beans and a Mexican-ish flavor (hence the peper and onion) plus some frozen mixed veggies because veggies. I ran out of oatmeal this morning, and we have a lot of flour so I’m going to try something new and make waffles to freeze and then eat them like breakfast sandwiches with peanut butter and jam and banana all week. I’m pretty bad at making waffles so this may be a horrible plan.
  • The can of tomato paste and the broccoli will with a lentil pumpkin curry I’m planning, plus more rice (hopefully this week I can make it without burning everything) which I’ll make once I’ve run out of the three grain salad.
  • Coffee and almond milk should be pretty self explanatory.

So that’s my plan for the next week! I also have some lemons that I need to use up so there may be some lemonade or some lemon scones or some something. I like meal planning almost as much as I like budgeting. It lets the control-freak side of me and the creative side of me do something productive together.

eatallthethings

UFM 5 & 6: Playing catch up

UFM 5
Today’s mantra: I will eat all the things!!!!
Today’s action: Start combing through your pantry, freezer, and fridge and make plans for all the foodstuffs you find.

I missed posting yesterday because I was too busy eating all the things at a meeting of my personal board of directors. Well, not all the things. I went to Whole Foods and Starry Lane Bakery after work to pick up vegan cheese and gluten-free bread, which were delicious and I regret nothing.

I am working on eating all the things in our pantry before we move, and I hope that I can get close Old Mother Hubbard with her bare cupboards by the time August rolls around. Today that meant working through my kind of gross rice and beans from Monday as well as the left over mac-and-cheese from last night, which was much better (there were also vegetables with both–don’t worry).

While I’ll still need to get some groceries this weekend, particularly oatmeal (unless I can accept eating beans for breakfast), I think I’ve got most of the key ingredients for next week’s major meals. I have a can of coconut milk, lentils, and pumpkin to make a pumpkin lentil curry with rice (or quinoa or sorghum… I have a lot of grains).

UFM 6
Today’s mantra: I can manage my money on my own! I will empower myself to learn what I need to learn in order to build a healthy financial future!
Today’s actionSign-up for Personal Capital and run through the other steps (described below).

I did not sign up for personal capital. I am really happy with my own money management system—You Need a Budget. As for the other steps in Mrs. F’s email, I am on it:

  1. Track your monthly spending. I do it with You Need a Budget, not Personal Capital. My favorite feature of YNAB is the phone app, even though I almost never look at it.
  2. Know your monthly net income: My average net income is $2,483 currently.
  3. Know your net worth. Without being too specific (and feeling suddenly shy on the internet, my net worth is the highest its ever been, above $45K. On the one hand, that seems like a crazy amount of money to me, more than I make in a year, and at the same time, it seems like a crazy small amount of money to me, certainly not enough to build a life on. But as the old chestnut goes, a millionaire is made a penny at time.
  4. Calculate your savings rate. This is something I’ve never calculated this before! You take your annual change in liquid net worth (the balance of all your accounts as of Dec. 31 2016 minus the balance of all your accounts as of Jan. 1 2016), subtract any major non-salary inputs (none for me) and divide by your net take-home salary. This is actually a lot harder than it sounds, and I was getting numbers anywhere from 5% to 53%. The exercise definitely made me more aware of what I know about my money, and what I don’t. Having finally tracked down what I think are all the correct numbers, my savings rate is 37%. There’s definitely room for improvement, but it’s a lot higher than 5%.

This is also maybe something that would have been better saved for a weekend when I’m well-rested, as opposed to late at night on a weeknight (not my best time). I asked my man for help with the math and then he had other thoughts and opinions as though he’s some kind of sentient human being! The nerve!

Despite the grouchiness that staying up so late to do math has created, I highly recommend calculating your annual savings rate. It was really eye-opening to me to see my savings as a piece of my total pie, as opposed to a self-contained unit. (It’s great to save $5K if you’re earning $10K, not so much if you’re earning $100K.) Frugality is a quality I believe I have, so it’s interesting to see how the data of my life actually matches up to that. There’s room for improvement, but I knew that already. Hence, the challenge.

#UberFrugal Month Day 2: Where are you going?

Today, I’m not going anywhere besides the couch. Actually, I spent most of the day napping in bed, so a pretty great Sunday in my opinion! A friend and I ran in the morning, then did some exercises she’d been assigned in physical therapy which knocked me out!

But where am I going going?

A long time dream of mine is to retire early. How early and what “retirement” means keep changing, but ultimately that’s still the goal: financial freedom. The ability to do what I want, when I want, without the burden of a traditional job. I’d like to spend time with my family, to be outside, to write, to read more than I already do. My picture of financial freedom includes a house with a yard, travel, and enough money not to have to think too much about money.

Today’s mantra: When you’re working towards a goal, frugality isn’t about what you’re giving up, it’s about what you’re going to gain.

Today’s action: Write your long-term goal on a piece of paper and put it in your wallet. Mine is below:wallet

On the frugal agenda tonight: folding laundry and making lunches for the week. In my quest to use up all the food we have before we leave (and because it’s heckin frugal) I’m making rice and beans. I didn’t get the beans started in the crock pot, so I am pressure cooking them, and Hillary does not approve.

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I find your methods of frugality disturbing. 

 

#UberFrugal Month Prep List Part 2

Continuing from yesterday’s post, here are my notes on the last suggestions Mrs. Frugalwoods offers to prepare for an UberFrugal month challenge.

Examine Your Habits
I thought I could skip this one. I think my habits are pretty good! Sure, I spend more than I like on restaurants, but otherwise I’m pretty happy with my spending. But then I thought deeper, and I asked myself what is the root cause of my spending?

I have a habit of saying yes to ideas that sound appealing without thinking about how they fit in my overall plan or budget. I figure I’ll make it work and usually I do, but I’m not always comfortable with it afterward. So for July, I’d like to say yes slower. I’d like to wait, to say I need to go home and check first. I don’t think this will stop me from doing things I really want to do, but it will give me an opportunity to do a gut-check and to think of possible frugal alternatives.

Plan ahead

july plan

Every weekend is fun!

I love to plan. Frugalwoods gave examples like packing snacks and planning your day so you don’t have to spend money, but I took this in a different direction. I looked at my month to see what I’ve already committed to and where I might be tempted to spend money, so that I can make a plan. As you can see, July is already a full month with lots of fun things on the horizon!

Buy used (or cheap!)
Because we’re moving, and I don’t want to add additional stuff to our lives, I’m not really tempted to buy many things right now, though I suppose this could also apply to going to cheap restaurants instead of the best and most expensive one (even though it’s so good).

Unlike a lot of people, I’m not big on shopping for clothes. The last clothes I bought were some bras that I think I got in December or January, but I am feeling some pressure to get a different dress for the wedding we’re attending in a couple of weeks and for my trip to Barcelona. Both are events hosted by our fancier friends, and all of my dresses are sundresses or black. I’ve thought about borrowing a dress from a friend for the wedding coming up, but I feel a little weird about that. But I would feel okay about a trip to some of the second-hand stores around the neighborhood, and I’m not talking Buffalo Exchange–I’m talking the 5 for $5 places.

Banish excuses
This is the hardest one for me because I think I have a pretty ironclad excuse: we’re moving! We won’t see these friends ever again, or at least not for many months! Moving has all kinds of unexpected costs! This is the last time I can go to our favorite Thai place or the fancy but delicious vegan bar. Will they even have vegan bars in Rochester? It’s probably better if they don’t.

While there is truth to this excuse (I really am leaving, I really won’t see these friends again for a long time), spending money isn’t necessarily the answer. I’m feeling sadness and affection for my friends and the community we have here, and I’m trying to cover that sadness with a meal out or a drink or a fun day spent with them, but it’s those last three words that really matter. Spend (time) with them. That’s what matters. That’s what is significant and that’s what I need to remember this month.

#UberFrugal Month Prep List

Frugalwoods’ July UberFrugal Month starts tomorrow! And like the high school students I work with (and the one I sometimes was), I’m doing my homework the night before. Mrs. Frugalwoods laid out a pretty lengthy prep-list to get the most out of the challenge. I did the first one… and then stopped. Until now! Like my essays in high school, this will be long, meandering, and mostly only interesting to me!

Establish Goals: See this post! 

Review last month’s spending & categorize expenses: See here’s why I stopped. #Excuses. I wanted to make sure that I was perfectly accurate, so I wanted to be done with all my June spending, which didn’t happen until today.

Anyway, here we go! Let’s do the numbers!

  • Rent: $720
    This is really the amount I pay into the joint account with my man to cover rent, utilities, cat expenses, when we go out (which we rarely do), etc.
  • Doctors/Medicine: 354
    Yep. An expensive month. Dentist and doctor stuff.
  • Travel: $1036
    Plane tickets, plane tickets, plane tickets. Language classes in Spain. Still need to rent an AirBnB.
  • Groceries: $212
  • Gas: $22 (oh yeah! I only filled up my car once this month!)
  • Phone: $28
  • Cat expenses: $104
    But wait, wasn’t that supposed to be included in the rent stuff? Yeah, but I forgot, so I paid for her vet appointment with my card. She’ll need to go back this month for the airline paperwork, but hopefully it will be less since she won’t need shots.
  • Restaurants & coffee out: $411
    Yeah, you thought I was cool with my $22 gas and my $28 phone. And then we get to this monstrosity! What was I thinking!
  • Entertainment: $15.28
    A movie and a song that I bought for work and will be reimbursed for.
  • Gifts: $73.61
    Mostly money for cool high school girls I know who are graduating. And cards to put the money in.
  • Moving expenses: $1,000. This isn’t necessarily spent yet. My man and I just both put in some extra money to the joint account this month to cover our moving costs. And confession time: I don’t keep as much track of our joint money as well as I do my money. Laziness? Subconscious misogyny? I don’t know.

So with the exception of the rent, all of these are discretionary expenses in that I could reduce or eliminate them if I really needed to. And tbh, I could reduce our “rent” spending if we needed to, but my man is really frugal and I trust his financial judgement on what we should sock away. We don’t end up spending the full $720 every month, but it’s nice to have when we want to treat ourselves or like, decide to move across the country.

What can I eliminate entirely? What can I reduce? Honestly, I don’t think I could eliminate any of these expenses entirely.

WHAT? I know. I’m a terrible uberfrugaler.

Here’s why:

Rent: It is what it is. This is what we’ve agreed upon and it doesn’t bother me.

Doctor: Yeah, this will probably go down I hope. But I do have to see my optometrist this month and buy a year’s supply of contacts, so it might be close to the same.

Travel: Now I’m committed. Need a place to stay. Don’t think there are other things I need to purchase in July though.

Groceries: I feel like this is pretty low already. I am committed to eating all the things we’ve already got in the apartment though, so I’m trying to plan meals around a lot of rice and beans.

Gas & Phone: Not even. I’ve got these on lock!

Cat: will come out of the joint account. So we’ll pay for it, but the cost won’t count against my budget!

Restaurants: This has to go down. I want to bang my head against the table every time I see that number. How is that even possible? For what it’s worth, all of that is with friends too. My husband and I haven’t gone out all month. Lessons for July: Have people over instead! Don’t go to the great but expensive bar! Don’t get apps! Don’t drink! Especially don’t get drunk and generous and pay for everyone because you just want them to know how much you appreciate them!

Entertainment: I’ve committed to going to Hogwarts before leaving California.

Gifts: Still have girls I love graduating. Still gonna give them $. It’s not a lot, but it has meaning in my heart which is a little weird for me. There aren’t many girls left, and I do have cards I can use instead of buying new ones, so I can lower but not eliminate.

Moving expenses: We’re going across the country! Who even knows!

This is getting long! Let’s wrap it up, Canter!

What can I substitute?
I could give thoughtful cards instead of gifts to coworkers for my good-byes.
I could use cards I already bought.
I could have people over to my cute apartment instead of going out and pack my own food at Hogwarts (at least some, gotta get some Bertie Botts).
I could sub water for alcohol. Better for my body anyway.

What can I in-source? I have no confidence in my ability to in-source the things we need for this month. I need to get my car and bike checked out before this massive move! I can’t do that myself!

But–I did see the property team at work changing the oil on one of their trucks this week, so I could buy oil and get them to show me, then wait until we’re moved to get the necessary 90,000 mile check (I’m still a couple thousand miles away from this so I’m not terribly worried about waiting a few months), and we’re shipping the car, not driving it. This has the advantage of giving me a new skill and letting me find a mechanic who knows about winterizing cars. Not a thing we really deal with here in San Diego. I could also just avoid having the bike tuned up until I’m in Rochester, again where people know how to winterize transportation devices.

Whew! Mrs. F still has four more steps to prep for the uber frugal month, but I’m running out of steam and words, so I will save them for tomorrow’s posting! Check back here tomorrow morning for more fascinating insights into my spending!