Feb 1, 2011

Frugal February

I've seen a few indications that other people celebrate frugality and simplicity in February.  But even if it's not a recognized observance, I'm going to make it my area of focus and resolve for the month.  I don't think we'll make the leap into extreme frugality (not even for a month), but there are some things that I can do to help us live a little simpler and cheaper, while still living well:

Making my own bread and rolls.  I love the convenience of scooping up bakery artisan breads and sandwich rolls, but wowsers, they are pricey.  I can make really good rolls and bread myself, and I have the tools and ingredients to do it. It's just a matter of planning ahead to allow enough time for bread making.

Using up the stuff in the pantry and freezer.  I realized when I blogged about my overstuffed pantry that I have gotten more than a little sloppy in my shopping habits, mainly because I have extra room.  I doubt we'll find ourselves with bare shelves on February 28,  but I'm going to challenge myself to build our weekly menus around the items on hand before buying any other staples.

Taking stock of cleaning supplies.  Like the pantry situation, my cleaning supply cabinet is overstocked, and I obviously have more stuff than I should. So this month will be used to figure out what's in there, use them for the purposes I bought them for, and be more judicious before rushing out to buy more.

Getting more out of what we have:
  1. Using up the gift cards.  I carry around several hundred dollars in gift cards, and typically forget I have them.  I've taken an inventory and will start using them when I'm patronizing the stores and restaurants I have cards for.
  2. Using those smart cards and discount coupon books.  No, I'm not advocating more spending, but when we do head out to eat or be merry, I will do my best to look for a discount we can use.
  3. Squeezing all the good out of our YMCA family membership.  It's a monthly obligation of around $100.  Since I started running almost two years ago, we've steadily increased our visits to the point that one of us is there just about every day.  (I work out daily during the week and sometimes on the weekends with Mr. Official and Swimmer Girl, who each sneak in the occasional weeknight visit, too.)  We just need to keep it up, and if/when we aren't using it any longer, cut it off so it doesn't return to being a waste of money.
  4. Making my magazines work a little harder.  I am embarrassed to admit to how many periodicals we subscribe to.  But worse than that are the magazines that sit un-read.  Starting this month, I will make it a point to make a recipe, cut and use the coupons, and/or use tips or advice from every one of them that comes in the mail.  And if I find some of them aren't delivering anything useful, they will not be renewed, no matter how good of a renewal deal they dangle in front of me.
Happy frugality!