Friday, March 11, 2011

Frugal Friday

Simple title.  I thought of: Frugality with Full Hands Friday. But it seemed a bit long.  I'll stick to keeping it simple, since everything else about this won't be :-)

I sat down with the girls last night and got them on the frugal bandwagon.  That wasn't too hard since I told them they would get a percentage of the money saved to split among themselves.  Not sure what that percentage will be. Although I need to talk to them about the expectations I have for them in using that money.  Like NO candy buying!  Ha, ha!  We sat and thought of areas where we could cut back on.  I encourage you all to make a plan suitable for your family.  Then link to it in the comments for all of us to encourage one another and share ideas.  I know there are ways to link up (like with Mr. Linky) in each post, but I don't know how to do that yet.  Maybe in time. We can try to post on Friday's with our progress.  Not necessary to do that every Friday, but it will give us a day when we know we can check up on each other to see how we are doing. 

Here is our very skeleton of a plan.

Grocery budget
On the site I linked to yesterday she gave a $90 dollar limit per person for each month.  She said it was based on how many were in your household.  I know Aubrey isn't eating table food, nor will he for a while to come, but I figured  I would count him in.  That gives us $810 for the month for groceries.  Now here is the hard part.  In our family grocery budget, things like toiletries, paper, small kitchen items, etc are counted in that.  Sometimes even clothing.  I think her numbers are for food only.  So lets keep our numbers to food only.  I will have to set some sort of number for those other things, which I haven't had time to figure out yet.  This will be very hard for us to do, but I want to make an attempt.  At least if I keep diligent track of the numbers I can see how much we are really spending and where we can do better.  It will be a learning experience.  We already talked about having set times to eat.  And that we all eat together.  One of the problems we have is no one is on the same schedule and I can't keep track of how much food is being eaten.  My kids eat a LOT of food.  I know we were feeling more hungry at the start of this diet, but that is starting to get a bit better.  I was able to make a HUGE pot of beef stew, that will last us for four meals.  However, I made a pot roast, a large one at that, and it was eaten all up in one meal.  Way too expensive to be doing that!!  So lots of little changes need to be made in the menu planning department.

Energy budget
I think last year or the year before last we tried for a couple of months to cut back on our energy usage.  Jeremiah was skeptical that we could make a difference, but we did! So the girls and I thought of ways we could but back on our energy use.  Things like cutting back on our heat and AC (when appropriate), using our laundry line to dry our clothing, shutting of lights, fans, and maybe the computers,and not leaving the fridge open just to look around.  These are definitely the areas where the girls can help.  We also have a heat lamp in the barn going 24/7 which is not needed except for night time.  If that. 

I averaged out the last few years for March and it came to $249.  So we will be trying to beat that number. 

Clothing and other areas
We try to buy cheap.  We have gone to the Good Will a few times to get clothing as well.  But I think we could definitely improve in this area.  Our biggest pit fall is not buying ahead of the need. We have growing children and clothing will be needed.  We need to buy six months ahead with sales, used, or homemade so that we are not forced to buy full price because we need something *now*.  I would really like to get into making or repurposing clothing.  One area that we can really save is in diapers.  We spend probably about $70 a month on diapers and wipes for all three boys.  We are pretty motivated to get the older two boys potty trained.  And I have a whole stash of cloth diapers for Aubrey that we could be utilizing.  Seems silly to be throwing money away with each diaper change, when we don't have to!! Yes, cloth means more work.  But "work" we could be getting "payed" for! 

Gardening can, if we are diligent to do the work this spring and summer, save us a lot of money.  We eat a LOT of salad.  Lots of tomatoes, and cucumbers.  Plus other things like green beans, and fruit.  We have four blueberry bushes to plant.  However it will probably be 3 to 5 years before they are producing of us.  That's the problem with some of this.  We have to spend the money not only on the blueberry bushes now, but on the blueberries we need to be eating today.  So more cost now so that we can save money in a few years.  Actually four blueberry bushes will hardly get us a few weeks worth of berries.  We will need a lot more bushes.  I was just reading someones blog for the first time, so I can't remember who they are, but they were growing some 22 fruit and nut trees, had chickens, had a swing set for the kids and a veggie garden on 1/5 of an acre!  Whoa!!  We really need to look at the use of our space differently.  I would love to plant apple, peach, and cherry trees.  Also plant some blueberries, raspberries and strawberries.  I'm sure there is much more, but those would be what I would start with.  So the money we will be saving in those other areas will be put towards these money saving projects (the fruit trees, and such).

The type of foods we buy are the foods that do not have coupons for them.  However that being said, there are ways you can work the couponing system with stores like Walgreens and CVS where you can actually make money on items.  My goal will be to start that and use that money for our paper products and toiletries.  The girls are really excited about clipping coupons.  Not sure how long that will last :-)  But I let them have that job.  I will make sure to link to some of the sites that tell you what deals are out there that you can combine coupons to make money.

Well that is a start for our frugal outline.  As the plan becomes more concrete, or changes need to be made, I will update in the following weeks. 

I found that blog I was talking about with the 22 fruit/nut trees.  I am most certainly putting it in my favorites!  Here was a great article on "How Sustainable is Your Kitchen".  This reminds me of another way to save, bartering.  Yup, bartering.  I was at our local in-home grain shop to buy some coconut oil.  The owners go to our church.  I asked her if they took 'cards' (our visa bank card) and she said they took card, cash, checks and barter.  And she was *serious* about the bartering!  She and her husband are really trying to get people to see the importance of making your local communities more reliant on you and your neighbors than the government, or businesses over seas.  You should check them out some time.  This *link* is for their store, and this one is for their *food prep site*.  My friend that I got the goat milk from barters as well.  I needed milk, and had some freezer meals that we didn't get to before our diet change.  So we made the exchange.  Dave, from church (you'll see him on the food prep site), advises that you learn a skill that will be valuable for bartering purposes.  Another good use for homeopathy!  See, I could barter my services.  Who doesn't get sick?  Ha, ha! 

We ran some errands, now time to eat lunch.  Moira has asked me no less than 5 times if she can start on the garden.  I need to put that child to work :-)

1 comment:

Sarah said...

That sounds ambitious! I too love to make grocery saving strategy lists.. sometimes every month! A farmer friend recently told us that a good organic garden takes one full-time person per half-acre... so that explains how the garden always gets away from me eventually! The children are starting to be helpful (all under 8), but not enough for the garden of our dreams, yet. :)

At one point, I paid my children 1 or 2 cents per coupon to keep them interested. My friend had the same job in the 1970s for her grandmother and made the same money, so I guess I was stingy.

Hope your efforts will be blessed.

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