Continuing with my ideas for savings after finishing my frugal boot camp. Groceries is one of our biggest expense areas and I'm saving that for a whole separate post. The items listed here are in no particular order.
Insurances: Car, Home, Medical
I have researched car and home insurances so often that I'm an old pro at it. I think we're about as low as we're going to get on car insurance and our home insurance is such a good policy that reputable insurance agents have encouraged us to keep it and not switch policies. I'll bow to the experts on that score. We've been taking advantage of the monthly payment option with both car and home insurance. If we can pay the house insurance annually and the car insurance in six month increments we'd save a substantial bit of money, almost enough to cover six months of car insurance. This is something I am going to try and focus upon in the coming year, saving enough ahead to pay those amounts in full when they come due. Occasionally as an incentive they offer a substantial discount and that would be the time to take advantage and make the switch so I can maximize the savings.
I'll have to find a new provider for health insurance next year. In the meantime, we are just managing to make that payment each month. Really there is nothing I can do in this area.
John wears a basic wardrobe that doesn't vary. It's the same in season and out. He buys multiples of shirts in the one or two colors he prefers and ditto for his jeans and caps. He says he's boring. I say his method is incredibly thrifty, lol.
One thing I've learned over this past year with limited clothing choices is that I am very nearly completely satisfied with a basic set of clothing myself. If I learned anything from my husband it was the ease of a 'capsule wardrobe'. I have begun a list of items I want for my wardrobe that I think will make it a little more versatile. I need a nice pair of pants in a good neutral, a blouse or two in compatible neutrals, a blazer in a good solid neutral. I won't be an all black, or all gray sort as my accessories will lend the color needed to liven up outfits. I'll buy those at thrift stores or off clearance racks as I always have. And like John I'll buy certain basics in bulk (think 3 white tee shirts or two white blouses in different styles). I think this will net me far more mileage than a couple dozen new items each season ever could.
I've also discovered that good quality shoes in basic styles go far. I love cute shoes but they will have to be very low priced before I'll make that splurge. I need to spend the bulk of my money on the work horse pieces.
I truly like costume jewelry and find it adds that color punch to an outfit that I mightn't get otherwise, but every now and then I want a nice chain necklace or a quality pair of earrings. I'll ask for those items as gifts for birthday or Christmas.
And lastly I am over the whole shoddy house clothes thing. I discovered this summer that I can have cute at home things and not spend a lot of money on them. Here is the spot to spend small sums on inexpensive t-shirts and sundresses and athletic pants. All super clearance priced and all much appreciated. Here also is the place to buy fun prints which are less apt to show stains and spots.
Target amount for usage each month is $75. This is about 2 tanks of gas for the month for the two cars and about what we've averaged this past year.
Oh yes...drive 60mph. I noticed John set the cruise control the other day in the car when we were travelling and he set it for 60mph. I'd already been experimenting doing the same. It paid off! We got about 3miles more per gallon used. I'll continue that bit of savings.
Continue to triple and quadruple errands when I do leave home. Try to limit errands day to one day a week. This is far easier on my own than with John but I'll gently encourage him. He likes to do his own set of errands weekly and if I can combine mine with his, so much the better.
Set aside a little money each month meant just for that 'extra' travel on vacation or to visit kids or to go on a day trip here and there. We've been doing this since the first of the year and it has made a difference.
John and I addressed this area about two years ago when we were expecting three additions to the family. We agreed at that time for birthdays we'd limit ourselves to a card and $10 for all the grandchildren, with the exception of the babies. We decided that babyhood ends at 3 when a child will receive $5. $10 will be given when they are 7.
We also decided at that point that we'd give each family a set amount of money for Christmas and we set a limit on how high we'd go.
It's not fun gifting in this way. There's no great joy in it but it's effective and it matches our budget and that is necessary, so no whining over it.
What we didn't address was birthday gifts for our children...I admit I tend to stretch that a bit. I like getting my adult kids something they might not purchase for themselves but would like. I didn't set a budget amount for it. I also have had no budget for gifting for other things: baby showers, graduations, weddings, etc. We had only one a month this past year. I'm going to start purchasing a few basic items for baby showers and birthdays as I see them on good clearance prices and start a gift pantry. I'm also going to look for nice items at Ross or TJ Maxx that would make a suitable wedding gift and pop those into the gift pantry.
Home and Garden
Questions to ask myself:
Can I borrow it?
Can I get it used?
Can I use something else?
What's going to give me the most use for the money spent?
What will it cost to upgrade in quality?
How can I manage that?
How can I manage that?
Keep a running list of needs...Not just in home/garden but for clothing, gifts, tools, etc.
#1. Recover, repaint, repurpose, reuse, recycle. Sew, make.
#2. Timely maintenance. Do as much DIY as we possibly can. Don't hire a job done just because we don't want to bother.
#3. Buy quality used items to replace those which must be replaced. Hardwood furnishings, bookcases, etc.
#4. Thrift accessories.
#1. Mulch is cheapest in the spring. Buy in bulk at that time. Cardboard, newspaper, shredded paper all make good mulch, too.
#2. Ask for perennial divisions from family.
#3. Plant perennials first. Seeds for annuals, unless deep clearance plants I can revive. Purchase good seeds and use just a few to start plants. Gather seeds at end of season for the next season.
#4. When plants are divided, move to other parts of the yard.
#5. Anything can be a planter...
#6. Purchase mower blades in bulk.
#7. Plant food crops. Use Square foot gardening method.
#8. Make compost. Started this past week, finally. I've had this on my list for years. I'm done with excuses.
Take it if it's free. It's a blessing. If I can't use it, can I gift it to someone else? Can I sell it? Trade it? Alter it so that it is usable? I by no means want to hoard things away but there are six families I can easily share items with and often do. One of them is bound to find something useful. If not, I'll donate it.
Ask for senior discounts.
Anticipate future needs.
What can I sell that we aren't using, don't need?
Shop with a list. Keep running lists of needs. Nip impulses. If it isn't on a list do I really need it?
...to be continued...