Mini Boot Camp Crash Course

Since I had no big projects planned early this month, I wanted to make this month count mini boot camp came to mind.  I didn't read books this time but mostly trolled about Pinterest looking for new to me ideas, good reminders, etc. 

This go round I made an executive decision to STOP reading all those silly bulleted savings posts that repeat and repeat and repeat the need to stop doing the very things I never do anyway.  I also vowed  to stop reading posts like "Seven Habits of the Very Frugal" or "Things You Shouldn't Buy if You're Really Frugal".  And I promise I will try not to waste your time writing such things!

Do not save what is left after spending but spend what is left after saving. ~ Warren Buffett

Here's some of what I came up with, in no particular order, with random quotes scattered here and there.

I've gotten lax lately about using my credit card even though I do pay it off in full each month.  Just as the article I was reading stated, I forget how much I've already charged.  Come billing time I'm always taken aback by the balance and then I have to give up all my pocket money for the month.  This has left me feeling broke and poor and I don't like it.  It's also NOT making my money work harder for me, but it's certainly made me work harder for my money! 

I will be putting the credit card away for the next few months.  I'll also be avoiding Pay Pal unless I have money in my Pay Pal account.  I've noticed I'm not nearly so keen to shop if I must use my debit card!

For a personal reminder: I have spent this past month barely stocking up on groceries and merely buying what we need at the time we shop.  Result:  my stock of meat in the freezer fell to nothing but one meal of chicken and one of ground beef.  I had to stock up on meat and chicken was best price so chicken it was.  I purchased two roasts one of which was for family day and one that is a shoulder roast.  I bought sausage and hot dogs.  Notice no ground beef which is as much a staple in our home as chicken because we can buy really good quality of both for less.  Well, I'm waiting on a sale on ground beef or for the market I'd been shopping to go back to Tuesday specials on meat.  I don't know if it's discontinued for holiday month or if the change in ownership decided to do away with it.  Waiting to see on that one...

As for my grocery spending overall:

Start a sort of price book.  What I really need is to know the Aldi price for an item and then compare to other stores' sales prices.  I can't tell how often I've asked myself "...but what does it cost at Aldi?" when I was looking at a sales ad.  I will start to compile that book with this shopping trip, using my receipt.

I've done well with picking up MOST of the Kroger Free Friday items of late but I missed a few because either the store didn't stock it or because I let an expiration date slip by me.  I am due to go by there this week and pick up a few items.  I always check sales to see if something I NEED is on sale.  This week I have two items on my needs list.  If they aren't on sale I'll just pick up the free items and leave.

Spend well...not more.~unknown

Go to Goodwill once a month and LOOK FOR CLOTHES.  I had an epiphany this past week.  I have always been a big girl.  In the last few years when I walked into retail clothing places I was lucky if I could find ONE pair of pants to fit or a shirt that I liked that fit well.  I'm not that size anymore.  I'm still a big girl but in a size that actually allows me to make a choice between several items.  Maybe just maybe I'll find something nice at Goodwill, but until I go look I won't ever know.  I realize that the set up means it will take time.  I'll take my list of needs with me and scan the necessary racks and see what comes up.

And because I have never had a clothing allowance I am planning to set aside a small amount each month meant just for clothing.  I realized this past month when I was in need of several items at once and broke to boot that I was beyond the days when I should be scrambling for money for clothes.  I'll set aside a small amount each month and take time to judge my needs on the first of every month and spend or not accordingly.

I also want to scan clothing racks because grandchildren seem to grow by leaps and bounds all of a sudden, just like my children used to do.  To have a few pieces here and there that they might use would be a help to parents.

It's not a good deal if you don't need it.~unknown

Look for discounted gift cards to the places we normally (either myself and John, or myself and Mama) go out to eat and purchase them.  Heavens help me I don't know why I thought of this one so late in the game.  I'm bound to find something I can use!

Ditto for discounted gift cards to favored stores.

Often Publix has a special on gas cards.  You can get a $50 card for $40 with a $50 grocery purchase.  It's not uncommon for me to spend $50 in Publix at least twice a month.  It's not uncommon for us to require gasoline.  I'm going to check out their gasoline gift cards and note where I can stop to fill up my car with that particular brand(s).  If I can use them I'll sure buy them when they are offered as a discount!  After all it's like getting $10 worth of gas FREE.  Checked these out today and they have several stations that are in this and nearby areas.  Although we have a gas card that we use and pay off in full each month, it can't hurt to collect a few of these from various stations. 

And note to self, I noticed they have the same deal for some $50 credit/debit type cards.  Definitely a good deal to save $10 on one of those cards if I'm going to be spending the grocery money anyway!

Something I did this year for Christmas that struck me as thinking out of the box and  was rather smart savings was to buy a store shopping bag to use as a Christmas gift bag.  The store name is not even on the bag at all and it was decorated prettily for the holiday.  What's more it was roomy enough to fit a sizable boxed item for each of the children.  I couldn't help but think at less than $1 each these would make great reusable gift bags for anyone to whom I might give it.  I plan to pick up a few of them and a big roll of either white or brown kraft paper to use as wrapping paper, too.    Not a huge savings in this perhaps but it's certainly a savings and versatile and the shopping bags at least are a new idea for me.  I need to remind myself I can also use the opposite side of wrapping paper if it's not exactly what I need or want.  It's still wrapping paper!

I also joined Amazon Prime.  Should have done this at the end of last month when I was having John's gifts shipped but I didn't.  However, about the time I needed to refill a couple of outages I can only purchase online, I decided to join Prime.  I may go ahead and bite the bullet and pay the fee for the year, but I want to carefully access how much I actually use Amazon before I do so.  It might be worth my while to simply wait, join for free and batch a bunch of orders in some month or other than to pay the fee.  I don't have a kindle nor do I have streaming video so those features are useless to me.  It's strictly the free shipping and the occasional awesome price on something I've really been wanting that makes it worthwhile at all.

I just purchased a wide mouth funnel and a water bath canner with the savings I 'made' after canning several jars of jelly and making some homemade croutons.  It seemed a fit swap to me and one that will enable me to make further savings.  Next I'll try to purchase a pressure canner.

Don't compare your beginning to someone else's middle...

I've been thinking once again about how I might earn.  I have decided to go back to Swagbucks.  I can do all the non-video activities every day and the video activities on those days when I'm up very early anyway.  Right now I'm averaging about $25 a month in earnings from surveys and Swagbucks and My Coke Rewards (mostly thanks to Katie and Matt saving points for me on that end).  It's not a bad earnings for things that take little time but it's not quite enough. 

I hope to get the blog somewhat monetized...there are lengths to which I simply won't go, because the integrity of my work overall is very important to me and while it might seem silly blather to some, it's a place I've revealed my true self and I have no desire to curb that.  However, I am looking at monetizing in non-invasive sorts of ways.  I was given incentive with that first AdSense payment.  Much to my shock I discovered that at some point during one of the layout changes, my AdSense was turned OFF.  Not good!  I'd like to do Amazon widget and an associate link on my blog.  Trying to determine how I set all that up. 

I have a number of items I can sell that are quality and have never been used or are still viable for many more years of use.  Nothing new in that information.  I also have boxes of books I think I can resell a few of, and perhaps pick up some nicer items in Goodwill for resell on eBay.  And maybe an Etsy shop...Lots of ideas on earnings and just trying to determine what will be best for my time and input.

So that's my current lot of thoughts and recently acquired knowledge.


Christie Hogan said...

It is ironic that you would post this today, as I am preparing to do the exact same thing. My husband and I do a spending freeze ( only spending what is absolutley necessary) in January and then again later in the year. As I was wrapping up the "books" for this month, I began to work on my plan for 2017, and decided to go "hardcore" Frugal next month---as opposed to my everyday frugality the rest of the time! lol Thanks for the encouragement! I get so much inspiration from your blog. :)

Lana said...

A wise person told us very early in our marriage to pay ourselves first at every pay check. In other words put money in savings first. It is easy now that it is automatically deposited elsewhere but 36 years ago it took discipline. It served us well to develop that habit with our money even though the amounts were small back then.

I have a hard time getting the $50 at Publix for gas cards but I buy them at Bi-Lo when they have triple fuel perks. We use gift cards for all gas purchases. We also buy other gift cards that we know we will use. I can typically buy gas for at least 80 cents off a gallon about every third fill up.

Our credit card, Citibank Double Cash Back, has netted us about $400 back this year. We run every purchase through it. I posted in the comments some time back about how we have that set up so that there is no hardship in paying in full each month. It is all written out of the budget and the check book balance at the time it is charged. It helps to have a daughter who is an accountant! Buying gift cards with the credit card pays us in rewards twice.

We are getting a Lidl grocery store in the spring. It is another German discount grocer like Aldi. I am excited to see what they have to offer and the prices. The store that is being built is at least twice the size of an Aldi.

Hubby made a comment recently that the clothing budget was there to be spent and not just to grow the balance. I have surely spent these last few months!

Looks like you are on track for a good start to the new year!

christine said...

Lots of good ideas. I like that your ideas are practical, realistic, and useful. The discounted gift cards at our Publix have a $4.95 activation fee. Still a good savings, but just not quite as much. Yours may be different, but I mentioned it because you might want to check. I don't usually comment, but I really enjoy reading your blog. Christine

Debby in KS said...

We're considering a one year spending freeze here on all optional purchases.... We have a few extra bills and it's making things entirely too tight and stressful. We also have a big anniversary coming in a couple of years and we figure we can start saving up to do something special. We're simple...we're both wanting to see Mt. Rushmore lol.

Debbie in the U.P. said...

As someone else mentioned, some of the gift card deals charge a fee. We bought a v**a card many years ago. I had to pay the $4.95 fee, plus they wanted my SS number. That wasn't going to happen. I sent it to my (Desperately) broke sister and she used it.
Have a fabulous holiday!

Lana said...

Debby in KS-We love those simple kinds of trips, too. There is much to see in our beautiful country and we figure it is just a road trip away!

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