Uber Frugal Month (Thus Far)

I’m not a resolution maker these days. Years ago I used to take the time to write up a list of resolutions, but any more, I just have a mental “to do” list for the year. I do enjoy the January frugal living challenges that come up each year though. We keep things fairly small through the holidays, but come the new year, it’s refreshing to see what others are doing to dive into a more frugal lifestyle; it often inspires me to adjust a few things on my end as well.

That’s why I’ve been eyeballing the Frugalwoods Uber Frugal Month posts and sorta-kinda participating. My friend Wendy has been participating on her blog, which I particularly appreciate because she’s further along on the frugal pathway and shares things that help me think beyond the starter items in the Frugalwoods posts. The Uber Frugal Month posts are awesome because they introduce concepts for folks just starting to attack debt and learn about frugal living, and they explain some of the more advanced things the Frugalwoods do, based on their personal and professional situation. Since everyone will make different choices and have different priorities, even if they had the same income, it’s so neat to me to read them all. I love all of it! That’s how I’ve been “sorta-kinda” participating: I read the posts, along with some of the comments on the UFM Facebook page, and I ponder what I can do on my end, if I need to. I have not, however, bothered to write down the goals, budget, or other items that Mrs. Frugalwoods recommended at the beginning of UFM – my husband and I discuss our goals frequently and are on the same page there, and I adjust however I need to on the bills because we don’t have many. I did, however, come up with a few things I could cut or do (and even not do), that I’ve decided to share with anyone interested. We already live pretty frugally, but I believe there is always something more to adjust – and here’s how I adjusted this month, thanks to the reminders to focus instead of just coast along.

1) I had a cut and color scheduled at a local salon which I cancelled. I only get a hair cut about once a year, sometimes even less. After getting a cut back in October or so, I scheduled another for this month. All swept up in the excitement of a great cut in a really nice salon, I even planned to cover my grays. However, after the cut, I still usually have my hair back and don’t bother to style it. Nobody cares about the gray, including my husband, who I specifically asked (yet again) if he wanted me to color my hair. No use laying out that much money for something nobody cares about. Am I just going to pull my hair back anyway, within days of the cut? Yes. Would I like to not see gray hairs sproinging out of my head? Yes. Are they just going to grow back anyway? Yes. Would I rather have the money for other things? Most definitely yes! I cancelled the appointment and will keep that $100+tax in our budget. Savings: at least $1o0 plus tax tip – I don’t remember the quote for the services, but I know it was over $100.

2) I replaced a cell phone, land line, iPod, and Kindle with a smart phone. (This was actually at the end of December, but I already knew about the UFM challenge, so I’m counting it in there.) I had an pay-as-you-go TracFone from 2008 that was on its last legs; an iPod from 2009 that couldn’t accept updates any more; a Kindle from 2009 that no longer holds a charge and has to be rebooted every time I buy a book; and a land line that has to be disconnected for an upcoming move. Combine all that with a husband who is required to have a smart phone for his next assignment (still wondering why they aren’t *issued* if they are *required*, but what do I know? 😉  ) and a “back to Black Friday” Christmas sale, and I got handed a fancy schmancy new gadget that replaced them all. Yay? On the budget front, we got a killer deal on the phones, and I called and cancelled our land line service. We wouldn’t have been able to transfer service because that provider doesn’t have options for our next duty station, so I’ll call it good. Savings: $35 a month for the land line, plus however much a new Kindle would have cost me. ($50? $100?)

3) Cancelled our fence rental. That would have had to be done for the move anyway; if we were not moving, we had already looked into buying our own materials and replacing the rental fence, just because then there would be no more monthly fee. (Some military housing has fencing, some doesn’t. Ours did not and we’ve been paying $30 a month to rent it.) When we move, if our house doesn’t come with fencing, we’ll definitely invest in doing our own so we can take it with us a few years from now. Savings: $90 (Jan, Feb, and March.)

4) Packed dinners for gymnastics lessons. One of my children is doing gymnastics until we move, and the coach really makes the kids WORK. Said child is ravenously hungry when we leave the gym at dinnertime, so two McDonald’s trips were made at $23 each. Savings in two weeks: $64 (and counting – we have about 8 more weeks of lessons x $20 ish, so let’s plan on me remembering to carry food and call that $160, shall we?)

5) Joined a “destash” yarn group for 2017, where the goal is to use up as much of the yarn we already own during the year as we can. Some of the ladies were buying right up until midnight on the 31st of December, but I’ve been on a yarn fast since summer 2016, when I decided to not attend any yarn crawls or classes in order to pay for a fiber retreat this winter. On the same token, the destash group was focused on organizing patterns and yarn in December to be ready for the new year, and I joined in. My stash fits in one large Rubbermaid tote – small compared to a lot of crafters’ stashes, but more than enough to keep a slow advanced-beginner knitter/crocheter like me going for the year. In my organizing I found skeins of yarn that I had no plans for, so I made plans for them or passed them on to others who wanted them. (Plans *can* change, as has happened with two projects this month that I learned are too advanced for me – I’ve moved on to two easier projects instead and the other yarn is waiting for my skills to develop further.) One of my current projects is a baby hat for donation, using up yarn leftover from skeins used for a hat and cowl in 2015. The other is a shawl for myself, made from extra skeins purchased to make a sweater for my son. Savings: to be determined – I hadn’t really planned to buy any yarn this month anyway, but if I had gone to the yarn shop for yarn for the shawl (which was a pattern in a magazine that arrived in December), I’d probably have spent at least $50.

6) I will be taking three classes at the aforementioned fiber retreat and have a budget set aside for a small amount of shopping there, but I’ll be sticking with the following ideas gleaned from the destash group: I will only purchase yarn if I have a pattern/project in mind for it; I will only purchase yarn from local spinners/dyers (as memory yarn, of both the retreat and this fibershed, due to the move); I only have a set amount to spend and will pay in cash (no whipping out a card in order to stretch the budgeted amount); and I will walk the entire vendor space before buying and I will think through my purchase(s) for at least a day before buying. (That’s a good way to spend less at fiber events – one of a kind/series items will be bought up before I make it back, and I’m fine with that. Others will enjoy them too and I figure it’s just not meant to be if it’s not still there.) I also found out that since my husband will be traveling during the retreat, the dinner we had planned didn’t need to stay scheduled. I cancelled my tickets for the dinner & lecture and am getting a refund for them. Additionally, I found out I have homework for one of the classes and came THIS CLOSE to buying yarn for it, because I have nothing like what it calls for. Instead, I posted on social media and tagged some crafty friends, one of whom thinks she has scraps that will fit the bill. (I need small amounts of 4-6 different colors.) Savings: at least $130, because I’d have had to buy 4 balls of yarn at a minimum of $2 each, and for that low amount, I’d have had to pay the shipping for my homework; plus $110 for the dinner lecture tickets. For the retreat itself, I do plan to carry water, snacks, and my lunch, and who knows, maybe I won’t buy ANY yarn at the retreat! (GASP!)

7) Eating at home: With the upcoming move, I’ve made as many dinners as possible from our pantry and freezers, trying to use stuff up. Our January grocery trip for perishables was $100 (for a family of four), vs the usual monthly of $300-$350. Savings: $200-$250.

I’ll have some other things to share later, frugal tips and the like, so please keep checking back. If you’re participating in a debt elimination or frugal living challenge this month, do share what you’re doing down in the comments. As I said, I love reading other people’s stories and tips on this topic – I look forward to learning yours!

2 thoughts on “Uber Frugal Month (Thus Far)

  1. Awesome tips!

    Re: the phone – we were having issues with our ISP. So we switched to a mobile hot spot through our cellphone provider ( not recommended), and then we discovered that we could EACH get a hot spot on our cellphones and use our phones to connect our laptops to the internet. It’s not perfect, but it works and we save about $70/month from what we were paying when we had a land line with Internet and cellphones.

    Anyway, that’s what worked for us. I was a hold – out for a long time with transitioning away from my landline. We spent a lot of time researching our options, and deciding what would work best for us.

    • We use a mobile hot spot and really like it, but we don’t do any online gaming or watch shows online, which would eat a lot of data and make it really not worthwhile. I think that’s the biggest thing – no matter what, you’ve got to do the research and find out what works best for you! It is super helpful to seek insights from friends and family, but they might use things totally differently and be happy with a service that doesn’t work for someone else’s needs. I really prefer to have a landline in the house for emergencies, but everything has a give and take. For this time of life, it’s an area I’ll have to give on. 😉

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