Category Archives: simplicity

My attempt at frugal living.

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I used to read about the life I’m living now and think it was so foreign. The way I’m going it might not be long till I have chickens in my backyard 🙂

I never used to have time. So I didn’t feel compelled to make ‘homemade’ stuff. I didn’t fit in with ladies who made homemade laundry detergent and all of the other money saving things. I had no comprehension of that life. It wasn’t bad…I just couldn’t relate.

Now…I have time. But am trying to be careful with resources. My view point has changed. Dramatically. Maybe forever.

Now I sit and think how I might cut costs or do things differently to save. Not because I’m obsessed with amassing wealth. I could care less about that. But only because I know the more independent I can become the more freedom I will have in my life.

I listed a bunch of stuff in my last post in my efforts to cut costs. I had a friend who recently was talking with me and said…”Wow…I should write down some of your ideas for frugal living.” That notion was hilarious to me because I am so not the frugal, make something out of nothing person. I still don’t do yard sale or get into going to goodwill and I think those are pretty much required. I’d rather just do without I guess than hassle with that.

But…

I did go to the store and purchase drying racks. Now that my basement is completely empty (for the most part 🙂 I decided that maybe if I put up drying racks instead of using my dryer…it might save some money and would surely be easier on my clothes. This is not an ingenious idea. I’ve seen people do it for years and years. Well in fact, I used to help my grandma when she would hang clothes on the clothesline. But for me it’s new. I was the type of laundry person who when it said “hand wash” on the tag I just figured it would surely be ok to throw it in  with the rest of the clothes.

I even went through the dryer sheets I had, in case I did need to use the dryer and cut them in half. (My mom has been doing this for years.) I know it sounds ridiculous since it will probably only save pennies…but in my mind these days…any money saved is a good thing. Even my kids see money saved as a direct connection to freedom earned. I’ve probably become a little obsessive about it. (It’s not possible to be a little obsessive…but it makes me feel better to word it that way. )

I will probably be adjusting our “air” and “Heat” temperatures in our house too. Assuming that might make a difference.

And I’m still strongly considering the whole data plan thing. Right now I pay for it on three phones and my ipad. If I had never started it would probably not even be an issue…but once you cross the line and get the convenience it’s hard to cut it out. It’s on the horizon. I keep softly bringing it to my kid’s attention so when I cut it, hopefully it won’t be as big of a blow as they are anticipating.

Today I’m going to the store to buy homemade laundry soap supplies. I never dreamed that I would go there…but I am. Or at least I’m going to compare the cost and see if it is a savings or not.

I think I might even go around my house and just check on all of the stuff I have plugged in and see if it should be or not. I have no idea how that works…but assume that when you leave chargers and other various things plugged in even when nothing is charging it might still have a cost to it. And…I’m going to start learning to shut my computer off. I know it’s incredibly small… I love the convenience of having it on all the time instead of having to wait for it to turn on and load. But again…I would guess that it might save money to actually turn stuff off. Beyond the money…it might even just improve the quality of our lives, who knows 🙂

I’ll probably start doing my own car washes. And no new flowers added each year. I have enough perennial stuff to be good enough at this point.

I even told my girls yesterday that it used to be people actually wore their clothes more than once before putting them in the laundry if they didn’t have a stain or smell. They are not thrilled about this, especially since they wear 2-3 shirts as it is with the whole craze of layering everything…but we’ll work on it.

I realize, I’m probably talking pennies…but it seems like some small changes might add up over time. And, I might actually find myself living a more environmentally sound life at the same time. Win-win.

If you’ve got tips I haven’t thought of, feel free to pass them along. I am a newby when it comes to this kind of thing.

I never dreamed this would be my life…but I’m glad it is.

 

 

 

Savings

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Each month of this sabbatical I’m taking I’m going to keep track of expenses that I’m reducing or cutting all together. I’m curious to see if I make small cuts here and there how much of an impact it will make on our lives.

This month…

1. I’m on day 3 with no hair products.  I admit my hair has a bit of a different texture to it….but I think it just might work. Only time will tell. Not buying shampoo, conditioner and gel is a small cut but noticeable none the less in my grocery budget.

2. I know I’ve already mentioned this…but this week we purchased a tent. A nice tent. A tent that cost $170. I knew that if I was going to go this route I had to really go good or I wouldn’t use it. Already, my girls have priced out a Disney vacation that I promised Lauren in her senior year (fall 2014) and the cost savings of staying at a Disney campground vs. a Disney resort is huge.  Plus the trip I want to take the girls on camping out East next spring/summer for a couple of weeks will be significantly cheaper in a tent. The cost of the tent will be made up for quickly!

3. No back to school supplies this year…or at least very few. My girls started back to school at the beginning of July. I bought them a few pencils and notebooks, a couple of folders and a pack of notecards. I didn’t have the list from school this year where you buy 20 things and only use half. I walk by the aisles of school supplies at stores and remember spending a couple hundred dollars in the past for supplies and new clothes to start the year off. Every kid feels the need for something new to wear to fit in. At this point…my girls could very well do school in their most comfortable clothes if they desire. Nobody cares about fashion at home and we’ve got enough old school supplies on hand that I’ll never need to buy them again 🙂

4. I’m cutting my membership at the local gym. I signed on for two years. I used it now and then…I’m sure not enough to get my money out of the whole deal. I had good intentions…but I will soon no longer pay that bill. We bike outside instead or walk on my treadmill at home. We’re learning to do exercise for free. I’m sure as the weather changes we’ll have to get creative…but we even do Just Dance on the Wii and that’s good exercise too. That’s $40 a month back into my budget 🙂

5. I’m a bit behind the curve…but this next rotation of bills, I’m going to try and get everything on automatic pay. I have a few things that way now…but still write checks for a handfull of bills. It’s not a huge savings…but stamps aren’t getting any cheaper. A small cut…but I’ll take it.

6. Gas…we don’t go through gas like we used to. With not working…I mainly go to the grocery store and to church and once in a great while some other appointment. I’ve been able to reduce my gas budget significantly. In fact…I bought a scooter last summer and I’ve barely used it just because we really don’t go that many places anymore and if I do, it’s generally for groceries or with the girls.

7. Clothing for me. All of my clothing is just fine for the life I’m living. I don’t need to add to my wardrobe or have work clothes and home clothes. Everything is the same. No new dress clothes necessary.

8. Yard Sales…in getting rid of stuff in my basement that was just sitting collecting dust, we made $300 this month. Not bad for stuff that I don’t even miss.

9. Home cooked meals…all the time, almost. Huge savings in cooking all my own meals. I have no idea how much, but now when we do go out to eat, I’m amazed at how expensive one meal can be and how many meals I could get out of the same amount of money at home. Even things like milk shakes…I can make them at home and they’re delicious. If I went to dairy queen I would pay 3x as much as it cost to purchase the supplies and make them at home. Just one example of many.

I’m considering other cuts as well and will make them as it seems like it’s time. If I needed to…data plans on my ipad and phones could go. It would be a pain. We enjoy internet anywhere at anytime…but it could go if needed. I could cut Netflix…it wouldn’t be much of a savings since we only do the streaming portion $8 a month…but if necessary, it could go. It’s a small pleasure that I’m not quite ready to ditch.

I even had Lauren color my hair with a box in June. Although I love my hair stylist, Stacy so…I’m not sure if I’ll keep doing that or not, but it was definitely less expensive than getting it colored there.  (Stacy if you read this…I do love what you do with my hair…so I’m not definitely making this cut 🙂 Who knows…maybe I’ll just let it go natural. Wish gray was more in style 🙂

Maybe I’ll end up making my own laundry soap at some point. For me every dollar saved is one more dollar towards freedom.

Have any tips? I’d love to hear how you’re saving money these days. Maybe something you do would work for me too 🙂

 

Contrasts…

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I’ve been spending more time lately reading and writing. Well…honestly, I’ve always been an avid reader and writer but I’ve just been more deliberate about it lately since I don’t have a job to go to first thing in the morning. I’ve been especially finding some new blogs that I’m interested in…the theme of minimalism being a big one in my life lately. And then I always have a few go to blogs that I’ve read for a long time now like momastery and the pioneer woman. Sometimes a holy experience if I’m feeling deep that day.

What I find is that as I discover one blog that I like, I’m often led to another that’s worth checking out.

Blogging is a beautiful thing, gives so many people a way of expressing themselves and takes writing out of the few elite hands and gives us all a pen and something to say.

Sometimes the contrasts I find are really interesting to me. I’ll read one thing and think…hey I’m going to go do that or try that. And then read something else and find myself headed in the opposite direction.

It’s kind of like that on schedule and routine lately for me.

I don’t want to waste the precious time I have. I am very aware of each moment and how beautiful this time in my life is. I’m grateful. And as a result, my normal way of honoring time is to have a tight schedule and try to live a very disciplined life within that time. So I made up a schedule for myself and for my girls. With homeschooling it’s helpful to have some schedule or it’s easy to slack off.

But yesterday I read a blog post from the minimalists and it was about the writer’s normal day and over and over he made mention of the fact that there really is no routine. He gets up when his body wakes him up, he eats when he actually feels hungry, not based on time, he writes in the morning for as long as he feels like writing, he exercises but not in the same place or at the same time daily…just how it seems to fit, and on and on. He seems to just follow his body rhythms and goes with the flow. (OK he also has no tv in his home and no internet!)

This is what I’m finding…I try to make certain set in stone schedules to make sure I’m on track, but in reality…I find myself off track from that schedule easily and then feel like I’m not doing this thing right. Not being as intentional as I need to be. I know some of you reading this will think…you’re insane Ruth. This is no big deal. And in some ways it’s not. But the contrast between leading a very disciplined/routine life vs. following body rhythms is a huge contrast for me.

It hadn’t really occurred to me until yesterday in reading that post that I do life better with body rhythms. I’m so used to being forced to do a to do list and get stuff done and set goals that it’s a real shift for me…but I think if I really allow myself the freedom, my body rhythms naturally will lead me in what’s best.

I haven’t set an alarm all summer and yet I easily wake up early every morning. I naturally write in the mornings…it’s just what I want to do first thing. Sometimes I go long, sometimes short. I naturally enjoy a short devotion time with my kids over breakfast…and I even enjoy making them breakfast…maybe a throw back to my childhood days when my mom used to actually cook something for breakfast. I don’t always feel hungry at lunch…but because I have lived my life for so long based on time I eat anyway. It would be good for me to be more in touch with my body when it comes to food. Lately, I’ve become very aware of how often I over eat just because its time and food is set out in front of me.

What if I actually only ate when I was genuinely hungry?!? What a novel thought. And actually stopped as soon as I felt content rather than finishing the meal? Such a hard habit for me to change.

Yesterday I exercised with my youngest daughter. We did Just Dance on our Wii. It was fun and a way that I can get her and I both exercising. We’re using it for her p.e. class at least some of the time this fall. But then we cleaned out the basement and my daughter was wise enough to say “Mom…I think this is actually more exercise than the Just Dance was.” And she was right. Exercise doesn’t necessarily have to be an athletic thing. Cleaning, gardening, etc. are also very physical. What if I just paid attention to my own body rhythms and patterns and made life work with what feels natural.

There is a worry, and it crosses my mind that I might get lazy and not accomplish much. I wouldn’t be as intentional. But…what if all distraction was cleared and I just allowed myself to focus on a few areas and start and stop those things as it felt natural to do?

I’m giving it thought.

Rigid schedules and lists leave me feeling some form of guilt when I don’t keep them well enough.

What would life be like if I just took off my watch and started living more on flow and less on seconds and minutes? Me with no watch…now that’s crazy! I wear my watch all. the. time!

I think I’m going to try it.

Do you wear a watch? How do you schedule your life? Does it work best for you to have strict schedules and to do lists or are you better at just going with the flow and following your own natural rhythms? Do you crave routine? Structure? Can routine and structure co mingle with flow and following your natural leanings? This is what I’m pondering on this day.

I know that I don’t want to be so intentional and rigid with this time in my life that I spend time feeling guilty when I mess it up. I think I’d rather just learn to lean, learn to trust myself.

That’s a whole blog post in itself. For another day 🙂