Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tuesday and the New Frugality

Okay, we're back on The New Frugality.

This summer, I've been paying extra attention to money coming/going out, because I am finally figuring out my own spending patterns, as well as my general household expenses in this New Apartment. I wasn't teaching this summer (no extra income coming in, in other words) but I did travel twice--once to Boston and once to Utah (income definitely going out!).

I also moved without planning for it, simply because my old situation became untenable. The upside was my wonderful new apartment (and I've been really enjoying it this summer), but the downside was 2.5 months of double rent. While I eventually got my security deposit back from my old landlord (intact), that still meant 1.5 month's of double rent--which was not in my financial plan.

In August, then, where am I?
  • in an apartment with electric costs lower than a year ago, despite the heat and my being on-site (surprise!);
  • with a pantry full of food given me by a friend that I am gradually winnowing down or giving away;
  • with a rejuvenated savings account, because the security deposit went there;
  • with increased credit card balances because that's where the travel monies and "extras" have come from.
Sadly, I have increased my card balances by about $1.5K, given flights, hotels, rental cars, meals on both trips.  This isn't terrible, but I'll be paying for it longer than I wanted to and, if I teach a night class this fall, more of it will end up in these balances than in the savings account, which was not my hope.

Eventually the Boston trip will become a tax deduction (flights, cabs, hotels, meals, and conference registration, at least). And I still have to complete my 2010 tax filing, which should net me a return.

Here's what I've noticed overall, this summer:
  • While I read all the time, I no longer buy "new" books. I buy used books on Amazon, second-hand books here in town, and audio book & e-books on line, getting them either for free or discounts.
  • While I watch TV and movies, I use Netflix and Hulu, and the combined cost is less than monthly cable service (and I am probably going to end my Hulu membership).
  • I no longer buy iTunes anything.
  • I pay full-price for hair care (cut and color) from a very good but reasonable salon, and use monthly membership discount for massage... which is great, by the way.
  • I do my own manicures and pedicures, and I actually find doing them relaxing.
  • Getting more/deeper sleep and drinking more water and green tea have done more for my stress level and skin than any expensive skin care. Now I've got to add regular exercise and vitamins to that!
  • I am eating in, and finding cleaning out my own pantry and gorging on seasonal fruits and vegetables makes me feel better and more energetic and look better than eating out. Little sugar or processed foods, plus cooking, make me happy.
  • I am spending less on green cleaners and making my own, and reducing chemicals all around me.
  • I am finding my old mindset of buying extras or sale items because "what if" is disappearing: now I ask, "Do I already have this or something like this?" and "Do I need this?" and "Do I need this now?"
  • I have cleared out a lot of sentimental clutter, and plan to follow that up with one more big ol' Goodwill donation run this week, before the semester starts. After that, I am done.
  • Goodwill, consignment stores, and second-hand bookstores are where my discards are going; now that I've gotten rid of a lot of my clutter, I am being more mindful about how I might use these sites as barter or repayment sites, rather than simply donating.
  • My apartment is cleaner, clearer, and the clutter has been substantially reduced throughout my household. 
My goal through September: reduce weekly grocery bills. Which means being more about quantity than anything: I buy too much. I'm going to plan menus ahead of time, incorporating sales brochures and the protein/fruit/vegetable mix I've been using with such good results. And finish with my own Pantry Challenge! By October, I want an empty pantry--to match my empty fridge.


  1. I'm impressed with your commitment and organization!

  2. Mon Dieu, Pearl! We have quite a lot in common. I long for Paris like a lover, am a voracious bookworm, despise cable tv, work for a school (registrar) and love to write! My new BFF!

    I love your blog! I'm dedicated to frugality as well because I'm saving for another trip to our Beloved Paris!


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