Monday, August 2, 2010

The Art of Being Frugal

T's first big shopping trip

Over the last several months, I've been trying to find more ways to save money.  We started out small: using the compact economy car for weekend errands over the gas-guzzling mini-van; use dried goods like rice and beans sitting in the cupboard over buying perishable perishables that will inevitably perish before we can consume them; switching out lightbulbs for CFL's.

We even have a vegetable garden that has been producing like mad!  Zucchinis, crookneck squash, tomatoes, but especially Armenian cucumbers have been life savers during the heavy potluck season.

The beau, fortunately, has always been a thrifty shopper.  My weekly food bill for two quickly went from nearly $175 a week (long story, don't ask!) to an average of $50 (and that includes feeding the sometimes children we'd have roaming around).  I regularly tell my friends who complain about their shopping bill that they should take him shopping with them.  (And yes, he will do it, he loves saving money even if it's not his money he's saving.) He stumbled across a couponing blog last week and now he's buying $250 worth of groceries for $23.  I'm serious.  It's insane.  The picture above is very real!  I mean, I had to find space for all that stuff!

It's a little sad that it's not very wholesome food.  I'm not much into processed cereals (I was brought up on Cheerios and Kix and sometimes Honey Nut Cheerios when my parents went shopping with a sweet tooth), and I'll have the very occasional Poptart, but I anticipate most of this will be given away. Maybe the fruit snacks will hold out until Halloween!  Maybe I'll learn how to make chocolate rice treats for the next potluck. I don't know.

So obviously, we'll be saving a lot of money on groceries.  The couponing is a little too complicated for me, but I'm glad the beau enjoys it and saves me money in the process.  I'll try not to complain too much about the quality of foods and try to make the most of it.  Fortunately, there's some wheat bread and three bags of grapes to make me feel better, too! (And cornflakes, which make THE BEST crusting agent for chicken, yum!)

The next major area I'm hoping to save money is on gas.  One of the things I love about my new house is the public transportation access.  The closest bus stop is about a 15 to 20 minute walk (after some time, probably closer to 10 minutes) from the house and is a direct route to my office.  The last drop off point is followed by a 10 minute walk from the stop to my office.  So yes, plenty of walking AND leisurely reading time.

Gas costs me approximately $35 a week.  That's filling up a 12 gallon tank once every 6 to 8 days (depending on the schedule).  My commute is about 16 miles a day to and from the office not including other stops.

A monthly bus pass costs...$35!!!  So for one week's worth of gas, I can ride the bus for a month.  I would probably end up spending about $35 in gas per month for any extra driving I might do on the weekends or evenings after the buses stop (shouldn't be very often).  I even figured out how to time and switch buses to make yoga class after work two nights a week.

I had every intention of starting my new bus program today (just to and from home for a couple days with dollars before I invested in the pass), but life (read: I'm making up excuses) got in the way.  So I committed to start tomorrow.  I have to leave the house before 6am to get to the office before 7:30am.  Seems a little excessive, but I'm going to be saving money, getting decent exercise, and finally making time for all those books and magazines I've been wanting to read!  It will make evening planning a little difficult, but I'm excited to try it.

So, what drastic measures have you taken (or wish to take) to save money?

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