J and I have started a contest with each other. The person who spends the least in the next month gets a one hour massage from the other person. Not bad. But, the ultimate prize that we decided on was a family vacation on the Disney Cruise if we can eliminate some debt, save enough money and get back to great financial health. I long for a vacation, love the Disney Cruise line and am totally on board with the big prize (I'd love the massage too, but my eye is on the bigger prize).
So, we're going frugal (or at least talking a lot about it) and it's becoming kind of a game. How can we save, make do, not spend to pay down that debt and get on that boat? This is what I've come up with so far:
-I'm very fortunate that my in laws have a HUGE garden at their house not far away. For a little bit of time spent weeding and visiting, we often leave there with beans, squash, potatoes, lettuce and coming soon...200 pounds of tomatoes, broccoli, pumpkins, melons and more squash. Using this "free" resource can save us money if I act quickly and preserve the bounty in our deep freeze.
-Get back to coupons. I used be really into coupons until we moved here and Wegmans store brand entered our lives (they really do have low prices on everyday things). But, there are things that we use that are national brand and spending some time online netted me $30 worth of coupons last night. Sites such as smartsource.com, redplum.com, coupons.com, couponsuzy.com and my favorite....http://www.hotcouponworld.com/forums/archive/index.php/f-80.html which was a little bit of work, but gave the best reward.
-Be more conscious of grocery shopping. This is where I spend the most money and in addition to coupons, I need to start thinking more frugally about what I can make myself instead of buying pre-made. I'm pretty good about going in with a list, but need to stop the impulse purchases (darn that Wegmans, they make everything so appealing). This week, I needed a graham cracker crust for a pie and instead of buying a premade one, it dawned on me that I could just make my own AND my kids eat graham crackers for snacks. Seasoned bread crumbs...I have all of the stuff to do it. Pizza dough..same. This particular new habit serves two purposes...it saves money and it allows me to know exactly what is in my food (which is a topic for a later post).
-Reviewing our inventory of stuff. We have a lot of stuff hidden away in the basement. Stuff that I can use for theme weeks instead of buying something new.
-Stop having late fees at the library. Such an amazing resource that I squander because I don't always keep track of due dates.
-Check the kidsoutandabout.com site for free ideas. There are so many free things to do here, it's ridiculous.
I find summer is sort of the ultimate time to be cheap. With the produce and the "just go outside and be entertained" thing going on, whole days can go by before I have to spend any money. It's easy to walk or bike more often than take the car.
The goal (for me) is Disney Cruise in December 2011. Fingers crossed that it happens......