My Frugal Life: Under-Budget January Edition

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I love reading Kristen’s “Five Frugal Things” posts over at The Frugal Girl as well as Katy’s at The Non-Consumer Advocate. I hope they won’t mind if I basically steal their format and share five things I have been up to in my frugal life this past month.

I’m calling last month “Under-Budget January” because my goal was basically to spend as little as possible. My husband’s job situation got very uncertain at the end of December (he’s a self-employed carpenter and woodworker) so until his work was more stable we were on a super tight budget.

Here’s the good news: I managed to stay $300 under budget and my husband’s work situation is looking great! Here’s what I did last month to live a rich life on a budget:

1) I have been looking on Craigslist for a chair for our daughter’s room for months. We needed something we could sit in together to read books before nap time and bedtime, so it had to be pretty big. In early January I finally found one, hooray! I scored this chair and ottoman for $40, and I was able to sell an old wing back chair that no one ever sat in on Craigslist for $40 to cover the purchase of the new chair. There are some tears on the seat cushion, so I am going to *attempt* to sew a simple slip cover for both chair and ottoman. My sewing skills are, ummm, very basic, so this will definitely be a challenge! I hope to share a picture of the chair with a lovely new slipcover next month (fingers crossed).

2) I kept our household spending to about $600 for the month, which included groceries, household items, gas, and any other discretionary spending. I bought our regular staples at Costco: coffee, cheese, fruit, salad, bacon, butter, sugar, etc. I estimate that getting these items at Costco saves us hundreds of dollars each year. I took advantage of sales and “loss leaders” at our local neighborhood Food Lion and maximized a 10% off coupon by stocking up the pantry in one trip.

This month I ran out of celery seeds, which I regularly use in my homemade coleslaw recipe. I was aghast to see that a tiny jar of celery seeds cost close to $5 at the grocery store, so I waited until I was close by our local co-op and got some at the bulk bins. I bought enough to fill large spice container for $0.74! If you sense that spices are overpriced, I suggest getting them from bulk bins for huge savings.

3)I was desperate for a haircut last month and had been pinning my bangs back because they had gotten so long. Since we were on a spending freeze, I decided to get brave and cut my own hair with help from this YouTube video. I think my bangs turned out looking just fine! Would you cut your own hair with help from YouTube?

4) OK, I can’t actually take much credit for this, but our hens all started laying eggs again this month. Most chickens decrease egg production in the winter months, and we were down to only 3-4 eggs per day from our 14 hens. But the girls seemed to all start laying again in the span of a few days so we are back up to around a dozen per day! We sell our excess eggs to friends so it is nice when the chickens pay for their own food and make some money, too.

5) When my husband’s work got scarce, we decided to call off a week-long trip to the desert outside of Vegas we had planned for mid-January. We were really sad about missing out on the trip, but we knew it was the responsible thing to do. I also changed our plans for an upcoming trip to Fort Lauderdale with my dad and daughter. We decided to stay in Florida for only three nights as opposed to five to avoid missing days of money-making at home. We will still have an awesome time in Florida early next month and we are already thinking about re-scheduling the trip to Vegas. Plus I saved miles and points that I can put towards travel when our finances are more secure.

What frugal things have you been up to? Please share in a comment below!

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