Since Mr. and Mrs. COD are working on their Uber Frugal Month Challenge, inspired by the Frugalwoods, we thought we’d check in with a little halfway update! See how they’re doing in their quest to be frugal weirdos!
Mini COD assisting me in the kitchen, pressing the Ninja button (the MOST important job in frugal muffin making)
January is as good a time as any to begin making changes in our lives. While some may have differing opinions on the meaning of “resolution” versus “goal”, to me they are synonymous. Either way, I want to always believe in my potential to change!
The goal of the Uber Frugal Month is to reset your spending default, in the hopes of continuing at a lower spending rate even after the appointed period of time has passed. So, for example, if we were previously spending an average of 1,000 Galleons, and during our uber frugal month we lowered that total to 500 Galleons, we’d be pretty stoked. After the extra frugal time, we might resume spending a little bit more, but end up with a new average of 700 Galleons a month. We’d have learned we could survive, even thrive, while spending less than we thought was necessary. (If you’re wondering why I’m using Galleons in my example, I’ve recently finished reading the Harry Potter series and it’s in my head. Hope ya don’t mind!)
Our goal with the Uber Frugal Month Challenge is to uncover new ways to save money, since in most areas of spending, we’ve already frugalized. (We bought a cheap used van with cash instead of taking out a loan. We use Ting for cell service. We switched to Aldi for the majority of grocery shopping. I’ve quit buying clothes, new or used.)
Uber Frugal Movie Night: Tigger Movie borrowed from the public library, shown on our home projector!
For anyone not signed up for it, here are some suggestions the Frugalwoods have offered in their daily emails for the Uber Frugal Month. Could you give up spending on beauty products? Can you make sure to eat everything you buy from the grocer (and only buy what you will actually eat)? Could you start doing tasks yourself that you’d normally outsource (oil changes, minor household repairs, etc.)? Have conversations with your partner/significant other to ensure you’re both on the same (frugal) page. Think through your WHY for being frugal–early retirement, freedom to travel, ability to give more to charity, paying off debts, etc.
The main areas I was hoping to really decrease were groceries, utilities, and eating out, as discussed in my previous post on the Uber Frugal Month. I’m keeping an eagle eye on our food spending and turning the thermostat down.
Amount spent on groceries so far, halfway through January: $184.07. We’re more mindful of the food in the fridge, pantry, and freezer, using up a lot of items that have been there awhile. We’re being extra careful to eat ALL our leftovers, too. The turkey we bought on sale after Thanksgiving 2015 finally came out of the freezer to be cooked. It turned out beautifully and tasted great! We turned it into pulled turkey BBQ sandwiches and a turkey and dumplings meal. We’re also slowly eating our way through the twelve cans of green beans on the shelf (also likely a Thanksgiving sale stock-up).
My goal was to stay under $400 total for groceries for the four of us this month. That’s easily $50-100 less than we typically spend, but approximately the amount I like to believe we’re spending, haha! Seeing our progress thus far, I’m feeling confident we can keep it under $300! We really still have more than enough to subsist on for two more weeks, and we’re getting pretty good at frugal homemade soups and similar meals. (I just made a delicious kale/white bean soup last night that was super hearty and filling!)
Utilities, particularly heat, are also on our radar this month. Though it’s been a relatively mild and warm winter so far (only a few days of below-zero wind chills), someone is home basically all the time now. I’m not at work 40 hours a week, so being home with the boys means greater heat and electricity usage. How are we combating this? Turning the heat down! We had it at 70 or 71 most of December (BOO!), but we’ve worked our way down to 64-65 during the day (YAY!). Junior and Mini COD live in their footie pajamas and love burrowing under blankets, so they’re comfy. Mr. COD isn’t as big a fan of three layers of sweats on at home as I am, but he’s adjusting, haha!
Unfortunately, we just received our latest utility bill, and we were 14% higher than the neighbors on our street. Normally, our bill lists us as around 14% lower than the surrounding homes, so this was a bummer to hear. I guess the positive side to this is, well, it’s a good thing I’ve been so careful to keep the temp low the past few weeks, or the damage might have been even worse! We figure the difference is partly due to my staying home, partly due to a space heater that we noticed hasn’t been turning off when it’s supposed to. It’s intended to heat up the room to a set temperature, then turn off until it needs to restart, but it’s been running constantly when we have it on. Oh well…now we know. We’ll be trying it without the space heater for awhile now! Let’s hope that makes a difference.
Welp, so much for “no eating out at restaurants in January”! Halfway through and already two meals out!
Why are we not disappointed? Mr. COD and I hadn’t been on a date since November 1st, the last time we had a grandparent available to babysit. When going out to eat or to a movie, it sure helps out to not have the added expense for good childcare! Plus, we had a blast: we stumbled across a literally brand-new restaurant near the in-laws and got to enjoy our special meal out on its first day open. Trendy vibe, great music, unique food. How cool is that?!
Kicking off the new year with delicious food and delightful company! (Waupaca, WI)
I swear he likes me more than it seems in this photo…
Sipping a handcrafted mocha in this gem of an eatery! What a perfect day!
I also enjoyed an evening out with an old work friend while Mr. COD hung out with the little dudes at home. I know there are free/frugal ways to spend time with friends, but sometimes everybody just needs to get out of the house, amiright? My friend utilized her free appetizer coupon, so at least we got to take advantage of that!
UBER FRUGAL GOAL ACHIEVEMENT AS OF JANUARY 15:
- Groceries: $184.07
- Eating Out: $64.30 total. $34 for our New Year’s Day date, $22.30 for Mrs. COD’s girls’night out, $8 deli lunch I bought to take to a friend home on maternity leave (new mamas love having food delivered, plus I got to snuggle her sweet little one!).
- Utilities: $114 estimated use for January. Hard to compare since pricing can change so much from year to year and month to month.
REFLECTIONS ON OUR PROGRESS HALFWAY THROUGH
1. Although I’m not thrilled about our increased utility costs, I’m happy that we’ve changed our default to dress warmer in the house and save some money. You never know what changes you can adjust to, if you don’t bother to try!
2. I know I had also hoped to avoid all dining out for the month, but we couldn’t help the timing of our date out; we were visiting the in-laws, who graciously offered to babysit for free! So that’s still a frugal win. We have truly not gone on many dates since having Junior and Mini COD, and we’re being more intentional about carving out that time for just the two of us. Also, hangout time with my girlfriends is all too rare since I’ve become a SAHM, so that dinner and coffee time was much needed. Perhaps those sound like excuses; I’m just trying to find a healthy balance here. I’ll be honest; we have a new prospective babysitter we hope to have over in the next week or two as well. We. Cannot. Wait.
3. Grocery improvements are super exciting! I’m glad we are finally getting more laser-focused on cutting the grocery bill, thanks to Frugalwoods as well as the Picky Pinchers (if you haven’t checked them out, you should!). Mrs. Picky Pincher does a great job of analyzing each week’s groceries and meals, which is a valuable way of making changes. I am really pumped to see this through for the rest of the month and, I hope, keep our total grocery spending below $300 for January. Barring any weird surprises, we should accomplish this! If we can truly reset our default on grocery spending for the long haul, that’ll make a big difference in our overall budget. (Or, another way to look at it: if we lower the grocery bill enough, we can eat out a little more often as a treat!)
So, frugal weirdos, how is your January going? What frugal goals have you been rocking so far in the new year?