Thursday, August 27, 2009

How to Tighten One's Belt

Saving MoneyNice picture, huh? What a beauty!

To follow up on the news around here, I've been telling you how Andrew has started his own company, Vellum, after losing his job a month ago and things actually are going fairly well. After a couple weeks of heavy sweating he got the new business set up then most recently he has had a potential client come his way. I know it's just one and nothing is final but given the circumstances it has been a time of great rejoicing around here and it gives us hope that we can survive this.

But . . . (and this is a big but) as the many of you who attested in the comments, starting up a business is lots of work and even if this particular job goes through that's just one hurdle of many. You're never really sure where things will go from day to day as you try to establish yourself.

We figure this could be scary for the next six months, maybe a year and even if everything goes as well as we could hope we're still looking at several years--maybe five--before things have started to pay off and go where he wants them to go. Which means, of course, that the prudent thing to do is to tighten up that budget as much as possible right now.

Even though we're not particularly lavish with our habits, we could wait to reign in any extra spending until we're really feeling the pinch, hoping that things go our way and that we can switch tracks seamlessly, but that doesn't sound very wise to me. Seems like a better plan would be to be as careful as possible so that if the transition doesn't go perfectly that we're not in jeopardy of losing our home.

So this week's list is kind of funny for me. A few months ago it would have made me twinge to think of giving up so many lovely little conveniences and extravagances but actually it's been kind of a fun adventure--in a weird, masochistic kind of way--but to be able to give up something you took for granted and say "Ha! I don't actually need this to be happy" is a highly satisfying feeling. Here is our list of things we've cut back on or modified to save a buck or two.

1. Piano lessons. You've seen me posting clips of Spencer playing and in fact all of the children play the piano, three of them have been taking lessons up until now. But no more. At least for the time being. While I think that being able to play an instrument is a wonderful and fulfilling thing, and their teacher was wonderful, it's just not at the top of the priority list and to keep three kids in lessons, even as reasonably priced as ours were, doesn't make sense right now.

Spencer is looking at playing basketball this year anyway (it's free), David likes cross country running and Grace is swimming so they have something to keep them busy outside of school and the younger ones can use the older kids' past piano books and music to inch along with my meager help. I think it'll be good for them to have to come up with activities and sports that don't require expensive equipment and heavy fees for participation. Seems like that's how it used to be back in those old days.

But as I see it, better to lose the lessons than the piano itself if you know what I mean.

Money Saving Tips2. My clothes dryer. Well I actually didn't give up the dryer all together, just drying clothes in it. Our summer weather has been so wonderful I've been hanging up the clothes on the line outside all summer and it's saved us a bundle of money on our gas bill. So much so that I've started hanging up clothes in the garage on rainy days and hope to be able to do it most of the winter.

Boy does that dyer suck up the money! I figure I do at least 6-8 loads of wash each week (give or take) which translates into approximately 6-8 hours of gas usage. I think that's the equivalent of the GNP of many Third World countries by current gas prices.

3. Extra running around town. It used to be that if I wanted to get out of the house a bit I'd jump in the car and go run an errand. It wasn't critical usually, just stuff that I could do to take a break and get out for a bit. Now if I have an errand I save it up to do in one run, usually to or from picking up the kids at school. I figure save that gas as much as possible. When they say "going green" I'm thinking about green backs. Besides saving me some money in gas, it's amazing how much time it's saved me. Apparently I've been wasting a lot of time running back and forth to the bank, the library, the supermarket, etc.

4. Date nights. I should be honest here, I haven't exactly given up going on dates with my husband, in fact I think right now our dates together are more important than ever, we've just changed what we do. Forget the movies or the dinners out, instead of going out and spending money we've been looking for things that don't cost anything--like taking a walk.

Actually, with both of us running we've been going out several times a week to the track and not only is it a good way to get in some time together without any money but it's been great in burning the stress that builds up. Now if it could also burn off a few pounds that would be absolutely perfect.

Once the snow hits we'll be switching from running to cross country skiing, it's been fun to try something that is physically challenging and good for you where we're both learning and improving together--it just feels good.

5. Coloring my hair. This one is harder because it hits the vanity but if I had to live without my hair cuts and colorings I could do it. Right? Lots of people make it through life as brunettes just fine . . . . like, uh . . . uh . . . quick, give me a brunette that you'd trade places with.

I'm kidding. But hey, I'm so tall that it's going to be at least a year before people can even see my roots going dark anyway. Only those who are at least seven feet tall can see the top of my head so I'm safe for a while, right?

And luckily I know how to cut the kids' hair though Andrew might be a bit harder to convince into the chair. He's become very protective of his hair style lately.

6. Personal cash. Gadgets, iTunes, clothes, an afternoon at the movies, all that personal cash is going to have to be put on hold. Though it has had a good effect--less money for leisure time activities has me working more often and after the huge slacking-off I did all summer that should be a good thing.

But you know what? For all those years at the beginning of our marriage we made it very happily without having play money so I don't doubt that we will still be able to be content. I've heard that money only buys happiness up to about $50,000 a year in salary, make less than that and you're struggling to make ends meet but once you make more money than that all your basic needs are met and the extras you have don't do anything for your mental well-being. Interesting. Wonder if that's true.

7. Food. Okay this one I'm really proud of. I would often read around on the internet how much people spent a week on food and I was always amazed. I mean I know I'm living in Alaska and that food is a bit more expensive up here but even taking that into consideration I wondered how other people could get by on so little, it seemed I was spending so much more but I didn't think I was being frivolous.

Well this past month I wondered how much I could cut off my food budget--could I slice it in half? We do have a stash of emergency supplies, the staples, that are there to get us by in an emergency (powdered milk, flour, beans, pasta, that kind of thing) and it seemed like it might be a good idea to start using some of that and see how little I could buy.

I've actually cut the budget by 60% now for three weeks running. It's amazing how much you can save by simply not buying cold cereal and Twinkies. We were spending $40 a week on milk and cold cereal alone and I've got it down to where the kids drink regular milk with their meals but all the cooking milk is from our powdered milk supplies and I've started fixing breakfasts items that are much less expensive than the cold cereal.

Of course it takes a bit more work but boy it saves some money. Fancy prepared treats are gone and instead of throwing junk food into the kids' lunches I've been making zucchini muffins, homemade fruit leather, carrot sticks, etc. I so proud of myself for not only saving some money but fixing healthier meals. And so far the kids aren't complaining.

It's got to the point where if I start to put something on the shopping list I ask "Do I really need this or can I make something else in its place?" Usually the answer is that it can be left out entirely or made at home for less.

8. Cell phones. My cell phone plan ran out and we decided not to renew it, Andrew's ran out as well and between giving up the two phones we've saved quite a bit. And don't get me started on those iPhones! As cool and nifty as they are the plans alone are $70/month here. Wow. And I hear they lock you in so that you can't escape, even if you get an upgraded phone (which they will undoubtedly produce over the course of your two-year contract). Only Apple could come up with something so wild, so beyond-belief, so "Soviet" and still have it selling like hotcakes. Let's face it, the iPhones are cool. End of story.

9. Heat and lights. Now of course we can't cut these out all together but we have cut back quite a bit. Put on a sweater, turn off the lights behind you, do what it takes to conserve. Sad that it's taken a personal crisis to make us into an eco-friendly home, huh? Hey, however you get there.

10. Vacations. This one is the hardest to think about. Andrew and I have tickets to go visit my parents in India in January. We had frequent flyer miles so it's not as if the tickets were really an extravagance or anything and then being that my parents live there we'd be staying with them so the trip itself isn't really the issue but we only had tickets for the two of us. We were leaving the kids home and babysitters don't exactly have frequent flyer awards. Or should I say "frequent crier" awards? Ha!

Anyway, besides the whole issue of affording a babysitter the biggest part is that with Andrew trying to build up this new business he won't be able to take the time off as he'd planned--one of the downsides to being your own boss is that if you're not there you don't get paid.

It's not 100% scrapped at this point but it's not looking good. At least there's a bright side in that we can get the miles put back into our account and they'll even refund the taxes on the tickets that the mileage plan awards don't cover. At least that's good news, right? Right? Tell me it's alright.

Oh well, easy come, easy go.

I know, I know! I'll have to use one of the tickets myself and since Andrew can't go I'll put the other one up as a giveaway item on a Saturday giveaway! I bet I could find one of you out there who would be willing to accompany me to India, right? Now THAT would be a giveaway.

You bring the curry?

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Suzi Dow said...

Here are some other penny pinching ideas you might find useful:

Use larger pieces of meat and cut it into useful portions. A five pound roast can be cut into a roast, stew, and Swiss steaks. A whole chicken can provide two meals and a nice pot of chicken soup.

Try "re-purposing" clothes - give it new buttons, a new neckline, or even dye a different color.

I've been baking bread for years and recommend everyone do so.

When times get really tough, re-read "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" I recommend the chapter that discusses how the Mother used day old bread as a substitute for meat for the families dinner. Then count your blessings.

Good luck with the new business venture.

Jolanthe said...

Ummmm....I don't see that giveaway link yet... {grins}. I know it's not *quite* yet Saturday though.

We started cutting back years ago when we paid off most of our debt {house excluded} - $60K in 19 months took a LOT of cutting back and hard work, but it's amazing what you can really do without when it boils down to it. :)

Mrs. Ohtobe said...

Excellent tips - I think this is going to be a great example for the kids to see. With us and our children they think that certain things like cell phones, cable tv and iTunes are a necessity.

After our free trial ran out on premium movie channels our adult daughter complained we didn't pay the extra to keep the service. I told her I would be happy to keep it if SHE paid - needless to say it wasn't important enough for her to open her wallet.

Alice Wills Gold said...

Totally get so much of this. I just can't think about hanging clothes to dry though.

Can't take vacations either, but I really think you guys should try and work that one in..even if it means that Andrew just goes for a short week. It's a once in a lifetime to go to India.

O.k. and can I just tell you about the wonderful world of couponing? Seriously, I am down to about $30-50 a week in groceries and my food storage has never looked so good. I got 50 boxes of cereal free a few weeks back.

Oh the joys of learning frugality through self employment.

Jennifer said...

Can I come to India with you even if it means bringing a 5-month old? :)

I like your list... you made behaving frugally sound fun and not like a sacrifice at all. It is interesting though to be reminded that frugal ways are often what is best for the environment. Almost as if there was some master plan towards that end. :)

Lucy said...

I live is a !%^$%! HOA and I'd never do tht again in a million years. Drying clothes outdoors is a sin to "them". But I do it all the time. All year. A dryer uses 10 percent of the energy in a house. Times that by all the houses around and that's a lot of energy. There are states who are having a grass roots thing trying to bring back clotheslines. And, of course, with 365 days of sunshine, Arizona isn't one of them. You're doing great!

K said...

We scout out the local apartment complexes and neighborhood trash nights for unwanted furniture and then sell it on craigslist or at flea markets. We made ~$100 last year and we'll do it again in two weeks. I'll let you know how much money we make. Other people's trash really is our treasure!

JENNIFER said...

very inspiring.....I sure missed reading your posts :)

Mercy's Maid said...

I started saving money on hair color by not going to the salon to get it done and doing it myself instead. I buy a box of it at Wal-Mart ($7) and as long as I'm doing an all-over color and not highlights, it looks fine. It's not hard to do and I figure $7 every other month isn't bad.

The only drawback is all of the errant hair dye that is now decorating my house. I don't know how I end up making such a mess. :)

Kristen M. said...

I wouldn't wish losing a job on anyone but I am enjoying all these suggestions for how to save money. I hope you can still go to India...

M said...

Great list here. By making our "menu" from the current grocery ad and using coupons wisely I have cut our grocery spending in half.

Another thing that has saved us money is our rain barrel. I use the "free" water for the garden and eat all summer for a pittance! (My husband also uses it to water the grass.)

Kara said...

I remember when my dad lost his job when I was growing up - it was really a time of family-bonding and everyone really pitching in... similar to what you're describing here. Your family will honestly look back on this time with only fond memories (somehow, it's a miracle if you ask me) and the kids, especially, with many new lessons about life and what you really do and don't need. I love all the tips and hope that lots of us can start implementing these now - never too early to get rid of some excess.

Heart2Heart said...


You have given some of us some great ideas that we may have never thought of before. You know we are getting ready to ax our cable or should I say DirecTV this month, because everything we want to watch is on the internet anyway when we want to watch it. So that right there saves our family about $55.00 a month.

Love and Hugs ~ Kat

Lara said...

This is a great's always amazing how the little things can really make a big difference in the outgoing money.

As a music teacher, though, it makes me sad that music lessons are usually the first things to go. I totally get it, but my own belt has needed a lot of tightening in the last year simply because I had a lot of students quit for the same reason. :) So far, music lessons for my kids have been last on my list and we've done okay without having to quit. But, like I said, I totally get that they are a luxury.

The Diaper Diaries said...

What a great list. I second the couponing idea. I still get tons of cereal but rarely pay over $1 for it unless it is something I REALLY want. My grocery receipt usually boasts savings of 50%.

I really want to try line drying, but I just haven't bit the bullet yet. Maybe next summer. We need to go through our budget line by line and trim some fat. The $12 I am making a month on Google ads oddly doesn't seem to be paying the private school tuition :)

Melissa B. said...

Mr. Fairway is self-employed, and his client list went from 15 to 5 over the past year. That said, I think he's also a good barometer for an improving economy. Getting lots of client interest these days, which is a good thing. We couldn't support ourselves on my meager teacher's salary forever, you know!

angie said...

Sounds like you have a budding career in financial planning. I really appreciated this post, and I'm super impressed.

Janelle said...

Thanks so much for this post. It's full of great ideas!

(Sidenote: the last commenter said something about a future in financial friend bought a college textbook yesterday for $175. The class? Personal finance. Ironic, no?)

My husband and I have not had cable TV at all since we got married nearly four years ago. I grew up without it, so it's not too bad. However, I've never been home all day during the day before, so I'm getting a little bored these days. We have an HD antenna, but if it doesn't get a good signal, we don't get anything. Rather than cave and pay tons of money every month for cable, we upped our Netflix package by one disc, so that we now get three at a time. Pretty much any TV I want to watch I can get either online or on Netflix, and our bill is only $17/month for that. It's a good tradeoff for us. We also invested in a cord that connects the computer to the TV, so that if we want to watch episodes online, we can view them on our normal-sized TV instead of a little computer monitor.

cndymkr / jean said...

I could do all of what you've done except for giving up the hair color. I just couldn't do it. I've tried and it's just not pretty. So I've compromised and do it myself. It's not nearly the same, but it is better then nothing.

Anonymous said...

One thing you have not discussed is whether or not you are going to look for a job.

Farmer*swife said...

Good for you! I love to try and feed a family of four on $4.00 or less for a dinner; including meat, carb and veggies! It's fun, challenging and creative :-)

And, I hit the thrift store this year with a friend and got 30 pieces of clothing, dresses and outfits for under $100.00 for my daughter -- and a couple of things for my son too!

Linda said...

Andrew and I live in a home that is close to 100 years old. It's posed some challenges as far as heating and cooling goes, however... we chose a life of frugality when we got married. People around here may think we're a little off, and we had people tell us that they thought our house was either un-occupied or that we were never home because we don't use our lights often enough for people to really tell that we live here.

We invested in some good oil lamps and it's saved immensely on our light bill. The people in our house before us used to pay an average of $450 per month for electricity (we have no gas, no A/C, and our water and sewer are a well and septic system); simply by using oil lamps, we've cut our bill down to less than $100 per month with the average around $75.

We also checked into a program offered by the power company called "Time of Use" which basically cuts your rate to 1/4 of what it could be IF you use the majority of your electricity (washing mashine, dishwasher, etc.) between the hours of 10 PM and 5 AM. It's worked for us...

We also gave up a dishwasher, heat exclusively with wood, and cook on an old fashioned wood cook stove. During the summer months we barbecue exclusively (or use the crock pot or one of those electrical skillets) and there isn't anything you CAN'T do on a barbecue grill. It's amazing to me how much simpler life is when you "go back to basics..."

It's allowed us to become nearly debt free and still fund TWO businesses (photography and construction); both of which run with zero debt.

Two weeks ago we got rid of the television service we had and the stress level in the house has decreased to a very manageable level, the children play better with each other, and we've re-discovered board games and spending time with each other.

I have faith in you... and I think that even though giving some things up is a little hard at first, there's some sort of a satisfaction in realizing that you really CAN live without (insert your favorite luxury item here...)!

Flea said...

It sounds like you're having a lot of fun being frugal. I love the Dollar Stretcher for good ideas.

Scribbit said...

Thanks for your comments--as for coupons, I'm interested in more info. I've looked at them so many times but it seems that they're always for fancy name-brand products that I can get more cheaply if I just buy generic. Then there's the hoops they make you jump through to get the coupons. I'd love to hear someone's system. I've been to lots of coupon sites and haven't seen anything that ever explains how their systems work and half the time they want you to download software for printing coupons that isn't Mac compatible or you have to go to the trouble of buying coupons--I just don't get how that saves you in the long run.

ANd Lara, I'm so sorry, I feel as if I've dumped you personally as a music teacher :) It kills me too, with the piano lessons, because the teacher they had was so wonderful. She was nearby so the kids could ride their bikes and she made it fun for them. Even if we ever look at reinstating the lessons I bet we won't be able to get back on her schedule. Kills me.

As for anonymous' question about me finding a job sure I can answer that.

First, I had planned on shutting down Scribbit in September when my ad obligations were fulfilled. Now that's changed. I don't think I can just ignore the money it has brought in so that's going to continue. Plus, I've taken a job with the One 2 One Network working with Barbara Jones to help with their blogger outreach marketing. Maybe you'll be hearing from me? Then also, I've been contacted by an agent and am in the process of getting finishing a book proposal and sample of a book they'd like me to write.

So yes, working too. Plus my day job.

Chris said...

How about Selma Hayek? Natalie Portman? Anne Hathaway? All brunettes. And then there is me- brunette and proud, baby. Sorry had to go there.

My husband says that for every hour a dryer runs that's $1 in power. Crazy!

And make good use of your local library! Free books and movies.

Stephanie said...

I know that good feeling of making do when you have to. It is very satisfying. Way to go Michelle!

And I'd be happy to go to India with you if Andrew can't make it! ;)

owlfan said...

Like you, I haven't found most of the couponing sites so helpful. I don't do anything fancy with coupons - just cut out the ones that look promising from our Sunday paper. The trick is to match them up with store sales.

On the line drying, in the winter I put my laundry on clothes racks in front of the heating vents overnight - double duty - I get free dried clothes and some much needed extra humidity in the house.

Check and see if you have a freecycle group in your area. I got a half dozen pairs of jeans for my son (in a hard to find size) for FREE. Can't beat that.

Fawn said...

Great ideas, Michelle!

We were nervous when Michael started his home consulting business, too. It seemed like a big risk with a baby on the way. But he hated his government job and it was better to take a risk than to keep living with the miserable person he'd turned into there. Go Andrew, go!

And I would go to India with you in heartbeat. :D

The LIbrary Lady said...

Actually, I've been a very happy brunette all my life. The only person I'd trade places with hair wise is my younger daughter, who has my hair--only better.
And no grays :(

The LIbrary Lady said...

Actually, I've been a very happy brunette all my life. The only person I'd trade places with hair wise is my younger daughter, who has my hair--only better.
And no grays :(

An Ordinary Mom said...

How did I miss the fact that you were going to shut Scribbit down in September? I know I have been a lazy blogger this summer, but wow :) ?!?

Deb said...

Sorry if someone mentioned this already but my limited time online doesn't allow me to read every comment.

Why don't you and your oldest daughter got to India as a mom and daughter treat. Now that she's in high school and won't have that many years left it could be a really great bonding time for three generations of women. And Andrew could probably manage the rest with minimal outside help if you left a freezer full of casseroles.

mannequin said...

Those are very good suggestions and like you say, it will be exciting in a way.
When I first met Mr Man, I had never met such a person. He comes from a wealthy family in Texas (duh) but something was very sad about him. After watching him, I discovered that he wasn't happy unless he was buying something. It got to the point where even that wasn't enough. One day I asked him the problem and he said, "there's nothing left to want". How sad. I realized then that it's good to want!
I thought it sad that there will be no more piano lessons but you know what? If they love it, they still have a piano to play. Music will always find it's way.

Jenna Consolo said...

This is a great list. One that we've been living on for years, actually, and it's amazing the adjustments you can make and how you appreciate little luxuries every now and then that others take for granted. You guys have a great attitude and wonderful teamwork, so I'm sure things will only go up from here! (But stay green anyway!)

Organizing Mommy said...

Wow! Good job on all of that. Our music lessons cost a fortune, so I know what would have to go first if hubby lost his job. I'm so proud of you for taking all of this so well. It's got to be hard. I'm with you on everyhing except the India decision. These are your parents. They'll want to see you. They aren't getting any younger. If hubby can't go, select a kid to go with you. It will be a good experience and you won't need a babysitter.

Amanda P. said...

Yee Haw Michelle! Join the club... I also let my hair go for the most part. It's been 8 months since I've had it done and I'm still happy and thriving. :)(I would invest in some kind of spray shine if I were you- it's a life saver.)

I got a lot of my kid's back to school clothes at the thrift store. I found my daughter 3 pairs of jeans for less than $20 last time I was there. I always joke about the big stupid grin I have on my face every time I walk out of there-- like I beat the system or something... and my kids still look cute. I sew a lot of their clothes too.

You just inspired me to look over my budget and see where I can cut back again. You're right when you say it's kind of fun. :)

Good Luck with everything.

karen said...

Have passport, will travel. I am reliable at appearing for random international jaunts, too - I can give you references from friends who've called and said things like, "Come visit me next week," and when I've said ok and started to make plans to drive to their town, they've continued, "I'm in England 'til the end of the month!" Or, my favorite to date, "Dude, if I get married in China, will you come to the wedding?" Oh, absolutely! Even though it required a zillion extra shots and two days of standing in lines, attempting to get the visa.

niveditha said...

Hi, am a regular follower of your blog and from India.Where do your parents live.Pls do visit India, it will be a much needed change for you.
And your list, is an eye opener for many

Lisa said...

Sorry to hear about the job loss. I don't know that I would handle it quite as calmly as you are!

That is a great list! Hard, but right on target!

Best of luck in all you are trying to do!

chelle said...

Sounds like you are tightening the belt really well.

We use the library a lot for movies and even music! As well as books instead of buying them.

Mimi said...

ooooh. You just gave me a great idea -- hanging a clothes line in my basement this winter! Thanks!

Jody said...

Great pointers for all to follow - budget cuts or not! As far as you staying blonde - I've been highlighting my own hair for about 4 years now. Totally "old school" with the plastic cap and crochet needle-looking tool! It's pretty simple and I figured the whole process costs me about $7-$10 dollars. Hard to believe salons charge $60-$100 for the same thing! I've gotten lots of compliments...and my neighbor gals have hit me up for highlighting lessons! :)

There's a beauty supply store called Sally Beauty that's open to the public (they're online too) - you can get the bleach powder and developer (toner too if you like), plus the plastic caps. I've got hair past my shoulders that is very thick and the caps work just fine!

Just thought I'd share my thoughts on keeping golden locks golden without spending your hard earned gold in the process! ;)

Anonymous said...

How about some barter for the music lessons? Perhaps the teacher needs some website help, or you have other skills that would be useful (or maybe some of your canned goods...)

Summer said...

Sounds like you're making wise choices. There are so many ways to cute back on spending and it can sometimes be difficult to find what works best for your family.

We're currently trying to cut out all fast food but I've slipped up a couple times this month. We went down to basic cable a while ago and called our phone/internet companies to negotiate price matches. I coupon like crazy, matching coupons with store sales and we've cut our spending on groceries in half. It's so much fun!

Amy @ Experience Imagination said...

One thought I haven't seen mentioned: Is there any possibility you can do some bartering with your music teacher? Maybe she needs a little legal advice? Or some blogging help? New knitted sweaters for the family?

I have found bartering to be a great way to save money, on everything from babysitting to health care. I even have done some bartering with my friend the fashion designer.

If the teacher is unwilling or unable, you're not losing anything you weren't planning to drop anyway, and if she's up for it, you could potentially save your music lessons.

Holly at Tropic of Mom said...

You must be joking. You're a natural blond, right? If you're not joking, then just look at the Miss Universe (cough) finalists last week, all brunettes.

Anyway, I hope things go great with the new business and it won't take as long as your husband thinks.

Collette said...

Hi Michelle!
I haven't commented here or visited much but it's sure good to be back.
Congrats on the new adventure with A's business. I'm sure you will do well.
Your list is great and it's good to learn to live with less. It is amazing how little we can survive on and then see how much we were really wasting in fact.
Your kids do not need twinkies, I agree! Home baked goodies are much better and better all the way around.
I saw a program a while back about a family living "frugally" and they were saving heaps and had $ in the bank. One of the things they did was have one night a week where they virtually didn't use any power, or kept it to the bare minimum. It created more family time as they sat together around candles, played board games, talked, etc. I thought it was a really fun idea and have wanted to adapt a version of it here in my own home. Not that you need to turn off all the lights to create family time but I think we are so spoiled and we aren't going to suffer from being without all the lights on for one night a week.

Serena said...

I would so go to India with you!

I feel like I'm petty frugal, and don't often get much out of how-to-spend-less lists, but your list got me thinking a bit. Hm, hm, hm...

Sarah (GenMom) said...

Definitely a good list. I started writing a frugal living column in my local paper as an accountability column back in January. If I write about it, I've got to live by it!

Sorry to hear about your husband's job but that's cool that he has found a way to do his own thing.

P.S. I'd totally go to India with you any day! I love an adventure. Hope you get to go.

Amber @ Classic Housewife said...

Been there, done that! Hubs started his own business about 6 years ago and we've gone through many a time of pinching pennies, cutting back grocery budgets, doing without haircuts and colorings... Income isn't steady and it doesn't rise at a constant rate either, it's either feast or famine, a little less this month, a little more the next. Certain seasons of the year do better than others, and when the economy started going down, we felt it a whole 6 months before the news was talking about it.

But God is good. And he provided enough, and we learned how to be conservative with our funds during the feast times to help make it through the famine times. I know it's hard to cut things like the vacation, but I agree it's very wise to do it so he can keep building his new business.

We can't cut the cell phones (necessary for hubs' line of work) but the phone I have is a 30$ phone from Wal-Mart and does not access the internet at all. We haven't had digital cable in years. And our wardrobes aren't the snazziest. But you do what you gotta do - and in the long run clothes, tv and phones are not the end all and be all.

God bless your husband's venture and your money saving efforts!

Roo said...

I personally like the suggestion that you and Grace go to India together. As the commenter said, I think you could make it managable enough that Andrew could handle it on his own or with a small amount of help.

If I remember right, you don't have cable TV in your home, however, for those that do, call your cable company and ask them what they can do for you. I called recently inquiring about ads on TV and how could I qualify for the lower rate. As an existing customer I didn't qualify, but they were willing to reduce my bill for 6 months as a "loyal customer reward." I'll revisit the cable issue when that 6 months is up.

I understand about dropping the cell phones. Since you have children at home that probably do not have cell phones, you need to maintain home phone service. I on other hand am single. I was paying $50 a month for a home phone that I used about twice a week and that was only because I felt that since I had it I should use it. I cancelled my home phone service and am saving that $50 a month.

I don't think you should giveup Scribbit. You are so talented and so entertaining to so many people. I think with the other ventures you mentioned you can help out with the finances just fine.

Good luck with everything.

page2 said...

I would LOVE to go to India with you! Pick me! Pick me! I'm sure Adam and the kids would get by somehow. They know how to use a can opener.
We too have been trying to cut back and save. Thank you for the great ideas.

~3 Sides of Crazy~ said...

There is a certain liberation in giving things up. I know we are still going through this too and it has been tough, but we realize how little we really need to be happy.

Sometimes the little things - like we gave up the name brand cell phone company and went prepaid 2 years ago. To date we have saved over $50 dollars a month or $1200 dollars so far on just the cell phones, but nothing changed in phone reception or usage. We just don't get the yearly upgrade on phones - oh well, for us it was an in case of emergency usage. Then we went a step further and eliminated the land line (we just use the cell phones) and saved another $25-$50 dollars a month on long distance for the past year.

J at said...

When my husband lost his job, I was going to start coloring my hair myself (SO MUCH CHEAPER), but I don't really like the results. My MIL suggested that I go to a beauty school. I don't know if you have one near you, but it's about 1/3 of the cost of the salon, so it's a great savings. It takes FOREVER, because they're learning and they're scared, but they do a good job, and yeah, it's cheap.

We had a clothesline several years ago during California's energy crisis (thanks, Enron!), but when our HOA took down our fence and put up a new one, we never bothered to replace it. Hmmm. Maybe we should. I'd like to save the money on the drier.

Stephanie said...

Hooray for entrepreneurship. It may not be an easy road to take, but I bet it will worth your while.

Best wishes!

Mary Q Contrarie said...

Good luck on the business! My husband is also self employeed and we have chosen the less money life style. We dry our clothes on laundry drying racks and we love our penny pinching date nights. I picked up a very romantic picnic basket at a second hand store. It is now our favorite date!

Janet said...

Don't sweat the piano lessons. They know the basics. Encourage them to keep practicing occasionally. I always played more during summers when I didn't have lessons, because I could play what I wanted and not whatever I'd been assigned that week.
I'd love to accompany you to India. I made a decent chana alu just the other night.

KeithTax said...

I am always looking for frugal living ideas. You hit a few new points.