Lessons on learning to live on less and save money.
It is that time of year where we start fresh. Once again I am joining Precious at Frugal Makes Cents for the 2012 Money Saving Challenge. Looking back at 2011 I did a lot of frugal challenge posts and implemented more thrifty ways into our home. I mean you have to. Everywhere you look, prices are just skyrocketing. If you get a raise at all than it is eaten up by higher health care costs. Just putting food on the table is more and more expensive. So for 2012 I want to re-commit myself to the frugal practices I implemented last year and commit myself to even more money saving habits and practices.
Here is what I did in 2011 that I will for sure continue:
1.Most meals ate at home including lunches prepared at home. Also more inexpensive but meatless meals like these.
2. Using homemade cleaners like alcohol and water for glass and surface cleaning.
3. Trying to combine trips in the car.
4. Continue to get through without using our second refrigerator. This has saved us a bundle and we made it through the holidays with our small kitchen fridge only. We will save the other one for our daughter when she moves out or if ours breaks down.
5. Other energy saving measures like the awning and the energy audit suggestions I wrote about here. We will be purchasing two more awnings for our west facing windows that receive afternoon sun.
6. Continuing to pay cash for everything. I managed to do this for Christmas this year with the exception of some items I ordered online and have not received the bill yet. That will be paid back promptly. This is something I have to remain committed to as we are paying off one last car right now and another loan that is thankfully almost paid off too. We have a daughter in college right now and one more starting next year.
7. I will coupon a little for the things we actually use like our toiletries. We use large amounts of shampoo and conditioner and other hygiene items so I have to really look for bargains here.
Where I want to improve in 2012:
1. More meals at home or homemade. We are gone one day a week all day and we usually pick up some fast food for myself and the two kids with me. I have seen this as a treat but really if I cut it back to twice a month only and we bring a picnic lunch the other days I could save roughly $30 a month just on this one item.
2. More freezer meals made in advance. I want to commit one day a month to prepare freezer meals for the nights we are short on time and I may be tempted to pick something up.
3. Shop around all of our insurance polices for auto and home. I keep putting this off and am committed to doing this early this year. I will look at it as a job. One hour per week at a determined time to get on the phone and comparison shop until I find the best option for us. We have two young drivers in our home so we really need to try and cut back on auto insurance costs if we can.
4. Trying to keep grocery costs down. I don't know with rising costs if you can even cut back much more than I already have but I want to commit to less expensive but healthy meals and finding the best bargains out there. I think a price book type comparison of the foods we use most is the best means right now to do this. Keeping a small book with the best deals I can find so I know where to stock up is the best option for now. Coupons I use will be for items we already eat. I really think the one way to save most in this area is cooking more from scratch. I do this for the most part already but making maybe my own mixes and things may help as well. Food savings will be a main focus for me in 2012.
Please share any ideas or suggestions you have. I am an eager student.