Monday, April 21, 2014

Frugal Living

Speaking of Money, which I did in my last blog… I’ve been living in a real house, and buying groceries for the first time in my life for the last two months. It’s been a strange shift to “adulthood”—a term I use really loosely when regarding myself—but I have been able to maintain a conscious despite the fact that room and board is no longer provided as a work stipend.
A few things that help me live cheaper, and usually more sustainably.
1)      Kids lose shit.  I have not had to purchase sunscreen, ball caps, pens(!) or reusable water bottles in YEARS. I guess this isn’t something that’s replicable for all my readers…but having a finders keepers mentality has saved me some money, and gotten me some cool shit. For example, I would Never spend the money on a glow in the dark Nalgene, some non-comedogenic sunscreen, or a big roller gel pen…but now I have all those things.
2)      Businesses gotta stock up. Proud to say I have Never purchased toilet paper. Hmm, maybe that one time I lived on my own in college one summer.  But certainly for the last several years of working residential jobs, and even now of working in a park—the Man pays for my toilet paper, and I’m sadly proud of that. I also use no more than 6 squares (if it’s necessary) at a time, but average out around 4. We’re pretty frugal TP users. And I’m sorry if that’s TMI, but I challenge you to use 6 squares of something that’s not 4ply Charmin! J
3)      DIY toiletries. The other day I was thinking about how much money I would spend on shampoo (if I had more hair), toothpaste, and deodorant if I didn’t make it myself. Simple household kitchen items go a long way in all these products without using plastic containers, aluminum and sulfites, or requiring transportation costs. Win.
4)      On Sale + coupons +discounts. These last two months have been only 2 of the 6 months or so in my LIFE that I have had to purchase my own groceries…and I’ve been having so much fun. When we first got here, we went a little crazy. We successfully avoided all the bagged snack items, but we bought a ton of pantry stockers (which is necessary in a new home). Fortunately, the local co-op (which is AMAZING) was having a bulk-food-discount month, and we saved $50!! The next few weeks we spent an astonishing amount on groceries, and I was tempted to call my mom and ask how she spent the same amount on 5 people that we do with the two of us…but now we have figured it out. I have a chart of how much things typically cost at the lovely local co-op and the larger, big box store, Sprouts. Unfortunately, most things are cheaper at Sprouts, but not everything! We can save quite a bit by knowing what to buy where, and since they’re across the street from each other, we don’t spend a lot on gas by store-hopping. We have also adopted a new method of only buying things on sale. Instead of planning menus with recipes we have, we take advantage of the discount bags (we just got 8 lil’ peppers for $1!) and get creative in the kitchen, making a big batch of something to eat on throughout the week. For a while I was taking advantage of volunteer opportunities around town that are sponsored by the co-op to meet some locals and earn a 18% discount for every hour I volunteered. But now that Amil WORKS at the co-op, we both get perpetual discount cards. Yipee!
5)      Bike/Commute I’ll admit, we’re not great at this yet, but we’re trying. We bought some roller blades, and a bike. We live just over a mile from our main “office,” and less than a mile from the Co-op that Amil will be working at. We try to consolidate trips, but ironically, I do the most driving for meetings with the environmental groups I’m a part of.  There’s a store we both need things from, and have for over 2 weeks, but we haven’t gone yet because it’s “out of the way.” :) I like that. I also LOVE my bike ride to work and back. It’s warm and the wisteria are blooming and …I’m just falling in love with Albuquerque.
So, I’m sure there’s other things we’re not really aware of to ‘live frugally’ but those are some of the more fun ones I’ve thought of recently. One thing I’m super anal about (probably unnecessarily so) is using the oven. I always want to make sure we have 2 or 3 things to put in the oven so it’s “worth it”. I’m not sure if this is actually efficient, but tonight, for example, I’m bringing my black-bean brownie mix to a friend’s house to use her oven while she’s baking. Silly? Maybe that should be something I examine in my trade-offs website which will hopefully launch soon.

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