March 15, 2011

Thank you Amy Dacyczyn

I am not posting on the reading we were to do together today, I will update tomorrow.  Instead I am facing a personal financial dilemma this month, and it fits right in to our Tightwad Gazette theme. 

A few weeks ago when I was feeling the strain of higher food prices, I pulled the Tightwad Gazette I off the shelf.  It was time to reread all three of Amy D.'s books.  Our situation had changed greatly from when I purchased those books in the early 1990's.  Sometimes I wonder why I feel that "nudge" to do something and reading Amy D.'s books again seemed like I was definitely meant to do it at this time.

I am "getting it" this time.  It's becoming more of a lifestyle change now and I wish I would have done it sooner.  Thank you to Amy D. for giving me the tools and the encouragement to do what I need to do, become a Tightwad.  More than ever I need her advice, especially as I need to come up with an extra $1,000 this month.

We owe $1,000 on taxes this year.  I wasn't expecting it but then again, we weren't sure how tax year 2010 would turn out since I didn't have a paying job.  In past years our goal was to not owe anything or qualify for a refund either.  Our goal was for our tax returns to be a wash, maybe owing on the Federal return but receiving close to the same amount back on the State return.  That is how we like it as we prefer to have the money throughout the year to save or pay down a bill. 

Now, what to do ....  or perhaps what would Amy advise?  I would say what would Amy do, but I think Amy wouldn't owe taxes or she would have set aside money for taxes.  Well, we have money in the bank, but it is our vacation money and we have some money saved for some household repairs.  I don't want to touch those funds.  So, what do you think Amy would advise?

Amy would say, stop spending on anything that wasn't absolutely essential and along the way, don't waste anything.  My DH and I sat down and we agreed to only spend on what was necessary/essential and save as much as possible in the next 30 days.  He will do his part and I will do my part.   If we're careful, we just might be able to do this.  One area that we are not going to save on and that is charity giving.  We give a percentage of our income to our church and we always commit to following through on that no matter what.

Stop Spending Ideas:

1,  I have fallen behind on keeping up my pantry and freezer inventories. This afternoon I inventoried the freezer and started on the pantry.  All meals will be planned from the freezer and pantry with minimal purchases from the grocery store.  I cannot exceed $20 a week or $2.86 per day.  I don't care what kind of incredible sale comes along, I must stick to a budget of $20 per week for groceries.  Depending on sales and stockpiling and such, I have been averaging lately around $80 a week on groceries.  I calculate my grocery budget from Friday to Friday.  There are 5 Fridays until April 15th.  So for the next 5 weeks I will have $100 for groceries.  I normally would budget $400 for 5 weeks of groceries so I will save $300 on groceries over the next five weeks. 

2.  There will be no eating out at all.  I usually only eat out twice a month with some friends and then it is usually at Subway.  Not this month.  I will be brown bagging it.

Don't Waste Anything Ideas:

1.  I will he conserving gasoline by doing as much walking or biking as possible. 

2. A few months back I purchased Finish Dishwashing Gel tabs (32 pack) for $1.19 after using a great coupon.  I opened the box a couple of days ago and I realized today, that this may not last me til April 15th.  So, I snipped a small portion of the gel tab, squeezed out half of the contents into the cup in my dishwasher and set the load to a light wash.  Half of the contents of that gel tab worked great on a full load of dishes.  I only do one load a day, so this will last beyond April 15th.

Tomorrow I will sit down and go through what is in the freezer and pantry and make up 30 days of menus.  My freezer is full, my pantry is low on some things but will be able to get by until April 15th. 

I'm not calling this a challenge or a No Spend Month or anything like that.  This isn't a challenge, this is life.  I will post weekly updates. 

Tomorrow we will get back to our Tightwad Gazette reading and discussion.


Maureen said...

Martha all life is a challenge, I applaud you $20 a week for Groceries will be quite an accomplishment.
But I know you are up for the task......

Moderate Means said...

Great plans!! I'm always so amazed when we take what seems to be a limited budget and manage to 'find' money for big expenses. It always makes me feel so good about frugality! I've been doing a lot of pantry/freezer eating lately and it's nice to see that money piling up :) Good luck!

Sharon said...

ooooh. I really like the idea of the dishwasher tabs...I'll have to try that.

I'm sure you'll do great this month, and with all those great food buys that you stocked up on, I'm sure your meals will be delicious too! :)!