Sunday, May 17, 2009

Keeping more money, realistically.

Lately it seems like everyone is talking about the recession, being a recessionista, living frugally and tips on saving money. It's great to see people being a little more aware of where their money goes and focusing a little less on material things to make them happy. It seems to me that any place you start is a good start and since everyone begins at a different place financially, different ideas of what is and is not "frugal" abound. For myself, as I mentioned, I started from growing up on a very small income, so going without and making do is second nature. That does not mean that I am smart with money though, because I have a long way to go in that area. Just ask my creditors. As an adult, I rebelled against my frugal upbringing and now I am paying the price, literally. For me, it's about letting go of expectation, realizing it is not about what I think others think about what brand of shoes I wear. They are probably worried about what I think of what brand of shoes they wear, or maybe, people don't worry about this at all and I am completely out to lunch. I finally decided on the third option and just let it go. I wear whatever is on sale. I can't win. If I wear the cheapest, ugliest option, my feet hurt and I feel very un-trendy. If I wear the most expensive brand, (which I will admit, I have made the error in judgement and bought things in order to fit in) then a strange thing happens. People notice. They make comments. Whether out of envy or wondering why I would spend so much money, I am not sure, all I know is I do not enjoy that kind of attention. So I'll stick to what is comfortable, is hopefully not too fashionably objectionable and is, most of all, budget friendly. I thought up a few other ways to save money, but not silly ways like the ones that seem to be flying all over the Internet lately. No, I am not going to join a money club and tell all my friends my financial business, nor will I organize a clothing swap. Maybe this works for people in real life, but I have never seen it happen. Most of the people I know are not frugal at all, at least they don't want to show it on the outside. No one wants anyone to think they can't afford everything. Horrors!
I think it is a change of mindset and learning to wait for things.
No more instant gratification. No more Gimme Gimme More. No more walking around like a billboard giving away free advertising on my person.

Today, middle of the May Long weekend, we went to get my son a haircut and then play at the beach. We are staying home, that's a sure way to save money, on expensive road trips and gas, plus my husband worked an extra day on Saturday. It all adds up. Yes, I could cut my son's hair myself in order to save money and I have done that in the past. Trouble is, I am just not that talented, he ends up looking like I buzzed him, which is fine, but now he wants to be able to do his own hairstyle with gel. He is a very handsome almost-five year old. So why not pay for a haircut at First Choice and save money some other way? He gets to have the experience of being fussed over, instead of with me, at home struggling to make him sit still, and I get a nicely groomed little boy. We have decided to alternate haircuts too, so we are not paying for more than one cut at a time. I'm growing mine out, and trying to stop bleaching it. Less chemicals, softer hair, as well as more money in my pocket, not on my head.

While we waited for the haircut, I cruised by the Dollar store and bought one of those super flyer frisbees with the hole in it for a buck. My husband found those long skinny balloons that you make balloon animals with. If you pump them up and let them go, they go whizzing through the air, it's hilarious! We had a gas at the park, I'll tell ya. After, we wanted ice cream. There are three of us, so three cones would be what, four or five bucks? Well, we bought a 4 litre bucket at the grocery store instead, 3.99, plus the cones, 2.99 for twenty, cooled off in the air conditioned aisles, and when we got home had delicious ice cream cones, with tons to spare for the next ice cream craving.
The biggest thing I have done to save money is to Quit Smoking. Yes, I am ninety days smoke free today. According to my quit smoking gadget, I have saved over $500. By far the best decision I have made to date, health wise, frugal wise, you name it, I feel so much better about myself.
Quit! Quit now, I say!
A few other things I am starting to do is:
1. collect coupons
2. actually take back my refundable drink containers, (well, I sorted them out from my regular recycling anyway)
3. making things from scratch sometimes, such as bread and yogurt,
4. buying in bulk to reduce unit cost and from the bulk section to reduce packaging (but only items I will really use, I still have relish from last year because no one eats it...)
5. simply not buying things the minute I see them, just for the sake of spending money!
The more I remain concious, the more satisfaction I get from saving money! Some things I do are really fun, too, like making the jean skirt and spray painting the freecycle table.
Of course, long term, I have many goals I would like to achieve, including doing wise things with all of this so-called saved money. I even got a book from the library on Personal Budgeting.
What has gotten into me? Don't ask my husband, he is really bamboozled :D
I just want to start at the beginning, and take small steps towards keeping more of our money.

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