Not much has been going on with me lately; I've just been busy with R on his vacation from school. It's been lovely. We went sledding on Friday! We played with Play-doh. We built and played with gazillions of Legos. We read his new Tintin comics. We've had a great time, but even R is ready to go back to school and see all his friends. It will be nice to get back into a routine again tomorrow.
2009 has started off well. I haven't made any official resolutions, but it dawned on me over Christmas that I suddenly can't see parts of my body that I used to be able to see (except when I was pregnant) because of the fat that is in the way, so I should really do something about that. The last month has been pretty tumultous for me emotionally and I know I haven't been taking care of myself as a result, so it finally caught up with me. I need to eat better, go to bed at a reasonable time, and try to get some regular exercise. Me and every other person on the planet!
But the other resolution-type goal that A and I have is to trim our spending to prepare for the possibility of his contract not being renewed at the end of the month. Plus, it's good just to be more responsible with our money anyway. I'm really proud of how we're doing. We used to eat out or get take-out at least twice a week (and not always the cheap places), and we've cut that down A LOT. We've been a lot more creative about cooking at home. We found our favorite Indian sauce (tikka masala) in jars at the grocery store. We spent $3.99 for the sauce (we already have tons of chicken and rice at home - thank you, Costco!). It wasn't quite as good as the restaurant version of chicken tikka masala, but it was still good and so much cheaper than the $12.95 we usually spend per entree.
And, after two weeks of no eating out at all, we treated ourselves for brunch at our favorite cheap buffet place. All three of us ate for less than $20! (Normally, breakfast/brunch out for us runs us closer to $40 at our neighborhood diner.) And, despite the temptation of various meats and pancakes and waffles and desserts, I was able to eat healthy there - salad, scrambled eggs, and fruit.
We stopped shopping every week at the more expensive grocery store, even though it's a lot more convenient for us because they have everything we need in one place. Now, we only go there for specific items. That has saved us $20 to $30 each week.
And, yesterday, we cancelled my cell phone and dropped A's plan way down to the absolute cheapest one. I have a cell phone through work, so I'll still have a phone on me, but having two phones was silly. We've been using our home land line a lot more. We're also going to switch our cable, Internet, and phone to the big V company's new service, which will save us $50 a month over the big C company we have now.
There will be many more changes to come for us financially, but I've been pleased at how easy these first changes have been so far for us. We definitely weren't living beyond our means before - we've always been good with our money - but it makes me feel better to live more frugally.
That reminds me! I watched the Suze Orman show last night (if you don't watch her, you should!), and she had some really scary information about what the credit card companies are up to. I thought I would share it in case it might affect you or someone you love. Basically, because of the mess of the mortgage crisis last year, the credit card companies are freaking out and looking at everyone's accounts and statements. If they see that you only pay the minimum due each month, they may either completely revoke your cards or decrease your credit limit. And, they may increase your interest rate on what you still owe to 29% or 32%! It doesn't matter if you have a good credit rating/FICO score. Suze predicted that this is going to cause the next part of the financial crisis because it's going to force many people into bankruptcy, especially as more and more people lose their jobs and have to live off their credit cards. Anyway, I wanted to share that information. I hope it helps someone!
What ways have you found to cut your spending and live more simply?