Sunday, February 27, 2011

Cutting Back

 C and I mutually agreed in January that we need to stop spending frivolously and focus on saving money for the next several months. I think we do pretty well with being frugal, but there is definitely lots of room for improvement.

No more spending money until needed. We each get $50 to spend each month, and that usually takes the form of cash. I try to keep most of mine in my camera fund, but it's nice to replenish my cash when I run low. The cash you see above is all I've had since December, and all I still have. I usually use it to go out for coffee with friends, or grab a quick bite of takeout at a restaurant C doesn't like to patronize. Or I used it to buy books at the thrift store. That has stopped. I haven't really missed it, just the cash I send to my fund.

Eating out: We try not to eat out a lot, but there are many restaurants we like in town, and we enjoy it. It's great for dates, which I really look forward to. This is especially hard in the summer when tons of restaurants open seasonally, and we like to try them all and hit up our old favorites. So far we've done good with this one. I've also been trying to not spend as much at the grocery store and instead use some of the food we have stockpiled.

Window shopping: I am notorious for going to the thrift store and the local True Value store and coming away with something. Not always, but I would go frequently enough for entertainment purposes that it was a bad, bad thing. was my nemesis at times. All of that miscellaneous shopping has come to a standstill. I am set to buy a heating pad on Amazon and it has been sitting in my cart for over a month and a half because I have nothing else I need to get that meets the free shipping requirement.

Entertainment: I really, really wanted to go see a local movie at the theatre, and the new Narnia movie when it was here. We declined both :( We'll wait till it comes out on DVD and we can rent it with our punchcard at the video store. I also stopped buying cheap mp3 albums from Amazon. I miss having new music, but $5 here and there adds up.

Clothes: Neither of us needs anymore clothes. It was amazing how I would randomly come home with clothes when I would make a Walmart run, and they never were worth any quality. This one is not hard to cut out.

Gifts: This one hurts. I love giving gifts to family. We spent a ton on Christmas last year, and I spread it out through the year. I changed the budget to make sure we would save more money through the year for gifts, but we cut that out for the near future. Less expensive gifts for everyone! C's birthday was a bit depressing because of that. Last year didn't help because we had two weddings to attend, and we like to be generous to our dear friends.

Gas: Gas prices are always high here. Last I checked, we had $3.84 a gallon. I've been trying to be more conservative in my trips to town lately. That doesn't impact my running off for the sunset, but I am trying to ensure that the gas used will be worth my while.

This shopping "ban" hurts a little, but I know it will be worth it in the long run. We aren't restricting any of that absolutely, but in general, if we don't need it, it's not necessary. This will go on indefinitely, and hopefully we can continue these habits for the long run. February has ended with more money in the bank than we would have had normally, so it's been a success so far!

Have any of you cut back a lot recently? How did you handle it?