frugal, waste-free, and simple-life style activities this week

I want to remember the activities that fulfill my interest in frugal, waste-free, and simple-life style this week; I am positive that they will help me see the brighter side in everything and motivate me to do more 🙂

 

Here is the list:

Frugal activities:

1. I messed up with my budget and frugal life-style big time lately. Nevertheless, I managed to walk to work one day (rather than using transportation) saving myself 10 bucks.

2. I did not over-spend on grocery. As a matter of fact, I have purchased much less than regular in order to eat what I already have in my fridge.

3. I used a coupon. Now, considering I am wasting more than 200 bucks a week nowadays I wonder why I have even cared finding or using this coupon. Every penny counts I guess…

Waste-free life:

1. I continued to bring my tote to stores in order to reduce the amount of plastic shopping bags in my home. There has been a considerable improvement in this and I am happy to say that I reduced the amount at least by 2/3 🙂

2. I ate the food in my fridge before they went bad. Some of them still did, though, which I resent…. Next time I will be better.

Simple/self-sustaining life:

1. I baked my own bread.

2. I made my own strained curds/cheese from kefir 🙂 I am straining another batch today. I want to try one from yogurt for a change of taste.

3. I did not unnecessarily made my day complicated by filling it in many different activities (only work).

4. I made sure to do other things than just work after 7pm everyday to give my mind a break and enjoy my life.

5. I did not socialize with anyone, which helped me keep my time and energy to myself (yes, this is one of the benefits of living alone 🙂 )

6. I cared for my yard and removed weeds to make sure they will not take over the yard (a preventive measure for a long-term simple life)

Decluttering and minimalist activities:

1. Nothing particular than regular, except that the unnecessary paper that were on my study table are now dumped. 

2. I bought no item (other than personal hygiene products and grocery) for home or myself this week.

Weekly budget check

Another #leanspending week 🙂

This was a week with the least amount of grocery expenses; I had fresh produce left from the week before, which I decided to consume before I bought new ones. It was a good decision; I wasted neither the produce nor the money 🙂 I also cashed loyalty card points, which dropped my grocery bill this week (don’t you love them?).

This being said, I have had a social that costed me a little bit. I am not complaining about this, knowing that it happens only rarely and I usually enjoy the food.

And, the most exciting part? The pre-payment I made to my mortgage! This week I made the biggest pre-payments ever; a total of $1,662.5. Almost all of this is my tax return. I am so excited and proud of myself…..

This is my 4th pre-payment done so far. I started in the new year; my motto is that whatever extra I get (from coupons, waivers, tax return, tempting expenses that are not done etc.) will be used as pre-payment. Before I know, they accumulate.

Anyways, here is the week’s account:

————-

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery, breakfast, and a cab drive in the snow storm day): $37

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $37 = $73

Fun funds expenses: $0

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $757.5 (Yahooo !!!! 🙂 )

Other expenses: $178 (health-related and social expenses, in addition to shopping for personal care and cleaning products at a store)

Savings from would-be-expenses: $27.5(these are the savings from expenses that I would normally make, but decided not to; such as walking rather than taking the bus, having breakfast at home rather than at the local cafe etc.).

Maybe a small amount, but a penny saved is a penny earned, right? 🙂

—————

Pantry/freezer treasures enjoyed: soup (x2) and brown lentil meal from the freezer; bulghur (x2), canned bean, and pasta from the pantry 🙂

Honestly, I am very excited about consuming the food that I already have. Since I started prioritizing the food in my freezer and the pantry in the last few months, I have consumed quite a bit of it. This helps me not only with saving money but also with an opportunity to refresh them. Like, last week I shopped for dry food (beans, lentils, seeds, rolled oats etc.) with great joy (oh, the joy of shopping cannot be under-estimated!). I have great and diverse food that can be enough for a couple of months and I am feeling incredibly abundant and grateful! 🙂

Happy saving! 🙂

random thoughts and #TheLeanSpendingMonth

It is going well – this quiet and relaxing weekend I mean 🙂

Weather is good; I walked yesterday for 25 min or so and am planning to do so again this afternoon; I cook and eat healthy with lots of raw veggies; house is cleaned and laundry is done; a number of movies are enjoyed; world news are followed; better spending choices are made; food in the pantry/freezer is being consumed; and life feels overall not too eventful and is peaceful.

Of course, the world news are interesting. What the hey has been happening in the USA? I sometimes think that all the little problems of mine are unnecessary – I guess this kind of mentality and actions are the ones that will fuel a much larger world-wide conflict, unrest, and violence. So who cares about whether I will be able to do every thing I want to do this year? Save that much and invest this much? Nope. We may be looking at a much bigger and global problem to erupt (not to mention the pain and suffering by the people most needed the safety). I am sorry if I sound pessimistic (which I usually am).

Nevertheless, I try to focus on what I can control so that I can not feel hopeless altogether. That brings me to my #TheLeanSpendingMonth challenge I assigned for myself (a.k.a. super-duper lean spending month).

I initially had decided to try it on February but more or less since new year I am on it.

What is #TheLeanSpendingMonth challenge?

As the name implies – it aims to challenge me to spend the least amount of money on non-essential expenses (for me that would mean taking the cab, eating breakfast outside, buying coffee or other treats, buying more grocery that I can consume, and buying anything new while I still have a working copy at home).

I am not 100% lean in my spending; I decided a while ago that fully restricting myself was not a good idea. So I am buying one treat a week as I please (like peanut butter which is not essential for my diet). But I am quite conscious of my spending, and I am making it a choice to calculate the cons and pros of each of my expenses and think about how I could benefit from by not making the expense.

For example, I walked yesterday 15 min away to get eggs on sale, also thinking that walking is a great exercise that I am looking forward to anyhow. Yet, today I decided once again that baking dry beans would not worth it and the canned beans is a much better option for me regardless of the cost (it takes so loooong to cook beans…)…

I also needed an extra and quite clear benefit of not spending unnecessarily and so I come up with the mortgage prepayment account; I note my savings each week which will be later used to make a prepayment whenever I have more than 100 bucks in the account. I did this for the first time 10 days ago and I am excited about it 🙂 So I have more than enough motivation to keep going. 🙂

If anyone had asked me whether I could budget stricker than what I used to have last year, I would say no. But I am proving myself wrong now – I see that I can save more. This cannot be a long term plan for me though, so I rather see the #TheLeanSpendingMonth challenge as some kind of “shopping ban”. After  all I also have a life to enjoy and I would love my weekend breakfast to come back sometime 🙂

So my advice to you, if you are interested in this kind of challenges, is to learn about yourself and your choices as much as possible. Also think about it as a temporary thing; who knows maybe it will turn into a long-term habit, but if not that should be okay, too. I should also say that it is fun to challenge myself and finding ways to cut my expenses. I hope you too will have a similar and positive experience.

Have a great Sunday everyone!

 

 

 

How to maximize the value of grocery funds


I am not an expert; but I have been making effort to save from grocery budget and limit food waste. These two goals together have helped me to try and find out ways that were useful in my journey. Here what I found are useful practices:

DO:

1. Follow the sales: Take advantage of the flyers that appear at your door steps. If that is not an option for you, do not despair – the majority of the stores have e-flyers that can make this exercise quite easy.

2. Shop at variety of places: I am not saying go travel 30 min to a store just to pick up a cartoon of milk. But if there are items that are on sale at different stores and if they are practical options to do so, you may want to consider visiting them. Often times, different stores have different items on weekly sales.

3. Buy bulk: Consider this if you are certain that you will consume the product. Dry food, like rice, pasta, legumes, and canned goods are good examples. Fresh produce usually does not last too long, unless they are dried, frozen, or canned.

4. Use coupons: Whether they come in the inserts, news papers, or apps, you can use coupons to save a dime or two.

5. Use loyalty cards: Many stores offer their own or main stream loyalty cards to their customers. The points accumulate and can give you a free item or two.

6. Freeze food: You can freeze almost any of the veggies or fruits with some practice. Blanching is a good way to preserve veggies, for example.

7. Freeze meals: Freeze extra portions of meals for future consumption.

8. Take an inventory of your fridge, freezer, and pantry: Know what you already have. This helps you to not only appreciate what you already have, but also to identify what you really need.

9. Make your own pickles, jams, peanut butter, sauces, etc.

10. Prepare meals from scratch

11. Bake your own bread: this may be intimidating to many, but it is a lot of fun! It is quite affordable and healthy too 🙂 Expand it to pizza and noodles

12. Opt for un-cut/unprepared meals, veggies, and fruits to save instantly

13. Use your own shopping bags/totes if your store charges for nylon bags

14. Have a meal plan and make an effort to stick to it

15. Take advantage of holiday sales

16. Use left-overs as lunch the next day or to prepare soups

17. Use bits and pieces of veggies or meat in hearty soups

18. Share what you have, especially if you think that you will not consume the food. Family, friends, neighbours, soup kitchen, and food banks are good examples

19. Buy frozen veggies

20. Keep a good stock of regularly used items so that you will not feel deprived

21. Know your coupons and their characteristics (e.g. expiry dates, brand/model they are eligible for)

22. Be grateful for what you have and try to appreciate your efforts

23. Shop when you need, not when you think you should shop

24. Check your bill at the cashier and correct or remove items if their price is not right

25. Change your habits; whether it is the food types, stores, or shopping habits, give a better habit a chance

26. Try new recipes and improvise

27. Learn from others: there are many blogs out there that gives good tips to reduce the grocery bill and the food waste.

28. Monitor your savings 🙂 whether you saved by following the sales, using coupons, or loyalty cards, once you realize how much you do save, it will make you feel great and motivated to keep going!

 

DON’T

1. Buy things only because they are on sale or you have coupons for

2. Care about peer pressure; rather focus on your own needs and goals

3. Get crazy about saving all the time; everyone deserves a nice treat every once a while

4. Buy suspicious food from dollar stores or from the stores’ sales rack

5. Sacrifice your health and well-being by under-nourishment or by consuming limited types of food

6. Forget to celebrate!

 

*In my experience using my credit card works for me (I pay the full balance at the end of each month and I do not buy things that I do not need) – so I cannot solely recommend using cash.

**I am not very familiar with price comparisons – if that works for you, go ahead.

***I am not into using food that are beyond their expiry dates

 

 

weekly budget check

It has been a great week in terms of how much I did not spend 🙂

—————————–

expenses within the weekly allowance (grocery only): $35   🙂

funds left for fun funds: $120 – $35 = $85

total fun funds: – $126.5.. ahem.. negative balance…

total savings from purchases I was tempted to but did not (like not taking the cab); use of sales/coupons; kindness of people: $278 (this also includes a brunch which I was not let pay = kindness of people)

Other expenses: $278, including ordering the sewing machine and some accessories, taking the cab and some food to friends who invited me for dinner. That is a lot of money, but all is well.

———————–

This has been the first attempt of mine to have a minimal spending week and so far it seems doable; I have a lot of food in the fridge. Freezer has many bags of frozen veggies, meat/chicken, and breakfast pastries (to be consumed at the weekends), as well as frozen soups with chicken or bone broth. My pantry is also in a good shape with lots of dried veggies, pasta, rice/bulghur, lentils, and canned beans. I think I will be able to stick up with my minimal spending aim till New year 🙂

I am continuing to buy perishable essentials, such as milk, yogurt, and fresh produce. So no unreasonable sacrifice here.

I continue to walk in the morning and evening, rather than taking the cab or bus; I hope to keep doing that as long as the weather permits.

I will focus on consuming the food I already have rather than buying new ones. I kind of hope that before and after the holidays, there will be good grocery sales; I may be able to stock up/freeze again at that time.

I only let myself to stock up durable items, like paper towel, if the sales are really attractive. Otherwise, I am good with waiting till the holiday season.

I had decided to let go my weekend breakfasts and rather use that money to finance my sewing machine and supplies I will need. One wonders whether $7-8 a week (my breakfasts on Saturday and Sunday, consisting of a bagel and a cup of coffee) can make a positive difference…. Honestly I have mixed feelings about it myself (I am so fond of my weekend breakfast…); at one hand, yes I may be able to buy small sewing supplies, like thread and scissor, with these savings. But then, is it really worth it, considering how much I enjoy my breakfast?

I guess we will see how it goes 🙂

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