Monday, October 16, 2017

5 Frugal Things: Back on Track

Camping at Carolina Beach State Park = Good, Cheap Fun

Apparently starting a fancy, brand new job means there is even less time for blogging than usual. Sorry for my silence these last few weeks! The good news is that I've settled into my new role and as a result I feel more energized about every area of my life. Exercise? Killing it. Writing? Every morning. Dinner? A masterpiece. It's amazing how fixing one part of your life improves everything. A rising tide, right? 

Even though I haven't been blogging regularly, I remain frugal and budget-minded. We took on some debt recently and after paying off our credit cards, seeing our net worth sink was not a good feeling. The current goal is get out of the red as fast as possible, which means continuing to live like I did not just get a big raise. That should be pretty easy, to be honest. Frugality is a habit and we've been practicing for pretty much our whole lives. Which brings us to these most recent frugal accomplishments. 

1. Chased down a freelance check. 

I am still committed to cutting way back on freelance work, but before that change took hold I did one last big project for a friend of a friend of a friend. It only kind of wanted to do it, so I gave a pretty high quote for the work, thinking they wouldn't be able to afford me. Apparently their budget was bigger than mine, so off I went. Of course, the hardest part of freelance is actually getting the check, and it took a few polite reminders until they finally acknowledged my invoice. I put the money straight into savings, which we had to dip into for the down payment on my car, and that was a big help. 

2. Wrote our booze budget on the fridge. 

While I am still fully committed to YNAB and check it multiple times a day, my husband remains supportive but hands-off. Like, he'll tell people how great YNAB is and how it changed our lives, but he does not open the app and look at our categories. Since the only thing he ever buys is beer and/or wine, I started jotting our booze budget balance on the dry erase board in the kitchen where I plan our weekly meals. So far, it is appearing to keep him in line. (Except for when he slips extra 1s and 0s in the total posted. I see you, Nathan.) 

3. Joined The Produce Box. 

For the last year or so, my good friend Kat has been getting her veggies via a weekly subscription to The Produce Box (<-- my referral link). It's basically a CSA, but the food comes from a variety of North Carolina farms and is delivered to your doorstep once a week. I haven't done the math, and it's almost certainly more expensive then just buying the same items at the grocery store, but I'm considering it a frugal win for a few reasons. First, when you eat 95% of your meals at home, it's easy to lose your cooking mojo, fall into a rut, and order a pizza. By getting a box of fresh ingredients each week, I feel excited and motivated to cook them. Second, budgets aren't just about spending less. They're about making sure you spend your money mindfully, in a way that aligns with your morals. Supporting small farms, getting produce locally, and eating veggies when they're in season makes me feel good about my choices and healthier, too. Plus my monthly grocery budget hasn't gone up as a result, so it's a win all around. 

4. Paid off a small debt. 

About a year ago, I went to a chiropractor three times a week, for three months. My back had been bothering me for a while, and in a moment of desperation I got roped into an extensive and expensive treatment plan. Even though I stopped going months ago, I've continued to make monthly payments. I'm still not sold on chiropractic care (even though I must admit my back has been much better ever since) but I definitely felt the pain each time that automatic withdrawal hit. Which is why I'm so happy that I just made my last payment. Now I can put that money toward other things... like paying off my car faster. 

5. Enjoyed free snacks at work. 

The best part of my new job is that we have a fully stocked kitchen filled with all types of healthy snacks that are free for the taking. String cheese. Chobani yogurt. Snapea crisps. Luna bars. An espresso machine! As someone who lives for snacks and hates spending money, taking advantage of these freebies has been a wonderful and delicious perk. 

That's it for me! I'm hoping to get back to blogging once a week, so stay tuned for more adventures in the life of a late bloomer on a budget.