Sunday, April 29, 2018

5 Frugal Things: Spring is Here!

Two Sundays, two blog posts. Maybe this one-new-post-a-week routine will finally stick! In this week's update, we return to an old favorite: five frugal things. Big or small, every choice that keeps a little more cash in my bank account is a win. Here are a few ways we're staying on budget, despite the siren call of spring. 

1. I bought a last minute plane ticket to New York.

A few weeks ago my mom fell at work and broke her hip. After surgery and some new screws, she is healing well and should be back to normal in a few months. In the meantime, she can't put weight on her leg and has been stuck at home. Thanks to my budgeting powers, I was able to buy a plane ticket for relatively cheap and spend a few days entertaining her. And, because my job is awesome, I worked remotely from my parents' kitchen table, which means I didn't have to use PTO. While the trip wasn't the most exciting (we watched A LOT of HGTV and MANY Lifetime movies) I was grateful for the ability to show up for my family without putting anything on my credit card. 

2. We paid off our truck.

Two summers ago we bought a truck from Nathan's parents. We made a down payment and have been paying off the rest in very small monthly installments ever since. This debt wasn't high on my list of things-to-pay-off, since it was essentially an interest-free loan, but as we got closer to $0, I became more eager to see it gone. Last month I moved some things around, cut a few extra corners, and came up with the last $500 a whole three months early. I sent it off and was very pleased with myself, only to discover that, according to my father-in-law's calculations, I had actually overpaid them by $125. "Are you sure?" I asked. "Yes," he said, and who am I to argue? So they gave us a refund and I put it straight into our vacation fund. (We have a lot of travel coming up this summer and fall.) Next up: paying off my car by the end of the year. 

3. I attended a meeting about my new retirement benefits. 

My company recently switched 401K plans. Last week, we had an introductory meeting  with our new financial advisors during which they walked us through all the nuts and bolts. Next week, everyone in the company can sign up for individual meetings with the advisors for more specific guidance, and you better believe I grabbed a slot! Now that I'm an expert at budgeting and successfully living well within my means, the next step in my financial journey is figuring out how to retire before I'm 80. I'm really excited about all these new perks and also the chance to talk to a professional about the best path forward. I'll keep y'all updated! 

4. We started selling eggs again. 

It's spring, which means my chickens are laying eggs again! A chicken's cycle is tied to the length of the days, so during the dark winter, they slow down production significantly. Some people keep a light on them to trick their bodies into laying year round, but I feel like the ladies deserve a break, as inconvenient as it may be. In the spring and summer, though, I remember why I love keeping chickens. I've already sold two dozen to my neighbors, and I have another 12-pack ready to go. While the extra cash the ladies bring in is nice, I really love knowing that my friends and neighbors are enjoying more eggs from happy, healthy, free-range hens. 

5. Our windows are wide open. 

North Carolina is a land of extreme weather. We had perhaps the coldest winter in recent memory, and our summers are hot and incredibly humid. Spring, while brief, is a gift - it's warm but the mosquitos have not yet arrived. The mornings are cool enough to run without drowning in your own sweat, and the afternoons are the perfect temperature for drinking a beer in the sunshine. And, most importantly, we can open our windows. This means that we're not running the heat OR the air conditioner. I try to stretch this season out as long as I can - one year, we almost made it to July before we broke down and turned on the AC - not just because it's a literally a breath of fresh air, but because I also love the lower electric bill. 

Have you had any frugal wins lately? Share them here, on Twitter, or tag me on Instagram, which is where I've been spending the bulk of my online time these days. More soon!