I have been saving like mad this month. I have found small, fun, and/or easy things to make our financial life healthier. Let’s start sharing.
Electric bill: OPPD invited us to participate in its AC Management Program, which is designed to save energy. It has already saved us money, too. They send an electric contractor to install a device which controls the running of the air conditioner (not the temperature, just the on/off switch) outside at the unit. It doesn’t affect our warranty on the unit. On up to 12 days per year, the device will cycle the unit at approximately 15-minute intervals (on for 15, off for 15), for 2.5 hours. Yeah, we can handle that. They credited our account for $30 within days of the installation, and we’ll get an extra $20 per year for keeping it installed. Check out the info on the program and see if it’s right for you.
Groceries: I’ve continued to get what we need, and stock up on dry goods only with what I can pay from the budget. No more chasing “huge deals” for our family. Our needs have changed drastically, and will evolve erratically over the next three to four years, anyway, so my shopping habits are evolving. Since we’ll be taking a week-long vacation this summer, I don’t want to stock the freezers. In case of any failure, we won’t lose much, and the water jugs will be fine.
Auto maintenance: We have not scrimped. But when my warning lights flashed a few weeks ago, and I couldn’t get an appointment for the Subs for two weeks, I was able to drive our third vehicle (which we’ve been saving for #2) and not rush into an unfunded repair. Turns out, there was no discernible cause for the issue, and the mechanics expect the system got wet. I don’t know why — we only had torrential rains for three to four days, and the flooding was minor. ;) The issue got checked as part of a mileage-based checkup, which was budgeted, so no extra cost there. And using the smaller, fuel-efficient sedan, while very uncomfortable for getting in and out, saved gas.
(Why did I get a Subs and not keep driving the sedan? The sedan is as light as a feather, and it became dangerous for me to drive it around town in ice and snow. That particular year, we had six months with snow and ice. I developed arthritis, so crawling in and out, and shifting gears, became painful. #1 needed transportation to work and school at odd hours. This is a workable situation for us. We take the sedan out and about in cases like these, and to save gas in weather when we don’t need AC or heat. It’s a great little car, a 1998 with 120K miles, but my requirements in a vehicle have changed. Yes, it is frugal, when you consider everything. Don’t judge.)
Entertainment: We were able to attend a Storm Chasers game recently, for only the cost of a cotton candy. Through DH’s work, a vendor supplied tickets, food and drink, and a VIP suite above first base! We used the free parking area (a very short walk). It was a beautiful evening that included good fellowship, food, and fresh air. We really had a blast, and it was free! Except that #2 wanted a treat, which was not unreasonable.
In preparation for our Grand Canyon vacation, DH has been walking and hiking often. He uses that time to practice his photography skills on wildlife at local preserves and parks. He’s also going out with a friend who does the same, and enjoying that time. I should increase my walking, too.
We did go to a movie this month, but we ate first so we didn’t buy concessions. Usually our movies are from Netflix, which keeps our entertainment costs pretty low. I did increase the entertainment budget, to allow for date nights more often, but we’ve had time at home without #2, so we’ve made our date nights on the patio. I don’t know if that will change much this summer.
Gardening: I guess this is just delayed spending. While there have been beautiful afternoons and evenings, a recent stupid hand injury has kept me out of the yard. So no hauling 40# bags of mulch for me. And I’ve been unable to dig up the stepping stones and re-grade that flower bed for drainage yet. It needs to be done, but since I’ve had more time to observe the situation, I’ve figured out a more frugal and easier way to get that done, I think. The weather has been so rainy on the weekends, we were lucky to get the lawn cut and to trim the bushes one afternoon. But that will change, too, as we’re expecting a super hot and dry summer.
Stamps and shipping: I am loving the online bill payments! This experiment has been successful, and I will continue to pay bills electronically when I can. I like that most accounts give me the option to pay the total balance or just the last statement balance. When we sent a package overseas, I expected it to cost a huge amount, but using a flat rate priority box allowed me to cram that care package full with goodies from us and a church group. Unfortunately, there were four pages of customs forms, but I got through that pretty quickly since the postal clerk explained it to me beforehand (and there are plenty of Internet sites with tips and tricks for this).
Bottom Line: We’re doing pretty well, financially. We’ve been good about staying within our budget in most areas. I check Quicken daily, getting charged up about this progress. While we are now finally at 10% giving, we seem to have all our needs comfortably met, with more than enough extra. We’ll be able to sock away this month’s third paycheck into our local savings account. That account is growing wildly, and we will be able to comfortably handle some big expenses coming soon.
Where have you been saving this month?