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Posts tagged with: savings

Adventures in Controlling Spending

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We’ve settled down on our spending a bit (yelling to myself, “THIS IS NOT A VACATION” helps) but there are some categories that are still off track on our months long camping adventure:

Gas – We expected to have increased gas expenses but we didn’t plan for strong winds across Montana and South Dakota.  We normally get 11 mpg.  In South Dakota and Montana, we were lucky to get 7 mpg.  We seemed to have recovered across Idaho and Utah only to hit them again as we start the trek home across the deserts in Southern Utah and into Arizona.  It’s also put more stress on the truck engine.  Since our trusty Toyota is nearing 200K miles, we’ve been regularly getting oil changes and having fluids checked.  It’s expensive now but not performing maintenance along the way will bite us in the end if we ignore it.

Food – When we left, we predominantly ate shelf stable items since we wanted to stay away from people as long as possible.  It’s not healthy to eat like that for long stretches and we migrated our menus back to lean meats, produce, and dairy.  We are a large family and I usually do a combination of bulk purchasing from Costco and meal planning based on what’s on sale at my local large chain grocer.  RV’s have tiny refrigerators.  Even if we could find a Costco (ha ha!), I couldn’t fit bulk proteins in my freezer.  Most grocery stores in the areas we are staying are mom and pop grocers.  I absolutely LOVE this, but there are rarely sales and the food is quite a bit more expensive.

Lodging – When people ask how much it costs to camp, my response is, ‘Whatever you want!’.  There are three main ways to camp:  open public lands (free), state parks (low cost), and private campgrounds (the most expensive option).  We planned on using open public lands which generally have no power or water but had the right price point of FREE.  We found the internet was spotty at best and when it warmed to 80 or 90 degrees (which happened surprisingly often), it was difficult for me to teach classes without getting really, really sweaty and struggling to concentrate.  State parks generally require reservations months in advance.  We were able to slide in on a couple cancellations but unfortunately, most of our stays outside of Montana and South Dakota were at private campgrounds.

I’d also been struggling with the kids always asking me to buy them things.  I can’t say I blame them for asking.  I wanted to buy things for myself!  A new hat?  A t-shirt that says ‘Montana’?  Yes please!  But there wasn’t room in the budget and it was tiring telling the kids that.  We decided to reuse our idea from our long trip up the coast last Christmas and we gave each of the kids $20.  They could spend it on whatever they chose but that was all they were getting.  They don’t ask for things anymore, they simply debate with themselves if that’s what they want to spend their $20 on.  It’s been fantastic!

We are heading home this week and I find myself sad at the thought this part of the adventure is over but there’s a small sense of relief that our spending will get back to normal for a while.

I’m sorry I haven’t been as responsive to your comments.  I absolutely love them but chasing internet and responding to them has been difficult.  It will be back to normal soon!

 

The Little Savings Add Up

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September ended up being an unexpectedly expensive month. We had moving expenses, car expenses, much higher than normal utility bills and client chargebacks. Yikes. It hit like a ton of bricks. I’m so grateful for the spending cushion I have, my EF and the whole different place I am in financially.

But as I have looked at this month and this last quarter, readjusting as needed, I am realizing that it’s really the little changes that have made the most difference.

Eating at Home

Making the deliberate choice every day to eat at home. Meal planning. This has also been my biggest money black hole. By purchasing things I enjoy eating and that are easy to prepare, we save tons of money by eating at home.

Mostly keto friendly meal…cheese wrap with turkey and dijon mustard, salt & vinegar pork rinds, pickled okra (yes, I made it) and a clementine (my treat).

I eat mostly keto. This is one of my tried and true lunches. Our school district has made breakfast and lunch free through the end of the year which has helped with our food budget, at least temporarily. Really with the twins gone, I am only feeding Gymnast and myself every day. The girls eat at home on nights they don’t work or aren’t out with friends. (The life of a working teenager, I suppose.)

Self Care by Myself

I have no idea when I had my hair professionally cut or colored. Oftentimes I waiver between embracing the grey and dying it fun colors. But I always come back to some hue of brownish red. $8 later and I’ve got a whole new look.

And when I get tired of looking at my bangs…I give them a trim.

Sitting in History Buff’s car in my front yard after a work call with my newly dyed hair. I absolutely love my work/life balance these days. And being outside regularly is an important part of that.

I’m pretty low maintenance and happily live in my leggins and t-shirts. And absolutely love sweatshirt weather. I have 3 sweatshirts…my old college one and then a green and peach one. My parents gave me the green one two years ago for Christmas and the peach one this last Christmas. I will wear them every day on colder days.

Free Entertainment

In the last few years, my spending on entertainment has decreased tremendously. No or at least fewer kids activities, less eating out (see above) and no more amusement park passes or movie theatre visits. I’ve truly come to appreciate some aspects of our tiny town, specifically the many options for free live music. My go to entertainment are the Saturday night concerts downtown. Since Gymnast has returned, we have a standing “hot date” every Saturday to take our lawn chairs and enjoy whatever band in playing.

Cost $0, Value PRICELESS!

While he won’t get up and dance with me, it is nice to have someone to sit with. I look forward to my boyfriend moving here (possibly next month) to add dancing to my entertainment.

Otherwise, we are home bodies and enjoy working in the yard, baking concoctions and streaming movies…

They Add Up

All these little life changes have added up to big money savings for us. And frankly, have given me more peace and joy than I have had in years and years. I truly feel like I’ve built a life that I love. I had to make some bad decisions and deal with some tough consequences of those decisions, but I’m at peace and I’ve definitely grown financially.

Those savings really paid off this month. And I’ve adjusted my financial plan for the remainder of the year to recover. Because being prepared, well, it’s worth it.