Saturday, January 4, 2014


Money-making project: Build bee motels and sell them on Etsy!

On Thursday, I sat down with a notebook and went month by month through my bills from 2013. One of my goals for this year is to get a handle on my spending. I want to end 2014 with zero credit card debt and a notable increase in my savings account. That certainly didn't happen this year--why not?

The $14 purchase is why not. $14 doesn't seem like all that much, does it?  $14 for fabric or sewing notions, $14 for a skein of sock yarn, $14 for a book.

But if you spend $14 often enough, it adds up to a lot of money. I will not reveal here how much money I spent on fabric and other craft supplies in 2013, but the sum is appalling--and about twice as much as I would have guessed. Twice as much! The funny thing is, it's not the big cash outputs that were the problem. They happened once or twice a year, and I was very conscious of them.

No, it was the little dribs and drabs that did me in. The fat quarter cut of fabric. The used book from The fact is, I have nickled and dimed myself into a budget crisis.

So yesterday, after writing down all the numbers, adding them up, and nearly fainting when I saw the results, I came up with a budget. A real budget--not the imaginary budget in my head that I'd been sure I was sticking to. A budget that requires I write down every purchase I make and subtract it from my monthly allowance. A budget that allows for fabric purchases, but insists that I shop my own stash of fabric first. A budget that tsk tsks at the very thought of idly tossing a magazine in my shopping cart as I wait in the checkout line. A budget that insists I go to the library instead of the bookstore.

When I realized what I actually spent each month, well, it was sort of embarrassing. It's like that moment you step on the scale and realize you've gained twenty pounds. You have no idea how you gained twenty pounds. It's not like you eat cake and ice cream every night. In fact, you thought you'd been cutting back.

But when you finally look at reality--how much you really spend, how much you really eat/smoke/drink/live on the Internet--it's also incredibly liberating. Now you know the truth and can do something about it.

I hope to blog more this year--I'm shooting for twice a week--and will keep you updated on my new frugality. I plan not only to spend less, but to earn more, mostly by teaching, but by selling as well. I'll share my experiments with making my own dish detergent and cleaning supplies. I'll give breathless accounts of my experiences with getting books through inter-library loans. You will be riveted, I promise.

Do you have plans for a more frugal 2014? Please share!


Everyday Life On A Shoestring said...

I'm guilty of the book buying's just TOO easy to treat oneself on this year (like last) my resolution is to shop my own bookshelves. I can't wait to read about the details of your inter library loans!

Heather said...

We used to be on a VERY tight budget. When my husband wanted to buy stuff we really didn't need, I had to be naggy and put the kibosh on those purchases. He'd be like, "It's only $10.00. If $10 is going to break us, then our problems are bigger than we think." And to that I'd have to tell him it's not just this $10, but the $10 for this, the $5 for ALL adds up to much more than one would think. I definitely know what you are talking about.
After 17 years of this, I think I've finally trained my husband. He's seen how much we have saved over the years and how many times it has saved us in emergencies, so now he gets it. I still splurge now and again, but I'm a habitual saver and super frugal.

The dB family said...

I am on a no book buying plan until I have read every one of them on the shelves. If there is one that I really want to read that is not on the shelves, I am going to have to hope the library has it. It is going to be very hard to go into the thrift stores though and not stop to peruse the books. I might have to give in once or twice.

We set up a strict budget last year and were able to stick to it, so I know you can do it too! I will cheer you on!!


Angela said...

Oh please blog twice a week - your blog is such an encouragement to me. You live in the same real world as I do [where the $14 spends add up, and the occasional chocolate puts 5" on your hips]
Are you REALLY going to make Bee Motels? I have yet to be convinced that anybody makes a living from an Etsy shop. I know somebody who decided to make classy craft stuff and sell it events. She spent a lot of money on fabric...but the last two years her Christmas gifts have been'unsold stock' because nobody is buying![I'm not complaining, they are lovely items!!]
I am working hard on the Free Library thing - cutbacks in the UK mean if we don't use them we may lose them. Also visiting charity shops to donate, rather than to acquire.
And I continue to 'shop my stash' rather than buy crafting supplies.

We CAN do this if we keep encouraging each other!!

Happy new year to you and your crowd xx

Jo said...

Oh, Frances, you know I am absolutely on your side on this one. We all need to find our 'inner grannies' to save the pennies and the planet. Here's to an inordinate number of posts on inter-library loans. They are my favourite and my best!

wayside wanderer said...

My husband does our budget and right before the first of the year sent me a list of our top 5 grocery stores with what I spent at each one last year. YIKES! We eat a lot of food.

I hope you do blog more frequently. You are good at putting into words things that resonate with me.

Gumbo Lily said...

This is such an excellent post and most inspiring to me. I have not done the end-of-year tally but soon will be. I'm afraid I'll find the same results you did. I've had the imaginary budget-in-my-head for too long and ought to do better. No kids at home (although some of them still suck $$ out of us).

More posts? Yay! And please update on your budgeting ideas.


Sandy H said...

As an app person, I use Mint (also a website, for my budgeting. It's a free, secure site that you can hook up to your bank accounts and such--I started using it when we gave our kids credit cards when they went off to college. Said credit cards were to be for emergencies only. Said Mint was to track their spending and do some parental corrections when needed! That's no longer an issue for us, thank God, but now I use it for my own personal budgeting--I get text messages when one of my budget lines for the month is nearly maxed and I can check where I stand at any given time. My commitment in 2014 is, like you, to stay much more on top of my own spending in dribs and drabs, here and there, that eventually add up! Books and fabric, yes indeed.