Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Frugal Reading

Making my own bread to save some dough!

I've been reading books on how to live more frugally. Number one bit of advice? Stop eating out so much. Cut those restaurant bills, I'm told, and you'll save thousands.

Only, we never eat out. Or hardly ever. Okay, so cut out those weekend get-aways! Those weekly bouquets of tulips! No more bottled water! Take your lunch to work and school! Wash and reuse those baggies!

Hmmm ... I think I need I need a book on frugality for people who are already sort of frugal but spend too much on fabric and yarn and books. I suppose it would be called Stop Spending So Much Money on Fabric and Yarn and Books!

I have mixed feelings about the frugality books I'm reading. On the one hand, I appreciate the tips (some of which are actually helpful, especially when it comes to using less energy around the house). On the other hand, there's often a "holier than thou" tone I could do without (as well as the "what kind of idiot would spend money on ____" shtick that you often find in books written by men. "Yeah, we used to be chumps like you suckers," writes Mr. Cheapskate Testosterone, "and then we stopped heating our house and saved thousands each year!").

A book I was reading last night suggested I stock up on crescent rolls when they're on sale so I could make homemade desserts with them. Does layering a pan of crescent rolls with chocolate chips really constitute a homemade dessert? Maybe, but I'm a little suspicious.

I am interested to see how low I can get my weekly food bill without causing the family to revolt. I'm committed to baking more, which should go over well, and to stretching out meals (which may prove less popular). Last night we had beef and noodle soup made from leftovers from the bottom roast we ate the night before. It was a three pound roast I'm determined to stretch out into at least three meals, possible four (though not in a row).

Other frugal reading? My credit card bill. I'm fairly good about scanning it from time to time online to make sure there's no suspicious activity (both the Man and my dad have had their accounts hacked). But now I'm determined to check daily. On Friday, a mysterious $46 charge showed up. After some sleuthing, I determined it was an automatic renewal for a quilt magazine subscription I'd given to my mom for Christmas 2012 (at a much lower rate, I might add).

I called the subscription agency and had a frustrating conversation with a computer, who spent a good three minutes trying to entice me to continue with the subscription (which my mom no longer wanted, by the way). Finally, I got it through the computer's thick head that I wanted no great deals, no free issues, nothing. By the end of the conversation I was yelling, "No! No! No! Just cancel it!"  Finally, sounding very sad about it, the computer promised to cancel the subscription.

So $46 that might have very well slipped under my radar has been saved! The trick now is to not spend it.

Back to the books. More soon!


GretchenJoanna said...

You could save time as well as money if you use the homemade bread to make a simple dessert of cinnamon toast!

Susan said...

The money saving tip that always gets me is "Limit trips to Starbucks to once a week." Seriously? I don't go to Starbucks more than once or twice a year. I've come to the conclusion that the people who write these books are really just trying to line their own pockets with cash-presumably to spend it daily at Starbucks.

Heather said...

I hate those automatic payments that seem to take money out of your account any ole' time they feel like it. I avoid signing up for those types of payments if I can help it. Those automatic renewals are written in such fine print that it is no wonder you weren't expecting the withdrawal.

I've read so many frugal books and blogs that I really don't know how much more I could learn from them. My husband used to make much less money and I really learned how to stretch that paycheck. I'm not quite as disciplined as I once was, but if we ever had to go back to that strict lifestyle, I know I could. It feels better to save money by choice rather than need.

Gumbo Lily said...

There's a blog I've been reading from lately. My daughter pointed it out to me. http://www.livingwellspendingless.com

One of the things she challenges herself and her readers to is a month without spending. In other words, you have to pay for your electric, gas, groceries, etc. but NO extras at all for one month. On the grocery end, she tells us to eat down the pantry, try not to buy at the grocery except for milk and fresh produce (even that limited). It's a good challenge that I want to do this month. I did order a pair of snowboots, but that was predetermined before the no-spend January. So far, so good.

I really want to dump our Dish Network TV and go to streaming TV (like Hulu) instead. We could save about $900 per year on that alone. Still figuring out how to do it with "country DSL."


wayside wanderer said...

Good catch on the magazine. We are frugal people, too, so I understand what you are saying. Your bread looks delish. That is an area I could work on...cooking more frugally.

Tracy said...

My most favourite frugal reading is finding really good Christian fiction books by favourite authors and some interesting non-fiction topics for my Kindle app from Amazon. All for free. Yes Ma'am, that is frugal.

I don't learn much from frugal how-to books anymore either. It seems I'm doing all I can do right now. Eating a few vegetarian meals each week and cooking from scratch with groceries that have been listed based on planned meals is the biggest thing. And getting teenaged children out of the shower in under 15 minutes. That would be desirable...and miraculous.

Danielle said...

I also find budget tips frustrating. Either the people they are talking about are living lives I don't lead with their fresh flower budget or they are drastically frugal. Where or where is the middle in ANY aspect of American life these days?

It seems that sensible moderation is a much more demanding habit than indulging in extremes. I know as I struggle with it as well.

puttermuch said...

Your homemade bread looks delicious!
For the past few years, I've tried to treat January as a sort of 'cleansing' month. I spend little or no money on things, other than what is needed for utility bills, basic groceries (no eating out this month, and fuel. I don't think anyone really notices since we find other things to entertain us. We usually bake more that month, play more games, watch free movies on the t.v. and actually have a really great time.
I just found your blog today....going to spend a little time reading through the archives :)