Friday, January 9, 2009

Frugal Friday; the Core of the Matter

Today was one of those days; a “money talk” day. You know ... the why are we working so hard and yet have no money discussion. December was a financially poor month for us. We barely met our fixed expenses and had little left-over for food, gas and debt reduction (not to mention gifts). December was simply not stellar. January is looking slightly better but now we have to pay for December’s excesses and look ahead to April 15th.

We are taking a cold hard look at our finances. Can we go down to one car? Should we cancel the kid’s extracurricular activities? Does the basic cable have to go? Our expenses have been pared down but we’ve allowed ourselves the above non-essentials. Should we refinance our house (it’s at a good 30-year fixed rate but we might be able to combine our first and second mortgages)? Can we refinance our house? Are there other ways to cut expenses?

And, on the other hand, can we increase our monthly income? I’ve put some of my yarn stash up on Ebay. I’m making a small income from freelance writing. Could we sell our plasma? I mean really, I’ve got the initials Dr. in front of my name and I’m thinking about selling plasma to meet expenses. This from a household with two people working full-time and not prone to excess. What is wrong with this picture?

Long story short I chose to invest in my clinic as a 1/11th shareholder. This veterinary business is making enough money for me to owe taxes but not enough money for share distributions to be made. There was not a gun to my head. I took a risk that, to date, has not paid off. At the same time, due to economic and other reasons, my monthly pay has also taken a hit. And now we have to find a way to make things work; to ride out this recession.


So, in the spirit of Frugal Friday here are some things I’m doing this week to save money:

*Shopping at home for gifts. And I mean literally at home. This week our friend turns 30 (ah -- youth). She’ll be getting two very nice hand-thrown ceramic bowls and a lovely set of chopsticks. We love the bowls. We bought them for ourselves. But they get little use and are therefore getting a new home. Don’t you know ... appropriate re-gifting is now chic.

*Along the same lines ... I made my own gift-wrap. I used scrap material to sew a simple re-usable gift bag and topped it off with a recycled ribbon. A homemade gift card will complete the package. It's frugal and environmentally responsible!

*Walk more, drive less. Yesterday I used my feet to run errands. Tonight I’m going to walk to work. And yes, it will be cold. And yes, after working all night I’ll have to walk home. It’s okay. I can meditate and appreciate nature, exercise and save money in one fell swoop.

*Eat at home. Tonight is chicken enchilada casserole. We’ll make it this afternoon and I’ll hoof it to work for dinner.

*Use left-overs. Tomorrow is chicken enchilada casserole.

*Use the library. On my reading list this week: Yankee Magazine’s Living Well on a Shoestring.

*Sell un-used items on Ebay or Craigslist. Some of my yarn stash is up for bid should anyone be interested.

Today I am grateful for:

*A husband who canceled brunch with his friends to save money. Instead he’s doing dishes and going grocery shopping.

*Beautiful babies who watch library movies in dappled sunlight.

*The ability instantly process photographs on my computer (I’m sorry digital photography, it took me a while to warm up to you).


Happy Frugal Friday!


Gayle said...

Shalet, I hope your investment starts to pay off for you soon. You have some really great money saving ideas here. I love your "grateful for" photo. Your little girl is so beautiful with the sun shining on her!

Bridge said...

I hope it all works out. Any consolation, we are also struggling and paring down. No more credit cards, vacations at hotels and them parks, no new clothes, no eating out and thinking about each and every single purchase. Its been my 12-year-old's nightmare, really.

On a lighter note a friend is taking me out for sushi to repay me for helping her move. Yay! I have also prepared spinach, black bean enchilada casserole for tomorrow! Great minds think alike!

Donna said...

It seems frugal is on a lot of people's lists this year (including ours) which makes it really nice. My s-i-l and I have just made a pledge to give handmade gifts only this year. So all birthday and Christmas presents given between our families are going to be all made by hand. I have a whole heap of fabric bits and pieces to make into toys and little handbags. I am giving my niece a sewing kit for her birthday made from extras out of my own sewing box. We have cut back to one car and so far that's working out fact in gives my husband and I some extra time together in the morning to talk as I drop him off at his work. So cutting back can have some perks...its all in the way you look at it. I'm thinking of you can be tough when things are tight thats for sure!

Anonymous said...

I hear ya friend! December is a hard month ALL around, I'm sure. I keep looking to the new year too. Between Jan and the summer months we don't have any bdays or extra expenses so I am hoping we can catch up, spend less, etc.

Meadowlark Days said...

These are good ideas. I'm trying to cut back, too.