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!