Over the last month I have been trying out some new frugal habits. Here are five of my top things (in no particular order) that are pretty new habits to me and are definite keepers for my new frugal lifestyle.
1. Strict Budgeting
Whilst the concept of budgeting is not new to me – I’ve always set aside money into a separate account to cover bills, I’ve never really focused on what I am spending the remainder of my income on. This last month has made me realise just how much money I have been wasting on unnecessary items.
2. Saving fat and bones
Yes I have been saving fat from meals and using it for things like frying, roasties and Yorkshires. I’ve always saved bones from roast chickens but now I’m saving smaller quantities and adding it to a bag in the freezer for stock making.
3. Saving all bags
Before this month I only used to save carrier bags or paper bags for reuse, but now I am saving all sorts of food bags too such as the ones from rice, bread and apples. I try and fill these up with rubbish first before going onto carriers bags or proper bin bags.
4. Dehydrated peel powders
I have reduced my food waste considerably by using my dehydrator to make powders from the peel that would normally be thrown away. I’ve made orange peel powder and flakes for use as a flavouring and teas. I’ve also started dehydrating veg peelings to add to soups and stews etc. It is possible to save peelings in the freezer for stock making, but I never have enough room so dehydrating is the way forward.
5. Citrus vinegar for cleaning
I love the citrus peel vinegar, it’s a better cleaner than commercial cleaners, it smells pleasant and doesn’t upset my asthma. I’m a definite convert.
I always find it a real struggle to keep going in January. I am permanently tired and when the alarm goes off I just keep snoozing it. I’ve also been hit by one of those annoying viruses where you aren’t ill enough to be off sick, but it wipes you out. This particular one has affected my hearing.
Having said that I am proud that I have almost made it to the end of the month without slipping into any of my bad spending habits. I am still well within the budgets and have achieved a surprising amount of things.
What I am pleased with
- Digging part of the allotment
- Using the dehydrator to make powders and actually using them in foods
- Entertaining friends using what was in the house and less than £10 on mixers and snacks
- Creating some nice soups and slow-cooker meals
- Sticking to the food I’ve taken to work and not purchasing snacks
- Being a bit more sociable
- Getting a couple of minor home repairs done
- Giving away a couple of small items
- Going for lots of lunchtime walks
- Just surviving without going off sick or breaking my resolutions
I’ve decided that February is going to be find it and file it February. This means that I am going to try and get on top of my paper work, my planned projects and find some motivation and energy.
My one major project that I want completed by the end of February is that the paper clutter is no more. The boxes in my bedroom currently full of crap will be empty and moved so that I can try and keep on top of things for the rest of the year.
Other plans for the month are to
- Dig over the rest of the allotment
- Make up some herbal teas for work
- Harvest some “weeds”
- Create a list of cards and presents I will need to send this year and work out what can be hand made
- Blog more
- Replace a zip in a dress that has needed doing
- Spend less time on Facebook and Pinterest
- Start on one present or card
It will just start with picking up one piece of paper and dealing with it.
The year is disappearing at a rapid rate. I can’t believe I am already 16 days into my challenge. Although the last couple of weeks have flown by I am already starting to feel some positive health benefits from my challenge.
I have been sticking to my set budgets and haven’t spent anything on non essentials or take away food. One day I forgot my breakfast and rather than break my resolution I went without. I did have an empty rumble by lunchtime (which luckily I had remembered) but it was almost satisfying because it reminded me that I was sticking to my goal. I love the fact that my purse, handbag and pockets are not full of sweet wrappers and receipts and I don’t have shopping to put away when I get home.
So far we have been blessed with some reasonably mild weather for January so I have been making the most of it. Most lunchtimes I have left my handbag at work and just gone for a quick 30 min brisk walk. I’m lucky to have a choice of pleasant scenery. I’ve also managed to get on the allotment and one sixth is already dug over and cleared ready for rotovating.
Despite indulging in the odd leftover Christmas treat I have lost over 4 lbs in the first 2 weeks and my chronic indigestion has pretty much disappeared. The slow cooker is getting a lot more use and some of the meals have been delicious. Tonight’s slow-cooked dish was a cheap turkey thigh joint which just fell off the bone after 12 hours on low. Tasted much nicer than the Christmas turkey.
My mind feels clearer and more organised although there is still a long way to go. I wasn’t able to obtain a free diary this year and in the spirit of no spend. I’ve just put important dates in as private appointments in my electronic work calendar. It does mean I can’t access it outside of work but I am writing the week and month appointments on a piece of paper along with my ‘to-do’ list which I renew each week and it seems to be working.
I’m loving the homemade citrus vinegar cleaner and bicarbonate of soda, it’s far more effective than commercial kitchen cleaner and I can’t feel it affecting my breathing. I will eventually use it in the bathroom too, but am still working my way through all the existing cleaning products. I’ve switched to vinegar instead of rinse aid in the dishwasher. Seems OK. I have been using half the amount of washing liquid and replacing with bicarbonate for clothes washing. It didn’t seem to be as effective on lighter colours with stains. I will try pre-treating next time. It’s fine on the darker clothes. I’ve been substituting vinegar for fabric softener and again seems fine.
It’s also easier to say no to things that I don’t want to do!!! I have a ready made reason.
I don’t want to get too carried away with my enthusiasm because it is the start of the year and we had a lot of leftovers from Christmas so the budgets might not look so healthy further down the line, but I really am feeling so much better for it already!