Reflections on life, marriage, and a young woman who is constantly learning how much there will always be to learn!

Friday, February 24, 2006

Buying Freedom with My Frugality

Micah and I are on a mission to "buckle down and tighten up" on our finances. We agree that we would rather have freedom from debt and from full-time employment for someone else (for me, and hopefully, eventually for him too) than things, things and more things. Things not only cost money to buy, they cost money to maintain. I don't want to fritter my life away just so I can have things. I'd rather, my LIFE!

Amy Dacyczyn writes:

Tightwaddery without creativity is deprivation. When there is a lack of resourcefulness, inventiveness, and innovation, thrift means doing without. When creativity combines with thrift you may be doing it without money, but you are not doing without.

We're not trying to go ultra-crazy here. We like nice things! We have no desire to subsist completely off of beans and rice and ramen noodles. I don't plan to try to find a way to re-use dryer lint. But with a little creativity and knowledge, we're already finding ways to get more with less!

We're starting with a complete financial evaluation. Here's what's come of that evaluation so far:
  1. We realized that for some unknown reason, neither one of us took the initiative to cancel an old internet service that has been charging us $13.00 a month, even though we haven't been using it for the past 5-6 months. Why??? I cancelled it this morning (after searching high and low to find their company's contact information. They don't make it easy on cancellers, I'll tell you that!)
  2. I called our car insurance company this morning to inform them that I'm not driving my car as much now since I'm working at home. (I had read that companies will often lower your premiums if there is a diminishment in how much you drive). Unfortunately, they did not lower my premiums. But they did inform me that if Micah and I both take an online defensive driving course (for a total cost of $40.00), that will reduce our premiums by about $80.00/6 months over a period of three years. So we can save $440.00 over three years by taking the course. It is beneficial to call up your insurance company and inquire about any discounts you may be missing on your premiums!
  3. As I mentioned in an earlier post, we are planning to switch to flourescent lightbulbs to save on energy costs. We can buy flourescent bulbs at $1.59 apiece at Sam's. In order to give out the same light that a traditional 60-watt bulb would give, a flourescent lightbulb only requires about 13 watts of electricity. Furthermore, they last 5-7 years (with 3-4 hrs of usage/day). Flourescent bulbs seem to have come a long way in the past few years. It claims on the packaging that they are quiet and don't "flicker" when you turn them on.
  4. I'm also doing my part to save energy costs during the day by only turning on lights when really necessary. Thankfully, we get a decent amount of sunlight in most of our rooms if I just open the blinds!
  5. I'm completely studying into how I can save on groceries and still have good meals. Like I said, we're not into ramen noodles! I'll try to do a separate post on this sometime soon, as it's a big topic.
  6. I'm reading books such as The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn, and anything else I could find at my local library about frugality. Amy's book is HUGE (over 900 pages!) and looks like a telephone book. It will take me a while to get through that one! But already I've found some great inspiration and ideas.
  7. We're re-evaluating our budget and vowing to stick with it more closely.

If anyone's interested (and even if they're not, because this is my blog;o) I'll share ideas as I learn more about living frugally--and still living well!


Blogger zan said...

Is the cost of living high where you guys live?

2:44 PM, February 24, 2006  
Blogger Erin said...

Not terribly, compared to places like the East and West coasts. But since we do live in the shadow of the fourth largest city of the U.S., we do get hit with some of the higher costs of living found in large cities!

3:15 PM, February 24, 2006  
Blogger Kristen said...

I'm TOTALLY interested and will be watching for updates on this topic. Ryan and I are buying a house (YAY!)--and we should have gotten this whole "frugality" thing together a long time ago. ;) I would love to blab with you all day about this topic! And thanks for the great tips.

3:47 PM, February 24, 2006  
Blogger Samantha said...

Those are all great ideas! I am especially interested in the tip on car insurance. I would love to learn more about living frugally. I still have so much to learn :)

6:00 PM, February 24, 2006  
Blogger Mrs.B. said...

I'm definitely interested, please write more.

One nice thing about living in a bigger city is competition. Groceries tend to cost less in bigger cities and so do other things like furniture because it's easier to find deals. Since moving to a small town about a year and a half ago we've found this out the hard way!

I can't STAND floresant(sp?) lighting. The people here had it all through the house and I took them all out. That might partly be because we live in the midwest so we don't get as much light as Texans do! (o:

11:18 AM, February 25, 2006  
Blogger Erin said...

Mrs. B- what was it about the flourescent lights that you didn't like? (I need to know before we go out and buy a bunch of them! Actually, maybe it would be a good idea to buy just a couple and try them out first)

11:49 AM, February 25, 2006  
Blogger Mrs.B. said...

Well Erin, it might be like I said in my comment about me living in the the winter time we get a lot of cloudy, gloomy days and I will actually crave sunlight....however you living in Texas might not have that issue.

Also, they put off a yellow, unflattering light that makes my hair color look weird and my skin look 'icky'. (Notice how you look in an office or beauty salon that has flourescent lights above).

I like bright clear light and have even been known to pay extra for the light bulbs that put out more of a crystal clear light. It makes me feel more energetic and puts me into a better mood. I painted my bathroom a certain color and my bathroom has flourescent lighting in it and the color looks AWEFUL...however when we change the fixture the color will look better because I've seen the paint in natural light and the color looks great. Flourescent bulbs put out a 'yellow' light that can make a color or person look sallow.

I must say that I haven't tried them in my lamps so that might be different. Also, you might not have that same need for light that I do. Buying a few to try sounds like a good idea.

Bottom line for me is that, for me, it's worth the extra expense to have bright, clear, sparkly light in my house during the dull,, grey gloomy days of winter.

1:26 PM, February 25, 2006  
Blogger Mrs.B. said...

Oh, something else, Erin. I think solar energy is great! The only thing I'd be careful of is it can make reselling your house a little more difficult. My husband and I didn't buy a certain house because it had these big, bulky solar panels on the roof and we knew that it would be a turn-off for future home buyers. Maybe they've improved the look of the panels since then though.

I'm not trying to be bossy, just a different perspective. And if you're planning on living in your house for the whole of your life then of course you're free to customize more. Everyone's situation is different. We just knew that with my husband's job there was a chance of moving and we wanted a house that would be easy to sell in that event. (o:

1:33 PM, February 25, 2006  
Blogger Carrie said...

Another great topic, Erin! I will definitely enjoy reading all your write on this. We have the fluorescent bulbs in everything in our house, and like them fine. A lot of our lighting is lamps, though. I think they have definitely saved us some money . . . but I would think if you just bought a few to try, that would be best, since then you would know if you liked them or not.

Saving on groceries is something that is hard for me, too. It's as Mrs. B said--everything is more expensive when you live in a small town, and the only 2 stores are a grocery store and super Walmart. I read about people that get these incredible deals on things and think, "They must live in the city!" :)

8:47 PM, February 25, 2006  

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