Saturday, January 6, 2018

January Pseudo Austerity

I'm reading a lot about Jump Start January and no spend January and uber month of savings. These sound great to get my family budget tightened and invigorate some savings for 2018. The reality is we have some spendy things in January, and  I'm not thinking there will be a dime saved beyond what automatically comes out before we see our paychecks. First we will have some Christmas spending to pay for. While budgeted, we have gifts that didn't get on the credit card before the final statement of the year. We had some extra meals out, as we intended. However, in December we put away more than I had thought, mostly because we didn't yet have the expense on the credit card, so it balances out-just not for month end cash flow. 

The spending doesn't stop there. We'll need cash for three Show Choir competitions, including one where we stay two nights in a hotel, and will spend on an extra couple tanks of gas. The hotel will show up on February, but I'm counting in January as we'll need to tuck some funds aside. D2 turns 17 this month, so we'll spend on a gift and something fun with her friends.My brother turns 70 and some sort of party depending on what he feels up to due to his chemo cycles. We are still waiting on our contracts, so no raise, not even the cost of living adjustment. Health care went up and I increased both my life and short term disability, so for the near future, my paychecks will be down about $90 a month. To be short, January will not be an uber savings month. 

It's not all financial gloom. To ensure we at least do not go in the red, I'm going to pull some austerity measures. The trick will be to not let my family in on my self imposed challenges. I can't speak of it, as particularly DD2 will say, "I hate your grocery budget challenges." They will be there though, lurking in the background of our checkbook. 

January food, cleaning, and toiletry budget: Unless a stock-up buy (and then I'll count only the January use portion) keep to $350 or less. Use up all the ends of cleaning and hair products.Get creative in the kitchen with use of leftovers and for snacks on hand. I used this strategy to search for a recipe to use up leftover eggnog and made 7 mini loaves. We ate two right away and I brought two to my sisters, but two are int he freezer and the last is being finished up. I even froze the remaining cup and 1/2 of eggnog for another batch before end of the month. I used this All Recipes version of eggnog bread.  Soups and hot dishes will be January staples.  

No eating out-with exceptions: We will be somewhat required to eat from the concessions at the Show Choir competitions and will have at least one restaurant meal on route and back from Nebraska, but otherwise plan to take advantage of the included breakfast both mornings, and pack sandwiches and snacks for the road.  The random picking up take out or going out for a burger because we don't feel like cooking is not in the cards for January. I do have a chicken meal voucher that needs to be used by January 10th, so will use that for tomorrow as I'll be gone all day today chaperoning. I do have protein bars and a couple turkey sandwiches packed for today as well to cut down on soe of the consession costs. 

Stretch personal care expenses: I am due for a haircut and color in January. While I do not use a pricey salon and color my own hair, delaying just a few more weeks can get me to February $30 dollars richer. Over the year, stretching two more weeks each cycle will save me almost $90. Not huge, but I think my head will also thank me for the break. Did I ever mention that I do not enjoy haircuts at all and keep a very simple cut for that reason?

Frugal birthdays: While DD2 might still want to go out to a movie or something with friends, I think making a big spaghetti  dinner the one weekend she does not have show choir and letting her invite friends over is the way to go. For just what she might spend on a Chipotle burrito and drink, I can have dinner for eight kids, plus a homemade birthday cake. I think her friends parents might appreciate the break on their budgets as well. Of course this means sourcing the lowest cost ingredients. She also mentioned she would like to get a group of friends to do meal packets for Save My Starving Children, if the timing worked out. I'll need to call on Monday and see what slots they might have. 

My brother will get a batch of peanut butter cookies-so will my oldest sister who is  one year and one day younger than my brother. I have winterish tins to put them in. Another sister and a brother in law have January birthdays. For her, I snatched up a hand cream and lip balm set that doesn't even look Christmasy, and a cool looking magnetic bottle opener for my brother in law. Some craft beer will go nicely with it. 

Fiscal Review: We've identified several areas that we could potentially reduce our month to month expenses. One is to decrease our wine club membership back to the two bottle level from our current three. We could cancel entirely, though sometimes, it is what forces us to get out as we can be ridiculous home bodies. We  need to decide if we are going to let the land telephone line go. That's a tough one, but I struggle to think of the last real call we got on the house phone-probably DH's mom, who calls us on our cells phones regularly anyway. Ditching the land line will save $60 a month, not chump change when annualized.

I'm not looking for January to be a jump start month, just not a fall on our financial faces month. If you have other ideas to help me whittle the spending, please share. 


8 comments:

  1. The next time DD2 goes off on how she hates your grocery budget challenges maybe quell her reaction by producing a sheet with all the "extras" of hers you pay for(ie, show choir costs, if you pay for the gas she uses in your cars, buying her stuff, etc.).lolz
    Kids, even good kids, can quickly develop a raging sense of entitlement and need reminders. 8-)))

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    1. Oh yes! As much as she's not a "gimme" kind of kid, she's a bit clueless how much all the optional spending would tally up to.

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  2. Thank you for this post, Sam! I, too, have extra expenses every January that make it harder to participate in those frugal kick start challenges. I love your spin on this - thanks for inspiring me to think things more through for January rather than giving up on starting the year super frugal! I think I needed to reminder that things don't always have to be "all or nothing". =)

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    1. Our lives, our rules about savings strategies. Finding areas that are not too restrictive is important for me to have any real savings challenge progress.

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  3. Sam I’m a year dye free at the end of Jan it’s saved me a packet in time and money why not make 2018 the year you stop colouring your hair lol

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    1. I'm definitely not ready for that! Perhaps once I become a grandma, whihc is not in the near future.

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  4. I use Magic Jack for the landline. Somehow, I have it silenced and all calls show up on email. It costs me about $3 a month after the jack for the line. You no longer need to have a computer for magic jack. Plus, you can pull the jack out and take it with you. Cells might not work in a location, but the jack will plug into any electrical outlet. January is the month I have to pay for tags and a few other things, so being extra frugal would not work for me.

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    1. I will need to look into that as a mid solution. Thank you for the recommendation.

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