Frugal Month – Week 1 Recap

A recap of our first week, inspired by the Frugalwoods Uber Frugal Month:

Day 1 – $99 annual credit card fee + mortgage

Day 2 – $20 babysitting + $108.78 electric bill

Day 3 – $91.53 groceries + $25 gas (Mr. BPR’s car) + $13.65 for mailing a package

Day 4 – $29 gas (Mrs. BPR’s car)

Day 5 – $1 tip at a bar

Day 6 – $13.06 groceries

Day 7 – $22.40 TSA fee + $3.16 grocery (cake mix and icing for the bday party tomorrow)

Total = $426.58 (excluding the mortgage)

I’m actually pretty happy with how we’re doing so far. The annual credit card fee may seem like a no-no, but we’ve started diving into travel hacking and already have a trip planned next month where a week-long hotel stay will be covered entirely in points – this fee will more than pay for itself. The $22.40 today is a mandatory TSA fee for booking a flight this fall, for a trip I’ll be taking with my sister to celebrate her birthday – the flight/hotel will be also paid for using credit card points.

Babysitting – As I mentioned in my initial post, this is our sanity saver. We take weekly dance lessons (we prepaid for the year to take advantage of a discount) – tons of fun, great exercise, and about the only chance we get on a regular basis to spend time together without kid interruptions. It’s truly the highlight of my week.

Groceries – Mr. BPR wrote a detailed post about this, ahem, issue. It’s embarrassing to see on a graph just how much we were spending each month. The peak of spending occurred when we were both working full-time, which I’ll also add was more than a traditional 40 hour work week (does anyone actually work a 40 hour week?!). We also kept adding to our brood, and not only do more kids = more food, but it also means less time to do just about everything else in our life. We were both too busy to meal plan or really look at ways to save money. It was pure survival mode. The result was a ton of food waste. Yes, some of the savings we’ve seen has been due to limiting ourselves to buying only what’s on the list or looking for deals, however, we used to waste SO.MUCH.FOOD. We’d buy produce, but it would spoil before we could finish it. We would prepare a big meal and put the extra in the fridge for leftovers, which we would pick at but never finish. I felt like I was constantly purging old food from the fridge every few weeks. Currently we still prepare large portions, but immediately put the leftovers in the freezer. When we (who am I kidding, this is all Mr. BPR now) have a crazy day and don’t have time to cook, we pull something out of the freezer instead of getting fast-food or carry-out. It’s a win-win for the budget, and the waistline.

The $1 tip? We were invited to a charity event – a friend had donated money and had extra tickets. The night was free for us, and included food and drinks. Bonus date night! Free babysitting via Grandma.

The $13.65 spent on mailing a package was more than offset by selling an unused item on Ebay. Over the past few months we’ve started selling stuff we no longer use on Ebay and Craigslist. Mostly furniture (like the gorgeous cherry bar we finally decided to part with after dragging it through two moves), random electronics (Mr. BPR’s kryptonite), and tools (we are not handy people). I hate clutter, so it’s refreshing to see our house more open and clean. Keep it coming!

Gas is, well, gas. This is the gray-area discretionary – I have to drive to work and the kids “need” to go to various activities. At least our cars get decent gas mileage and are paid off. Mine is getting close to 100k miles – fingers crossed it keeps ticking!

So where did we save this week? Mr. BPR has started working on basic video editing, and quickly realized the webcam and phones we have are less than ideal for this purpose. I have a Canon Rebel digital SLR, but it’s 8 years old at this point and was made before the era of including video. In the past we would have searched for a better (expensive) option like a GoPro and immediately clicked “buy now.” We may ultimately end up with a GoPro, but first we’re going to try and work with what we have.

We attended a kid’s birthday party today, and needed to come up with a present. Normally we would hit up a toy store, but with the current focus on frugality we spent a few minutes thinking outside the box, and realized we had a brand new unused item in our house we had purchased a few months ago which is totally up this kid’s alley. Score!

I gave up my regular latte purchases this week. Not going to lie, this one was hard. We already brew our own pot of coffee each morning so I start the day with a frugal cup, but when my day gets stressful (which happens frequently), I immediately go to the coffeeshop and buy a $4 can’t-recreate-myself delicious latte. I haven’t yet found a replacement for this outlet, though I think my next month’s challenge is going to be meditation which will hopefully help. In the meantime, I’m going to focus on all of the money I’ll be saving. Using a compound interest calculator, with a conservative 5% interest rate and 30 year return, it’s amazing to see how much money this can free up over the long run. A less conservative though perhaps more common 8% interest rate yields even more savings. Maybe Mr. BPR can explain why we use the more conservative return rate – he’s the finance guru. I’m happy to err on the side of caution – I’d rather be pleasantly surprised by extra money than come up short.

Assuming 5% interest, all from no more lattes!

Assuming an 8% interest rate:

I’m anticipating this upcoming week is going to be a lot harder. Our oldest son’s birthday party is tomorrow and he really wanted to go to Chuck E Cheese (spoiler: it’s not cheap). I also have the week off of work, a “perk” of working regular evenings/weekends –  the added free time in the past meant I would go online and start shopping/spending. Since this is the month of no new clothes and no Amazon, I’ll have to find other ways to spend my time instead of my money. My time off is also when we try to do fun activities as a family, so we’ll need to find some frugal things to do locally. I do love a good challenge!

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