Frugal February

Well, it’s February, and Frugal5 carries on!!

+ I got my tax refund last week, so I put that directly into my savings, which is a big deal for me…now I have my emergency savings fund all set up.

+ I put a big chunk of my paycheck this month towards my debt. It’s empowering to choose to be much more proactive about focusing on paying down my debt.

+ My friends have been super supportive of Frugal5, and that has been hugely helpful. I think we’ve made more of an effort to do things that are free, like movie nights, or at least cheaper than eating out, like dinner parties.

+ I need to work on meal planning for the rest of the month, so I can keep my spending down in that area.

That’s all for now!

 

Little (Now Forbidden) Luxuries

I would really like to buy a few nice new candles about now. Scented candles are one of those little luxuries in my life. My “little” splurge. But turns out, most of my favorite candles run in the $15-20 ballpark range, which isn’t so little when you are on a very tight budget.

b&b candles

I’d also like to buy a few new pairs of shoes. I do actually NEED a new pair or two for work, but I am going to see the cheapest pair I can find. Maybe Target or Payless. Besides, even when I buy high quality shoes, they seem to wear out really quickly, so why bother spending all that $$? I’d also love to buy some new accessories about now…especially earrings. But you know what? Ain’t nobody got money for that right now. When you are on the Dave Ramsey plan, or, in my case, the Frugal5, you have to toss aside the innate desire for novelty (and sometimes frivolity), embrace the items you have in your wardrobe, dress up your wardrobe with a smile, and keep your eye on the goal.

Fresh air is free!

Well, I had a lovely weekend, and not a cent spent on eating out or entertainment!

Yesterday morning I went on a lovely hike with a friend and got to enjoy the sunny weather, blue skies, and watching the ice melting in the forest of Beaman Park. The great new is that enjoying nature is always free – I love exploring the great outdoors, so I should make that an even bigger priority over the next 5 months. In fact, I have a book that lists 60 hikes within 60 miles of Nashville. I’d love to check as many of them out as possible! Here is some of the lovely scenery I got to see yesterday…enjoy!

IMG_0941

IMG_0942

IMG_0944

IMG_0945

IMG_0947

Missing out

I must be honest. I’ve been feeling a little sad today thinking of the things I would like to do this spring that I will have to forgo because of the Frugal 5. One thing I love about living in Nashville is the opportunity to see some great concerts and try out some awesome restaurants. Specifically, I am sad to miss:

1. Matt Kearney and Judah and the Lion Concert in April ($40)
2. Restaurant week next week ($25-50)
3. Music City Half Marathon in April ($120 + running supplies, etc)

Alas, it’ll all be ok. In more upbeat news, my first week of Frugal 5 is over, and I think I’ve done quite well, especially in regards to not eating out at all! I’m often tempted to run out and grab something quick at a restaurant on my lunch break or in between work and an evening activity, but I am happy to say that I made all my meals at home this week. Saving money, forward motion!!

Specific Goals for The Frugal 5

My specific goals for the next 5 months are as follows:

1. No eating out*
2. No money on entertainment (concerts, museums, movies, anything that requires an admissions fee)*
3. No trips besides Easter to visit my family
4. Cut grocery bill by 25%
5. No clothing purchases except those that are necessary to maintain a polished appearance for my job

All the money I save on the above items will be put towards the debt snowball.

** In order to not completely burn myself out, I am going to take out $25 in cash each month to use for an entertainment splurge. Depending on how I decide to use this, it could be for one dinner a month, or 5 coffees. But when it’s gone, it’s gone.

I would like to also try the cash/envelope system for my grocery bill allotment too. Buying healthy food is probably one of my biggest expenses – but I know if I did a better job with meal planning, I could save a substantial amount. I just have to set aside extra time for meal planning, prep, and grocery shopping rather than choosing the more expensive and more convenient items.

I have crunched the numbers and I do have a specific monetary goal for savings/debt repayment after the 5 months are up. I will report my progress on that not in specific dollar amounts, but in % of my goal. Thanks for coming along this journey with me! If you have any tips along the way from your own experience, by all means, I would love to hear them. ­čÖé Happy Saving!

Why I’m Doing the Frugal 5

Back in the fall, I read an article to the effect of “Things You Should Do Before You Turn 30.” I was reading it simply out of curiosity, but one of the bullet points really struck a chord in me. I don’t remember the specifics, but it was something to the effect of, “getting your finances under control.” After just a glance, I was convicted. “That’s what I need to do,” I thought to myself. I had a number of things going on over the next few months that necessitated that I push back my financial organization plan a few months back. I figured that it would be most realistic to start at the beginning of January 2015, and focus those next 5 months leading up to my 30th birthday on intentionally saving money and aggressively paying down my debt. I intend to continue these newly developed financial habits into my 30s so that the Frugal 5 lays the foundation for a more financially freeing life.

Although my debt is not crushing, it is to the point that it is substantial – it takes up a pretty hefty portion of my paycheck every month. between significant student loan debt, the last year of a car loan, and a significant amount of debt on two credit cards, it adds up to look like dizzying $$$$ in my brain. All those $$$$ leads me to feeling very overwhelmed, especially at the end of the month when I have paid all my bills and am trying to make ends meet. ┬áAnd so, I am determined to do something about it – to make progress beyond the simple paying the minimum payment every month on my debts – to pay down, and if at all possible, to pay off many off those debts in a timely manner.

My primary framework for The Frugal 5 is Dave Ramsey’s methods in his book Total Money Makeover. Although I can’t promise to follow them religiously, I will be using them as a guide to the best of my ability.

One of the reasons I wanted to start a blog to record my progress on this journey was because it is a way for me to automatically give myself transparent accountability, and a virtual check-in point. Furthermore, I am anticipating I will be learning a lot along the way, and I wanted to share that with others in my boat. Additionally, I think that being a single young professional adds a different flavor to the budget battle, with its unique set of┬ábenefits and challenges. In particular, it is difficult for single young adults, I think, to budget realistically and effectively within the entertainment category, because so much of our social and community structure revolves around GOING OUT (and spending money) with friends. Eating out, going to concerts, going on trips to visit family and friends, are all ways we connect, is an integral way with connect our social network. Many times, fellowship resolves around spending money. And if saving money means staying home and eating ramen noodles on my own…who wants to do that?!

So one of my goals, in doing this challenge, is to figure out creative ways to reformat my approach to entertainment and social activities that cost money. I am sure it will be a learning process, and I am sure I will learn a lot along the way.

Thanks for coming a long with me on this journey! I am excited and optimistic. Here’s to a frugal and fruitful 5!