Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Marching to a Different Beat in 2008

(This photo was taken in my backyard a couple of days before Christmas. It must have been around 55 degrees that day. Cold for Southern CA)

I just made another pot of chicken veggie soup from scratch and it is probably the best one I've ever made. Of course, I say that each time I make a very tasty soup. The chicken was from the one I baked for myself on Christmas. I added the last of this season's fresh herbs from my garden plus the usual base of red bell pepper, garlic, onions, celery. Threw in some frozen green peas. Yummy!

In terms of my simple, frugal lifestyle, I learned more about what I can live without and altered a few practices throughout the journey:
  • I began driving to work again about 2 months ago after gas prices shot down far below what I paid summer of 2006 when I started taking the train/bus to work - 25 miles away from home. I learned more about community on the buses/trains of Los Angeles County and encountered the everyday extraordinary people you never hear about on the news. The advantage of taking the bus allowed me to read, on average, 2-3 books a month. I read mostly free library books.
  • I drive the street to/from work during rush hour so I don't sit in traffic and I enjoy driving through different communities.
  • I took my lunch to work every single day except for the one or two days when I forgot it. YIKES! It hurt to buy from the cafeteria. I brewed my own coffee each morning at about 11 cents a cup including my favorite creamers. You do the math of spending $4 a day on Stuckbucks coffee...never mind, I'll do it for you: comes to about $1460 a year.
  • I gave up buying bottled water except for the ones in my earthquake kit and bought 2 large reusable bottles for lunch and working out. I will miss my periodic trips to the recycling center to claim my $5 but the tap water does taste very good.
  • I reduced my DirecTV bill to the family plan which eliminated another $30 from my monthly expenses and forced me to stop watching all of the gloom and doom news. (I have been known to scream at the TV for the ridiculous programming they throw at us.) I average about 7-10 hours a week watching the TV I bought about 13 years ago.
  • I reduced my grocery bill by $60 to $100 each month by buying more of what I already like when it is on sale and freezing or storing it. (Lots of websites and blogs out there on the benefits of buying like this.) I still don't care for coupons, though. So, I just try to go the store every 8 to 10 days instead of once or twice a week.
  • I totally gave up red meat. I gave up pork years ago but I will sample it if I am invited to someone's house. I was still enjoying an occasional steak but I no longer miss it.
  • I reduced my visits to restaurants to about 1 or 2 a month, including my favorite Pollo Loco drive thru binge.
  • I paid cash for every single thing that I bought in 2008.
  • I was able to give over 10% of my gross income away and I never missed it. God has a way of making this all work out and it is essential to the way I've chosen to live.
  • Just received my water bill for December and I cut water usage for the 3rd month in a row: We received free rainfall over the last couple of weeks which directly affected how often I watered both front and back yards and I have consciously been washing larger and fewer loads. I bought more towels from Target a few months ago so that I could wash that load less often. Plus, I don't own that many clothes. I never wash my car at home and prefer the little drive thru one at the gas station. (I stopped going to full service car washes in 2008 and I vacuum the inside myself.)


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