Friday, January 30, 2009

Bare Bones Living in February

The blogger at Frugalista Files is pledging to spend money only on the neccessities in February. I've been cutting back since 2005 so my efforts are now my lifestyle.

When I first began, I scrutinized how money was leaving my wallet and bank accounts. To this day, each week, I ask myself, "Is there something else I can cut back on...something that I really don't need."

A few of my first reductions in 2005:
  • Turned off the lights when I left a room and decreased my electric bill by at least 30%.
  • Refusing to turn on the air conditioner until it was unbearable and wear sweaters or robes during winter to reduce heating costs. (LA County weather) BTW, during the hot, hot summer days, I plan to be out of my house between noon and 3 so that I don't need to use my AC. It's the best time to use someone else's AC at the library, market, etc.
  • Discontinued long distance service on my home phone. (I'm not ready to eliminate the home phone yet, but it has crossed my mind several times.)
  • Eliminated voicemail and bought a standard answering machine. They are cheap, reliable, and without monthly service fees.I also got rid of cordless phones in the house because I had to replace the batteries too often.
  • Reduced use of my cell phone to less than 400 minutes a month. No extras. BTW, I've had the same cell phone since 2003. I can't make myself buy another one because this one still works: I've never replaced the battery. Trust me, I was very tempted just before the holidays with all of the ads but I didn't give in to it. I won!
  • Dropped my gym membership and began using city parks and slopes. I rejoined this past summer for one year, one gym location only - the cheapest way to go and no monthly payments. I insisted on paying in cash, up front, and I was able to get a special Internet rate. When it expires this summer, I will return to the city parks and maybe buy a favorite piece of equipment - but I seriously doubt it.
  • Changed from cable and cable modem to satellite and DSL. I dropped at least $40 a month and that was 4 years ago. Recently, I dropped to the lowest package on the satellite service - another $30 off the monthly bills.
  • Stopped eating out often and began cooking and freezing more. I became a little phobic for a while because this action alone helped me drop 10 pounds in a few months. I seriously began questioning ingredients in restaurant food.

These days, I am always searching and sharing with others in the frugal village to see what I can live without and add what I want more of in community living. I am saving for big emergencies and big purchases: If my little 14 year-old truck with almost 200,000 miles dies, I will have to replace it. Right now, it's still humming along but I am a realist and I've started pricing used cars online. Otherwise, I have no intention to buy anything really big in 2009.

My favorite vacation spot is HOME! When I have time off, it's nice to be cozy right here and free to live without any type of schedule. I nap and roam wherever, whenever and I absolutely love it. Freedom!

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