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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Recession for the Lewis House = Frugality makeover

This recession has us Lewis' thinking. We have been thinking this for a while now that we would like to be less wasteful in our home. We were thinking this due to the environment and how poorly it is treated every day but also the economy and how noone uses anything up or wears anything out anymore. I (Erica) grew up with a mother who did not buy a new pair of shoes until her pair was worn out completely. She might have a pair of atheletic shoes, a pair of heels, a pair of flats, and a pair of sandals but nothing got purchased until the last pair was absolutely past it's prime and going straight toward its demise. I will absolutely admit that I don't live that way. My closet floor is absolutely mounded up with shoes that belong to me and some of them have been worn maybe once.

Anthony grew up with a mom who saved ziploc bags and washed them out to reuse them, never purchased a chip clip because she would use the binder clips that you get at stationary and office supply stores. This is going a bit further than my own family went. I grew up with quite a bit of money to speak of where as Anthony grew up in a single parent home with 2 younger brothers so when you have 3 teenage boys, extra is hard to come by. His mother did a great job and provided well for them but there was not a whole lot of extra to be wasteful. Anthony has such great stories of being young and all three of the boys going into the store for their mom individually to get $5.00 turkeys on sale because you could only purchase 2 turkey's each so that meant they all went in to get a total of 8 turkeys for the bargain price of $40.00 and they had every dish that turkey could make for a few months. He also tells me stories of his mom making a great deal of spaghetti and they had spaghetti every day until every bite was eaten and then she would make a different meal that could span several days. My husband now still is so good about eating leftovers and never complaining if we don't have something new every single night.

All of this to say, we have somewhat deviated from our roots. I grew up in the midwest where noone would spend even half of what they spend out here for a cup of drip coffee. I have become one of these yuppy starbucks fanatics who pays upwards of $3.00 for a cup of drip coffee when I could make it at home for pocket change. I am sad to say I am contributing to the economic and environmental crises and it's time to make some changes. Since graduation is right around the corner for me (4 weeks actually) I have some more time to manage my home. I have decided that our goal for 2009-2011 is to become debt free and to become more frugal and less wasteful. I am going to start from the beginning in things that are in our daily lives. Here are a few starting goals so that we can start to make a difference:

1. Plan meals according to what is on sale

I already do this one pretty naturally because I don't like to pay more for things I could pay less for. I already clip coupons religiously and really plan out our monthly meals. I usually make a menu for a full month using our Stater Bros. ads or other places that might have good deals. I then take those ads and add them to our coupons and end up paying pocket change sometimes for full meals. I sometimes even get things free by using manufacturer coupons added to store sales. For example, Anthony loves Lemon cake and I noticed that Stater Bros. had cake for $1.00 a box. I had a 50 cent coupon for them so I paid 50 cents for a box of lemon cake and then got the icing for $1.00 as well so $1.50 and we had lemon cupcakes! That's a deal! Our grocery budget runs about $200.00 a month with me doing this. This includes our household supplies like toliet paper, cleaning supplies, paper towels, etc...

2. Make bigger meals and eat leftovers

This is good for a couple of reasons. Sometimes I will make a big dish in my slow cooker and this is good for energy saving as well as money. I also feel it really helps with time management because I am a busy wife so throwing dinner in the crock pot and coming home to it cooked and having one dish to wash is always a plus. Also, it means that I don't have to cook the next day as we just heat up leftovers. Recently I made a dish called crock pot lasagna and Anthony ate it both nights that I was in class which made me feel less guilty since he wasn't eating microwave burritos or sandwiches but was having a warm homecooked meal. This is also beneficial because bulk packed meat is often cheaper and if you make it all at once like a large roast, you can cut up the roast the next day and make beef stew. This is very helpful to make your grocery dollars go a long way and save on your energy bill with only cooking every couple of days.

3. Don't drink soda, drink water and when you do, use a refillable bottle.

This one is essential. We drink water at our house. We have an account with Arrowhead water where we have a water cooler and get 5 gallon bottles delivered to our home every month. We get 4 bottles which lasts us exactly a month and they recycle their large bottles. This runs us around $30 a month. We then have refillable plastic bottles (make sure these are safe kinds of plastic) and we refill them and take water with us where we go. We do not buy soda which can be high priced and when we do have a soda or bottled juice out we always recycle the packaging! Soda is also REALLY bad for your health so in that respect we save on medical bills from declining health. Drinking tons of water keeps us from getting the virus' that go around sometimes and keeps our bodies working the way they should. This is the biggest tip in our house is that water is our main beverage of choice. We sometimes make a pot of coffee or a jug of sweet tea made with splenda but for the most part, our house never sees soda!

Here are our starter tips that are already working. We are going to be working on paying down debt, making our house more frugal and considering purchases much more before making them. We hope that you will be with us on this journey and start to make changes in your own home!

Love from the Lewis'

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