Quantcast Finally Frugal: July 2008

The bumpy road to financial independence. . . .


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Yet another reason to avoid pre-packaged foods. . .

As part of my frugal adventure, I've cut my grocery bills by buying less pre-packaged foods and cooking more of my own meals from scratch. Not only does this save me money, it cuts down on the amount of plastic and other items that go straight to the landfill (even recycling is a drain on resources. . .).

Now, as if to add more weight to this, I came across an article in the Los Angeles Times that discusses the toxins that are present in food packaging. Carcinogenic toxins! The EPA is considering regulating this type of packaging (great for the environment and great for us) but this hasn't happened yet.

So, just one more reason to buy fresh foods and avoid those packaged mini-pizzas and other 'convenience' foods. Not only will they steal money from your wallet, they may also steal your health. . . .

Monday, July 21, 2008

Frugal update. . .

Okay, I know I said I'd be back in August, but I have two little pieces of good financial news I wanted to share:

1. Since I've been committed to taking the bus wherever I can, leaving the car in the garage, I managed to get through all of June and most of July without re-filling my gas tank! I just filled up yesterday, and am hoping not to visit the gas station until at least the end of August. We'll see!

2. I've written before about the possibility of my labor union going out on strike, which has not only struck fear into my frugal little heart, it's also caused me to stop paying my credit card off so quickly. I wanted to put extra money into my emergency fund, which grew to about $1600. Well, the good news is that my union has struck a 'tentative' deal with the university. Now all we have to do is vote to ratify the agreement, and a strike will be avoided! AND, I'll receive a small raise as well, which will definitely help! I'm looking forward to getting back to credit card repayment, hopefully as early as next month!

Enjoy the rest of July~~~I certainly intend to!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A temporary holiday. . . .

Whew! Who knew that when the sun came out (finally!) my life would rev up so dramatically! In attempting to get the most out of every ray of sunlight in Oregon (after a cold winter and freezing spring spent indoors, huddled under blankets), I've let my blog languish.

To be fair to all of you (if you're still there at this point!) I think I will take a temporary breather from blogging. I am still working diligently on my credit card repayment AND my emergency fund, and while I'm not doing as well as I had been, I'm still making some progress.

My car died on Sunday, which cost $300 (it was the starter---it could have been much worse, I know!). Luckily, I had my emergency fund, and used it appropriately. I'm ashamed to admit that I've been less than diligent about keeping track of each penny as it leaves my life. June was busy, and July has been equally so.

I am promising myself that I will start again in August, not just with keeping track of my finances, but also in taking care of my blog---I think it must be no small coincidence that when I began to de-prioritize the blog, tracking my finances also became a lower priority.

Two more weeks of July, and then I'm back on board with Finally Frugal in August! I hope all of you, wherever you are, are having lovely, sunny, family and friend-oriented summers.

See you in a couple of weeks!

Friday, July 4, 2008

A Frugal Fourth. . . . .

I'm in California, celebrating the Fourth of July with family. While I did spend a bit to come down here, it was less than my budgeted $200 ($192, to be exact) for my airline ticket. Since I'm staying with family, my housing costs are nothing, and the activities we've planned are no-cost or low-cost. All in all, a very frugal holiday!

If you haven't yet planned your Fourth of July festivities, here are some tips to keeping the costs low this year:

  • Have a barbeque! Ask invitees to bring something for the grill, something to drink, or a dessert or side dish. You can create a fun event without having to take on the entire cost yourselves.

  • Keep it simple. Create foods from scratch, when possible (home made potato salad, for example) and when that isn't possible, buy your hot dogs and buns on sale or in the store brand rather than paying for the pricier name brands.

  • Borrow what you need. Need a BBQ? Frisbees? A croquet set? Why not try asking neighbors or friends and family if they have what you need? This could save some money (and some trips to Target) and you won't end up purchasing things that you'll use only a few times a year.

  • Watch fireworks for free. In Oregon, there are tents set up everywhere selling fireworks. I'm sure many people spend hundreds of dollars on this stuff (judging by the fact that I begin hearing bangs and explosions at least a week before the 4th, and at least a few days after as well). Why buy your fireworks, when there are professional shows in almost every county in the country?

I wish all of you a safe, happy Fourth of July!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Are there benefits to $4 gas?

According to Time Magazine, there are! Personally, as I've mentioned before, the rise in gas prices hasn't hurt my budget too much---in fact, I think I'm spending less to keep my car gassed because I've started taking the bus to work instead of driving to the Max transit center. However, I know a lot of you out there are hurting. Here are some (arguable) benefits to paying over $4 for a gallon of gas!

1. Less pollution: people are driving less, taking public transportation or carpooling more, which means less pollution in the air. That's a good thing!

2. Four-day workweeks: one of my coworkers is actually trying to think of ways to propose this to our director. By coming in to the office one fewer day a week, she can save on gas and parking fees. Many other companies are allowing this, with the benefits extending beyond saving money. People tend to call in sick less and produce more when they're on a reduced workload.

3. Moving closer to work. I think (and real estate agents are confirming) that people will begin looking at moving closer to their places of work, rather than living in McMansions in the suburbs and driving an hour or more to get to the office. This could create mini-communities within city limits---smaller yards, less room for 'stuff', but possibly better relationships with neighbors and utilization of local grocery shops, cafes and restaurants.

4. More frugality. As we spend more at the pump, we are becoming more creative about saving in other areas, like grocery shopping and utilities. Growing our own food and monitoring our energy usage helps save money and contributes to a greener world.

5. Better health. This might be a stretch. But think about it: if we're walking more, eating more locally grown produce, and purchasing less packaged (aka: expensive) food, might it follow that we're in better health? I guess the effects of this won't be known, if ever, for years, but I enjoy thinking about it all the same!

In struggling financially, I also struggle to find the silver lining, and this article in Time helped me do that. If you're interested, there are five more 'benefits' to high gas prices, outlined in the article.

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