Frugal February

Amanda Witman
By Amanda Witman on Thu, Jan 31, 2013 - 12:52pm

I admit it:  December and January throw me for a loop where frugality is concerned.  There are splurges related to the holidays, some kind of illness/cold/virus going around that "justifies" buying prepared foods or unusual supplements, and the winter depression/cold that begs to have spirits lifted by...well, extra measure to comfort us and keep us cozy.  And then there are the pre-holiday and post-holiday sales, both local and online, that seem impossible to pass up (especially with four rapidly growing children who needs shoes, clothing, and homeschool supplies).  Between the holidays and the inevitable post-holiday slump, I get behind in my usual (reasonably) tight accounting, and then I have to catch up and figure out where we're at. 

So I hereby declare February to be Frugality Month.  It's time to assess and use up more of the stored food from last summer, especially those winter squashes.  It's time to balance the checkbook and make up any deficiency with increased frugality for awhile.  It's time to make do with what's in the pantry instead of grabbing something easy or comforting at the food co-op.  It's time to keep the checkbook locked shut except on Bill-Paying Day.  It's time to vigilantly stay out of stores when I don't have a strict list and an absolutely essential reason for being there.

In a perfect world, I would not NEED to recover and get back on track after the holidays.  I don't live in that world yet, but it's a goal.  This year I'll be starting with some specific extra bank accounts where I can set aside money all year long for gifts, fuel, taxes, insurance, and other things that take me by surprise once a year.

One of the most helpful thing in keeping me on track with "making do" is making sure I inventory our provisions at least a couple of times a year. 

  • What do we have in our pantry?  What do we need to replenish or need to use up? 
  • Am I prepared for when each kid outgrows their clothing/shoes unexpectedly or overnight, as they are comically prone to do?
  • What necessary items have worn out that need replacing?
  • What in the past few months or year have we felt the lack of?  Warmer bedding?  Useful kitchen items?  Some tool that would justify its purchase?
  • What purchases or projects would make it easier to think ahead and provision before an anticipated need rears its head?  Storage units?  Repurposing a crawl space?  Boxes or bins or containers?

Midwinter (for those of us in the Northern hemisphere) is the perfect time to assess provisions and needs.  With the holidays behind us and the gardening season ahead, we have a little bit of time to catch our breath, tidy up our storage spaces (if they are not unheated -- though some must be left until warmer weather, of course), and assess.

What are your February goals?

Note: If you're reading this and are not yet a member of Peak Prosperity's Frugal Living Group, please consider joining it now. It's where our frugality-minded community creatively finds ways to get our needs met while using available resources as sparingly as possible. Simply go here and click the "Join Today" button.

14 Comments

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 13 2009
Posts: 1975
my frugal valentine

Funny, my husband and I were talking about this just yesterday.

One thing we intend to do is not buy each other superfelous gifts for Valentine's Day. No red plush cute animals bearing signs that insist "Be Mine!" will be found around this house! Last year--at my request--he bought me a $1 rose scented bubble bath at the dollar store: it lasted for months and I loved it. In previous years I've made a homemade red heart cake (use a round cake or pie pan, cut the cake in half, reverse the halves to meet at a point at the bottom and slather with icing), a heart-shaped grapevine wreath with used ribbons and silk flowers from my crafts bin, and I when my kids were younger we cut out and taped up oaktag hearts in pastel pink, bright pink and red in the mullioned squares of our front windows: the decorations lasted for years and helped the kids with cabin fever.

Adam Taggart's picture
Adam Taggart
Status: Peak Prosperity Co-founder (Offline)
Joined: May 26 2009
Posts: 2769
Garden gifts

My wife and I are celebrating Valentine's Day by exchanging gifts that relate to a shared goal: being more food resilient.

As many of you know, we moved to a new home last summer. We've both wanted to put in a garden, but the many other to-dos and the winter rains have kept that project on the back burner. But to show my Valentine's spirit, I've worked hard over the past few weeks to get 4 new raised beds put in place in time for 2/14 (I'll be posting a 'how-to' recap of this process next week). And staying frugal, I've built them out of old lumber that was abandoned here on the property when we moved in. Looking at comparable beds on Craigslist, I estimate I've saved over $450.

And though my wife did spend a little money, it was on a dwarf lemon tree. We'll plant that and enjoy it for the next several decades.

So for the total outlay of about $25, we've improved our food supply and given each other lasting visible reminders of how important we are to each other.

Hope everyone here at PeakProsperity.com is having a wonderful Valentine's Day!

cheers,

A

 

gillbilly's picture
gillbilly
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 22 2012
Posts: 423
Happy Valentines Day

My daughter and I made my wife a card and wrote our own personal messages to her for the big day. We (my wife and I) also agreed to give each other a book on straw bale gardening which we will try this summer. My how things have changed after 20 years of marriage. lol All good!

RJE's picture
RJE
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 31 2008
Posts: 1369
I wrote Barb...

...a Love letter using pens and paper I gifted myself from my accountants meeting. Now isn't that sweet?!

BOB

gillbilly's picture
gillbilly
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 22 2012
Posts: 423
Bob,

Oh that's even better. LOL Nice!

Go TIGERS!...being a Michiganer I'll always be a fan

Amanda Witman's picture
Amanda Witman
Status: Peak Prosperity Team (Offline)
Joined: Mar 17 2008
Posts: 409
The kids and I blew up some doilies and pink/red paper...

...all over the dining room. 

Oh, wait, no, that was a Valentine's project.

Pink and red paper, white cardstock, glue sticks, paper doilies, and some heart stickers.  Also pink/red/white/silver pigment pencils.  My girls made piles of homemade valentine cards for friends and family, decorations for the house, etc.  And then we had a young friend and an older neighbor come over and join in the fun, and they made more valentine cards and decorations with us.  We love this tradition.  It was especially gratifying to receive a gorgeous handmade valentine in the mail from a faraway grownup friend.  Ellery (10) walked all through the neighborhood delivering handmade valentines to our neighbors' mailboxes.

We also traditionally bake something heart-shaped.  This year it was individual heart-shaped brownies.  Yum.

My 8 yo put sticky love notes all over the kitchen.  heart  Words can be so beautiful and precious, misspellings and all.

I forgot it was Valentine's day this afternoon when I was out doing errands.  I bought a small, inexpensive bouquet of tulips for a special hostess gift (and totally regretted walking into the flower shop --eek!!!)  I also went into a local cafe and overheard the barrista saying he hoped nobody was cheap enough to take their date out for a cup of coffee on Valentine's day.  I said I'd love it if ANYONE would take me ANYWHERE on Valentine's day.  He assumed I was partnered and said someone should have a beating in their future...I said no, just alimony and child support.  That cracked up all the workers.  This Valentine's Day I gave myself the gift of humor.

Anyway, my favorite part is the explosion of the art supplies.  We do it every single year.  And it doesn't have to be fancy -- simple, inexpensive supplies are transformed into such beautiful and unique creations.

 

Oliveoilguy's picture
Oliveoilguy
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 29 2012
Posts: 578
A Special Card

My wife and I were in the Grocery store. I told her I had a special Valentine's card for her. I showed it to her, she loved it and then I put it back in the rack so they could sell it to someone.

She was touched.

SingleSpeak's picture
SingleSpeak
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 1 2008
Posts: 492
Using Microsoft Publisher

I downloaded a couple .gif's off the internet and designed and printed a personalized Valentine card for my wife and one for my granddaughter and presto, two happy girls.

SS

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 13 2009
Posts: 1975
favortite meal, at home

Okay, I am going to make you all laugh.

For Valentine's Day I made a romantic dinner. My huband's favorite meal is a sort of beef barley stew. It's a package of pearl barley, three or four quarts of water, and two cups each diced carrots, celery, and onion. Seasoning is  beef bouillon, Worchestshire sauce, black pepper, and Gravy master, to taste. It comes out as a very hearty meal the first day. The leftovers typically tatse fantastic, but due to the barley swelling the leftovers have the consistency of dog food in a can.

The family therefore calls this meal "Alpo."

For Valentine's Day we had "Alpo." By candlelight. It does not get any more romantic than that. wink

RJE's picture
RJE
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 31 2008
Posts: 1369
Wendy, I indeed smiled for you, and I'll tell you why...

...to be in Love with your best friend is simply, security.

I gave Barb my love letter after dinner, a steak stir fry. We showered, snuggled in only holding each others pinkie, and watching "their too damn cute", a puppy show on cable. I fell asleep early, woke with blanket on that I didn't put there, and a small pillow under my head. Enough said.

Alpo! Puppy show! Commonality then? Whatever it takes to feel as we do is all worth it. Yes?

I am such a girl. I like girls.

BOB

RJE's picture
RJE
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 31 2008
Posts: 1369
Oliveoilguy,

...this was GREAT! Smooth my Brother.

Gillbilly, a Michigan Man, and now I understand why you are who you appear to be.

BOB

jasonw's picture
jasonw
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 17 2011
Posts: 1017
Planning ahead for next year..

Or to be used any time of year really. 

Tutorial on how to make heart shaped hard boiled eggs. 

http://www.annathered.com/2010/09/29/how-to-make-a-heart-shaped-egg/

gillbilly's picture
gillbilly
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 22 2012
Posts: 423
I should clarify Bob...

I live in Gill, Mass now (hence the name), but grew up in GR and still have family there. Gotta love the Mitten state, it's the best kept secret.

Peace

RJE's picture
RJE
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 31 2008
Posts: 1369
I gathered Gillbilly,

and Yes, been a lot of places but the mitten State is simply beautiful. Imagine, Toledo for the Upper Peninsula! Go figure. Back in the day though Ohio needed access to the Lakes. The Lakes will be used allot again as we get further along the Oil curve.

BOB

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