It's not that the economy has created hard-time for Matt and I - we're just young and married and ambition and sometimes the wife in this particular marriage as an issues with that last one and opportunism. Thus, let's be frank, we are really doing that thing that our parents said theydid when they were are age. I remember it vaguely... something about "pinching pennies" or "scrimping and saving" or some other stupid alliteration that had to do with money. In any event, our grocery bill has been effectively reduced to $200 a month.
Which still puts us $66.14 over budget.
(Is this too much information? I hear in my soc classes that the middle and upper class don't talk about money publicly, it's uncomfortable)
So I've begun to exercise my power of creativity by being thrifty! And also Matt has taken to grocery shopping because, well, let's face it, accessible food PLUS opportunism does not yield savings.
The first thing I did was freak out about my bills. I wouldn't recommend this, but after Matt told me to stop freaking out, I was able to evaluate them clearly with an unfortunate sense of urgency.
Because we had moved, I made sure that I called every institution to whom we would be paying any amount of money and took advantage of EVERY rebate and discount I could. We ended up getting $100 back from AT&T and waving a few start-up fees. Phew.
Then I looked at our gas and electricity usage and wrote down five ways we could use them less - in the end it's only going to save us about $10 on our next bill, but hey! We're fighting... for... frugality. (Dang, that was hard. And lame)
Actually, before that, we found the places where white people don't shop en masse (i.e. Gelson's, Trader Joes, Vons). I mean this with all sincerity and no intention to offend - but the truth is, most of the checkers at King's Ranch speak primarily Spanish and most of the shoppers are Hispanic with a close second majority of African-Americans. The last two times I paid attention in the grocery there was one other person of Asian decent than me and Matt was the only white guy. And we saved about $40 on our regular grocery bill and got some goood roast for a third of what we'd have paid at Albertson's. Not to mention it's local produce! I'ma add an "Environment" tag to this post.
We also cut out one of our cell phones. Since Matt is at home most of the time, he is accessible via home phone. But the reality is, we just have to plan and coordinate a little better. Instead of us thinking either of us as "accessible" we communicate more effectively our plans at the beginning of the day. And then we stick to them.
Finally (because I realize this post is probably a little boring), I called Pasadena Refuse this morning and downsized our trashcan. Not only does this save us about $15 on our trash bill, but it's also a better use of space in our tiny backyard. A tiny garbage can!
The benefits that come with saving money can be summed up in several other ways. 1) I didn't get had by inflated prices... I called and got rebates and asked for discounts that were fair from the places I was paying bills. I mean, after all, my patronage is important and I worked up the guts to play that card. 2) In both the cases with our utilities and trash, I actually took the time to think about what we are consuming and recognize excess! What a novel idea!3) We picked a local shopping center instead of a chain- the produce doesn't "look" as good, but it tastes the same, sometimes better, and we save a ton by shopping within our means and not necessarily our comfort zone. Hell, this is California, all our produce looks good compared to the East Coast. 4) Cell phones are overrated. We just don't need to change our minds that much. Again, we have to stop and think our day or errands through for a few minutes, before we rush out the door. 5) As far as changing the size of our trash bin - the benefits are obvious on so many levels! We save money, we maintain a smaller amount of waste, we save space - we're reducing our bill and our carbon footprint! Yay!
So that's that.