Our overall goal for the year is to live on 50% of our income. To help us reach this goal, we chose a different money-saving focus for every month of the year, with each month’s focus building on the month prior. In January we cut grocery spending. For February, we concentrated on saving money by being more self-reliant, making and/or doing more things for ourselves.
Here’s how things went:
- Our grocery spending remained roughly the same but our household spending was up in February. We purchased a used freezer on Craigslist ($50), seeds for our garden from Baker Heirloom Seeds ($28.50), and other gardening supplies, including a wheelbarrow, garden hose, and gloves ($77.77).
- We took our first mini-trip of the year to the Great Smoky Mountains. Total cost for 3 nights lodging, meals, transportation, and entertainment was $342.26.
- We achieved almost a zero-sum budget this month, carrying over only $22.78 in cash. Every other dollar in the budget had a name and a purpose.
- We saved 45% of our income, allocated 7% to travel, and lived off of the remaining 48%.
**February was also an atypical month for us. We received a tax refund, which was counted as income.
On the DIY front:
- We got reacquainted with homemade household cleaners and even added a new one to our repertoire: daily shower spray.
- We started cutting our own hair again.
- I helped Angie create a better home gym and we started taking more walks.
- I mounted a small 18W 14V solar charging panel in our bedroom window to attempt to charge our cell phones, Kindles, and laptops during peak sunshine. This project is a work in progress but overall, it seems promising. I was able to charge my phone by 20% yesterday. (We bought this charger a year ago to use while camping and have never had it out of the box.)
- We reconnected with recycling. In addition to the new indoor compost bin, we set up new stations for general recycling and found a place to take them in our community. We even got my mom started on composting.
- We broke ground on the new garden – an 8′ x 8′ plot that will hopefully grow enough veggies to provide for 3 people this summer.
One of my other projects for this month was to rearrange our kitchen area to make it more user-friendly and less cluttered. Though I managed to collect a few things from the kitchen to go in our upcoming “decluttering for cash” pile, the vast majority of items in my way were things that we use every day. I just didn’t like the way I had them arranged. To fix the problem, I brought out a few underutilized storage drawers from the closet and reorganized the pantry shelf for easier access to our most used items – like tea bags, seasonings, and freezer bags. I also relocated the microwave (which we decided to keep until it dies and then not replace). The top shelf is serving as a temporary home to our garden seedlings. So far this configuration seems to be working better.