February Progress to Goals

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 Expenses

**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.)

solar charger

  • 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.

2106Garden

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.

20160229_132736

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6 thoughts on “February Progress to Goals

  1. You are living my dream (almost). I long to scale down to only the essentials, reduce my carbon footprint and minimize, simplify and enjoy, I am happy to have come across your blog and really look forward to reading more. Best of luck on achieving this year’s goals. What, pray tell, is a zero-sum budget?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I’m glad you joined us. Great question! A zero-sum budget is one where income minus expenditures equals zero. In a zero-sum budget, every dollar has a place to go. Instead of just tracking where your money went, zero-sum budgeting forces you to allocate the money to categories and see ahead of time whether you have a deficit (and need to cut spending) or if you have money leftover. When leftover money just sits around, it has a tendency to become discretionary spending money. Leftover money should always have a job to do (ie. fund savings, travel, or debt reduction). This way you get the most out of your income, no matter how much you earn. The Simple Dollar has a great post on zero-sum budgeting if you’re interested: http://www.thesimpledollar.com/how-and-why-to-use-a-zero-sum-budget/

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      1. I read that recommendation too and ignored it. I get a pretty steady income from one source so I based my budget on anticipated income for the current month. It’s not perfect zero-sum budgeting but it works. Besides, the best budget is always going to be the one that you create yourself 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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