Our money saving focus for May was alternative transportation. When I created our goal list back in December, I must have been thinking that May would be the perfect time to break out the bicycles and pedal our way around town. I definitely didn’t know then that it would rain almost the entire month. So, aside from walking to the Farmer’s Market every Saturday, we did very little in the way of alternative transportation this month. And that’s okay. Why? Because I didn’t realize until now just how little we spend on gas in the first place. We average spending just $2 a day and that includes taking my mom to the doctor, running errands for both households, and the occasional day trip to catch a minor league baseball game. I think I can live with $60 a month in gas.
Here’s how May turned out:
Goal #1: Live on 50% of our income
Status: We came close again. Our flex expenses are still way out of line with where I want to be. That’s my fault this time. I got a traffic ticket from our friendly neighborhood red light camera. I blew through what I thought was still a yellow light going 55 MPH. I suppose I could have slammed on the brakes but with my fragile mom in the car, I thought it best not to do that. Our newly minted “experience category” saw a little action this month. We paid for our flights to New York in October, along with camping fees for our July and August trips. Our quarterly rec center membership was also due. Savings increased a bit over last month (up 5% – yay!!). I’d still like to see this closer to the 20-25% mark though. I have more student loans to pay off after all.
Goal #2: Spend more time outside the box (apartment)
Status: We had a strange turn of events in our apartment complex last week. My mom thinks it might have had something to do with the rather passionate (yet eloquent) letter that I sent the landlord regarding the mattress left outside our door. Regardless of what precipitated it, I’m happy to say that all residents received a letter outlining new policies on the cleanliness and maintenance of the building. No inside furniture can be left outside. No BBQ grills sitting permanently in the parking lot. No dogs tied to the stair railing. No smoking in the laundry room. It’s pretty sad that you need to tell people these things but sometimes they may just need a gentle reminder (like a letter from the landlord that says “remove your junk or we’ll remove it for you”).
So back to going outside…this month we only went to the rec center twice to walk or swim. With Angie gone half of the month, I opted instead to spend more time with my mom. We did go hiking twice and took an impromptu picnic to the park, where we spent the afternoon playing corn hole and watching a baby deer take its first steps. We also went letterboxing in Bowling Green, KY before watching the Hot Rods get beat (the visiting team scored 10 runs in the first inning!).
And somehow (bribery, I think it was) my mom managed to convince us to spend this past Saturday at a cookout hosted by her former coworker Diane. I had never met Diane and as a self-proclaimed introvert, I was pretty apprehensive about going. Turns out we found our tribe. Diane and her husband, Mike, are former hippies who once lived in a commune. Both are retired now and live on a mini-farm, with chickens! Mike is an artist with an art studio the size of two of our apartments. Both of their children and their families are well traveled, intelligent people, living life outside of normal. It was inspiring to meet other folks like us, on their own journey toward a better way of life. Needless to say, we had a great time.
Goal #3: Become a part-time vegetarian
Status: We didn’t purchase any meat at the grocery store this month. That’s a plus! But we still have a few pounds of pork in our freezer that we’re slowly working our way through. I think we probably ate more meat than we wanted to this month simply because we weren’t home. Angie was in Texas with her mom and I was dining every night with mine. Though we did have some all vegetable meals, my mom made a meatloaf and Angie’s parents served venison and beef a few times. At the cookout on Saturday we did really well, eating only one piece of chicken buried beneath a plate of veggies and fruit. (One of Diane’s children is a vegan, so we had grilled squash, asparagus, and a quinoa salad to fill up on.)
I do believe that joining a CSA will help us with this goal going forward. With so much fresh produce in our basket, it is hard not to be a “mostly vegetarian” (as my mom calls us). I am pretty proud of us though for making better choices in what we bring home from the store. We’re buying mostly local and almost all organic now.
In June, we’re focusing our attention toward a more minimalist wardrobe. This is something I’ve been looking forward to for a while (an excuse to take another pass at our closet). In comparison to the woman who tried to give me 8 boxes of just shirts/blouses from her closet decluttering project, we have very little in the way of clothing. But to me, it still seems like a lot. Will June leave us with only a suitcase full of clothing to our name? Will I finally be able to say goodbye to my favorite (old and ragged) t-shirt? Stay tuned to find out!