Minimalist in DC

The Quest for Less "Stuff" & More Time

Category: Monthly Challenge

December Challenge: Save Money on Bills

Save Money on BillsAs I mentioned in my reflection on two months of minimalism, trying to save $25K in one year is tough, especially if you don’t start finding ways to save money immediately.  Right now, I have just 10 months left and I’ve saved a meager $271.94 which is really amazing if you ignore the fact that I have $24,728 left to save.

So this month, I’ll be looking at all of our recurring payments and exploring whether there’s a way to save money on each one.  When I pulled together the list, it seemed a bit daunting:

  1. Mortgage
  2.  Childcare
  3.  Netflix
  4.  WAMU
  5. Washington Gas
  6. Fairfax Water
  7.  Garbage
  8.  Internet
  9. Cell Phones
  10.  Dominion (Electricity)
  11.  Insurance
  12.  Car
  13.  Preschool

I guess I can look at this list not just as the long list of people taking my money, but as a lot of opportunities to save it.


November Food Challenge Accomplishments

My November Food Challenge was so fun, I wish it lasted longer. There is a lot more I had planned, but never got too, like finding more ways to eat healthier and diving into the The Minimalist Cooks Dinner: More Than 100 Recipes for Fast Weeknight Meals and Casual Entertaining. I never even cracked it open. Why? Because as I was organizing my existing recipes, I realized that I have more than enough delicious, easy recipes right now.  Plus, I just plain ran out of time and this wasn’t a high priority.  Realizing that you’ll never get to everything on your to do list and letting the lower priority things go takes practice and this project gives me a lot of practice.

There are a couple things I’m really happy I did accomplish during November’s food challenge:

  1. Analyzed and fixed my grocery budget (parts I, II, and III).  Ever since I cut back on meat and dairy, my weekly bills have come in an average of $20 under budget.
  2. Explored other ways and places to shop for groceries and realized that shopping online (which I was already doing) was the best option for me.
  3. Cut back on disposables, I use far fewer paper towels and switched one kid to cloth diapers this month!
  4. Revisited a couple of sane dieting methods and read up on the diabetic diet. I didn’t write about this, but I gave up sugar for most of November (something I do periodically because it makes me feel GREAT). Now, I usually drink water instead of soda when we go out to eat.
  5. Remembered a sneaky way to cook for two nights at a time and get people to eat reasonable portions.
  6. Took the time to be thankful. This was by far the blog post that made me happiest.
  7. Organized all my recipes (and shared some)!

As far as accomplishing my original goals goes, I give myself a B.

My four original goals

Original Food Month Challenge

I accomplished #1 & #4. I started work on #2 (I’m not being too hard on myself, because this is a lifelong process). For #3, I thought about eating out a bit and decided not to change anything.  We go out once a week as a family and try to stay under $25.  It’s a wonderful time for us to do something together and, while eating out less would be healthier and cheaper, this is a part of my life that I love and want to keep.

So, here’s to food and how wonderful it can make our lives.  In December, I’ll be concentrating on our monthly bills and how to reduce those.

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