One of my goals for this year was to reduce my debt and reform my spending habits. I am pleased to announce that, three months into the year, I've actually done quite well in this regard. (Let's not discuss the progress of my other goals just yet.)

I have not used a credit card all year. Not once! The only "extra" purchases I've made since January, by which I mean things other than food, gas, and bills, have been: Two $5 skirts for Phoebe (I am sunk the day my kids decide that clothes from Target are uncool, or when Phoebe ceases to be excited by the "new to her" clothes from the hand-me-down bins in the attic); Scholastic book club orders (because who can resist those); some small things for the kids' Easter baskets; anti-virus software for my laptop (ugh); a new car battery (double ugh); and some birthday presents. Oh, and Kindle books, although I also cashed in some "reward" points on my credit card, which I hadn't even known I was accumulating, for an Amazon gift card, so most of my Kindle books have been free to me. Woohoo! I have actually gotten to each 2009 payday with a bit in reserve from the previous paycheck, which is a bit unprecedented.

I've also started going to the "cheap" grocery store instead of the "nice" grocery store. Honestly, I haven't noticed that much of a difference, except that the cheap store has a poor selection and the cashiers seem flummoxed by my cloth grocery bags. I may give it another month and switch back. I've even started clipping coupons, although I don't think I'm particularly good at the coupon game. I tend to buy things I wouldn't have anyway (Life cereal! Save $1 on two boxes! But I don't really want two boxes of Life cereal anyway!). Plus, it seems that most coupons are for items that aren't very good for you. You can get a coupon for fruit snacks, for example, but not for real fruit. It seems that to really save money at the grocery store, you have to compare all the area store's specials and figure out whose doubling which coupons and buy in bulk when things are really really cheap and...well, I don't have that much energy to spend on grocery shopping. I'll do what I can.

The month coming up may be a bit more expensive than the previous three; there's Easter, and we're planning a trip to the zoo, and of course Mallory has to go see the new Hannah Montana movie...but I'm actually going to budget for these things, rather than shrug about the cost and hand over the plastic to pay for it. What a novel concept! What an empowering habit I'm developing! If only it had started, oh, about ten years ago.


Anonymous said...

Wow very impressive! I agree about the coupons. I tried to do it for awhile and felt that I was buying things that I wouldn't have otherwise, and also that it was a huge hassle. I do think that in order to use coupons well, one has to spend some time comparing prices and REMEMBERING how much an item is for longer than it takes to place it in the pantry.


aimee said...

Awesome! I am proud of you. I want to start doing more frugal living too but no coupons for me. I agree with your reasons about why.

H Noble said...

I tried coupons too and have had the same results as you guys. I just try to buy smart and avoid impule buys, and that works well for me. If you do decide you want to get into the coupon game, check out a relatively recent post on Ludlow's blog off of our site. Charissa is amazing at saving!

MomofK9s said...

In my quest to live a more simple life and to cut down on the clutter I only cut out coupons that I know I will use. (I used to cut them all out.) It saves a lot of time and energy and there are some good ones especially for paper products and canned stuff. I also signed up for an e-newsletter from Food Lion that high lights the specials. I have tried to shop in the "nicer" grocery stores and I just can't bring myself to pay more for stuff that I can get elsewhere. And as much as I can't stand Wal-mart for several reasons, in this economy their prices are cheaper and I hate to admit but my ideals will just have to suffer.