One month ago we started our 90 Day Frugality Challenge. In short, I wanted to balance out an expensive Q3 with an extremely frugal Q4, but I’m quickly learning this challenge is much more than being frugal. This post will highlight the frugal successes and failures so far through our 90 Day Frugality Challenge.
Oh, and before I forget…
Similar to halloween, frugality can be seen as a scary thing It gets a bad knock. I’m not sure why, since the definition is basically, “being efficient with your resources.” Inherently, anything outside of being frugal is being wasteful, so I’m happy to be labeled frugal.
I’ll wear, “frugal,” with a badge of honor anyday!
Now that I got that out of the way, I’ll detail out my frugal successes and my soon to be successes (currently in the “failure” bucket).
Successes – More Time with Cooking, Reading, & the Gym
As part of my battle for efficiency, I’m not only focusing on positive habits but I’m also working on my negative ones. This translates to me trying to waste less time on social media or in front of the television. I love interacting with my Twitter followers, but I know I’m wasting time when I find myself scrolling through my Facebook news feed without any particular purpose to it.
Now that I have additional time in my evenings, I focus on a good thirty minutes in the gym. By spending time in the gym it helps support two additional frugal activities. First, I focus more on a healthier diet which means less take out and more home cooked meals. Second, since I’m working so hard on my body, I feel less inclined to indulge in whiskey or craft beers. I still enjoy a drink with friends on a game night or on the weekends, but I’ve noticed less money going towards this category.
Cooking!!!! I’m falling in love with cooking so much that I wrote an entire post on it being my latest frugal hobby (be on the lookout Friday for that article). I’m spending a good 8 hours on Sundays grocery shopping, preparing meals, cooking, and cleaning. Altogether, I end up with a week’s worth of food for two people – including soups, appetizers, entrees, and even some desserts – all at a cost of less than $100 per week.
Those 8 hours also help me with the last success element in my challenge – reading. I love to put on an audiobook and spend my Sunday mornings grocery shopping now. By the end of the day on Sunday, I can easily go through an entire book.
The other half of my reading habit involves spending an hour or two each night (instead of watching TV) where I dive into a book. Currently, two of the books I’m reading are on Stoicism – and it is fueling my 90 Day Challenge. I’ll need to write a recap on what I mean in another post soon since it is very helpful.
Overall recap from the successes:
To develop better habits, it helps to first eliminate wasteful, unproductive habits.
“The chains of habit are too light to be felt, until they’re too heavy to be broken,” as Buffett puts it.
Failures – Doctors, Cell Phones & Ice Cream
Technically, most of these aren’t actual failures. Well, maybe the ice cream thing is — I’ve developed quite the sweet tooth (more on that below).
Mrs. Distilled Dollar is set to have knee surgery next week to replace a lateral tendon who decided to retire early…
The, “failure,” element here is that we haven’t followed up with the doctors/insurance companies to resolve our billing issues and potentially, reduce our total spend.
Another example is a vet bill that should have been covered, but there is a breakdown in communication between our vet’s paperwork and the claim status. The failure here is that I haven’t completed the paperwork, yet.
Another example is a lab culture my fiancee had to get which first showed negative result, but then, after symptoms got worse, turned out to be positive for a bacterial infection in her kidneys.
We’re not doctors ourselves, but we feel we have a case against paying $40 (outside our insurance coverage) on a test that produced an incorrect result. Maybe we’re in the wrong on that one, but I know it is worth a 5 minute call to see if I can remove that $40 charge.
The last part of the medical aspect is we’re trying to see if we can prepay for the surgery and receive a small discount. Big props to the Frugal Woods who gave me this idea. Mrs. Frugal Woods mentioned she did something similar prior to having a baby and it saved them 10% of the total bill.
Our phone plan right now is running us $85/month. I’m convinced we can get that cut in half before the end of the year. Thank you to anyone who emailed me or left comments on different phone companies and plans. We intend to fully utilize these comments when we set up our new plan. If all goes to plan, I’ll be writing a post on this topic before the end of the year.
I’m not sure what it is or how it happened, but it happened. I’m typically one to favor savory foods over sweets, so I’m not sure if the frugality challenge is changing me on a fundamental level. It might be because we’re happier now than at any point in our relationship.
Overall recap from the failures:
It is funny how the things we used to value, such as eating at a nice restaurant, do not make us as happy as enjoying a home cooked meal from Tupperware on a Thursday night.
Are you seeing any major successes or failures in your budget this year, this quarter or this month?