This is a series in the style of The Frugal Girl’s Five Frugal Things, where I post weekly about what I’ve done lately to save money and make things stretch in order to further our financial goals, which currently include us paying off a decent hunk of debt. I encourage you to play along and post your own weekly frugal wins in the comments section below!
Well, we finally got hit with winter! After a weirdly warm December (not to mention bone dry), we are now enjoying several inches of fresh snow, as well as more “normal” cold temps in the forecast, which makes the farmer part of my brain very happy (even if the mental health side of my brain was just fine with the warmer weather and not having to deal with snow!).
You’ll notice that I skipped doing a Weekly Frugal Wins round-up last week. The truth is, I simply ran out of time! Even though winter is slower when it comes to actively farming and working outside, I have a LOT of behind-the-scenes stuff that has to happen now: planning beds, making spreadsheets, prepping taxes, and sending correspondence to florists. Not to mention continuing to market on social media, adding to our website (which is still fairly new and needs some fleshing out), and getting ready for the community class on cut flower gardening I’m teaching that starts this week. Plenty to keep me busy!
I made sure to prioritize doing this post though so that I didn’t miss two weeks in a row. Although I will ask — is this series still interesting for you to read? Or are many of my frugal wins starting to sound too repetitive, and you’d prefer a different type of weekly post? I’m always open to suggestions!
Below are some of the ways we’ve been saving money and working on financial and frugal habits these last two weeks:
Note: There may be affiliate links to books, products, or services mentioned.
I created detailed financial spreadsheets for 2024
Ever since I got married, I’ve always had some kind of household budget, but I didn’t really buckle down and do it well until the last year and a half or so. (Or I should say, I was just super lazy about it — I was more about just simply tracking expenses in general than actually budgeting out where each dollar should go that month.) One of the most life-changing things for our finances came when I sat down last year for the first time and made a spreadsheet of ALL the one-off expenses for the whole year ahead of time. I did a whole post about this (which I highly recommend you check out), and I made sure to update that spreadsheet in the last week so that it’s now current for 2024.
Having a snapshot of what expenses we can expect for the whole year has totally revolutionized how well we’re not only able to live within our means but also how well we can go for our bigger financial goals, and it’s also crucial now that we are flower farming full-time, since our sales vary wildly throughout the year. Carefully budgeting out for the whole year (as well as each month as it comes up) has meant that I very rarely stress out now about where we’re going to come up with money for any given expense anymore because I’ve accounted for all the expected ones and we’ve put aside some money in savings for the unexpected ones.
We had oatmeal or scrambled eggs instead of cold cereal when we ran out of milk
The biggest hindrance to me staying on budget for groceries is often convenience. When life gets busy, I tend to go for the most convenient, easiest options 9 times out of 10, which means I don’t always make the most frugal choice. That’s totally fine for certain seasons of the year (and I allow a higher grocery budget to account for that), but in this current season, I know I need to get back into better spending habits since we need to keep a leaner budget until our flower season officially starts in April. I spent over $800 on groceries in December, which is just not sustainable. My usual grocery budget is typically around $600 a month for our family of six (which includes all our household goods too, like toilet paper, diapers, etc.). To help make up for December’s massive overspend, my goal for January is to keep our grocery spending around $525.
First up on the list was making do with powdered milk and oatmeal or scrambled eggs when we ran out of fresh milk last week for a few days. We almost always do cold cereal in the mornings just because it’s the easiest and quickest, but when we ran out of milk, we just decided to make other options work for a few mornings rather than go out and spend (yet more) at the grocery store.
I put in a pre-order for the flower farm by 12/31 to get a 5% discount
I not only am constantly looking for ways to be frugal for our household expenses, but I’m also always looking for ways that our business can be frugal as well. One very easy way to save money every year is by putting in pre-orders. Most wholesalers and other companies will often offer a pre-order discount or promo code if you put in an earlier-than-peak-season order, and I try and always take advantage of it where we’re able.
I’ve been ordering a LOT of plants, roots, bulbs, and more for 2024, so every discount helps. I’m also trying to be very realistic about how much we actually NEED to order for this year, versus me just wanting to order plants because I have a total plant-buying addiction 🙂 I kind of ballparked on my numbers in years past, so I’m cracking down on that this year and trying to be better about just ordering the bare minimum + 10% extra (to account for losses).
I started (some of) my own seeds
I don’t have the room in our basement to start ALL the seeds that I need to for next season (I’m having to buy some as plugs from other growers), but I am starting as many as I can. While this definitely saves money, it doesn’t save time, so I did have to weigh whether it was worth my time to grow several thousand seedlings myself. This might be the last year that I do think it is worth my time, but nevertheless, we are saving money by doing it ourselves.
I started meal planning again
This is a big one, especially circling back to that “convenience” conversation we were having above. I jumped off the meal planning train sometime back in August-ish and haven’t looked back, but it’s definitely something that’s no longer working for me. I hated always coming up on dinnertime and having no idea what to do and then scrounging together something quick all the time. It definitely isn’t the healthiest habit, nor the most frugal, so I’m making myself get back on the meal planning train again.
I did a whole post around how I meal plan, but lemme tell you this — when I’m good about it, it saves us SO. MUCH. MONEY. And since that’s what I need to really focus on these next couple months while we’re waiting for the flower farm to start generating income again, it’s something I can’t afford to let go again.
Other Frugal Wins:
- We accepted more free stuff (ribbon, tissue paper, vases) for the flower farm from Matt’s aunt (she’s saved us soooo much money over the years!)
- I used Rakuten to get cash back when I ordered some new snow boots for Raven (which cost me less than $10 since I used some Sam’s Club cash I had) and on the purchase of an inexpensive wall calendar. Normally I try and source a free wall calendar every year, but they’ve been harder and harder to find the past few years, and I didn’t want to have to wait since our family relies on having a wall calendar we can all refer to.
- I scanned some grocery receipts into Ibotta for some cash back
- I took my own 8-month pictures of Naomi (this is the camera I use)
- My husband mended my son’s favorite stuffed animal, which had developed a hole in the ear
How’s winter looking like in your neck of the woods? (Or are you a down under reader enjoying the dog days of summer?)