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!
It feels good to be halfway through January.
I know I talk a lot about how much I dislike this month, but it really does feel like such a victory anytime I can make it through January with my sanity and overall well-being (mostly) intact. A few things that are particularly helping me right now: 1) having Matt around all the time, 2) taking intentional time every day to do something pleasurable just for me (which is almost always reading), and 3) having a lot of very specific tasks to keep me busy and challenged. Luckily most of it is the kind of work I love to do anyway (like making spreadsheets to plan out the farm!), which helps.
Nevertheless, no matter how busy I try and make myself, January seems to come with a generous helping of restlessness . . . I want my hands in the dirt, my face in the sunshine, and my house to be filled with flowers. Some people look at all our grow beds and think of my profession and just see all the hard physical labor (of which there is a nearly endless supply), but boy, do I love it. I sometimes joke with people that becoming a flower farmer seems to have turned me part-plant myself — I seem to now need copious amounts of sunshine and dirt in order to thrive.
I know that this forced resting period is really important too, though. Every year, almost no matter what I do, I seem to reach a bit of a burnout around the end of the growing season. Having a forced break from the cycle of plant, nurture, harvest, repeat is necessary for me to be able to keep doing this long-term, and honestly I don’t know if I would ever make myself take it if winter wasn’t thrust upon me.
So I sit with winter in a grudging acceptance of how necessary it is, for both me AND for my flowers.
Anyway, that was a rather long and rambling intro to a post about frugal wins, but there you go. My frugal wins lately haven’t seemed very impressive or exciting, so I guess that’s why I’m talking to you about resting and flowers instead 🙂
Here are some of our frugal wins for the last week:
Note: There may be affiliate links to books, products, and services mentioned in this post.
I figured out how to submit a tax exemption form for one of our seed suppliers
I’m still pretty new to a lot of the technical “admin”-type stuff of running my own business, and even though I’m relatively well-versed when it comes to personal finances, I have a LOT to learn when it comes to doing the finances for our business.
For instance, sales tax.
Sales tax is a new beast for us this year because we’re going to officially reach the threshold in 2024 for needing to require it, so I had to do a lot of research and digging to try and see if that was something I could feasibly do myself or if I was going to need to hire it out. (For the record, I *think* I have it figured out, but I very well might hire someone for a couple hours in a few months just to double check that I’m not making any huge mistakes.)
Anyway, I guess that could be frugal win #1 (time will tell) — figuring something out myself first rather than going immediately to a professional.
But really what I want to talk about is how all this digging around about taxes made me realize that WE shouldn’t be paying sales tax on anything we’re buying wholesale for our farm to use in our own agricultural production. Most of my major wholesalers already weren’t charging us any, but the main place I go through for all our seeds is Johnny’s Selected Seeds, which is open to anyone. Anyway, I’ve been paying sales tax this whole time on all our orders from them (some of which are definitely on the larger side), and I finally figured out this last week that they have a place on their website where you can fill out a tax exempt form, which I did.
Between that and searching for a promo code on my last big order for this season, I saved us around $60. Not bad!
P.S. The bins above are my current seed storage bins, which you can find on Amazon.
Matt and I cut down on our soda consumption
Long-time readers will know that my husband and I have a not-ideal Diet Dr. Pepper addiction. I say not ideal because money and health-wise, we know it would be better for us just to cut it off completely. And several times in the past, we have.
Now doesn’t seem to be a good time for one of those times, however 🙂
Anyway, I was looking at our budget and our goal of keeping our grocery bill to $525 this month for our family of six (including diapers, toilet paper, etc.), and I knew that something had to give.
So this week, we each cut down our daily consumption by one can, which should help us to save around $23 this month and hopefully stay within budget.
Baby steps, people.
I shopped our pantry for meals
Since I’m trying to be intentional about meal planning again (AND trying to stick to a smaller-than-usual monthly grocery budget), I’ve been “shopping my pantry” a lot more, as well as shopping my freezer. Ever since we spent a year or so focused on building up our food storage, we’ve had a decently stocked pantry, and the only reason we hadn’t been pulling that much from it over the past few months was because I kept favoring more of the convenient options rather than the stuff I had to make from scratch.
Not so this last week or two —
I’ve been making bread, doing slow cooker meals, dusting off recipes we haven’t eaten in years…and it’s been really, really good. For our bellies, for our bottom line, and for our basic happiness 🙂
I found a free version of a book that was recommended to me rather than buying it
I’ve mentioned before about how I used to be a heavy library user until we moved here. Before, I took it for granted that there was a decent likelihood that my local library either already had the title I wanted or could easily get it in.
That’s definitely not the case here in our rural part of the state.
The problem is that now, I’ve gotten so used to NOT checking the library (because 9 times out of 10, they won’t have what I’m looking for) that I just purchase books I want as the default, without even checking other options first. However, I had a title recommended to me recently that I wasn’t super thrilled to read but that someone had strongly urged me to pick up for our business, and since I didn’t really care to own it, I just decided to see if there was a way I could get it for free.
Lo and behold, there it was, ready to be checked out and not costing a cent. Oh libraries, when you actually have what I want, you are a glorious thing.
We installed the old baseboards around our island rather than buying new ones
Although I personally am almost just as busy during winter as during the growing season because of things I do for our business behind the scenes (social media, marketing, accounting, planning, etc.), Matt’s responsibilities with the farm are definitely lighter during the winter (and just as heavy if not heavier than mine during the growing season). Since he’s got little pockets of extra time between farm duties now, we’ve been prioritizing having him get around to all the little nagging household tasks we’ve been putting off forever.
This week, that meant having him fix the spring on our outer front door (saving us the cost of hiring it out and just requiring the purchase price of the spring) and also re-installing the baseboards around our island, which we’d taken off when we painted it ages ago. We’d talked about maybe just chucking the old baseboards and getting new ones (since we’re getting new ones for the rest of the main floor that we re-did flooring on), but we ended up just painting these old ones and re-using them, and they look great. Re-using the old ones saved us around $25, I’d guess.
Other Frugal Wins
- I’ve been making myself read/finish books I already own rather than buying any new ones 🙂
- I uploaded a grocery receipt to Ibotta to get some cash back
- Rather than pricking out any seeds that had germinated more than one to a cell and chucking them (which is often the practice), Matt and I took a couple hours one morning to move everything around so that there was only one seedling growing per cell. Since planting space isn’t so limited this year as in past years, those “extra” seedlings will just provide extra material to grow and sell this season. Thus, saving the seedlings not only saved us money because we weren’t just chucking seeds into the garbage (even if it was just a few dollars’ worth), but it’s also going to MAKE us more money, as long as we can have enough room in our indoor growing space to fit everything, at any rate. We potted around 120 seedlings into their own new cells instead of chucking them, and each of those 120 seedlings will go on to produce anywhere between 1 and 20 stems of cutting material that we can sell. Therefore, that simple act might make us over $1000 if we can sell everything they produce. Not bad, eh? 🙂
How is your January coming along? What have you been working on?