Time to tighten up

Some unexpected household expenses are about to leave me feeling pretty poor. Things could always be worse but it is apparent that my frugal self really needs to reduce expenses or increase income soon.

It looks like increasing income is an option as the newspaper where I freelance is allowing me to do more work. So there’s a little good news.

But it seems cutting expenses may be a challenge since I already attempt to live as frugally as possible. No cable or satellite and just a basic phone line for my dial-up internet because that is all I can access here in the country. My mortgage and insurances are reasonably low and I keep the electric bill as low as possible. Almost everything that plugs into the wall is on a power strip so I’m never wasting electric on a tv or radio that isn’t being used.  I keep the thermostat low in the winter and high in the summer and no burning light is left behind.

I do spend a lot on gas because my home is 10 miles from the nearest village and 30 minutes from the nearest larger town. Mr Wonderful lives 90 minutes away and I put a lot of miles on the car visiting him. Because I travel a lot I did break down and buy a Hyundai Accent  this spring but the fuel savings is remarkable so that doesn’t hurt so much. But I organize errands and trips as efficiently as possible so I’m not backtracking or making special trips.

I’m not a wasteful person and am not prone to buying a lot of stuff I don’t need. Thrift stores and antique malls call my name but I try to keep my splurges in those places to a minimum. The one area I could probably improve is in the food department. I struggle to find the balance between eating a balanced, nutritional diet and saving money. My real weakness? Fresh produce. I love to keep it on hand and I love to have a variety. I just can’t seem to tell myself no.

But I already avoid eating out as much as possible and tend to bring leftovers for lunch every day. I do some batch cooking and try to be proactive about using up what I have or at least freezing what I can’t use today.

Things haven’t been so great this week. With the air out I haven’t really wanted to cook at home so I’ve been relying more on Lean Cuisines (purchased with a coupon, or course) and even a few fast food meals. Sigh.

My one shame is a small amount of credit card debt and a student loan that I alternate between paying down like a mad person and just throwing extra money at when I remember.

Anyway, I will begin my audit of home expenses tonight and see what I come up with.  What are your favorite ways to save money at home? Would you like if I start posting lists of ways to save in various areas of the home?