Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Is it all bad news?

The recession drags on.....and on....and on. It is clear now that this is shaping up to be the worst recession of my lifetime, my husband's and hopefully our children. However, our boys are 3 & 4. Not likely that this is the worst for them.

It is making us continuously sit down and review our spending, our allocated budget items and cut, eliminate, re prioritize and think. Those items we could not do without 6 months ago, a year ago, many of those are long gone. I now look at the current budget and wonder what will be gone in 6 months from now? What is it that we "cannot live without" now but will be a memory next year?

I'm trying to focus on those items that we can replace. Those kinds of things that were previously necessary and now are simply optional. We are learning to live without, make do, use less of. So far, here are some things that we've chosen to eliminate from our budget:
**Eating out. This went away pretty quickly when we went line by line in our budget. You cannot justify spending $25+tip for dinner for a family of four when for the same amount of money, I can get at least 3 - 4 meals at home.
**Cleaning supplies. Yep--I make my own. I make my own "Formula 409", my own laundry detergent, drain cleaner, stain removal, and many other items. I added just a couple of items to my grocery list that I must have on hand and a few essential oils and I've got some great cleaners. I'll post a couple of recipes later on these new "tried and true" favorites.
**Lawn service. For weeds, bugs, etc... We live in Florida were lawn critters can wipe you out in a matter of weeks. And often do. You have to treat the little critters. We used to have a service that would come out and service the lawn but we eliminated that as well. We do it ourselves and in the process, are trying to do this as environmentally-friendly as possible.
**Heat & A/C. We used to be much more generous with our heat or a/c in the house. It was common to turn on the heat when the temps dipped near freezing outside and the a/c always came on the minute we started to sweat a little. Now it waits. Currently, it's 66 degrees in the house because it got pretty chilly outside. And its not likely to get above that outside today. But it'll be comfortable in here when the sun gets over the house and we'll survive. For now, the kids have on sweats and socks. As for the a/c, we wait until it's well over 80 and really humid before we turn it on. The humidity is what gets you around here. You are a puddle by mid-morning when the humidity is above 90%, and that is quite often after about May around here. We'll see if we can tolerate it to closer to June this year---maybe, maybe not. But we survive with windows open, fans on and a lot less clothes then!
**Utilities. We shut off lights, unplug unused items and use the dishwasher, washer and dryer as little as possible. We change all our burnt out bulbs with CFLs now. I only run the dishwasher in the middle of the night. It has this fantastic little delay button and I use that all the time. I still wash more in the daytime hours but try to do it early in the AM or later in the evening--staying away from high electric usage times. And the dryer gets used less and less all the time.
**Spendful days vs. no-spend days. I used to run out for anything I needed. And I used to wander the stores, especially Target, whenever I was bored. Not anymore. I visit Target maybe once a month now. I have not been in WalMart for longer than that I believe. I don't shop out of boredom. I make a list, take my cash and that is it. I stay home more with the boys and spend no money, not even gas, rather than make several small trips. I try to avoid leaving the house at all at least 1-2 days a week. This week that is working well. Last week it wasn't possible. But it is helping.

Those are just a few previous necessities that are now optional in our house. I'm working on more every day. What necessities have you learned to live without?

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