This is part two of my four-part series on saving money in the kitchen. In the first part I introduced you to some guiding principles, and now I am going to lay out some ground rules. Remember, I am not an expert or a guru on saving money and simple living - I am just sharing a collection of lessons I have learned with help from all of you!
Saving Money: Part Two - Ground Rules
Rule #2: Don't die of overkill.
Sometimes energetic, industrious, creative people can start a lot of projects (I'm going to bake bread every week, make all our own spice mixes every day, buy only local and organic produce, buy all the canned beans on sale this Friday, make a hundred jars of jelly, sew curtains and hand-knit a rug, plant enough herbs to last us a year even though I've never gardened before) and get overwhelmed by the whole kaboodle. Then the projects and dreams all go out the window, money and time may be lost to the fire of Life Happening, and motivation goes down the drain in a swirling vortex of disappointment. I learned this the hard way - wasted money because I wanted to cook something homemade and didn't get around to it and ended up buying dinner, rotted produce when I brought home too much to handle at one time, bought the wrong equipment when I jumped the gun on a homemaking project, and over-purchased on a sale item and spent too much money too early in the month. It happens. Try to avoid making the mistakes I did and take your time - do research at your leisure, keep a notebook of handy notes and ideas, read up on a subject before diving in, get your husband's approval on a project and don't get upset when he isn't willing to spend the money ("But we'll save so much!" I whined). You cannot read every home-making book and blog and website and you cannot possibly digest all the information that is out there. It would be impossible to overemphasize this: There is no hurry - preserve your sanity first, and read about and integrate new ideas and tasks as you have time, funds, and willpower to do so.
Rule #3: You absolutely need to create a budget.
Rule #4: Don't underestimate your budget; know what you spend.
Rule #5: Generate motivation or track success.
How you interpret this rule is purely up to you. Maybe just staying out of the red every month or paying off a debt would be enough to track success! As an example of generating motivation: To help inspire myself to do extra projects that take extra effort that would be easier to pay a few extra bucks for, I put an index card on our refrigerator door and track money I saved Above and Beyond the Call of Duty there. Not savings like a coupon or something in the grocery store necessarily, but just a few items I chose to follow: if I wash or dry a load without using the coin-operated machines, I save a dollar per cycle and put a check mark in the laundry-saving category. If I make a batch of soap or toothpaste at home that I normally would have needed to buy, I total up the savings and put it in the household-supply saving category (savings = cost of store-bought product - cost of ingredients for home-made). If I make a loaf of bread, I add a few dollars to the home-baked goods category. At the end of the month, I total up all of my A and B the C of D savings and add them to our regular savings deposit. It's never a huge life-changing amount, but it's enough to see the difference add up. All the other savings - on grocery bills, garage-saling for dishes, growing herbs - are merely reflected in the fact that our overall budget is smaller than it otherwise would be and we can keep paying for electricity and rent and other goodies like that.
Readying the pen,