Saturday, September 13, 2008

I am a TERRIBLE guru

Well, here it is. September. Only two (well, one and a half, anyway) months remaining in my LBYMs 2008 challenge.

I suck. I’m looking back over this year and going, “Ummmm…you may have done a lot of LBYMs but honey…you didn’t say a whole lot about it along the way…”

Partly it’s because the book I’ve been working on is pretty much all about it, which meant that when I turned to writing for the blog I was not only a bit weary of the subject, but had this feeling that I had already bored the world to tears gone over it pretty thoroughly.

And partly, it’s because it’s so old hat to me that none of it seems worth writing home about. What, so I just bought twelve whole chickens for $0.69 a pound and then did that thing where you freeze a few and recipe-ready a few and then spend the week making triple recipes of family favorites and freezing the other two meals against future Crazy Days. {yawn} So what?

Nothing to see here, folks, move along…

And then a friend is visiting when I’m making a menu plan and looks at my freezer inventory tracking sheets over my shoulder and says something, “I have never seen anything like this in my whole life…this is fascinating…oh my gawd, you probably save thousands doing that! TEACH ME, OH MY MASTER!”

…and I think, Do you remember that whole thing you always say, about how you don’t mind boring 2,000 people if even ONE PERSON has their life significantly improved because of some ‘trivial’ thing you threw out there?

I read every day about the economic pressures crushing the life out of my fellow creatures and I think, OK, people NEED to hear about the LBYMs lifestyle! They NEED to know what I know! It can not just save them, but help them THRIVE through this!

…and then I promptly blog about how I bought yarn at this adorable yarn store, or needed a new hair curler, or some cute thing one of the Denizens did…I post about the yarn purchases, but not about what I didn’t buy so that I had the money free and clear to do so. I whine about clients not getting back to me (at great length) (believe me, y’all are lucky you’re not here in person, because you think the whining on the blog is bad?! ain’t nothin’ compared to the loud ranting issuing forth from my actual lips…), but I don’t talk about the things I’m doing to build the business, what I’ve learned about starting one, about when to go ahead and invest in that Critical Whatnot, and when to say Not Yet.

I don’t talk about investing, I don’t talk about savings, I don’t parse out how to take charge of your banking…coupons…reward programs…where to spend so you can save


Worst. Guru. Ever.

Well, I’ll try to do better. I’ve got two months left on this challenge, then a two month breather, and since 2009 doesn’t look like it’s going to be much better than 2008 or 2007 before it…I think it’ll be time to ramp it all right back up again.

So, for September. Most of my thinking for September’s Main Point is around food.

The first goal is to not buy any new meats until the freezer is completely empty. This goes a little counter to how you’re “supposed” to use the freezer as a Frugal Friend, but I have a purpose beyond just not spending money right now.

Usually, the way it works is something like this. I’m flipping through the weekly circulars and see that one of the supermarkets is selling whole chicken for $0.69 a pound – usually $1.40. So I head on down and pick up, say, twelve of them. Some I cut into ‘recipe ready’ parts, some I freeze just as they are, some I cook right away and then either freeze the cooked meat for later, or go ahead and cook a few meals to be frozen as ‘heat and go’ dinners later.

This is a continual process, which means that at any given time I’ve got plenty out there in the freezer.

However, the freezer has a way of accumulating things that, for one reason or another, just aren’t getting eaten. Over time, even well-packaged things will start to degrade, even when kept at precisely 0 degrees…so you want to make sure you’re rotating as you go and not constantly passing over that ham in favor of something else.

Due to an utter lack of motivation on my part, the freezer is actually looking about the sparsest it has looked since we bought it – which makes this a great time for a complete purge. I keep the money in my pocket, and the goal is to have a 100% empty freezer out there by the end of October.

Then I can start rebuilding the stock via the buy-on-sale-and-freeze method.

Same concept applies to the pantry. We have cans of tomatoes, soup, dried beans and pastas, all kinds of stuff up there. Instead of buying new things to make dinners, I’ll be focusing on using only what we already have until the pantries are cleared out and we’re down to just the staples.

And again, I can then begin to rebuild the stores with sale-priced stock.

Meanwhile…I want to start thinking about next year. We made great progress in some areas, but got caught by a few unexpected (costly, shocking, holy-crap-we-hafta-pay-WHAT-for-that?!) smack-downs in others. Knowing that there will be more of the same next year, I want to spend some time thinking about how we can better handle these things as they come up.

Having an actual income wouldn’t hurt, for one thing. Sigh. Right. Well, back to work-as-such, I suppose. A big part of living below your means is having some means to live below


Anonymous said...

Hello MoC! Long time reader, first(ish) time commentator.

I've been playing game along from home, and honestly, we've done a little better this year. Of course, it helped that we had no major illnesses (like last summer) and we both picked up a little extra work, but still. Things are better, but there's still need for more improvement. (I actually found you via a websearch on Autism, when Captain Adventure was going through his oodles of testing.)

Best of luck!

Kere the Knitting Knerd

Moorecat said...

So, enlighten us, O Wise One:

Can you (or have you ever) used the Clear 'Em Out & Start Again Doctrine on your yarn stash?


Didn't think so.

Very wise.

Kris said...

I have truly enjoyed your blog. Keep up the great work. When you get a chance check out my blog for an award.

Anonymous said...

I did a lot of the LBYM tactics when my husband was caught up in the dot-com layoffs some years ago. I suppose we weren't technically living 'below' nothing, but you know what I mean. It was amazing how much of it stuck when we became employed again, and how distressed I become when I see myself slipping into bad old habits. I need a refresher course, so... Preach it, sister!

Leoal said...

I wish you could come run my life for a while :(

Anonymous said...

I don't think you're so bad! You probably don't realize how many hints and tips you've dropped along the way. This blog has been a big help for me. In fact, if I can keep on track (which is always a dicey proposition) we may actually end this month in the black for once - something that hasn't happened in a while. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

You should contact The author'd love to hear about your system.


Science PhD Mom said...

I think you've given us plenty of hints. And buying a hair curler that actually WORKS is certainly LBYM!