I’m cutting costs. Not that I really need to — I’m making the same amount I was at the beginning of the year, rent is the same, gas is cheaper, and food costs only seem a little higher than before. Even so, I think all of the economic news of late, including the possible layoffs at work (I think I’m fine, by the way), and my dwindling 401k (even though I have no plans to touch it for about 40 years), and the smaller interest rate on my savings have taken a toll on me. It’s probably primarily psychological, but I find myself buckling down quite a bit.
Well, not as much as I could. Christopher Greenslate and Kerri Leonard managed to eat for a dollar a day for one month. They ate a lot of beans, rice, and tomatoes. Also: Tang. They felt sick at the end. I think their blog is fascinating, their experience enlightening; I’m not willing to do it, though. On the other pole, Dr. Alan Green ate only organic foods for three years. Not only do I think I could not afford that, but it would limit eating out (even eating at friends’ houses) significantly. But I think there must be a balance…
What I’m doing in terms of food:
- Eating out less… I am trying to reserve eating out for social occasions. I eat out alone a lot, and it’s easy to rationalize… Even eating a Chipotle meal for $7 (their prices keep going up!) is cheaper than buying rice, beans, salsas, meat, lettuce, etc. for one meal. But the truth of it is that if I buy all of those ingredients, it amounts to more than one meal, and I will probably come out ahead (and probably healthier, too!).
- Making big portions of hearty meals, and freezing them for lunches later in the week.
- Drinking less, drinking in… Alcoholic drinks with meals at restaurants are easily double, if not triple or more, the cost of drinking in. While a buzz is certainly nice, I do feel better in the long run if I don’t drink at all, or drink less. Also, I’m drinking less coffee. I’ve been making my own tea at work and at home. It’s loose-leaf and a little more expensive than teabags would be, but really good, and a tablespoon or so makes several cups. When I do buy coffee, I’m only buying from local coffee shops.
- Shopping differently… I can buy my food in a variety of places. Whole Foods is most convenient, and also most expensive, except in some cases: their bulk food tends to be reasonably priced, and their packaged food is usually cheaper (I’m sure due to pressure they put on wholesalers) than it is at smaller health food stores. Produce, on the other hand, is almost *always* cheaper at Sunflower Market and Vitamin Cottage than it is at Whole Foods, or even conventional grocery stores. I’m trying to make the effort to shop at these two exclusively, especially for produce…
- Eating less meat. Actually, this would be difficult, as I hardly eat meat as it is (especially at home). But it is recommended if you want to cut costs — the higher up the food chain you get, the more you will pay.
In other areas… I used to feel fine buying at least some of my beauty products at salons and at department stores. No longer. This week I ran out of three things: the MyChelle face wash, the Origins moisturizer, and the spray wax I’d been using. The face wash costs $17.27 per bottle, which lasts about three and a half months. I’ve tried other brands, and it hasn’t been fun, so I’m sticking with it. In place of the Origins moisturizer (which is $33 for a bottle that last about six months), I’m now using a Neutrogena product that costs $12, and should last longer. And in place of the spray wax ($17 for a couple months’ supply), I’m using a Fructis hair spray that was under $5 and should last 3-4 times as long.