Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Small goal update

At the end of December, I wrote a post on needing to set some smaller goals to keep me busy & sane while we solved some of our larger looming housing/location questions. It turns out that we have taken a big step towards solving our housing/location question, but I still like having the smaller goals. Here's how I'm doing so far, with one month complete.

  • A toiletry challenge! Use my $75 of Rite Aid plenti points, and make them last until June. I had a brief misstep when I bought eyeliner with cash vs plenti points. But, I made up for a few nights ago by using my Plenti points to buy Nick a pack of Magic cards. He gave me cash from his wallet to offset. So, I'm now clear on the toiletries spending (i.e. using no cash for 2017 so far). Whew! That was complex. ;-) I currently have around $80 in plenti points, so I've grown the stash! I've also been keeping an inventory of things we need, and we have plenty of everything. We should be in good shape for a while. 
  • Tracking all of our clothing purchases. I've tracked everything we've bought so far. Our budget in 2017 is $1500 for all four of us. So far, we've spent $251.31. The vast majority of that has gone to the boys soccer uniforms. Spent so far:
    • Slippers for me (on the shopping list for 2017) - $8.09. Happy about this purchase, as it's been a very cold & wet winter, and we have all wood/tile floors.
    • Returned a jacket at Costco $-13.02
    • Boys soccer uniforms - $306.72
    • Gloves & a base layer for Sam during a soccer tournament - $20.02
    • Returned a ski helmet & top for me $-70.50

  • Every month, look for one permanent way to cut costs. It's totally fine (and, likely) that these will be small cuts that will add up over time. In January, I discovered that I could clean our mirrors with newspaper vs paper towels. We get a free local newspaper once/week, and it comes with plenty of papers to get us through our standard cleaning. I've also discovered that I like walking to go get our groceries from the produce stand, although it's not always practical. I often go between other errands. I may try in February to replace two car trips/month with walks. 
  • Come up with two date night suggestions that don't involve an expensive meal out. - I didn't do this in January. We had no date nights. Lots of time together chatting about the house, but no time, energy or money for a date night. Instead, I've found a free date night for Valentine's Day. A local camp near us will be hosting the kids & offering a free movie/dinner for the kids. Super excited. We will have dinner at home, with wine or champagne to celebrate Valentine's Day. 
  • Maximize my travel hackingI'm not sure what 2017 will involve for work travel, but there are lots of opportunities to use points & credits for their best value & by keeping track of all of our rewards, it helps to ensure I'm using them well. - I haven't explored this. It's been crazy with the house, but this is something I plan to do. I have bought one plane ticket so far, for just under $175. I did explore lots of other options for purchasing that ticket (using a credit on another airline, etc, but the flight times just weren't practical.)
  • Make $100 selling things on Facebook. - Yes! I've sold $131 worth of stuff so far. I'm setting a new goal of $300 for the year. We actually have gotten rid of SO MUCH stuff, but I feel like the move will generate a few more options for us. 

I love the small goals. They keep me focused on the day to day, while we work on the larger goals in background. How about you? Any small goals you're working on in 2017? How are they going?


  1. You've inspired me to try using our free newspaper for cleaning the mirrors which I have to do today. My biggest goal is to get our electricity use down which is difficult since we had fans/heaters going to dry out our leak and so this bill is larger than normal. I want to reduce my yearly energy usage by 10%, unlikely but a goal is a goal nonetheless and if I do it my electricity company gives us a $50 credit as our electricity company is government owned they are encouraging the reduction. My major goal this week is to get my picture taken for my passport and hand it it. Difficult when I have been fighting snowstorms. Step one was getting my hair cut and I got that done on Thursday.

    1. Loved the comment below where Revanche didn't know that people were choosing anything other than newspapers, because they were superior to paper towels. I wish I'd learned how useful they were eons ago. But, I'm in now!

      I love your plan of reducing your energy. After we move into our new house, I'll assess the energy usage & see what we can do. It's old, and not particularly well insulated, so I think we'll need to make some changes. Also planning to consider a change to an electric vehicle, which should bring longer term gas reduction.

  2. I was surprised to discover people didn't always use newspaper to clean their mirrors and windows. Growing up, we only used them because it left no streaks or fluff on the clean surface, so I assumed it was an effective method, rather than a frugality measure.

    Definitely small things are keeping me feeling more grounded with all the big and terrible things going on. I'm sending people small cards in the mail so that they have a bright spot in their month, and also fulfilling my commitment to send mail to family once a month.

    We also checked off the regular visit with the pediatrician, and submitted a passport application. Now I have to delve back into the house hunt stuff. We have to get storage to get half our belongings out of the house so that it can be photographed and viewed. I'm not looking forward to that!

    1. The small things are really helping right now. In addition to giving (both from an economic and time perspective), I'm trying hard to focus on my family, investing more of my time in worthwhile activities, and stepping back from things that don't matter. It's hard. Many of those things are really compelling *cough, Facebook*.

      You are on it! We need to get the kids passports. And, find a new nanny. Both are on my post-move check list.

  3. Small things can be huge! I still would like to drop our grocery budget to 300 per month, but I have a renegade husband who actually likes to stop at the store on his way home. He creates things we "need" just to stop and never buys what is on sale. I think, no I know, he uses the stop as a reason to walk by the bakery and buy himself a dessert.

    1. M doesn't buy dessert, but he splurges on lots of other things. He's a bit of an impulse buyer. ;-)

  4. Great job on the facebook sales. I love making extra money by selling our old or unused items.

    I had to chuckle about the newspaper use. Having lived a different lifestyle before, we always used newspapers to clean windows. In fact, we hardly used paper towels in South Africa. Paper towels were considered a waste by most people. To this day, I still clean the windows and mirrors with newspaper.

    1. I love the Facebook sales, because it serves multiple purposes - making money, decluttering, & reducing what I need to pack!

      I wish I'd learned the newspaper trick earlier. I feel like a slacker!

  5. I need to figure out this plenti points thing b/c teenaged girls use a lot of drugstore stuff!!! I usually get our supplies at Wal-Mart b/c everything is about 30% cheaper than Rite Aid, but if I could get it for free at Rite Aid ...