Author Topic: Took my first baby step  (Read 5780 times)

HoosierGirl

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Took my first baby step
« on: July 02, 2015, 11:17:09 AM »
I just discovered MMM last week and I have been voraciously consuming previous posts any time I have some spare time. Yesterday, I took my first baby step toward financial independence. I work for a large university in the midwest and we have to pay for an annual parking pass. The cost for this coming year is a whopping $450/year to renew my sticker. Even if I renew, I still have a 15 minute hike through campus to get to my building. 
 
I decided to downgrade to the cheapest option at $25/year which still puts me a couple of miles away. As a staff member I get free access to the campus bus system as an incentive so I've decided to downgrade my parking and bring my bike to campus on days when I need to run errands around town and I'll take the bus the rest of the time.

I'd love to commute by bike but I live in a very rural area 18 miles away from work. The country roads are very steep and winding making it very dangerous for bikers. I want to start biking the country roads and lose some of my nervousness and build my stamina so I can commute in the future. I'm not sure if I can do the whole commute by bike because of health issues (degenerative disk disease & other back issues) so my goal is to drive half way and bike the rest. If I can get to the point where I can do half the ride on bike then I want to try an electric bike so I can do the whole ride.

 I have a vacation day today so I plan on tacking my grocery bill next. We're currently at ~500 month for a family of 5; 3 very hungry men (2 of them are teens) and 1 picky daughter.

That amount doesn't include my lunch budget though. I've been eating out for lunch almost every day so my goal for July is to bring my lunch 90% of the month. That should easily save $200-$300 a month to start to pay down debt so we can start saving.

I have no doubt it will be a long road but I'm excited to start.

CashFlowDiaries

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Re: Took my first baby step
« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2015, 11:42:44 AM »
Welcome to MMM!  That is a great first step you did. You are saving tons of money like that and biking is awesome.  Its a good work out.

Keep it up!  You will find savings in everything now that you are in the zone.

laughing_paddler

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Re: Took my first baby step
« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2015, 11:46:48 AM »
Congrats on these first great steps- Yes to biking- however much it is. And, yes the bring the lunch thing is great- once you integrate lunches from home into plans for dinner (I just had some leftovers for my lunch) or shopping, it becomes like second nature.

Agree with CFD that MMM is a fun slippery slope- you'll start to see optimizations everywhere now :-)

Heather in Ottawa

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Re: Took my first baby step
« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2015, 11:50:18 AM »
Good for you! These are some great first steps, and you'll be richer and healthier for them. I suggest you should also start tracking your net worth or investment accounts (if you aren't already). I found that it was really rewarding to watch my progress.

Rosy

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Re: Took my first baby step
« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2015, 12:00:20 PM »
Wow - that is a major savings in one single easy step! Good going! Wish I had something so simple and easy to cut out of my budget:)

$500 doesn't sound terrible as a food budget, depending on where you live and what you eat, but there is always room for improvement:)
 We recently took a trip to base (I have military shopping priviledges) and saved 37% plus off our grocery bill. The meat was way over 30% cheaper and 7% came from coupons we had brought plus extra military coupons only good on base.
To think I didn't want to bother with coupons before we went, but he'd already cut some from the Sunday paper and I took a quick - 5 minute look on line for coffee, cat food and dishwasher pads etc - paid off big time.

Keep looking for opportunities to save and they will magically appear. 

DirtDiva

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Re: Took my first baby step
« Reply #5 on: July 03, 2015, 09:33:08 AM »
Welcome, HoosierGirl!  I love carrying my lunch- it gives you control over the quality of your food as well as your time--I estimate I have saved $20,000 since I switched to home lunch 20 years ago (@4$/day).

I make several "big salads" for the week with a boiled egg and some cheese or lunchmeat- grab and go in the morning!  Knock out 3-4 servings of veggies in one meal :).  I've seen websites with quart-jar salad ideas or some such, if you need variety. I've grown accustomed to looking forward to the same salad every day.


Lady Fordragon

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Re: Took my first baby step
« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2015, 02:34:39 PM »
That's a great start, HoosierGirl!  I first started reading MMM back in the March/April timeframe this year.  I've since read through all of his posts and starting biking to work back in May.  It was definitely a bit nerve wracking at first, but now I don't know why it took me so long to start.  Best of luck on your savings goals!

Mrs.LC

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Re: Took my first baby step
« Reply #7 on: July 04, 2015, 08:49:37 PM »
Great start! Don't get discouraged if your $500 grocery bill goes up a little as you are now taking your lunches to work. You should still come out way better but it may make it go up at first until you get get in the swing of taking lunches.

Joy

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Re: Took my first baby step
« Reply #8 on: July 07, 2015, 06:03:03 AM »
Congratulations on your recent changes! You will start to see your savings add up quickly. When I first started out, I found that going through our budget and making cuts was so exciting. Especially when they were cuts that we didn't even feel such as lowering our insurance, cell phone and internet costs.

windupnerd

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Re: Took my first baby step
« Reply #9 on: July 07, 2015, 06:29:20 AM »
Great job! That's a big savings.  Bringing your own lunches to work will make a big difference in your budget.  Once you get in the habit, it is fairly easy.  I generally bring left-overs from the night before which just requires cooking a little bit extra (maybe easier because it is only me and my husband).  It is part of my nightly ritual to pack my lunch and put it in the fridge for the next day. 300

$500 a month for a family of 5 sounds like a really reasonable food budget.  We've been able to get our food budget down over the past few months, but still spend over $300 (for 2).

Lady Fordragon

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Re: Took my first baby step
« Reply #10 on: July 09, 2015, 09:20:33 AM »
Great job! That's a big savings.  Bringing your own lunches to work will make a big difference in your budget.  Once you get in the habit, it is fairly easy.  I generally bring left-overs from the night before which just requires cooking a little bit extra (maybe easier because it is only me and my husband).  It is part of my nightly ritual to pack my lunch and put it in the fridge for the next day.


Totally agree!  My husband and I do the same thing.  We tend to make enough for dinner and lunches the next day.

SavingMon(k)ey

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Re: Took my first baby step
« Reply #11 on: July 09, 2015, 12:02:32 PM »
Welcome, and great start! I would say that's already more than a baby step. It has been mentioned a couple of times already, but yes, now you will start to see savings opportunities everywhere, and it is fun!

Thumbs up on all the changes and ideas. I have to admit I used to be kind of judgmental when it came to electric bikes ("use your own darn power!") but now I see the awesome value for people like you with health problems and older people who would be stuck driving -- or just plain stuck -- otherwise. Go for it! For the winter lunches, I love making a big batch of hearty soup and taking that to work (well, not the whole batch at once ;) ). If there is no microwave, get one of those thermos soup containers and take it hot. Add a piece of bread or corn bread, and you're set.

Definitely track numbers (budget, income, net worth, savings rate, etc.). What's measured is analyzed, and what's analyzed is optimized. You will see results. I started 2 years ago with debt and living paycheck to paycheck. I just paid off the last of my debt yesterday and have an emergency fund. I have definitely changed my ways thanks to MMM, who rekindled the values I was taught by my family and squashed my need to "keep up with the Joneses."

labrat

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Re: Took my first baby step
« Reply #12 on: July 12, 2015, 07:56:55 PM »
Welcome Hoosiergirl!  Great start :) 

Are you at IU Bloomington by chance???  I went there for work then grad school a few years back - I LOVED (and still miss) the campus bus system.  I literally caught the bus right outside of my apartment building and it dropped me off in front of the science buildings.  I would take the bus to the grocery store as well (granted, I was just shopping for myself, and not a family).  If you are in Bloomington and looking to save on food, start at the grocery stores.  I found lots of bulk staples cheaper (not to mention better quality) at Sahara Mart compared to the Kroger or Marsh. 

You'll be amazed at how much money you'll save packing your own lunch.  I find what works best for me is cooking in bulk on the weekend and freezing portions for lunch each day of the week.  Every morning I add fresh fruit/veggies as needed and boom - lunch is done.  Things were even easier in the winter - soup, stew, or chili.

If you can become comfortable biking into work, you'll save a ridiculous amount of money as well.  Try to tap into the biking community wherever you are.  You might even be able to find a riding buddy for the commute.

RosieTR

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Re: Took my first baby step
« Reply #13 on: July 12, 2015, 09:05:51 PM »
Great job in getting started, Hoosiergirl!

Like you, I often drive halfway (total distance is ~12 miles each way) then bike or bus the rest. It'll be fun for you to see how taking your lunch is aided and abetted by taking the bus or bike: that much more difficult to go eat out when you have to fiddle with bus schedules or a helmet, etc. So there will be built-in incentive for both!

I would like to caution you, though-if you eat in all the time make sure you are still taking your lunch time. I find I get sucked into doing work while I'm "at lunch" and thus working more. This happens to DH, too, at his job. Just something to be aware of...when you're out people will wait for you and expect you won't respond, but if you're in your office then you're still "available". If it is, consider closing your door and logging out of email, etc. depending on your situation.

Like any habit, it'll feel a little funny at first, but if you can work something to look forward to into the whole mix then it'll work in smoothly. Have fun with it!

Mrs. Crackin' the Whip

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Re: Took my first baby step
« Reply #14 on: July 16, 2015, 11:02:48 AM »
Yes, definitely take your lunch from home!  It saves so much $ that it's unreal.  Plus it's simple and quick to just heat up and eat.  If you do it long enough, you won't even miss it!  My husband hasn't had lunch out in over a year and I'm going on at least 5 months!  You can do it!

MoustacheKnittah

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Re: Took my first baby step
« Reply #15 on: July 16, 2015, 11:30:02 AM »
I decided to downgrade to the cheapest option at $25/year which still puts me a couple of miles away. As a staff member I get free access to the campus bus system as an incentive so I've decided to downgrade my parking and bring my bike to campus on days when I need to run errands around town and I'll take the bus the rest of the time.

Yeowza, I can't believe how expensive your parking pass is! For me to park right next to my building it is like $500/year. The cheaper pass is ~$160, for a lot that is across the street from my building. I bike a lot, so I am considering ditching the parking pass for the upcoming year. I met a woman during Bike to Work Week who lives in a neighboring town (similarly far as you - about 15 miles) and she parks in the free commuter lot on campus and brings her bike to work every day. Then she can bike to errands in town, and bike to her building on campus. Anyways, best of luck to yah!

Kaspian

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Re: Took my first baby step
« Reply #16 on: July 16, 2015, 11:41:35 AM »
It's the way that I did Mustachianism--slowly chipped away at it.  Experimented by trying new things and dropping old habits. Some things stuck, others didn't,  but as a whole life got way, way better.  I cut the landline, cut the cable, started using the library, bought less meat, found a source for cheaper razors...  But all this slowly happened over the course of about a year and a half.  With the exception of this year (which has been a fail of epic proportion!!) my savings rate dramatically went up year over year.  Still, even with this year not panning out as well as last in a mustache way, me feeling like a total discouraged loser about it, my savings rate currently sits at 43%.  ...Which (I have to remind myself) is an insane number for most people. 

I think some people who dive in with both feet and try to do everything Mustachian all at once as soon as they hear about it  get exhausted and discouraged by the changes.  (Seen the posts here in the forums.)  Baby steps are A-OK!
« Last Edit: July 16, 2015, 11:44:12 AM by Kaspian »

mwulff

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Re: Took my first baby step
« Reply #17 on: July 17, 2015, 12:56:24 AM »
Welcome,

Pat on the back for the first steps. I would suggest that you look into electric bikes if you have a back disease. They can make long distance biking pretty effortless and electric bikes are also excellent grocery haulers.

Our car usage fell through the floor after we bought 2 electric bikes.

Otherwise good luck :)

math-ya

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Re: Took my first baby step
« Reply #18 on: July 17, 2015, 05:12:19 AM »
If you're in Bloomington, there is a dumpster on 2nd & Morton behind Kroger that should be able to help cut your grocery bill by a lot