My Frugal Start to the Year

 Happy 2017 everyone! I hope you all have started the year with optimism and a look ahead to a frugal yet fun year!

I laid down some important groundwork before I got into the day-to-day frugalism I plan to live by. First, I negotiated a much lower line of credit with a bank and moved over a chunk of debt to it, shutting down a higher interest LOC along with it. I also put $1000 towards my credit card and managed to put nothing new on it or on any of my other debt vehicles. I’ll write a current round up post shortly.

Now when it comes to the day-to-day, I’ve flown under the radar since well before the holidays. Granted, I was sick with a bad flu but even before it hit, I knew I wanted a cozy few weeks where I can cook, declutter and plan for the year ahead. I’ve spent $23 since January 1st, and it’s just been on groceries. I personally can’t believe it either.

Step 1 in my plan was to get lots and lots of batch cooking in. I inspected what veggies I had in the fridge, what legumes I could soak and work with, and what meat I had in the freezer. Then, I went to town on recipe websites. With just over $20 worth of fix-ins, I’ve made enough meals to feed my partner and I and some guests, and have a good week’s worth of grub to go. Delicious and cheap recipes I enjoy (that are also so delicious I don’t mind eating them repeatedly) are chicken tortilla soup, sweet potato and chickpea curry stew, and different variations of veggie Buddha bowls.

I also got really serious about checking out what free events are going on in my city, and I am actually floored at what’s available. I could keep myself busy and experience a wide array of entertainment and cultural activities on a zero entertainment budget. These past few days I’ve been to a free jazz performance hosted at the Canadian Opera Company’s beautiful venue, checked out the Christmas Flower Show at a conservatory (over 4000 poinsettias, let alone the other beauties!) and saw two wonderful Japanese films  hosted by The Japan Foundation. And it was all for free! Granted, there was a Chihuly exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum I would have loved to see, but I mulled over the $35 dollar entrance fee – topped with tax which pushes it above $40 – and I chose to let it pass. I’m going to choose to dwell on all the cultural stimulation I did get to experience rather than the one thing I did not.

Another important thing I did is invite people over a couple times. I’ve been a little antisocial since changing my lifestyle, as pre-FD me had a spendy lifestyle full of spendy friends (like attracts like, right?) so changing my course has led to less social time. However over the holidays I invited friends that I felt I could be open and frank with about the priorities I want to align my lifestyle with and what impact that has on how I spend my days now. I was nervous at first but both dinner dates were a hit! We enjoyed home cooked meals and long conversations about how we’ve reached a point where we can confidently vouch that all the things we’ve amassed have not made us truly happy, and it’s time to switch the focus to macro and long-term thinking. I even have some dates now for some of the free events around the city I have planned 🙂

Back to the free events I will be enjoying, I won’t list the ones I have scheduled in as they are city-specific, but from now until February, I have tickets for three different films at the Toronto International Film Festival’s flagship theater, plans to see a Grammy-winning choir, an arty party for the opening of Canadian art week, new knowledge that the Aga Khan Museum is free on Wednesday nights, and I am armed with a list of 14 free art galleries in Toronto. Oh, and plenty of wonderful free skating venues! Who needs money to go out?? I love how most of these events place an emphasis on appreciating the work and creativity of others, and not a stage for who’s wearing the trendiest outfit. I’m definitely looking forward to the next couple months.

I rarely speak from an “advising” point of view, but I think it’s safe to say spending a few moments googling some free events could yield some surprisingly wonderful results, no matter where you may hail from. It just may open you up to new tastes and interest you may never have gravitated towards before. I know personally spending a ton of dough on the same-ol’ same’ol’ hasn’t brought me genuine fulfillment, so I’m genuinely happy to give some new community activities a try.

Frugal on, everyone!

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4 Comments

  1. Oh, my! All of this sounds fantastic 🙂 good for you to take a chance on letting people into your new lifestyle. I am so glad you had some honest conversations about what is fulfilling and what is not.

    Congratulations on moving some debt to a lower interest rate etc. I’m really looking forward to reading your next round up. It’s obvious that your new mindset is here to stay. I am amazed how much there is to do for free! And how well said–that you are now spending your time appreciating the talents and skills of others. Such a better use of your time, and free! Excellent!

    1. Thanks so much, Jill! It really was a big step to let people in. I have my first frugal (re:free) date this Saturday to go see a TIFF movie, I’m hoping I was able to express myself adequately enough last time that there is no “so let’s go get a cocktail/grub” that I have to awkwardly navigate after (that’s happened the last few times I suggested free events, but I think I was more cautious in selecting my audience this time around!)

      I really do hope to report some tangible reductions every round-up this year! It really does feel like the new mindset is a genuine, internal shift. I feel so light and happy because of it. Thanks so much for all your support, as always!

  2. WOW! Honestly that is probably the best thing that I can say. You rock FD!!!

    All of this is impressive and what is so wonderful about it is how natural and normal it will seem after a month or two. You are off to a wonderful start for 2017. You will stay on track I just know it!!!

    And I totally hear you on the Chihuly exhibit – I love his stuff. I paid once to see it when I was on vacation in another city and it because just part of the travel/trip budget. Another time I went into an art gallery that had several of his artwork on display. But I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t pay the price if he was visiting my city – or if I did I would spend the entire day at the museum 🙂

    Carry on FD!
    ~Pru

    1. Thanks so much, Pru! I appreciate your vote of confidence! 🙂

      Isn’t his work magnificent?! I’m glad you appreciate it as well! To be honest, I’ve felt pangs of regret on not going to the exhibit, even knowing that I chose to skip it for a greater reason. However your note reminded me that exhibits do indeed travel and Chihuly’s works aren’t just in one place; I may not be able to see this exhibit now, but one day (hopefully soon!) when I’m on solid financial footing, I can travel somewhere special to enjoy his works and it’ll be all the more sweeter!

      As always, thank you for your note 🙂

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