The start of fall has always felt like a new year to me.
Perhaps it had something to do with the start of school. Cracking open those September issues of Seventeen magazine. Gazing longingly at all the plaid skirts, tights and long-haired models against a backdrop of an Ivy League school … be still my heart.
But maybe it’s something even deeper and more primordial.
Perhaps (at least, if your ancestors were Northern European), fall unleashed a boost of energy that would have been helpful when you were facing long months of winter. It was time to cut all the wood and preserve all the meat. Time to prepare for winter so people didn’t, y’know… die and stuff. Maybe my ancestors who survived to pass along their genes are to thank for this “spring fever-ish” feeling I get every autumn.
So even though it’s not a new year, per se, I’m going with it. My energy is my most precious commodity (always has been, even as a little kid, and sadly it’s not getting any better in middle age). So I take full advantage of any upswing.
I’ve declared this 2019/2020 season, beginning this month:
The Year of Financial Optimization
Last year hubby and I were focused on making more money.
That’s certainly important when it comes to improving your finances,. Especially with two naturally frugal types. Neither one of us is spendy or have FancyPants tendencies. But frugality alone isn’t enough, especially if you’re already cheap.
We did well with our goal.
Last year was a record year, income-wise. My income grew 37% from 2017-2018. Hubby had a great year too. His income was up 6%. We paid off the medical bills from his stroke. May was his one-year Stroke-aversary and he’s doing fantastic.
Now, it’s time to focus again on our spending. (Side note: Why is it so hard as a human being to focus on more than one thing at a time?)
I’m systematically attacking one category of spending every month.
The purpose of this is to free up money – not for spending – but for investing.
I started with cell phones.
I had an unlimited plan at around $50/month. Not bad, but I can do better. I use my phone a LOT for work – mostly for Facebook live and updating groups and messaging. So I actually need an unlimited plan (thankfully our phones are both tax deductible. Gotta love being self-employed!).
Hubby was still stuck paying around $120/month to Verizon. (Yuck! Seeing that go out every month made me a little ill.)
As soon as he’s out of the contract, he’s switching. We’re going with Mint Mobile. For $20/month, it’s a no brainer. Actually, I signed up for 3 months at $20/month and got 3 months FREE.
Mint uses the T-Mobile network. If yo’re unfamiliar, Mint, like many other low-price mobile options, is an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator). Meaning their coverage is every bit as good as whatever towers they’re piggybacking on. Which means clinging to an old, overpriced provider is about emotion, not logic.
Also this month: lowering food spending
I’m also working on grocery spending. It’s our biggest household expense. I don’t want to change our eating habits or do coupons again. And I already don’t buy convenience foods.
So, the primary way to lower our food spending is to combat waste. Which is why I googled “what to do with leftover salmon” just now. I’m happy to report that the Salmon Chowder was surprisingly delicious and everyone ate it happily. This is a wonderful find, since I always somehow make too much salmon. More on this in a future post.
Utilities. I asked our energy company for an audit. I’ve done this before, but in our previous home, which we did not own. Did you know they provide this service for free? Read: I got an energy audit.
Future project: refinancing our home. I’ll keep you updated.
The Year of Financial Optimization, all the posts, will link here