Friday, March 25, 2011

Living richly In Retirement-Spring Is a Frugal Girl's Dream

As I mentioned earlier on, spring has sprung here in Texas-in reality,  its been here for most of the month of March.  Every season has frugal advantages and costly situations.  While energy use is high in many places during the winter, one can also cook frugal soups and stews and freeze them, and post holiday shopping can save on gifts.  That said, in this part of the country, spring is generally a frugal gal's dream. How can I count the frugal ways to enjoy spring in north Texas?

  • Energy Savings:  For the most part, I'm neither cooling nor heating my house. Once in awhile, there is a brief blast of AC late in the afternoon if the house temperature has gone above 80 degrees.  Meanwhile, I'm cooking on the grill at least twice a week, saving on cooking energy (I have a covered patio and I do cook on it year around, but much more often in the warm weather). The days are getting longer. Because I have a house with lots and lots of windows, this lowers my electric bill, as well as being a psychological boon. 
  • It's garage sale season: This is a plus for two very good reasons in my household. I always first try to purchase items on the used market.  This means that  small household items, replacement items and even some like new gifts are purchased during this time of year. Yesterday I got brass candle holders for my mantle and decorated pots for a couple of dollars. I have a list of items I am looking for. Here in Texas, yard sales can run from Thursday through Saturday, or any combination thereof.  Since I work at home, I generally go Thursday and Friday and stay home on the weekends.
  • It's garage sale season, part deux:  My son has a book selling business online, and I buy and resell collectibles and other things online as a side business. This means that this time of year is good for business as well as our personal financial bottom lines. On the resale front, yesterday I bought a signed book of poetry published in 1930, collectible Avon plates and a lighted Easter village house, all of which will be resold.
  • It's planting season:  Although I'm planting and not eating as of yet, planting even small amounts of my own produce, especially herbs, can save a bundle and add to my creative cooking. My patio pots are fertilized and this season I will put starter tomatoes, peppers and the like (bought on sale with a coupon) in the pots. Although this doesn't mean I will never buy produce, it does mean that I will have some fresh items, and a start of a larger garden that will continue year to year.
  • In Texas at least, it's spring festival season:  This means lots and lots of frugal to free entertainment.  Many festivals are free, and those that aren't have a very reasonable entrance fee. So for a small fee and perhaps the cost of a drink, one can have hours of free entertainment as one explores these festivals. I go with friends and we generally take a picnic for before or after the event. It's also the season when free outdoor concerts and the like begin to appear in this part of the country. In today's weekend section there is mention of a free fun run, a free outdoor art festival, a pinball festival, a swap meet, a jewelry making open house, and many free concerts. That's just in my area of the city.  There's also a garden show for a mere $2.00 and lots of other cheapies.  I haven't even mentioned the kid friendly choices.
  • It's time to exercise outdoors:  Although my six months membership to my city natatorium facility is extremely reasonable, now I will be walking outside. As summer approaches and it gets hotter, I'll use my local pool (which is free) early in the morning.
  • Local, seasonal produce and meats begin to appear more at my local grocery stores:.  While food is not going down in price anytime soon, I do find that for the most part local produce and eggs are cheaper (I don't get to the farmers market every Saturday because I'm often yard saling or going to craft fairs).I am a spring a summer veggie person (as opposed to squash and the like) so this is perfect for me. This is just the beginning of the growing season and things become more plentiful day by day.
  • As a direct result of the above, this is the very beginning of preserving season:  Obviously, this goes well into summer and even early fall. I don't can as much as I should, and frankly, canning store bought produce is not always a money saver.  However, I make many gourmet and giftable type items (barbecue sauces, relishes, mojito jelly and the like) that save me piles of money. This year I will also look for a source of bulk tomatoes   Last year I purchased a water bath canner and one of those "new skills to learn every month or so" on my list will be in play.
  • I feel more energetic as the days get longer and the weather warms:  While this may not necessarily be "frugal" in the sense of the rest of my list, it means that I spend less time wrapped in a blanket in front of the television after dinner and spend more time doing other things. Admittedly not all of these are frugal endeavors as I consider after dinner to be "my" time.
  • I have less pain, which allows me to accomplish more:  I have an injured knee with residual effects on top of arthritis. This means that cool and damp means more pain, and less activity.  Again, this probably doesn't fall under the "frugal" sphere in the overall scheme of things, but certainly increases my energy.Since the two streams of income I am trying to establish are errand/concierge services and quilting, this is an overall financial plus for me.
These are just a few of the reasons I see spring as lowering my bottom line. I know that Texas weather has not reached the rest of the country.  Which is season is your favorite for frugal endeavours?

7 comments:

  1. You forgot one thing about Texas spring - pollen!!! Other than that, I am in total agreement with you!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Even here in Phoenix where we don't experience much of a winter, I love the transition to spring, too. Being outside on a warm afternoon, planting something, then reading while sitting under an umbrella on a patio and watching the birds makes for a perfect day.

    You reminded me to stock up on charcoal and get the grill out of storage. Nothing smells better than meat on a grill.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Audry, there is that! I was yard saling this morning (I buy up yard sale leftovers cheap and resll them) and could just see the pollen in the air. I have no allergey issues but my son is a recovering asthmatic, so he fells your pain.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Bob, today we were doing the slave labor on the patio to get it in that shape...emptying out dirt from old pots, power washing the patio down and the like-now I'm ready to sit down and enjot!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I read recently that produce is going to sky rocket in place and everyone should have a garden. Not my favorite thing to do-a childhood spent picking weeds, but something to consider.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Cathy, I hav though about veggies in pots at least, but at the moment I think I have my groceries down to a reasonable level, if not lower than most folks-see in the coming post.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I hear you about the weather. Here in the mid-Atlantic region, I can usually count on about 2 months in the spring and another 2 in the fall when I don't have either heating or AC bills. Woot!

    ReplyDelete