Today was my "big errand day". I've mentioned before that twice a month I try to do as many big errands as possible, taking the entire day. In between I also do errands as needed, but I don't enjoy doing most of this stuff necessarily (I have other ways to "get out of the house"). Today's errands included grocery shopping, getting a new battery for my sons 1998 Ford Explorer (joy of joys), hitting the library, getting keys made to the new house, spending my birthday gift certificates, and starting to look for socks, which I never wore in Texas except for walking. There were others, but you get the idea. In fairness, this is not a money saving expedition. I am blessed to live in one of those places where you feel like its in the woods but where grocery stores a half a mile a way.
After I filled my cart with cereal and butter and eggs and oranges, I walked over to the meat aisle. While I always have an idea what I want to buy, it depends on what I see. Today, I saw huge boneless pork loins at an amazing price. I also saw large roaster chickens. There was a great deal more meat and the price was less than the ready made roasters at half the price. To make a long story shorter, I brought home the boneless pork loins. Tonight I cut up said pork loins with a very sharp knife and a ruler. After all is said and done, I have one inch thick boneless pork shops, thinner frying pork chops, pork stir fry meat and two separate roasts. This took me less than half an hour, using a ruler to make the chops even and freezer bags for storing. Let's just say the cost for thick cut grilling chops would have been three times the price I paid.
The original decision (to buy two deep discounted items) and the following action (cutting the meat to our personal needs), were small ones in terms of time and effort. The purchasing itself took a few minutes, and the butchering if you will, another fifteen or so. This overall effort gave big rewards on many levels (not all financial). I got two discounted pieces of meet at a rarely seen price. I was able to turn those large pieces of meet into desirable cuts,cuts that would have cost triple what the roast at regular price would have been. Then end result? A few minutes, lots of money saved and in the long run less shopping time or effort.
Too often when we think about living on a budget, or trimming the budget even further, we concentrate on the big things-those labor intensive and time intensive projects, or the big money adjustments. Those items have a place in any simplified budget, certainly. I've obviously made some of those larger changes lately. In my fixed income experience however, it's the little things that along with attitude, make the huge difference. For some people the big changes are not within their reach or frightening in scope and intensity (and may be too radical a change).
I am not into drastic changes. I prefer to keep my comfortable lifestyle as it is, making small changes as I go to accommodate needs (financial or otherwise), and turning these little changes into lifestyle habits.
To step out of the financial arena, quite some time ago I decided to try and loose a bit of weight. My daughter decided as a gift that she would buy me a membership with one of the many weight loss business out there. She also bought various motivational books. Many of the business and a few of the books offered radical change. Eat our prepackaged food three meals a day. Instead of eating real food, drink shakes and eat protein bars throughout the day and have a diet meal at dinner. Eat less right around a thousand calories or less. No WONDER people fall off the wagon!
The end result was that I decided I would make a few small changes. I decide that I would not go on a diet but try and eat a little more healthy. The first month, I cut my six pack a day coke habit (yes, you read right) to one and occasionally two and I lost ten pounds. The second month I moved to low fat sour cream, salad dressing, mayo, cream cheese and cheese. I ate healthier, I ate the same amount of food, and I ate (for the most part the same things). By making these little changes I was able to eat healthier, normally, without being "deprived".
The little changes you make may depend on your desires and your needs. I am willing to wash in cold water (for the most part), get all my reading from the library,cut my dining out from twice a month to once, shop loss leaders and cook double and even have a meatless meal here and there. I'm willing to take a cooler on my road trips instead of hitting every single restaurant from the road food travel book. My small changes don't including lowering the thermostat, or giving up sugar.
But that's just me. You may be different. I say make as many little changes as possible and see if some of the bigger issues resolve themselves in the process.