2012 Budget for the Budget Blonde

I mentioned a few posts back that here in the Budget Blonde household, we’re adapting an extreme budget this year.

Just for a bit of background – Families here in Grenada who have a spouse in medical school typically live off of a student loan refund. It’s not very much, and it’s difficult to justify extra “dependent loans” because our students are already accuring about $350,000 worth of education debt as it is.

(The Hubs has two dependents.)

In an effort to help, I write for two websites, teach dance twice a week in Grenada, write this here little blog, and have now secured a more professional position here in Grenada. In actuality, my contributions do not add up to much, but they keep me busy, my resume without a gap, and I truly do love it.

Now that you have a little bit of background, here are a few ways we are cutting back this year:

Groceries: 

There are no coupons in Grenada. It is also very difficult to meal plan since you might not always find what you need here. Example: I might want to make a salad for dinner, but they are out of lettuce. Or, I might want to make spaghetti, but the type of tomatoes I use for the sauce are still not on the shelf.

All that aside, we are starting an envelope system this year, where I only have a certain amount of cash to spend on groceries. When it’s gone, canned veggies it is! This prevents me from buying little extras (pickles, chips, brownie mix, salsa, etc.) and keeps us on track.

Meals Out:


Hubs and I have developed an hour by hour schedule. It’s about as tight as our budget, but it works for us. Essentially, we purchase dinner on campus one night a week and every other night I make him dinner at home and bring it to him at school. (He studies at school until about 11 p.m. and doesn’t leave his study nook unless I tempt him with food.) We can also go out to eat on the weekends once or twice a month if hubby’s study schedule permits.

Electricity:


It sounds a little crazy, but hubs and I have not turned on our air conditioner in two weeks. And, guess what? We’re still alive! I would have never EVER in a million years predicted that we would sleep with just a fan, but we’re doing it. And, we’re sleeping fine. We had a really, really high electric bill last month, and so off it went.

Extras:


So, sometimes I feel like changing my appearance. This usually includes getting a few highlights or lowlights, etc. But, this time I went back to my roots. It wasn’t necessarily a financial decision, but one I just felt like making for a change. In actuality, it does save me around $1,000 a year, which is a little crazy if you think about it. Knowing me and my frugal ways, I’m surprised I didn’t cave sooner. Not to worry, the website/brand is still Budget Blonde. I was born a blonde and will always be one at heart, but now I just look a bit like this:

Doesn’t hubs look handsome in the white coat?
Transportation:

Hubs and I thought we really wanted a car in Grenada. We hemmed and hawed about it, and even had a very sweet friend who let us drive her car around over the holidays. Was it convenient? Yes. Was it soooo nice to not have to carry groceries on two buses? Yes. But, can we live without it? Yes. And, if we can live without it, then that is what we’re going to do. Yes, it’s a pain sometimes; however, the odd occasion when I have to call a cab doesn’t equal out the cost of gas and upkeep, even if we get a pretty good price selling a car back at the end of our time here.
Minimalism:

In all, what Grenada has really taught us is minimalism. We can both live with less. I can live with only a few pairs of shoes. Hubs can live without his sporty little car we sold before we left. We can both live without a t.v. I don’t need a smart phone. Even Julep is content with a few tennis balls and a bone.
Our time here has changed us.
We don’t want a lot of junk in our house. We don’t have enough space to acquire things. We don’t have enough money to shop or walk around the mall like we used to do. 
And, we are happier for it.
I do encourage you to not care what others think about your possessions, the size of your house, or the year of your car. There is no better feeling than having a plan in place and only buying what you can afford. 
If we can go from the typical American household with extra rooms and a big t.v. to living in a developing country and not turning on the air conditioner, then you are also capable of such changes.

(But, if you want to send me a really cute pair of sandals, I wouldn’t hate you for it. :))

An Appetizer of Home Decor

Julep strikes again. If you don’t know Julep, let me introduce you to my southern belle. Like any southern lady, she has lots of sass and class. Emphasis on the sass. She also has quite the appetite. Remember when she opened one of my Christmas presents last year and ate all the chocolate inside?
Innocent little fur baby.
Well, this time around she had herself a little appetizer of home decor. Obviously, she gets her penchant for home accessories from her mama.
Anyone had a dried starfish lately? Julep, raise your paw.
I found her with this starfish, chewing on its little legs in pure bliss.
Too bad it belonged to my mother. So, Julep wrote her an apology note.

It reads, 
“Dear Grandy (which is what the grandbabies call my mom), 
I’m sorry I ate your starfish. 
It smelled good and I thought it would grow back. 
I ordered you another one on ebay. 
I promise not to eat that one. 
Love, Julep”
Anyone else lovin’ on some home decor lately or is my little angel dog the only one? :)