Challenge Mash-Up Results

Well, two out of three ain’t bad. I had three challenges for the month of February and I met two of them. I didn’t meet my goal of eating on only $30 for the month. My total for the month is probably about $60. I still believe that one can eat reasonably well on $30 for a month but I don’t have the necessary self discipline to do it right now.

On the positive side I did meet the goals of tracking all my expenses and exercising regularly. Tracking all my expenses wasn’t really difficult because I usually do that anyway. Exercising regularly is not a normal habit for me so I felt like it was an accomplishment to stick to my exercise schedule for the month.

Where do I go from here? I will continue to keep track of all my expenses. BFL is a twelve week program and I’m counting February as the first 4 weeks. For the rest of the BFL program I will follow the BFL eating program as well. Despite eating lots of junk food I still managed to lose 5 pounds for the month. Now that the weather is getting nicer I plan to increase my running. With the increased exercise and better eating I should be able to improve my results. I’ll make occassional posts updating my progress. I will post the details of my spending tomorrow.

I’m Frugal,So Why Am I Poor? Part 3

This is the third and final part of my series examining the question, I’m Frugal So Why Am I Poor?  You can find the first part here, and the second part here. The first reason for still being poor was insufficient income, the second reason was uncontrolled spending in certain areas.

The third reason I’m still poor is that I never had a plan to save. Even if you are frugal and have a decent income if you don’t have a plan to save or invest you will probably end up with nothing. Or at least with less than you would have had otherwise. If you don’t have a plan to invest part of your income you have a good chance of spending it all even if you are frugal. If you don’t spend it all but just leave the money in your checking account or a low-paying savings account you money is not going to grow nearly as much as it should. This is why you should have a plan to save a certain percentage of your income. The savings should come out of your income first. Then you need to invest that money so it can grow.

Just changing these three things should keep me from remaining poor. The sad thing is I’ve pretty much always known these things but just haven’t put them into action. It is now my goal to fix all three of these things this year and start getting ahead financially. I know I would be much better off if I would have started earlier but I just have to do the best I can now.

Frugal Foods

If you are eating on a tight budget here are some of the foods that I think give you the best value for your money. I’ve divided them into healthy and not-so-healthy but some of them could have gone in either category.

Healthy(ish) Foods

– Whole chicken (as low as $0.39-0.69 / lb on sale)
– Eggs
Protein/Carb combo:
– Dried beans
– Frozen peas

– 5 – 10 lb bags of potatoes
– rice
– oatmeal (the big tubes, not the individual flavored packets.)

– Apples
– Bananas
– iceberg lettuce
– Romaine lettuce
– Frozen mixes like the $0.98 Asian veggie mixes at Wal-Mart (I get Peking or Mandarin)each bag is around 4-5 servings
– Check farmers markets and Asian markets for good deals on unusual veggies. Basically, if it is cheap, leafy and green and not a lettuce, you can stir fry it.
– Carrots
– Celery

Misc. Useful Stuff:
– 1 can of non-stick cooking spray (Wal-mart store brand is only $1)
– 1 can multipurpose Creole seasoning (Tony Lachere brand I think only $1.50 or so)
– Sam’s Choice brand salsas (Wal-mart, $1.50)

Credit for the healthy foods goes to Maggie Wang who provided this list to me.

Not-So-Healthy Foods

Bread-This is really cheap if you get it at a bakery outlet store.

Tortillas-also very cheap. The corn ones are cheapest but I only like the flour tortillas.
Peanut butter-a little peanut butter spread on a tortilla makes a tasty and filling snack. And a PB&J is the classic cheap lunch.

Pasta-you can get a large box of pasta and a can of sauce for less than a dollar each making for many cheap meals.

Ramen-It might not be very healthy but you can’t get a much cheaper meal.

Mac and Cheese-This is probably my favorite cheap food. I’d eat it even if it weren’t cheap.

Soup-Many varieties of soup are very cheap and it is very filling.

Hot Dogs-You might not know what is in them but if you want meat this is one of your few frugal choices.

I’m sure there are a lot more frugal foods I didn’t list. If you have any suggestions to add you can leave a comment about them.

I’m Frugal, So Why Am I Poor? Part 2

This is part of a three part series where I am examing why I am poor despite being frugal. In the first part I stated that the first reason is because I’ve never made much money. Today I’ll be examining the second reason for my being frugal but poor.

The second reason is because although I’ve been frugal in almost all areas I’ve had a couple of weak areas where I couldn’t control my spending.  My major weakness used to be gambling. It didn’t really matter how frugal I was because any extra money would be gambled away. I’ve had my gambling under control for a few years now. I still gamble occasionally but I don’t let it get out of control. It is much easier now that I no longer live in Las Vegas or work in the casino industry. The temptation to gamble is still with me though and I have to keep it in check or I know I could go back to my former ways.

My current weakness I’m not going to disclose. It is something I’m still struggling with and probably always will. I’ve kept it mostly in check this year but the temptation is still there. Unfortunately this temptation is one I can’t really move away from. I know I have to keep these weak areas under control or I’ll always be poor. This is another goal I am setting for myself. In the next part I will examine the final reason I’m frugal but poor.