Happy Leap Day! The day so great it only comes around every 4 years, as well as the end of February 2016.
So, first let’s go over the highlights of February:
Last month, we switched our cable internet bill to a basic 20 channel plan, which saved us about $99 a month. We continue to whittle down our cable/internet bill. This week, we bought a modem for $50, so that we will be returning the one we’ve been renting from the cable company for $10 a month. I can’t figure out why we bought just a router and not a modem as well when we switched over our cable and internet service last month, but using our own equipment pays for itself in a few months.
We are seeing some unexpected electrical savings as well. At the same time that we switched our cable, shedding a constantly on DVR, Jon got and installed a set of low-flow aerators and shower heads from the Duke Power. We aren’t seeing the kinds of savings that caused the utility companies in our old house to change out our meters, but we still have a substantial savings over the same period of time last year. Considering we lost power for 2-3 days last February, that’s pretty darn good.
Since I started reading other finance blogs I’ve tried a few apps and services suggested on other blogs. Some of them have worked for me, some of them haven’t.
- I tried doing survey sites, most of which I’m not crazy about because of the amount of personal information you have to share before you get rewarded.
- I switched my phone service from Verizon to Cricket, which cut my phone bill in half.
- I joined Ibotta. I was really enthusiastic about Ibotta in December, when I was able to get cash back on a lot of generic items, and do it easily because I was able to link all of my Food Lion purchases automatically . Lately, most of the rebates available have been for brand name merchandise I have no interest in, very similar to most coupons I see. I’m not ready to give Ibotta up, but it’s become a lot less useful.
- I joined Credit Karma. I like the site and the ease of monitoring my credit scores and basic information. It’s a much easier service for me to use than the free scores provided by my credit card and our credit union.
- I joined Swagbucks. Still not crazy about surveys, but it seems easy enough to log in if I’m going to buy stuff on Amazon or another online site anyway. I don’t mind using Swagbucks search results for basic searches, and the codes seem easy enough.
- I joined the Frugality Challenge on Facebook. Celebrating my wins, both big and little, is fun. I don’t see myself winning any month, but I get some good ideas just from scanning the aisles.
There are a few other things I’ve been reading about that I need to try. Considering I’m satisfied with 5 out of the 6 experiments, I need to step it up because trying new things seems to be working.
I wrote last week about feeling off my stride due to an unpredictable schedule. A week hasn’t changed that, and I guess I’ll try to work in posts on Monday and Thursday instead of Monday, Wednesday, Friday for a while. That’s a change, and maybe just leaning into it will allow me to find my groove again.
That said, if anyone has some ideas for something they’d like me to write about, let me know! I could always use some inspiration, and I’m feeling a need for it right about now.
I’ve definitely been failing on my New Year’s resolution to achieve an average of 5500 steps a day this month. I can say I’m probably getting more steps by wearing the Fitbit than I was without it. There’s something about looking down and seeing I’ve only gotten 1600 steps by 5 pm that usually spurs some extra activity, even if it’s just pacing around the house. But I’m well short of my goal, and decreased rather than increased from last month.
The only resolution I seem to be making real progress on is keeping our spending down. Discretionary spending categories, like groceries and entertainment, continue to track well below last year. Little moves are paying off, like avoiding picking up fast food while running errands, or checking what’s in the pantry and freezer before I go to the grocery store.
I’ve also changed up my Lenten resolution. What you give up are add in for Lent should be a struggle, and i was definitely finding daily meditation a struggle. I needed a focus, so I’ve added some daily bible study so that I have that focus. It’s still a struggle, but at least now there’s a little more structure.
Maybe next year I’ll just give up sweets.
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