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Hi everyone,

Well, January's been a doozy of a month. The stepson's tuition came due, as expected (this runs us only about $800 after his loans and the fact that his mom pays half). My truck needed new tires and a new clutch, neither of those facts were a surprise, but together they cost a little under $1k. We repaired the malfunctioning cruise control on DH's vehicle, not essential (it was cutting off when we wanted it, not on when we didn't which would obviously have been a rather more serious problem!), but a nice thing to have for the 9-hour drive we just made to return me to my state of work (DH and I work 4 states apart), and learned that it needed brake work (that, obviously, essential), those together ran a little over $1k. So all in all we spent about $3k on things that the monthly budget doesn't usually have to accomodate.

But this isn't actually a gripe. Rather, it's an expression of gratitude, and also a musing, about LBOM.

We did a fair number of things to LBOM in January.

Rather than purchase firewood, when we had snow I stopped while out walking the dogs in the woods and gathered some limbs from downed trees to burn. Then once the weather cleared, we gathered a truckload of horse manure from one friend (free), and swapped it to another for a load of firewood. The fires themselves aren't LBOM, we have a traditional fireplace, the kind that sucks heat out of the house! But we enjoy the fires, so they are worth it even so, and cheaper of course if we don't also have to pay for the wood.

I rode public transportation to get to work.

Followed the usual practice for buying groceries, looking for things on sale and so forth.

Kept the heat low...68 when we are home and awake, 60 during the day when we are gone, 55 at night.

When DH and I left to drive north (for my work), I packed a picnic lunch and also packed up the perishable groceries left in our fridge in a cooler rather than discard them.

I washed darks in cold water and when possible hung clothes on the line.

The one movie we went to see, we saw at matinee times, saving perhaps $6 for our tickets ($3 each).

One could, I suppose, get discouraged about all of this. The things we did to save money in January saved us maybe $200-$300...depending on how you count (riding the bus saved a little gas money, but more wear and tear on my vehicle), while the amount we spent was huge. But the thing of it is that by watching the small stuff month after month, we have actually managed to build up enough of an e-fund to absorb these costs without even taking a huge hit. So looked at big-picture-wise, LBOM has paid off.

Meanwhile, I've declared February to be "frugal February." Hopefully this will encourage DH, who isn't great about LBHM (mostly I'm in charge of pinching pennies...), to think creatively about ways he can reduce expenses. He grumbles about this but I'm hoping that doing it for one month, and for a specific reason ("But honey, we spent so much on the cars in January"), will get him fired up. We'll see. Bring it on!

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