Of Baby Steps and Stepping Stones

Becoming frugal involves a lot of behavioral modification. The changes you’ll need to start implementing can quickly become overwhelming. Start with baby steps to create small changes that will last and then create more meaningful goals that will deeply impact the way you live.

We’ve been taking baby steps over the last several years and now we’re getting in deep. We’re not just talking about cutting down on paper products, harmful cleaning supplies, and trash. The changes we’ll be making over the next couple of years will require us to let go of the Standard American Diet and modern conveniences. We’ll also have to learn new skills and make a true commitment to our new lifestyle. I’m 100% committed but my husband needs some convincing.

To make our transitions easier we’ll be breaking these changes into manageable goals that will allow us adequate time to make behavioral changes that will sticks.  My plan is to set a new goal each month with an idea in mind of how we’ll implement it. Over the year I may find other things take priority and switch the goal out to better meet our needs. The important part is that I have a plan to help implement the changes we want to see over the long haul. I’ll be able to see that change is actually occurring and this will help me to assess what steps to take next.

April: Grow at least one new food this year

As you probably already know, I’ve been making plans for this year’s garden for some time now. New crops will include white sweet corn, dwarf blue corn, Napa cabbage, Savoy cabbage, swiss chard, kale, bok choi, sunchokes, eggplant, two types of watermelon, muskmelon, hyotan gourd, pickling cucumbers, lemon cucumbers, blueberries, rhubarb, beets, parsnips, wax beans, Okinawan sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and at least four new types of tomatoes. Needless to say, I’ve got this one in the bank! Now let’s just hope they’re all successful.

May: Start saving for a beef share

Considering the health benefits of the grass-fed, local beef and the fact that you’re supporting a local farmer who cares enough to produce humane, healthy beef the extra money we will end up paying will be marginal, at best. By consuming grass-fed meat that’s packed with vitamins, mineral, and healthy fat, we’ll lower medical costs in the long run by providing our bodies with the nutrients they need now. We won’t just be buying the meat, either. We’ll be taking the bones that come from our share and I’ll be turning them into nourishing stock which will help squeeze every penny out of our investment. It’s not that we haven’t wanted to do this before; this is an option we’ve been considering for nearly two years. The problem has always been having enough money to pay for the beef. We could have put it on our credit card but we’re just not okay with that idea. We’ll be saving a little bit each month with the hopes that in a few months we’ll have enough to buy a quarter of a cow. We’re probably looking at around $500.00 for a quarter so we’ll have to examine our budget to decide how we’ll come up with the money from the monthly budget.

June: Start buying local, free range eggs

We live on the outskirts of our city and so there is still a little farmland left where we live. Many of the farms are small family or hobby farms with small flocks of chickens and the farmers sell the eggs they raise as supplemental income. I’ve passed their signs hundreds, if not thousands of times thinking I should start getting our eggs from them. Not just for the health benefits, but also to help support these farmers. Unfortunately, I have the memory of a gnat and never remember to grab the phone number off the sign before I’m already passed it. This month, if I haven’t remembered to do so already, I will hunt down those numbers with a purpose. I’ll call around and ask about prices, practices, etc. and find a farmer to supply us. Eventually I’d like to have our own chickens but for now we live in a rental with a very small backyard and a very strict neighborhood association so I’ll buy from the farmers instead.

July: Preserve green beans

Honestly, I’m slightly scared for this one. I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I was to receive a pressure canner from my husband for Christmas. Yes, that’s what I asked for. I did lots of research and decided on an All American 15 ½ qt. canner. I’m worried for obvious reasons, like the fact that it will be my first time using a pressure canner and I’m self-taught when it comes to canning. However, I’m also worried about the fact that I’ll be using it on a glass stove top which I absolutely HATE! The manufacture warns against it but I’ve heard from a lot of people that they do so with no problem. I’m thinking about getting an outdoor burner this year and that would solve this problem. The $50.00 would be worth it since having to replace a stove I absolutely despise would be costly and aggravating.

August: Start making homemade yogurt with local, organic milk

I currently buy Greek yogurt from the store. I honestly just don’t eat enough of it to make it economical to make at home. I want that to change, however, because I see a need to increase my consumption of fermented foods. That being said, there is no point in making the effort of homemade yogurt if I’m going to use the same (or worse?) milk they use to make what I buy at the store. I honestly HATE milk and it’s rare that I ever use it. Considering I won’t be using a lot of milk and the health benefits that local, organic milk from pastured cows will bring to the table, I’ve decided this is a good time to convert. It won’t place much of a burden on our food budget but the health benefits will be well worth a couple extra bucks.

September: Grow fall crops

As I’ve said, last year was my first real garden and by the time fall came I was over having the heebeegeebees and wanted some semblance of a life back. Then winter came and all I wanted was to grow something incredible from God’s green earth. Until I started gardening and preserving I never truly realized how much more produce costs in the winter. A couple of months into it and our budget was definitely feeling the crunch. This year, I’ll be planting a fall crop of cabbages, lettuces, and maybe a few other things. Ultimately, I’d like to find old window panes or recycled wood to repurpose into cold frames. I’d love to have something, even if it’s just some humble greens and a herb or two all year long.

October: Freeze homegrown pumpkin puree

This year I’ll be growing pumpkins for the first time and I plan on freezing the pureed flesh. We don’t use much pumpkin; however, I like to have it around for the occasional pumpkin cheese cake or pumpkin chai muffins. It’s also great for substituting into brownies to lower calories and fat. My hope is that I can freeze enough that I won’t have to buy any and I’ll be able to sneak it into my husband’s brownies without him noticing.

November: Find organic shampoo and conditioner that accessible and budget friendly

My husband uses body soap from the Burt’s Bees Men’s line and I use bar soap from a local soap maker but that’s about as far as we’ve ever made it in making a commitment to a healthier bath product. It’s not that we don’t want to make the change, our problem is finding healthy, chemical free, organic shampoo and conditioner that doesn’t break the bank, works well, and is easy to find around town. I’ve tried many products over the years and there are many problems I’ve yet to resolve; they make my already unruly hair absolutely unmanageable, they aren’t really safe or organic, or they cost an arm and a leg. There has to be a product out there that will work for us. Needless to say, I’ll be starting on this goal long before November. November = deadline.

December: Begin making at least 50% of all bread products

I plan on asking for a bread maker for Christmas which will certainly make this even more attainable. However, I think my husband may have mild gluten intolerance so before December I plan to go gluten-free for a bit to see if we noticed certain health issues clearing up. So for now, this goal is flexible and may change.

Think about doing the same thing in your home and life. Your goals can be whatever you’d like and these don’t have to just apply to organic products or simplifying life. Maybe what you need to focus on right now is getting out of debt or making changes to your daily routine to make life run more efficiently. Whatever your goal is, you can use this simple plan to help you implement changes. Over the course of each month you may find that your goal isn’t realistic and needs to be reassessed or you’re actually able to do more than you anticipated. If your goal works for you, know that it takes at least 21 days to make something a habit so a month will give you adequate time for behavioral modifications with a little wiggle room in case plans change.

Do you have any goals in mind that you plan to implement this year? Are you doing something similar? I’d love to hear from you in the comment section! Don’t forget to share It Makes Cents to Me! with your friends and family!


1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    […] afford to buy everything organic, local, and pastured doesn’t mean you should just overlook making changes. Every little change helps protect your health and nourish your body. Look at the suggestions […]

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