ADVENTURES IN AUSTERITY: MARCH 2016

First Month Success!

Okay, so this post is about 3 weeks overdue. My first month of serious budgeting, which I’m calling my Austerity Adventure, ended on March 31st. To recap, I have embarked on an adventure in saving money via making and sticking to a tight budget which all but eliminates frivolities and requires meticulous planning. I have several goals (which you can read about here), but mainly I want to build my Emergency Savings fund back to $1000, save $1000 for my trip to Iceland in September, and pay off my credit card balance. In March, that meant putting $500, 25% of my income, into savings. And guess what?

I did it!

First Month Success! Adventures in Austerity on Whisper & Howl #budget #saving #kitten

Here’s how:

  1. I stuck to my budget! I didn’t buy anything that was outside of my plans. Well, I did overspend on groceries and eating out, but I also…
  2. Sold a couple of things that I no longer needed. I sold an air filter from my old office to a coworker, and a pair of shoes to a friend of a friend. And I sold a painting!
  3. I shopped strategically. For instance, I only bought groceries that I would be using immediately (which is really tough at places like Costco, which encourage buying in bulk), compared prices across stores, and bought foods that were on sale. I also didn’t buy anything I could easily make at home for less money (hummus, almond butter, bean salad).
  4. I also spent my art supply allowance (which I consider a need) on fabric I found at the Scrap Exchange, a local reuse store. Now I have a seriously major fabric stash that includes inexpensive but beautiful fabrics I can use as wearable muslins, thereby saving more expensive fabrics for tried-and-true patterns.
  5. I decided not to renew my yoga teacher insurance for now, since I am taking a break from teaching.
  6. I finally cancelled a gym membership I hadn’t been using. This one’s a no-brainer. I had the account on hold for the last 6 months but kept putting off cancelling it until I finally got billed again! Oops.
  7. I did free things, or didn’t do not-free things.

I’ll admit, it wasn’t easy. I forgot to skip a CSA delivery and got into a habit of buying the same junk foods every time I went shopping, which put me over my grocery budget. My old running shoes finally gave up the ghost and I had to get new ones. Also, I had drinks one night with friends. I hadn’t had a chance to really celebrate my new job so I caved and had a really great time. If I hadn’t sold the painting and shoes, I definitely would not have met my austerity goals.

My April has been a whole other adventure, let me tell you! There hasn’t been a ton of austerity going on. I have been focusing on keeping my grocery spending within budget and doing great so far. There have been some other developments, though. I’ll get to that next time.

Until then, tell me: what do you do to save money? Make more? Spend less? Anything you refuse to cut out of your budget? 

 

My Favorite Smoothies

From the Nutribullet cookbook

I’ve really stepped up my smoothie game since I got a NutriBullet for Christmas. Not only is it the best thing since sliced gluten free vegan bread, it comes with a cookbook packed with delicious smoothie recipes. They’re not paying me to write this, I just love it a lot. (If they’re reading this and want to pay me, I’m on board.)

The cookbook is hilarious. It’s full of photos of smiling, active, elderly, white, straight couples enjoying life. It’s divided into sections based on medical or health conditions, with recipes designed to be nutritive and healing. My favorites are the anti-inflammation, digestion and detox sections, since I am plagued by tummy troubles and inflammation (damn you, leaky gut syndrome!).

Below are recipes for 3 of my favorite smoothies (or “blasts,” as NutriBullet calls them). Just add all the ingredients to your blending machine of choice and pulverize them into delicious health food beverages. I didn’t include amounts of liquid. If you want thicker smoothies, use less liquid, and vice versa. I usually drink mine in the car on the way to work and prefer them to be less viscous, so I add max liquid. Enjoy!

Pink Detox Blast, My Favorite Smoothies | Whisper & HowlPink Detox Blast

Beets and celery are great for a gently detoxing the digestive system, the avocado adds healthy fats and creaminess, and coconut oil is great for your gut. The apple gives you a nice dose of fiber and strawberries are healthy and delicious. This drink’s gorgeous pink color puts a smile on my face, making this my current favorite smoothie. 

1/4 Medium Avocado

1 Stalk Celery

1/2 Strawberries (Cherries are also great)

1/2 Beet

2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice

1 teaspoon Coconut Oil

1/2 Apple (Granny Smith is my favorite)

3 Ice Cubes

Coconut Water (I often use water instead)

Belly Bloat Blast, My Favorite Smoothies | Whisper & Howl

Belly Bloat Blast

The bromelain in pineapple and curcumin in turmeric help to fight inflammation, while the celery and ginger aid in digestion. This “blast” is light and bright and wakes me right up. 

1 Handful Kale (or Spinach)

1 Cup Pineapple

1/2 Inch Ginger

1/2 Stalk Celery

1/2 Lemon, juiced

1/2 Inch Turmeric (dried also works but fresh tastes better!)

Coconut Water (again, I almost always use water)

Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Blast, My Favorite Smoothies | Whisper & Howl

Chocolate-Covered Strawberries (or Cherries) Blast

This one is delicious and feels like having dessert for breakfast. Instead of the protein blend in the recipe, I use Orgain Chocolate Protein Powder. 

1 Handful Spinach

6 Strawberries (or cherries)

2 teaspoons Raw Cacao Powder (or nibs)

1/4 Beet

1 Tablespoon SuperFood Protein Blend

1 1/2 Cups Unsweetened Almond Milk

 

You can find a ton of recipes on the NutriLiving website…or wait for me to pare it down for you. 😉