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Category Archives: Practical Things

Practical ideas, approaches and tools for a Rice and Beans Life

Why I Don’t Like or Subscribe to the 10% Savings Rule

I read a financial blog the other day that tossed off that old standby of the 10% savings rule for retirement. For as long as I can remember I’ve heard that the best and most sure way to save for retirement is the 10% savings rule.  The 10% rule has long been the golden rule of retirement and you’ll find it in many financial blogs, articles and books. It seems like a fine idea. It’s simple. It’s a good round number and, I’m sure it has worked for some people. Just save 10% of what you make and your future is assured, we’ve been told. But I don’t like this rule. I’m not a naysayer by nature. I’m not usually one to pooh-pooh the advice of financial gurus who are far more educated about money and interest rates and general rules of thumb than I am. But what I am is a regular person. I’m pretty sure my experience is pretty average, as is the experience of many.

The 10% Rule when you are young…

I started out with very little real sense of money other than how to make some and spends some. When I was a young person and going into college, there was always the idea of “someday.” Retirement seemed a lifetime a way because it was. When you head off to college or to pursue that great job, you have a headful of ideas that the future is bright and rosy and shiny. Surely you will steadily earn more as you progress in your career. Surely you will find success after success. This is often long before marriages occur or children come. Long before mortgages must be paid and water heaters replaced. Before you believe that one day your knees will start to creak and ache on occasion or your back gets a little sore getting up in the morning (not that I’m falling apart. I’m a pretty healthy 37 year old.) When I was 20, 25, even as I left my 20’s behind me, retirement was still a lifetime away to me. If I could afford the car payment, I bought the car. If I could afford the monthly cable bill, I had HBO. I didn’t think too far down the road yet. What I had yet to experience was one good, scary kick in the teeth that often comes along as the magic of youth begins to wane and the reality of life sets in. The problem was, back then, the 10% rule was too simple and something I’d get to. Eventually.

How’s it really doing for us?

Now that I’ve got a little life under my belt I can look back and see that I would have been far better served by a less simplistic and general 10% rule. According to fewer than 10% of Americans have an emergency fund to fall back on. According to the Employee Benefits Research Institute, 29% of workers 55 years of age or older had less than $10k in savings. A whopping 56% of workers polled by the Employee Benefit Research Institute in their Retirement Confidence Survey had less than $25k in savings (not including their home value or retirement benefits).  Only 42% of workers have even tried to determine their retirement needs. That means the remaining 58% haven’t tried at all.  So how well is that 10% rule working for any of us? Financial “rules” are all well and good but it seems very few have embraced or followed it. The problem with the 10% rule is that it works decently if you start young and keep it up. And never stop. But what if you didn’t? What now? And what about debt? How will that play into retirement? The 10% rule is just too generic.

It doesn’t ask you to do what you really need to do and it might just hold you back.

My husband and I have whittled away our debt and are coming to the end of a long journey of paying off our past. We have survived job changes and losses, cross country moves, buying and selling a home and are in the midst of raising our children. It took a while to get our heads on straight about the matter but we finally have. When we flipped the switch on our debt and started the long hard work of digging out we began to learn just how important it was to look closely at what we lived on, what we consumed, and why. When we thought we had the lowest number we could live on, my husband went without a job for five months (blessedly short during grim economic times, I’m aware). We figured out that what we originally felt was our lowest survival budget before his unemployment could actually be slashed by another $12,000 a year. It shocked us that we hadn’t seen it before but until we really had to we didn’t look closely enough. It’s amazing what you can do when you suddenly have to. My husband not being able to find work was frightening but I am grateful for all that we learned from that time. We learned what we need to survive and what we don’t. We learned very clearly the difference between our needs and wants. We got really adept at living on considerably less. As we are coming to the end of our Dave Ramsey debt snowball we have come to realize we have no intention of ramping up our spending and only saving 10%. Why cap saving for our future at such a low number? We’re extremely happy and we have all we need. We manage a few wants on occasion and it makes them all the more fun and special. But we don’t really need much. We plan to funnel what is left after our needs are met monthly into our savings, retirement and children’s education funds. We don’t want our children to come out of college in debt because we’d rather have things now that don’t matter all that much in the grand scheme of our lives.. We don’t want to run the risk of our children having to care for us because we did not do our very best to prepare. When we’ve got good solid numbers in our retirement account and a healthy amount socked away for the kids’ education and are feeling confident about building ourselves a good solid nest egg we’ll consider the iPhones we’ve long wanted and cable again (I’d love to watch Project Runway or Deadliest Catch-if they are still on the air by then). We’ll eat dinner out a little more often and go on more vacations. But until then we’re holding off and working hard. Knowing what we need to live a good life now as well as understanding and keeping reasonable restraint on our wants is what is serving us well. We know the average person spends 20 years in retirement (and we’re hoping for better than average), we’ve developed a pretty good roadmap for our future needs. We review it and discuss it regularly.

You can make a better roadmap for your future.

For me, I’ve found that the 10% rule is just too generic.  It’s too flat and not dynamic like the reality of life. It doesn’t call us to a higher standard or to a better, clearer road ahead. It gives a false sense of security.  It doesn’t ask you to know what’s in your financial roadside toolkit or to even look there before heading out on your journey. Know what you have. Know what you need. Know where you want to go. These are far more helpful in determining your real needs for the future than a flat 10% rule. You can do better by getting your budget in order and knowing your finances. Make it a goal to understand your needs vs. your wants more clearly. It is a process. It takes time. There is work involved, but if you get attentive to the matter, it’s really not that hard. It just takes making the decision and having a little dedication. Believe you can do it and make your road map to get to a better future and you’re far more likely to get there. Don’t fall for the false prophet of the 10% rule. I’m glad I haven’t.

Join me in the Comments:  

How do you feel about your financial future and retirement? Do you feel the 10% rule works for you? Do you have a roadmap? I’d love to hear what works for you or doesn’t work for you in the Comments. Let’s inspire others!


Frugal Project Update!

Ok. I figured it’s time to share how I’m doing with some of my frugal projects and approaches. So here goes:

The Paper Towel Project:

  • Week One: We made it!! We got through a full seven days with paper towels left on the roll. I found I had a few busy moments that impeded my mindfulness. My husband enjoyed poking fun at me for forgetting a few times and reaching for a wad of paper instead of the cloth kitchen towel. Even my little ones are on board and it’s going well. Our challenge to get through one week on one roll is now moving into Stage 2: Two weeks on one roll of paper towels. Can we do it? Stay tuned! I’ll let you know in two weeks!

My Household Notebook:

My household notebook is getting plenty of use and is continuing to evolve daily. Like the FlyLady recommended, it’s a slow going project and constantly in development. The things I’ve found that I love having in my notebook are:

  • My husband’s work schedule (it changes a lot and with this insane summer overtime it’s very, very handy to have on hand. We have it in our computer calendar too but somehow having it printed out is easier for us.)
  • My Daily To Do List.
  • My Monthly Calendar (just a print out of my iCal. I print new ones if it changes significantly. Otherwise I pencil it in.)
  • My Shopping List-now everyone knows where to write down what we run out of and no one has an excuse for not finding a writing utensil.
  • My running training schedule
  • Tracking my calories. I’m still working on losing some baby weight (yeah, it’s hung around a little too long since baby is now toddler!) I like having this in a place I look at several times a day. It’s keeping me on track better than I had been previously.

My ongoing challenge that I’m struggling with: 

  • Meal Planning: For some reason I’m a little too loosey-goosey with this. I’m having trouble making and sticking to my plan. I’m still working on it and trying to get the rhythm of it. I like routines (because they are open-ended) but I’m bad with schedules (which are more specific). I’m working on this. I know it can benefit our lives so it’s staying on my list of things to improve on.

New challenges for our Rice and Beans Life Frugality:

  • Our cloth diapers: Ugh. This one is getting the best of me. When we moved to the desert we got hit with having to use what seems to be the hardest water on the planet. I’ve learned far more about water, detergents, soap, minerals, pH and softeners than I EVER wanted to know. I loved using cloth before moving here. But we are having issues with mineral deposits from before we realized we had to have the water softener. Having done a load of research I have found out a couple of things: Very few people in this region seem to use cloth diapers which I’m guessing is because of the water issues and basically, hard water is a pain in the neck. Our water is off the chart hard. BUT, I’ve decided to try a product called RLR (no affiliation, by the way) to see if that helps. It’s supposed to. I really, really, really don’t want to go back to the hassle and expense of paper diapers. Fingers crossed! (Maybe we can get him potty trained shortly and this whole challenge will end naturally anyway!).
So that’s where we are this week with our Rice and Beans Life and the challenge of staying frugal minded.
Comment Worthy-let’s discuss it further:
What are you doing well with and what’s getting the best of you in your walk with frugality?

The Smallest Thing: Making Inroads with Goals

I had a slow start to my day yesterday. Granted it was a Sunday and, by nature, most Sunday’s are very quiet for us. But I was feeling a little…too…slow. I’d recently read an article about reaching goals. Most times these articles repeat the same old tired advice but I can never resist them. It insisted that it had the perfect all time solution to reaching goals. My problem is rarely setting my goals. It’s often in getting them achieved. I have a bad habit that is common to many of us. I often procrastinate my time away. I’m doing nothing particularly interesting when I’m procrastinating. I don’t find I’m reading a novel, or watering my roses or pulling weeds. I’m not reading to my kids or creating anything spectacular in that time. I’m just doing…nothing. And pondering that I should be doing something. That’s when the article I’d read that insisted it had the all time perfect fix-it method for reaching goals in life came to mind. The gem that had stood out for me was this: 

What is the one smallest thing you can do right now to reach your goal? 

When I thought about that, I remembered a line in a book I’m in the middle of reading (Quitter by Jon Acuff-excellent read so far, by the way) and his contention that when you start to get disciplined in one part of your life, it often naturally flows into other parts of your life. In other words:

Action begets more action

So I got up off the couch, snapped my laptop shut and announced to my kids: “Let’s make bread!” I wasn’t in the least in the mood to make bread. I had this needling feeling it was going to be nothing more than a big floury mess. But I pulled out my KitchenAid anyway. And all the ingredients. And the recipe. A funny thing happened as we went along. I got inspired. The bread was kneading on the dough hook in the bowl (I love my Kitchen Aid!) and I remembered my son had been asking about homemade pizza for dinner for the past few nights. We turned on music. I was in my apron (over shorts and looking, quite frankly, ridiculous) and one of my son’s was in his dress up apron while the other wore his dress up chef’s hat. The three of us were merrily wiggling and bouncing to the music in the kitchen and having a grand old time. When my husband finally came home, somewhere near five in the afternoon, my oldest met him at the door and said “Dad, come look at all of our experiments!” He laughed at us. There was a loaf of fresh homemade wheat bread cooling, pizza dough ready to be turned into pizza, sauce simmering on the stove, homemade yogurt in the process of becoming yogurt (which I’d never tried before and found remarkably easy), and, in my small food processor I was blending up some fruits smoothie to make into frozen smoothie pops for desert. I sliced a piece of fresh bread for my husband to enjoy and smiled. I said, “I guess I got inspired.”

When we are in the middle of feeling frozen about our goals, letting procrastination get the best of us, or can’t even figure out what our goals should be-that is the time to get up. Do something. Don’t think big, think small. Think of the absolute smallest action, the smallest step you can take right now to get you moving. If you haven’t written out your budget yet, find a pencil. If you are still learning to tackle meal planning (as I am) print off a menu plan template and look at it for a bit. If you want to make some homemade bread, pull out a bowl. You might just surprise yourself with a kitchen-ful of goodness too.

Comment Worthy:

Do you find thinking too big freezes you up? What small steps work for you?

Bread, yogurt, & some of the fruit smoothie pops. Pizza was yummy. And is all gone!

A Big Ol’ Pot of Beans

When I was a little girl, whenever we’d go to my  Grandma’s house she’d always ask if we were hungry. Even when the answer was no she’d start pulling every ever-loving thing available out of her refrigerator. In the mass of items that always collected on her kitchen table, there was always beans. Always. My Grandma was the kind of woman who had never met a stranger. She’d talk to you in the grocery store line like you were an old friend and invite you to supper. And mean it. I’m sure most people thought she was just being nice. But I knew my Grandma and I knew that she meant it. That’s just who she was. She didn’t have much but she shared what she had with the world. She was the kind of woman who piled six grandkids into her old station wagon to take them roller skating and she’d stay up late making popcorn with me in a real pan over the stove, old-fashioned style. She’d chase us with the greenest peach tree switch or smack at us with a wooden spoon when we misbehaved (though it rarely hurt) and she managed  to often have a mischievous glint in her eye, with one cocked eyebrow and a slightly crooked smile. She declared that every one of her grandchildren must be hers because we all loved her biscuits and gravy. I adored my Grandma. She was something, that’s for sure. And some of my fondest memories of her involve her big ol’ pot of beans.

When I met my husband I was in for quite a surprise. His mom made beans too! We were both from California-so an Okie-style pot of beans was not exactly a common thing. I remember wondering how in the world I’d managed to meet a boy whose mom made a pot of beans so much like my Grandma’s (except she used ham hocks and my Grandma used bacon). And more so, I’d managed to meet a boy to whom a simple pot of beans also held a part of his heart and childhood memories.

Later , while we were living in Alabama during our military days, my husband invited a single soldier who was actually a National Guardsman that he trained with often, to have dinner with us. He’d been hearing my husband talk about beans and was very curious. He was a physicist in his regular life and from San Diego. He asked what the heck was this “Beans and Hogs” my husband was so fond of, so my husband invited him home for dinner. My husband calls our beans “Beans and Hocks” because that’s how he ate them growing up. And though I actually use bacon in mine like Grandma did, we still laugh about this delightfully silly, but apt mistake our guest made.

When one of my readers asked me the other day whether I really do like Rice and Beans, I figured it was time to put on a big ol’ pot of beans to share with you all. I like mine with rice. My husband prefers his with a side of fried potatoes. I can’t really say it’s the healthiest of dishes ever because it does involve plenty of bacon (and yes, the grease!) but it’s a household staple for us. And it’s most certainly budget friendly.

So pull up your chair and have yourself a bowl of beans.

Here’s how it’s done:

A Big Ol’ Pot of Pinto Beans

This does take about 3-4 hours so it’s good if you are home on an afternoon or the weekend.

  1. 2 lbs of dry pinto beans well rinsed in a large stockpot. Cover with 6-8 cups of water. Soak overnight.
  2. I often forget to soak over night so I use a quick soak method. Skip this step if you soaked overnight.
    Heat over high heat and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes. Turn off heat and allow to sit for one hour.
  3.  Drain soak water off.
  4. Add 6-8 cups of fresh water and, over high heat bring to a boil again. Once the beans are boiling, turn down your heat so they are at a good simmer. Simmer beans for about 3 hours. Stir occasionally. Add more water as needed (you want to keep water at least an inch or two over the beans).
  5. About half an hour before your beans are done (or after at least 2 hours of simmering) cut up and fry about 1/2 lb of bacon (or to your personal taste). Add bacon and drippings to the pot of beans. Stir in 1 to 2 teaspoons of salt (again, to taste). Continue to simmer a little longer (approximately 3o minutes).

Serve over rice (I like to keep it healthier with brown rice) or plain, with a side of fried potatoes (for those who aren’t concerned with grease intake!), or with a side of a salad or however you please. Some people like theirs with a side of collard greens.

It’s that easy.

2lbs of dry pinto beans

Rinse your beans

Quick soak if you forgot to soak overnight

Drain and add fresh water to beans after you quick soak

Bring to a boil then turn down to good simmer for 2-3 hours

Cut up and fry about half a pound of bacon (or to personal taste)

Add bacon and drippings to your beans and continue to cook at least 30 minutes.

Make your rice-if you like rice with your beans like I do.

Beans just about ready to go!

Dinner is on! Yum!

Inspiration Thursdays: How Available is Your Curiosity?

Because Thursday’s child has far to go…

I love the endless, lopsided, untamed curiosity of children. We were grocery shopping this past week when we walked by the coconuts in the produce department. My son pointed at the hairy brown orb and said “Hey Mom, that’s a REAL coconut right? Where do they grow? How do they  taste? How come it’s not white? How come it has poky hair on it? It kinda looks like a bowling ball right? These three spots right here….” This was all said in the form of a run-on sentence indicating his runaway curiosity and there was not a single breath separating his thoughts so that I might answer. So I waited. My answers seemed not to be what he was looking for in his expository exclamations on the mighty coconut. In that moment it was the endless chain of explosion of thought, inspiration and curiosity that mattered. I waited for the eruption of words to end, as it usually did, with the final sentence: Can we get one? Plleeeeeaaaaaasssssseeeeee? I laughed. I usually do (unless we are in a hurry, or the store is crowded or they are missing half of what I need). How could I flatten the curiosity of my little boy? He wasn’t asking me for a new electronic, plastic, brightly colored overly marketed toy. He was asking me to help him fill his endless thirst for knowledge. Because fostering curiosity, knowledge and observation skills are high on our list of priorities in our home there was no way I was going to say no to this one (I do, on occasion, when time or budget constraints determine that we must). I helped him to choose just the right one, picking each up and shaking, listening for what we guessed was just the right sound of sloshing of coconut water inside to indicate a healthy pick. We put it in the shopping cart, amidst the container of milk and bag of sugar, making sure not to squash the bread or eggs. I marveled at how inspired a child could be in the mundane of a grocery store produce department (particularly in the grocery store we were in. Back where I come from produce departments can be dazzling in their color and selection but we are in the desert. Dazzling does not occur in our produce department here.). For a child, discovery and inspiration seem to be everywhere, whether looking up to high cottony clouds or squatting low to inspect a chain of marching ants in the dirt. Their curiosity is available. Unshakeable. Almost unfathomable sometimes. There amongst the lettuces and potatoes, I let my child lead me down the wonder road of inspired curiosity. I made myself available to the joy he could not help but share in his need to understand the humble tropical coconut. We continued on with our produce shopping with me lost in thought, considering that I had no idea how to crack open a coconut and thankful that the internet and Youtube exist. I was still trying to figure out our coconut adventures as we wandered by the selection of nopal cactus and heard again…”Hey Mom………”

Comment Worthy:

Can you find your simple childlike curiosity today to inspire you to something new or different?

The inspired coconut

Fishing Lessons: Remembering to Budget Time Wisely

Yesterday my husband had one of the few glorious days off he will have all summer (he has only four more real days off with us until Labor Day, in case anyone is wondering). My oldest son, who is five years old, had recently begun talking about going fishing since he’d never gone before (we don’t buy cable and my husband has an affinity for the old Andy Griffith Show which we watch on a DVD collection we have. Little Opie Taylor goes fishing some and my son thinks this is cool. If this doesn’t tell you just how suggestible children are I don’t know what will.). We’d considered doing something entirely different with this rare day off. I needed a haircut and we could use a trip to town for a few things (“town,” by the way, is 75 miles away). But listening to my little boy I knew how important it was to be quiet and be still and hear his heart. You see, time is not like money. You can never earn more of it. We are born and have a finite amount of it available to us. When we look at the length of our lives we should consider that, out of an entire lifetime average of 70 to 80 years, childhood is fleetingly brief. My son will be five for only a year. In the arc of his life, and mine as his mother, this is but a nanosecond of time. I looked at my husband over our children at dinner and whispered “Let’s go fishing tomorrow. Let’s have a better memory.” He whispered back, “but you need a haircut.” I smiled and shook my head and whispered back again “no. I’d like a haircut. We need something better tomorrow. With all of us as a family.” We got into our pajamas that night, after dinner, spread a blanket on our back lawn and laid on the grass to watch the stars come out while we listened to the desert wind blow in the trees. We hadn’t told the boys yet, but we were going fishing tomorrow.

The next morning my husband came to me and said “maybe we should just practice casting on the lawn today since he’s never been fishing and then go ‘for real’ on another day. That’s what I did as a kid. Practiced first.” I considered this a moment. Then I said no. I reminded him that we have few precious days together this summer and I told him that we aren’t going fishing to catch fish. The fish were incidental. We were going fishing to catch this time in our lives because we cannot get it back. We were not seeking the perfect casting experience. This would be the day we introduce fishing to our kids. There would be mud and wet, tangled line, lots of instruction and plenty of goofy things likely to happen. He said “but we don’t have the right clothes and the right gear.” I smiled. I said, “A fishing pole, some bait, snacks and water are all we need. We’re going.” After a stop at our local store for fishing licenses for my husband and me, and an inexpensive fishing rod for our son, we were on our way.

After a good half hour drive, we wound our way back from the main highway to a small lake tucked back in the mountains. It was hard not to be stunned by the beauty of this area we hadn’t seen before and marvel that it was only minutes from the highway we’d driven many times. It was quiet. There were people hiking around the shore nearby and the quiet sound of their chatter. Mostly there were people sitting quietly with fishing lines in the water. There was the occasional sound of summer thunder in the distance, birds tittering and chirping, an occasional bark from the few dogs running free with their owners nearby and the effervescent excitement of our own children. We spent three glorious hours fishing. There were muddy fingers holding dangling worms. There was, indeed tangled fishing line. There was plenty of instruction in how to navigate the rocky, sandy shore without falling down and the discovery of how to perch on a good solid rock while bait fishing and how to watch the bobber for the sign of a fish nibbling. There was an introduction on how to reel in ‘just so’ when spin casting. There was the re-injury of a previously scratched up knee and the gentle cleaning and re-bandaging of the boo-boo while drying a few tears. There was our first and only catch of a large crawdad eating the worm intended for the trout I didn’t catch, which made us laugh. We saw fish jump from the corner of our eyes and would turn and point too late to see anything more substantial than the ring of water left by the phantom swimmer that had disappeared beneath the water. We witnessed tiny fish swimming near the muddy shore. There were, as it happened, no trout reeled in to bring home. But what we brought home was so much more than that. When the sun started sinking lower in the sky and it was getting on toward dinnertime, we packed up and climbed the rocky hill back to the car for the drive back home. My son sat in the back with the warm glow of satisfaction on his face and said “Mom. Dad. I love fishing. Maybe we’ll get a fish next time. When are we coming again?” It was a simple day with nothing more than the desire to capture our time, a brief moment.

It is so easy to get lost in the busy of our days. It is easy to overcomplicate our lives and those of our children. It’s easy to give into a life so loud with the insistence of our daily to-do list that we miss the simple opportunities to use our time wisely.  I love gadgetry and gizmos and technology as much as the next person but sometimes it can make us lose touch with what is simple and real. It can overfill our lives with multitasking, making us lose more time than we realize. It’s easy to forget that time is a limited commodity that cannot be regained. Sometimes all we need is to remember that life is simple. That our time is finite. In the end, really, we have all we needed to make life wonderful all along. Budget and use your time wisely. You’ll be glad you did.

Fishing lessons

Using time wisely

Keeping Mindless Conveniences in Check: Our Mission to Kick the Paper Towel Habit

I realized recently that we are throwing some of our money away. There’s an item that makes it’s way onto our shopping list far more often than I like because we seem to go through it faster and faster. I found myself scratching my head and trying to consider how to stop this small, but irritating loss as I tossed out yet another center cardboard tube left by the paper towel roll. How had we gotten to the point that one roll of paper towels was lasting only 2 days in our house?  We’d developed a bad habit of grabbing paper towels at the slightest need and were mowing through them at an alarming rate. As I mulled this over, upon tossing that recent cardboard tube, I wondered how paper towels even became such a staple in homes today. This is, essentially, a convenience item. What did they use before paper towels? There had to be a way around this. After all, I told myself, I’d figured out how to make my own laundry detergent, and I use cloth diapers and wipes and make my own cleaning spray for my kiddos bottom. There just had to be some way to stop this waste. I did a little research and sure enough, there are plenty of people just as irritated about this wasteful grocery list item as I am. The answer? Rags and dishtowels. Re-use them. Wash them. The challenge was on!

So where to start? First I took a few minutes to assess the paltry collection of dishtowels and washrags I had in my kitchen drawer. Most were in sore shape and, really, I didn’t have nearly as many as I thought I did. Clearly I needed to bulk up my supply if this was going to work. On that next shopping trip I managed to collect some bar-mop style towels in 5 packs as well as packs of inexpensive dish rags for what I usually spend on a big pack of paper towels.  I now had a good solid start to my cloth towel and rag stockpile. During this shopping trip I allowed myself to buy only a 2 pack of paper towels. Like most habits, it’s easier to wean than go cold turkey.  I came home and announced that we were on a mission as a family to wean ourselves from the overuse and waste of paper towels.

Our goal for week 1: To get through seven full days on one single roll of paper towels. When we can achieve this, we’ll graduate our attempts to getting through two whole weeks, and so forth (I’d read about one woman who uses only one roll or so a year! Wow.). So far, we are a week into this experiment. I can’t believe how ingrained my first instinct to reach for a paper towel has become. I’m having to retrain myself to reach for the dishtowel instead.

Now, in the grand scheme of my grocery budget, is changing my paper towel habit going to save me untold riches this year? Probably not. I do realize, there is still a need for paper towels to some degree in our house and that paper towels can, on occasion, be the better choice. But I’d been suckered into a mindless convenience and it was costing us. That bothered me. I’ve found, as with my cloth diaper adventure, I am saved the aggravation of running out completely and needing to make a trip to the store since all I have to do is toss them in the wash. It’ll save me about $10-15 a month (yes we had a REALLY bad habit) which translates to about $120-180 a year in savings. I can even help keep some waste out of the landfill with this new habit which is a nice thought. But really, for me, it’s part of unravelling the real challenge of finding the little habits of convenience that sneak into my life that add up. Are these conveniences really worth the cost? So far, I’m loving the dishtowel and dishrag upgrade to our kitchen. They work much better. I’m finding this is, indeed, a good habit for us to break. It’s good for my grocery budget, and, if you are so inclined, it’s “greener” living. It’s a frugal, budget friendly solution. I have a feeling we won’t be going back.

Making the shift from paper to cloth

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