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Monday, January 29, 2018

It's been several weeks. . .

since my last post. I offer my apologies. I am going through a difficult time right now -- something I have to do alone, and in my own head much of the time. This, combined with a schedule that leaves me chronically sleep-deprived, means that I have had little to say on the topic of frugal living, or anything else, for that matter. I hope you are not only well, but thriving!

About frugal living . . .

we continue to live somewhat frugally (big medical bills, but otherwise, we're keeping spending in check). The area in which I think our family does exceptionally well is discretionary spending. I am guessing that many of you excel in this area, too. Discretionary spending is an interesting topic for many of us. And it's interesting to the U.S. government, too. The Department of Labor and Statistics tracks information about consumer spending every year.

When it comes to spending, I define discretionary as non-essential and optional. I consider school costs, including required books and tuition, as non-discretionary. Here are the top 10 categories of discretionary spending that the US gov't tracks.

1) apparel products, related services of repair and cleaning (includes dry cleaning, storage and rental of clothing, jewelry and watch repair)

2) tobacco

3) entertainment equipment and services (includes sports equipment, hunting/fishing equipment, boats, and photography equipment)

4) alcoholic beverages, in home or out

5) fees and admissions (concerts, movies, live performances, sporting events)

6) vacations/leisure travel (includes lodging and travel expenses)

7) hobbies, books for leisure reading, toys, pets and veterinary care, backyard playground equipment 

8) television, radio, sound equipment and service, internet providers, computers and video games

9) gifts

10) food not consumed at home

So, for myself -- never spend in categories 2 or 4. In January, no spending in categories 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, or 9 (I don't count charitable gifts or tithing as category #9). We did pay the bill for #8, internet service (no cable or satellite TV), and 3 of us went out to lunch at Five Guys one Saturday, category #10. That's it -- aside from buying needed groceries, school supplies, and paying the non-discretionary bills (including tuition), our frivolous discretionary spending for the entire month of January consisted of internet service for the household and one lunch out. 

During this month, we also entertained guests once, at home, cooking from scratch. When out running errands/going to appointments, I have brought coffee made at home with me, or drank whatever freebies were available, and brought snacks or breakfast wrapped in a napkin to eat when hungry. I have made my own sweets, treats, and snacks from ingredients in the pantry. We watched movies on dvds or online, entertained myself with online sudoku and crossword puzzles, and leisure-traveled nowhere.  Fortunately, no birthdays this month for which to buy gifts. And I bought no clothing, jewelry, or hobby supplies. I'd say that 2018 is off to a good start. We can't really do anything about medical bills. One either needs medical care or they don't. Those bills are sinking us now; hopefully, in the near future, medical expenses will once again be next to nothing.

When I'm paying big, big bills, it sometimes helps to think of all of the ways that I am not spending.


  1. I am praying that you have less stressful times very soon, Lili. In the meantime, you are doing great with your spending. Controlling spending during times of stress is a very difficult thing to do and you are doing great.

  2. SO Happy to see you Lili, but sad that things are not well. Praying that it all gets to a manageable point where you can move on.

    We've got some issues recently but I won't go into details as I doubt you need to hear them. Trying hard to move on as well.

    Keep up the faith.


  3. What a delight to see a post...a great post..from you! You remain in my thoughts and prayers! Take it one day...or one hour at a time....and keep looking forward! Hugs

  4. It's sad to read about those medical bills. I am from Estonia, our healthcare is very differrent, so I can't imagine how big these bills could get elsewhere. I hope this medical issue will pass soon and your family to be in great health. Your posts keep me motivated not to spend on things I actually don't need. Best wishes!

  5. May things get easier for you and yours.

  6. Great to see you back on line, even if just popping in for a quick update. You've continued to do very well with discretionary purchases. So sorry to learn of on-going medical issues. Hoping that things settle down soon for you. ((Lili))

  7. I was glad to see your post this morning but am sorry to hear that there is an on going medical issue and that the difficult times have not lessened. Love and hugs and prayers.Susan Meier

  8. Good to hear from you again--so sorry you are having a difficult time right now. Prayers for you and yours!

    Discretionary spending is interesting, isn't it? Along with food purchases, I find it to be an easy area to cut expenses, although I confess sometimes some of these areas can feel like a need, not a want.

  9. I've been praying for you & yours & will continue to pray, Lili. Hugs.

    My grocery spending is down this month, but it always is in January, as the deals are not plentiful.

    We did take four of our boys to see "The Greatest Showman" at the theater on $5 day. It was one of our family goals last year to see a movie in the theater & we never did. The boys were thrilled to go. It was a good movie. We didn't buy any food or beverages there.

    My husband & I did go on a couple of dates. One was a birthday outing for me (Costa Vida--I thought it was spendy--won't be going back) & another date with a gift card. Otherwise, we've eaten every meal at home, including two other January birthdays & a special guest dinner.

    I picked up 4 spiral hams from Walmart for .99/lb. at the beginning of the month. We've eaten two & saved the bones for soup another time. Melissa

  10. Thank you for your post today. So very sorry to hear about your medical bills and I hope your family is healing and recovering well.

    As usual, everything you say makes perfect sense and takes our awareness to a new level. You are a good mentor for us, Lili!

    This month, I too tightened our discretionary spending by simply not choosing to go out as much. I spend way too much on craft supplies, even though everything is bought on clearance and at thrift stores. That, according to the definition, is discretionary, although for me, it is also "work" supplies lol. My husband jokes that I craft like I'm working, putting long hours seven days a week. You would think I have lots to show for it, but I don't. I just don't know where the time goes.

    Wish you my best,


  11. Sending you big hugs and hoping that the source of those big medical bills gets resolved quickly and pleasantly.

  12. I'm sorry to hear that things are still difficult for you, Lili. Wishing you better days ahead. They will come.

  13. Lili, glad to see you back. I received a card with this on it which I thought was meaningful. "Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings while the dawn is still dark." Wishing you happier days and comfort.

  14. I'm sorry things are difficult right now. Praying for peace, rest, and resolution of problems for you and your family.

    We do an odd mix of discretionary spending. The only one I can say we have never done is buy tobacco. We try to operate on the policy of being reasonably frugal in these areas and often limit them to memory making situations.

  15. Good to hear from you. I'm sorry you are facing difficulties and medical bills. No fun at all. But proud of you for sticking with the frugalness through it all.

  16. In the U.S. the medical bills are out of control. I am paying a bit at a time on something that I had emergency treatment for 1 year ago. The hospital didn't want to take 800.00 on a 1,000.00 bill, so I setup a payment plan. Now they have the annoyance of billing every month. They don't charge interest so why not just make payments?! Greedy insurance companies

  17. Sorry to hear things are still difficult ... sending you good thoughts. Your post was good food for thought! Discretionary spending can be a bear to control ... especially when 'cabin fever' spikes during the winter.

  18. Thanks, friends! I'm digging my way out of darkness, and doing better, I think. I had several whammy's hit me one right after another, and that made "doing better" an elusive thought for a while. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. I really do think they have helped. I hope that January was a month filled with blessings for all of you.

    1. That was our summer--whammies one right after another. You're right. It takes awhile. Meditating on Psalm 91 helped. Prayers continue. Melissa


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