How I started saving $400 per month

How I started saving $400 per month

Last year I started looking for ways to simplify my life in order to retire earlier than the traditional age in the US. That started an unbelievably massive process. The word simplify brings about the image of making things smaller and more manageable, which is correct; although, it depends on just how complicated you let your life get in the beginning.

Let me explain how the subject of this post fits in with the theme of early retirement.

Saving money simplifies life in more than just the obvious way—overspending complicates things by making issues for your budget, bringing home more consumables than you actually need or consume, and complicates your plans for retirement because that money is going to the wrong place. This idea works off of this equation:

Simplification + Budget integrity = Early retirement

 For me, saving, by definition is a type of simplification. This step helped me save two important resources: Time and money. Here it is:

Shop at Costco, make a list, and stick to it.

I also eat a decent meal and fill a water bottle before I leave the house. Never go grocery shopping on an empty stomach. If you’re like me, you’ll buy everything that looks tasty and that makes sticking to a list really difficult.

Make the list to include everything for the household from groceries and supplies to putting gas in the car

-Three tips:

Don’t buy a list-making app. Don’t even download one. Adding unnecessary things is a complication rather than a simplification.

Plan on hitting Costco for the bulk of your needs once per month, twice at most.

Plan on hitting a smaller grocery store to pick up anything that Costco doesn’t typically stock.


To be real, you don’t have to shop at Costco to make this work. I shop at Costco because I find buying in bulk is a good way for me to save money on things I use constantly. You could shop at a different store if you don’t live close to a Costco location.

The important thing is to stick to your list. Don’t buy anything that you didn’t plan to spend resources on. 

I go to Costco every other Monday. I’ve been doing it for two months now. I added it up and I saved over $400 the first month and I’m on track to save even more this month.

I created the list by checking the cabinets, asking my partner what meals sound good, and by writing down anything that needs replenished during the two-week list-planning cycle.

Added bonus: it makes it easier to keep things stocked so we don’t run out and have to make extra trips to the store.

I hope you find this step as useful as I did. Have a great week!




I love autumn. It’s always been my favorite time of year. Something about the temperature dropping to a chill in the mornings and the bronzing of colors on the hillsides… yep. It’s gorgeous. I’ll spare you of enduring the long list of why I love pumpkin spiced everything. 

I’m not the only one digging fall! This cutie hangs out in the trees next to Penfield where I live.

These deer put on thick coats and the bucks antlers are covered in velvet. It’s a sure sign that autumn has arrived.

I get it. I mean, I’ve been wearing a lot of sweaters lately. Although, none of them are velvet. 😉

Embracing change can be tricky. I promise, if I didn’t do yoga everyday I’d be too bunched up to get much done. Yoga helps bring down the tension a notch and I can stop and consider rather than panicking about another year going by.

I also ordered myself an undated bullet journal. This was a great decision because I can create blocks with checklists. That’s the thing with me. It’s not what I do on the daily, it’s the boxes I check off a list. Once one list is complete, I build another.

Here’s another photo of this bashful sweetheart. See the velvet draping from his horns?

I’m in love!

There aren’t that many around after it starts snowing. They’re nearly as common as red squirrels this time of the year. 



The arrival of autumn signifies another change— the kids are back to school! Here’s a link to my anti-bullying picture book series for kids. Click the green box below.

Individual Sustainability

Individual Sustainability

I’ve been interested in turning the corner and becoming a more sustainable person. I mean, it’s the right thing to do. I don’t plan to go crazy with it, but I know there are several things I could do to live a lot more sustainably, and these are little things that would make a huge impact. I’d feel a lot better. So, I’m compiling lists. I’m walking into different rooms of our house, looking at the items that are there and asking myself if I really need them. Or, if I run out of one particular thing, do I really have to replace or restock it? I know the answer to a lot of these questions is a simple “no.”

One thing that I noticed about myself is the habit I have to use paper towels for almost everything in the kitchen. I don’t mean to say that I grab a new one for every little thing. I get one in the morning to have under my coffee cup and spoon and a lot of times that one gets used to clean up different little spills or to wipe something off. Still, for a household of two, it seems like we go through a lot of paper towels. I think this is a great place to start carving away at developing better habits.

The funny thing is that my daughter found a good solution before I even got the chance to start looking !. She moved into a new house recently and when she started unpacking, she asked herself a lot of the same questions I add above. I think this was also spurred by her realization at how much it actually costs to stock a household on her own. Whatever the case, she logged started Googling and came up with a neat solution.

Reusable paper towels.

I was a little put off by the thought of reusing a paper towel, to be honest. I didn’t understand how one could possibly do this without the towel falling apart, the towel being full of residual gunk, or just being made of some different kind of material.

 And that last one is the answer. Reusable paper towels are not made of paper. 

 They are made of a variety of textiles, ranging from bamboo to flannel. I have found quite a few brands available. They range in price, too. These little fabric squares can be quite expensive. But I feel it’s worth it.

 Of course, I was worried about getting them clean after a use, and then more worried about keeping that way in order to truly reuse them. I found three recommendations for cleaning them. First is to simply toss them in the washing machine. Second, they can be put in the dishwasher with the dishes. The third recommendation was to hand wash them in the sink and hang them to dry. 

 My plan is to purchase the three top rated brands. At the same time, I will make sure to try out different materials. Once I start using them, I’ll clean them in the three ways I listed above and find which works best, and why. 

 Full report pending! In the meantime, here are a few of the brands I’m interested in.

Marley’s Monsters Unpaper Towels

 REusable Paper Towels Gift Ser

Bamboo Reusable Paper Towels from ECOLifeStyle

 I’ll let you know how it goes!