Monday, January 4, 2010

Cooking the numbers so I can fly

Last night I sat down and worked out the numbers again on an excel spreadsheet, looking up receipts and working out proportions. Excluding the cost of tools involved, but including cost of water and electricity, it cost $0.53 to bake last Friday's loaf of bread.

The reason I worked the numbers? I just bought a 25-pound bag of flour, instead of the 5-pound bags normally found at the grocery store. Today, I used the last 1/2 cup of flour from the old 5-pound bag, and the rest from the new, so I'll have to adjust my figures for the transitional loaf. My next loaf of bread, made from the 25-lb bag, will cost $0.30, assuming I don't put any spices, nuts, pumpkin puree, zuchinni, bananas, or anything else in it. (Not all of those make the loaf more expensive - I bought pumpkins at 50 cents for ten pounds after Halloween.)

A regular loaf of bread is $3.97 if you get the good stuff (we don't have a habit of buying the wonderbread) - and we go through roughly a loaf and a half a week. (The greatest rate of usage is in the first thirty minutes - fresh-baked bread aroma attracts people to the kitchen.) While saving $3.67 per loaf may not seem like much, that's roughly $286 a year, assuming constant bread consumption, and better flavor and nutrition.

What can you do with $286 free in your budget? Even with avgas being more expensive than autogas, that's a couple of full tanks, a few repaired parts, or a bit of extra ammo.

There are three lessons to draw from this:

1. If you want to save money, don't start cutting out the things you love - start thinking about how to make your life better while spending less money.

2. If you don't know how much you're spending, you'll never know how much you can save, or where. I know we're all taught to whine "math is hard!" and avoid it, but if you don't take the effort to know what you have, you'll never be able to know what you can get. Corollary: if you don't track your budget, you'll never stockpile savings from any one action.

3. This takes time and attention to detail - but there is nothing stopping you from doing the same if you break habits of thought and action. After all, I bought my own plane not due to rich spouse or high-paying job or mummy and daddy or the lottery - I was working retail at the time.

4 comments:

Jeff said...

Good on you! I need to do the same thing. Your motivation is mighty.

John the Texaner said...

I've started taking this same approach to ammunition. Got a reloader for Christmas, and just tumbled my first 1500 cases (been saving them up for a couple years).

I'm starting out with 9mm, as I have a lot of brass and it's easier to find components. Not a large amount of money to be saved there. Once I get comfortable with the process, however, I'll move on to other pistol calibers and rifle ammunition, where the real money (to be saved) is.

Of course, there are the initial costs of equipment (most of which was free, as I got a kit), but I figure I will make that up in the first 500 rounds or so. The rest is gravy.

Oleg Volk said...

And factor in the time savings. Counting driving to the store, baking may be less costly in time -- or more, if you were going to the store anyway.

The bread you baked here is still keeping me happy. I defrost a bit at a time.

John Peddie (Toronto) said...

To cite another simple example (sorry for the Yuppie reference): does anyone realize what that 5- day a week Starbucks latte adds up to in a year?

You are absolutely right: it's not the large, planned expenses that kill us. We know about those, and do them after great thought.

It's the small,routine "lifestyle" things that sink us. And these are, usually, "after tax" dollars.