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.