by Vicky Monroe
It’s a popular tradition to set a personal word to reflect your goals and ambitions for the upcoming year. If I had to pick a word for 2023, it would definitely be “learning.” Many of my financial New Year’s resolutions center around learning more about topics like investing and taxes so I can manage my finances better and be even more hands-on with my money in 2023.
Lately I’ve also been trying out new hobbies in my free time in order to save money, such as baking bread. Sourdough is one of my absolute favorite foods, so I’ve always picked up a fresh loaf at the grocery store every week. But the price of my favorite sourdough has gone up to $4 per loaf due to inflation, which is an expense I can’t really justify.
Instead of going without it, I decided to learn how to make it myself to save money. I’ve always loved to cook, but I’ve never been much of a baker, so making bread from scratch is way out of my comfort zone! But with the help of my spouse, YouTube videos, and the free recipes on King Arthur’s website, I’ve been making great strides.
Adventures in Bread Baking
Today my spouse and I made challah together so we can cook up some french toast over the weekend. We haven’t been able to find challah in our rural Midwest town, so getting to enjoy a fresh slice with some butter and jam this afternoon was a huge treat! We’ve also been making rolls every other day using a recipe that ferments the dough overnight to give it a light tang. And we have a couple sourdough starters going as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to make some real sourdough soon.
We haven’t had to buy any bread for a few weeks (nor have we had to purchase flour since we had some in the pantry), so we’ve probably saved about $15 so far. In addition to sourdough, my spouse and I enjoy specialty pastas like ravioli and gnocchi, so we’re hoping to venture into pasta making next to save even more money on groceries.
Candle and Cheese Making
Recently I earned some extra money from an investing app’s referral program by recommending it to family and friends. I was able to cash out about $160, and I decided to invest it in supplies for a few more hobbies I hope will save us some money—candle making and cheese making.
Our electric bill is always higher in the winter due to our increased usage of lights. I’m planning to make some natural soy wax candles that we can light when the sun goes down instead of turning on lamps to save money on electricity, with the added bonus of making our home feel cozier. The gentle glow of a candle creates such a nice ambiance!
Although we eat a mostly plant-based diet, we’ve been enjoying cheese more lately. We’ve been shocked at how much the prices of our favorite cheeses have increased since the last time we purchased them. The mozzarella we like is now nearly $5 for just 8 ounces.
It’s definitely more convenient to purchase cheese than make it, but I think the effort and time will be well worth the savings considering how expensive cheese has gotten. Our neighbor has goats and kindly offered to give us some of the milk for free, so I bought all the cultures I need to turn it into cheese with part of the referral bonus. I’m not 100% confident in my cheese making abilities, but we’ll see how it goes!
Sustainable, Homesteading Lifestyle
One of the main reasons my partner and I moved out to the country is to create a more sustainable homesteading lifestyle. Over the two years we’ve been here, we’ve grown our gardening skills and learned to can some of our own food, such as jams and pickled vegetables. I’m excited to add these new skills to our repertoire to save money and get us closer to having the homesteading lifestyle we’ve always dreamed of!
I’m sure I’ll have some flops and failures along the way as I try to become more self-reliant and learn how to make things from scratch. But it’s all part of the process of learning and growing, which I hope will be the theme of 2023, both in my financial and personal life.
What are some things you make from scratch to save money? Do you have any new skills you want to learn this year to reduce your spending in certain areas? Let me know in the comments below!
Vicky Monroe is a freelance personal finance and lifestyle writer. When she’s not busy writing about her favorite money saving hacks or tinkering with her budget spreadsheets, she likes to travel, garden, and cook healthy vegetarian meals.