After a summer of holidays and the buying of the trampoline, it is time to save some money (or double up a few mortgage payments).
We decided that October would be no spend month around here, excepting necessities like groceries. Sean spent a bit of money when he was in Winnepeg this week for a conference, but other than that, I think our non-grocery spending this month equals approximately $9.30. Averaging out at just above 1.15/day, I think we’re doing okay. (and technically speaking, 3.30 of that was for library fines, so it’s really September money anyway 🙂 )
It’s been an interesting process so far. I love the challenge of living frugally, and we tend to be fairly conservative spenders most of the time, with a few significant exceptions thrown in. For example, neither of us buy clothes frequently, or spend money on haircuts or other regular expenses, but we do tend to purchase large items once in awhile which can add up quickly (the trampoline, the dog, etc). Especially with the expenses of moving and getting settled in a new home and community in the last year, those things quickly manage to eat away at any income which is above and beyond basic living expenses.
So in the process of jumping deeper into frugal living, I’ve learned or been reminded of a couple of things.
1) When you have no cell phone, no cable, no subscriptions etc, it’s hard to find a frugal living article/book/site which is of any use at all. Most sites will tell you to cancel extra monthly costs as a basic rule, but unless we are willing to dispose of our menagerie of animals or children, our basic expenses are just that. Basic.
2) It is possible to hang laundry in the basement on a regular basis. It doesn’t take too long to dry, so as long as I can stay caught up at about a load every other day, there is ample drying time in between loads (and the added bonus of a few minutes of quiet time away from the kids while I hang it meditatively.)
3) It is good to turn things off when you aren’t using them. We turn lights off, unplug appliances that aren’t in use, and turn the water heater down low (if one of us wants a hot bath, we can turn it up 20 minutes ahead of time instead of heating it all the time). The computer especially, does not need to be on all the time. So now, instead of turning it on first thing in the morning to check email, I wait for a couple of hours. The kids are less likely to sit in front of it if they have to wait for it to boot up first, and so am I. We save electricity. We save our space from electrical noise. I save time which is better spent with the littles anyway.
4) Buying in bulk can be a good money saving technique only if you are smart about it. We probably have 1,000 dollars worth of food in our freezer and pantry. Much of this is happy beef and chicken from local sources which we buy in large quantities once a year. But if the beef and chicken get freezer burnt while we are eating kraft dinner or sliced turkey from the deli, we haven’t gained anything except for a freezer full of unhappy chicken.
5) Don’t sell kids stuff on kijiji unless you ask them first. Oops! It was just a little tykes slide I thought they had outgrown. Turns out it was their oven and conveyer belt for their sand restaurant. The funny part was that instead of asking me where the slide was, Elijah stomped into the house and demanded to know if I’d sold it. (ironically, I rarely sell stuff. I usually give it away for free.)
6) I like a good challenge. I love the satisfaction of not ordering pizza with the kids when Sean is away, knowing that $30 can pay off just a bit more of the mortgage. I love thinking about whether or not we really need something, or if we could use something else in it’s place before spending the money to purchase it.
7) I enjoy a short challenge where I can sink my teeth in for a brief time, knowing that respite is coming. (Not that I am planning to spend a ton of money in November.) What I mean is, it doesn’t seem punitive or too hard to go without for 31 days, whereas if it were a longer time frame, I would tend to begin to fight my own imposed rules and want to buy things (which is weird, because that is not my usual way of being in the world).
So. Keep it simple. Keep it short. Keep it fun.
Hmmm….. maybe a year of monthly challenges is in the making here.