No Spend October Update

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So far, so good. It’s the 27th, and we have bought groceries and gas. Sean bought new windshield wipers for the van as well, but with winter coming on, that should be considered a necessary safety expense. Otherwise, unnecessary spending rests at 4$ for Halloween costume supplies, and Sean’s meals out when he was at his conference at the beginning of the month.

Not bad. I must also admit that I spent some money pre-purchasing Christmas gifts and Christmas gift making supplies, but as we live in small town central and never go to the city, I order online and have to wait for shipping, so I don’t want to put that off for too long either.

All in all, it has been much easier than I anticipated.

So, just for kicks, here are some of the frugal things we do in our house (some we were doing before, some are newer…)

  1. Keep the thermostat low. Last winter we kept it at 19 during the day and 16 at night. This month, I’ve had it at 16 pretty much all the time, except when we need a break from the chill (or when the inlaws are visiting.) That means I wear slippers and socks, and a hoodie about half of the time. A weird thing happened the other day though. I was chilled so I turned it up to 18 just to warm up a bit. Started doing some work around the house. Within 20 minutes I was so hot I had to take off slippers and socks, and turn the heat back down. Our bodies are adapting. The kids are still in their skivvies most of the time, so I know it’s not really that cold.
  2. We line dry almost all of our laundry in our basement.
  3. We keep the water heater turned down pretty low, except when someone wants a bath, then we turn it up 20 minutes before.
  4. We eat lots of rice and beans.
  5. We buy in bulk when certain things are on sale. We also buy local (freerange eggs for 3$/dozen instead of 6$ at the grocery store.)
  6. We make our own bread. tortillas, granola, etc. Way cheaper and healthier, and I’m home anyway.
  7. Sean picks up groceries on the way home from work. We rarely go into town for just one errand, trying to join them together to save gas. It’s only 8km round trip, but it makes a difference.
  8. We use the library. ALL THE TIME.
  9. I’ve started using coupons. This is new. Sites like Save.ca and Websaver.ca have been helpful.
  10. We unplug anything that is not being used.
  11. We buy all kids stuff used if possible, or better yet, let people know we are not opposed to hand-me-downs. I don’t think I’ve ever really had to buy clothes for the girls. A pair of winter boots at the thrift store costs $2. Sean and I also buy 90% of our clothes at the thrift store.
  12. We use soap nuts for the laundry, baking soda and vinegar for almost all other cleaning. This saves on cost and packaging, not to mention keeping all sorts of potentially toxic chemicals out of our home and out of the environment.
  13. We cancelled our unlimited long distance. Now we spend 6$ a month instead of $20. We skype, or have people with unlimited long distance call us.
  14. We don’t have a cell phone.
  15. This is the big one. We stay out of the stores. (I went to Walmart the other day to pick up Halloween Candy and some homeschooling supplies. When they didn’t have what I needed, I found myself wandering the aisles. I hate Walmart. But as I wandered, I almost convinced myself we needed some baskets for India’s room, a rug for our back door, some bathroom stuff. None of which we needed, or even wanted.) Staying out of the stores and off of websites is a big one. Advertisement can have such a strong pull, even those of us who consider ourselves fairly aware to the marketing can be swayed to purchase unnecessarily.

If anyone else has other ideas of how to be frugal, I’d love to entertain your suggestions.

All in all, one no spend month has allowed us to double up both mortgage payments and add a significant amount to our savings account. Feels good. I wonder what november will bring.

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3 responses »

  1. When we really want something (ex. a laptop, a piano…) we wait. Then wait some more. Often we end up getting just what we need for free – passed down by someone else. Or, for smaller items (frames for kids’ artwork, dishes, skates, bookshelf) I keep a list and watch at garage sales or the local “Take it or Leave it” for the item(s) we need.

    When I get a creative urge I often repurpose things from home rather than going out and buying new supplies: I just made pj bottoms for myself from an old African sarong I’ve had for years, a rice (heating) bag from an old throw pillow cover (and rice from the pantry, of course) and a skirt for my middle daughter from an older (but still in new condition) t.shirt of mine…not to mention the fun owl pillows and doll clothes my daughter has been creating with fabric scraps.

    We use Swagbucks for our online search engine to earn free gift cards. We use a no-fee credit card which we ALWAYS pay in full at the end of the month and gives us 1% back at the end of the year (this give us about $300 back which we ‘budget’ for Christmas tree and extra groceries at Christmas time).

    I always meal plan and buy our staples (oats, spelt, beans, etc.) in bulk from an organic co-op. Still, we spend a ton on food at this season of life. Seriously limit meat and buy eggs, honey and meat/poultry from local farmers.

    Like you, we welcome hand me down clothing although tend to buy new outerwear for kids as they get older (it becomes more challenging to find good used outerwear in larger sizes, living in a small town). When we buy new we try to shop off season: February is a great time to find great deals (70% off) in our favorite shops in the city.

    And finally, one of the best frugal tips I know for those of us with a teenage son….. send him to his friend’s house to eat! Okay, that isn’t a real tip but I’ve definitely considered it šŸ˜‰

  2. Good suggestions K. I forgot about most of these when I was listing. We also pay off credit cards in full and collect points. I’ve just started using swagbucks too, thanks to your mention of it a few months ago.

    We also use the take-it-or-leave-it for many of our projects, and re/upcycle from around home as much as possible before buying new.

    I need to do more meal planning, which is something I’m really not good at. I also think it would be neat to be part of a buying coop which shared supplies a bit more, as I’m finding it hard to get through the 20kg of black beans we bought (and we eat lots of beans.)

    The suggestion to wait once you need/want something is a really great one too. So often the perfect supplies come from unexpected places (like my series of Japan books from the sale shelf at the library).

  3. That’s great- and nice results with the savings and mortgage payments! I’ve found that small town/rurual living presents its own set of challenges to frugal living, like gas mileage, and sourcing good used clothes. We too found that long distance packages didn’t save any money, so I use 10-10-yak instead. There are other similar cheap calling codes out there. We stay home a lot. We make lists for our trips to town/the city. We buy in bulk, and keep a well stocked pantry (no fear of getting snowed-in here!) We’ve learned a lot doing our own home renos/repairs, fixing up old furniture (which end up being my favorite pieces!), growing some veggies/herbs/etc. We don’t have cable or satelite t.v.- we find more than enough on ‘farmer vision'(free) CBC and CTV; CBC radio while I work in the kitchen.

    Thanks for the frugal posts- always a good reminder.

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