One of the first things I decided to do after this plan was made was to ask myself one question when I was out shopping: Do I want it or need it? I didn't make excuses for why I should have it, I simply stayed true to myself and true to my plan because I had only given myself a limited amount of time to be debt free of all kinds. During this time I have had times when it was pretty rough but through it all I slowly began to look at what was around me slightly differently. I didn't realise what I was doing till I was asked why I was reusing a strawberry tub. It was just your regular, plastic tub with a lid that i'd washed out and used to store an open packed of honey roast ham slices in. This didnt come from any forethought, it came about because I had ran out of sandwich bags which i'd normally have used to keep the open packet fresh!
Now I find that before I add to my shopping lists (more than one yes, which i'll explain in a minute) I goosey around looking for anything that is realistically a good substitute, and more times than not there is. I am finding that not only am I saving money but I am also doing my bit regarding recycling and this makes me feel all good and fuzzy inside! :) Seriously, when I think back to things I would buy for ease or convenience I am amazed at the money I have saved that has since gone towards other things.
My plan, apart from being totally debt free, is to have at least 3 months income in a separate savings account and at least 3 months food storage for all three of us in our home. These are the two big things I am working on with my family, and yes, even the kids get involved. Ok here is some of the things we do and why:
1. My income is staggered each month so each day we get paid we set aside where the money is to go.
* 10% Tithing
* 10% Savings Account
* Rent/Utility Bills
2. Pre-plan our meals. Each week we sit and decide what meals we would like on what days. One of us will write out the shopping list and another will check what is in the cupboard. On completing the list we allow for extra portions that we can easily freeze for additional meals on a 'lazy day' or if we have unannounced visitors over.
3. Take advantage of supermarket deals. Most supermarkets run their specials Wednesday to Wednesday so I allow £10 per week to add in any offers that are not on my list. Buy one get one free items are nearly always included if its something we genuinly use/eat. The free item will go into our food storage. The items in the extra allowance budget are nearly always for food storage. We also have a cupboard for extra cleaning items such as shampoo etc.
4. Recycling is becoming a bigger than usual thing wherever we go. My kids love making things and this is a great combination, at least in my case. Simple things like the the fruit containers are perfect for keeping meats fresh when they are opened, half used tin food and other foods. Jars are ideal for a whole range of things around the home, we are currently using them for:
* smaller items in my craft stash
* small jigsaw pieces of Charleys
* scews/wall plugs/nails
* money jars (painted and decorated)
* tithing/savings jars
* sewing items
* tins can be perfect for decorating and making pen pots
* tins are ideal starter plant pots for kids
* jars/tins are ideal on the dressing table too (cotton wool balls, hair brushes, make up etc)
* cover a tin to match the bathroom and store the razors/toothpaste or even the tooth brushes.
Most of these ideas are great for keeping the kids happy and occupied on cold/rainy days or even just while dinner is cooking :)
5. Paper is probably one of the most wasted products in the home. I own up to being a paper towel freak, I stress at the thought of running out of it! My kids like to draw and write and colour, this leaves one side of the paper unused and as I have about 5 lever arch folders full of their artwork I dispair how i'm ever going to store more over the coming years! So we found a new use, a fun one at that....wrapping paper! Having an array of birthdays I ran out of the supply of wrapping paper I've had since forever, so we picked up a few sheets of Charleys artwork and used that. The recipient loved it so much she put it in her birthday book! With all kinds of paper that cant be reused (hygienically) try shredding it and using it for the hamster or other cage animal. Our ginea pig actually eats paper and hates straw or shavings! Our unneeded letters get shredded and when we have more than we need I offer it by the bin liner load to other people I know with animals. Its cheap (or free in many cases) and it multiplies the usage.
6. I have began a love affair with charity shops. Not sure how that happened but it has and I am not ashamed of it at all. I frequently go in and have a look around, not for anything in particular really but there have been times when I have wanted to make something but haven't had the right fabric. Charley's birthday for example, he wanted a Happy Birthday bunting but it had to be in orange (his favourite colour). Of all the fabric I have this is one colour that was missing...but then the nice lady in Sue Ryder found a pale orange flat sheet and let me have it for £1.50. A quick wash and I not only got the bunting but I got to make him a pe style bag and a play mat and there's still plenty left over. I've also found a gorgeous blouse in there that wouldn't have fit me but was too good to miss at 75p so I bagged it and make 4 placemats for the dining table with it! What a better way to also give to a good cause than to look for supplies from a charity shop?
So there are 6 of the big things we do in our home. In just doing these things alone we have been able to treat ourselves to days out, going to the hair stylist, getting our nails done, books, and even added to our savings account!
What I get from this most of all though is how I feel inside. Not only am I getting a sense of respect for the environmnent around me, nor am I just teaching my children about economy but knowing that I am doing all I can to help myself improve mine and my childrens long term quality of living is just brilliant. Without all the consumerism we live better, freer and more meaningfully.
More on this subject will be coming up on the new website soon. If you are a frugal/thrifty person and would like a regular spot at sharing your ideas with the www then drop me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you recycle? Do you like your perks? Tell me how you do things.....
Today's gratitudes are:
1. I am grateful that we are able to really take stock/control of our own finances/living habits.
2. For a landlord who is just so cool.
3. A family member back in my life.
4. This blog. It is a wonderful outlet for me in many ways.
5. My childrens sense of humour when I do something silly. Like fall off the last step!