For those who have not been following my story, here is a synopsis. After a really nice holiday season this past year, I decided to make amends and curtail my spending for the month of January (see original post). Now that January is over (!!), here is a brief summary of how it went and some of the things that I learned.
The second half of our “no spending” month went better than the first. After some notable failures in the first two weeks, there were no new impulse purchases (victory!!), though did need to take care of a few things that weren’t planned. These included the following:
- guinea pig food & bedding (no furry animal that greets me on its hind legs, wiggling and chirping, is going to get shorted),
- Ahi Tuna for our dinner guests (wimped out and went with a tried and true recipe)
- printer ink (thought about deferring, but it was exam week and the tension was killer)
- AP Euro study guide (see exam week reference).
And my conclusions?
Creativity can compensate for a myriad of issues. In my corporate days, I would have gone to Trader Joe’s before a dinner party and tossed a few packages of appetizers into my cart. Last weekend, I had the ingredients for baba ghanoush with raw vegetables, so that is what I served. It was easy, healthy and satisfying. I even got to see one of my guests (one of my more food-savvy friends) savor a bite, roll it around his mouth, and declare it the best he’d ever had.
Of course the creativity extends beyond food. Instead of buying a Packer shirt for a playoff party, I found a pair of gold jeans (no, really, this is not my attempt at humor) and a green shirt.
Even better, I left the party with the loan of a real Packer shirt that no longer fit the hostess. All set for the Super Bowl!
And don’t forget good ol’ self-reliance as my husband took care of a malfunctioning water heater timer himself. We haven’t lived in an old house for 20 years and not learned a few things!
Frugality increases your awareness of waste. If you are buying something with the express purpose of throwing it out—be it sandwich bags or paper towels—it doesn’t feel quite right if you are cashing in scarce resources. We are now very used to using cloth rags instead of paper towels. Washed weekly then stored back with the dish towels, they are always ready and convenient, unlike the paper towels we were always running to the basement to retrieve. I am still struggling with the sandwich bags—getting reusable containers out of the lunchbox in time to wash is kind of like getting the kids to put their laundry in the hamper.
I think this has indirectly helped me to lose weight by promoting natural eating even further. Before the holidays, I had lost six pounds on a bet, but gained a few back with the ensuing festivities. After a January of “no spending” and working almost exclusively with the healthy foods remaining from my CSAs, the extra pounds have disappeared on their own. Eating baba ghanoush with carrots and rutabaga is clearly easier on the waistline than cheese dip or anything in puff pastry.
Being cheap can get off your butt. Every year I plan to push more on using up the last of the CSA foods. With a heightened awareness of waste, I actually did. I froze squash and potatoes (did you know you can boil and freeze potatoes just fine?) and finished things that were almost gone. This isn’t even just a budget measure; reheating potatoes is going to be a time saver in March!
And now that it’s February? I enjoyed the time, the savings and even the challenge that this exercise has provided. I think I may just try to keep some of the “no spending” spirit alive. But first I’m making a shopping trip.