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Scotland Yard game which we snagged for $3 at the thrift store
I’m torn about sharing today’s installment of living a life of less. I’ve been on a (self-induced) spending freeze for the month and yet this week all I want to do is go shopping! I’m sure it has to do with all the cold/windy/rainy days we’ve been having lately but it’s definitely leaving me doubtful I will be successful in this spending freeze!
Anyway, let’s back up a bit.
Do you know where you spend your money? I mean all of your money? Or are you like me, buying a little here and a little there, and at the end of the month wondering where it all went?
Spending money is so easy to do in our society. Everyone wants the newest, biggest, best *fill in the blank*. I would say that nearly half the people in my neighborhood that have a two-car garage can’t park vehicles in both of them (or sometimes either of them) because their garages all so filled with stuff, sometimes it’s a quad, or a boat, or clothes, or tools, or just stuff. And what do we want? More.
I know most of you reading this are in (or at least from) affluent countries. Chances are many of you have heard people say (or even said it yourselves) we are so blessed to live in a land with so much, or we’ve been blessed with so much, am I right? I believe this is true, but I also believe it shouldn’t stop there. I don’t think we have been given so much just to enjoy it ourselves, we have been given it to share with others.
Today I wanted to share a couple of ways that we can begin to start living a life of less spending.
Watching the Riders in training camp on a chilly morning.
Live With Less by Buying Less
This is pretty much unheard of here; if we have the money for something (or even if we don’t) we are told that we are entitled to it, and should have it. But what if we chose to simply do without at times instead?
Borrow What We Need
There are some things that we are just better off borrowing, especially items that we will only be using seasonally or for a short period. I remember my parents borrowing my grandma’s rototiller every spring and fall for years, since it was only needed twice a year it totally made sense to borrow it.
I want to go more into this in future posts but what do you have that you are not currently using as is but you could re-purpose in some way? Maybe old kitchen towels into rags or newspapers for wrapping gifts.
Invest in Experiences Not Stuff
Mmm, this one really hit me this year, but in reality, stuff just ends up coming into our house, taking up space and hardly being used. A huge one for me was when I was thinking about this last month was how I always say I want to travel and yet I have yet to ever start a travel fund, hmm, how much do I really want to travel if I’m not even willing to make sacrifices now so I can travel later? So, I started a travel fund with the money I got for my birthday, it’s a whopping $70 strong! 🙂
Investing in experiences is also a huge one for having children. Honestly, I like to buy Raeca stuff, it’s fun, I love seeing her face light up but a life consumed by stuff is not one I want her to have. But experiences like going to the zoo or camping, or travelling will have a much more lasting impact on her (they already have, our travels are often the topic of many of her stories, she thinks the hotel we stayed in while in California is our “other house”, oh how I wish!).
Do Free Things
There are always things to do around that are free. This last weekend we were able to go watch the Saskatchewan Rough Riders in training camp and on Saturday our town had their annual fun days which included fireworks and a parade. It’s not big stuff but it gets us out and really, Raeca enjoys that stuff just as much (if not, sometimes more) than the stuff we pay for. We also go to local parks and playgrounds a lot.
During the parade the RCMP officer asked if Rae wanted a photo with him.
She loves both horses and police officers, so it was pretty perfect.
If You Want Something, Wait a Month
After my spending freeze is over this is my plan for my own personal shopping. If I think I want that shirt/dress/material I’m not going to be making any impulse buys, I’m going to go home and contemplate that purchase for a month, if it’s still something I want, I can do that after I’ve thought about it.
Plan Ahead What You Will Be Purchasing
Do you ever go to the store or mall just to look or to kill some time? I know I’m definitely guilty of this. From now on my plan is to know what I will be purchasing if there are things that I need and if I’m not in need I won’t be buying. As simple as that.
Shop Second Hand
Thrift stores and garage sales are my favorite. Yes, it can take awhile to find what you are looking for and it may be a time investment but most days I love the thrill of the hunt so it also provides some cheap entertainment. I love finding used furniture, that usually needs to be re-purposed (like the vintage ladder, ombre desk in our entrance, Raeca’s dresser, chalkboard desk and more). Another one of my favorite items to buy second had are Raeca’s clothes (which I’ve shared about before).
The other weekend I got that vintage children’s desk on the left for $1
And the table? Free!
Don’t Purchase Things You Need to Buy Over and Over
Obviously there are some items we will always need to be purchasing (like food), but there are some easy ways to cut spending by making a few little changes. The first things to cut out are individually packaged items like individual servings of apple sauce or yogurt, bottled water . . . honestly, almost anything can come in individual servings these days, it wastes more packaging and they charge you a premium. I am also in the process of cutting out paper towels and aim to cut out paper napkins in the future as well.
Do What Works For You
Okay, I’m pretty sure Dave Ramsey is going to have it in for me after this section, but honestly, what works best for us is using credit cards. Let me just clarify: we have always paid our card off every single month. I’m not talking about spending money you do not have, trust me, that’s not what I’m saying at all. Jared and I both find it much easier to spend cash/change over using a credit card, in both of our minds we think that since the cash isn’t showing up in our bank account, it’s already spent money. Whereas, if we make a purchase with the debit or credit card that comes out of our bank account (plus we have to explain these purchases to each other). I think you have to do what works for you, if you can’t handle credit cards then definitely don’t use them! This is just what works for us. And as a bonus: we have a cash back card (with no annual fee) so every other month or so we get a $50 cheque just for using our card!
Spending time playing at the park with a friend
Don’t Buy Cheap Junk
Sometimes you really do need to spend a little more to save a lot. Like buying cloth napkins to replace paper ones, sure there will be more of an initial investment but it won’t be long before you are saving a lot of money. When I think of the words cheap junk a lot of children’s toys come to mind, especially those cheap ones that are so easy to pick up at a dollar store or in the $1 section of Target, don’t do it, you are better off getting a better, well made item that will last longer (or really, just give them an empty box, I’m pretty sure all kids like boxes more than toys).
Go on a Spending Freeze
For me, before I could really re-evaluate how my money is being spent I needed to take some time and stop spending money! It’s always easier to look at the picture when you step back a bit. Right now my goal is to stop all unnecessary spending for this month (we’re still paying our mortgage and bills, buying groceries and gas and things we need to do to survive and get to work and have a house to live in), but there have been no clothing purchases, toy purchases, kitchen purchases, etc. After this month I plan on re-evaluating but I currently do plan on continuing a personal no-spend for an additional two months. That means no clothes, make-up, craft supplies, etc (um, and that’s hard to say cause I’m going to be out of blush for over two months). Truth be told, I’m not sure the house-wide spending freeze will last for the whole month (cause I’ve got my eye on a kitchen table) and if doesn’t, I’m okay with that, for me the personal spending freeze is actually the more important one.
What are some ways you spend less? I’d love to hear them!