I’ve been on a frugal living journey lately. It seems that homesteading and being frugal go hand-in-hand and part of living a frugal life includes saving money and not spending money unnecessarily. I know these two concepts might seem like the same thing but to me they are separate issues. Both the Mister and I are spenders. We are NOT savers by any stretch of the imagination. And when I start to think about saving money and spending less money and I ask the Mister how we should tackle this, his answer is always ‘just don’t spend money’. While that is a lofty and noble thing to do, it doesn’t make sense to me. What do you mean by ‘don’t spend money’? Do we just not buy anything? What about food? What about the things he always spends money on? Do we just give everything up? And for how long? What are our goals? I am a need to know person. I need to know how to do things and what the purpose is. The Mister isn’t that kind of person. It makes for some interesting discussions. And I can only not spend money for so long without setting goals or having a goal in mind without losing my drive and eventually giving up. And if you remember from this post where I talked about being successful and what that means, you’ll understand our need to start looking at our finances. It’s been hard trying to figure out a new budgeting system since we are on one income and that income is seasonal. But I like a good challenge and I think my head is in a different space now that it has been before. If I really want to stay home and homestead (which is MY ultimate goal) then I need to figure out how to save money and spend less.
Which brings us to No Spend August. I don’t know how I happened across Mrs. Frugalwoods, but I did. I’ve heard of the No Spend months. In fact I own this book where the author discusses the differences between needs and wants and not spending money unnecessarily. It’s a great resource. But I just couldn’t get my head around that concept. Until now. I’ve been thinking about it for a while. I’m a process person. I need to gather information and process things. And do more research. Ask questions. Discuss it. And then I can formulate a plan. So here’s the plan. Starting August 5th, we will be on a no spending plan for the month of August. Why August 5th? Because my nephews are visiting from TN for the next 2 weeks. And while we don’t have any major plans for spending money over the course of their visit, they’re here to experience the fishing lodge and our everyday lives after all, I don’t want to say no if they want to do something that requires us to spend a little money. And in the meantime I am stocking up on supplies and necessities before the month begins. I’m not going overboard and buying a bunch of stuff, just getting prepared to be at home not spending money.
So, the Mister and I set goals for the month. What do we want to accomplish? How much do we spend on bills for the month? How much money do we want to set aside for our needs for the month? And how much money do we want to save for the month? I can get behind these solid goals. So we answered these questions and wrote the goals down. We determined that our bills are $1,000 for the month and that we will take $500 cash out of the bank for spending for the month. We determined what we could spend money on: food at the grocery store; cat, dog, and chicken necessities; and car items: gas, repairs, etc. We will not be traveling anywhere. This is hard for me. It means I am giving up a trip to the City, but it will be worth it to see money in the bank. We have tons of food in the pantry and the freezer and really all we need is fresh produce. I’m even going to try to make the dairy products we need. I’ll start with buying milk and cream and go from there. I can make sour cream (super easy) and ricotta and cottage cheese. I’m even going to try to make more involved cheese again. I’m ordering my supplies because I threw out my expired cheese making supplies when we moved last fall. I will also research to see if there are any local dairies that sell raw milk (great for making soap and for making other dairy products).
I also set some other goals for myself for August. I asked the Mister if he wanted to set any other goals for himself, but, him being perfect and all, he decided he didn’t need to set goals. But those of us who are lesser beings and not perfect and get distracted quite easily, we need goals. So I set a few that I think I can accomplish for the month. I’ve really wanted to try my hand at writing, hence having a blog. So I set the goal of writing two magazine articles for the month and shopping them around. It doesn’t mean they have to be published, just that I need to write two articles and submit them to the appropriate magazines. I’d also like to blog three times per week. That’s doable. I’m hoping to get a consistent blogging routine figured out. I want to knit one hat and finish a pair of gloves that I have started and then do one more pair of gloves. All this gets listed in my etsy shop which I will update as well. That’s it. There are my goals for the month. Not bad. I think they are realistic. I have some canning and freezing to do. There’s a couple of places local to us that has bulk spices and bulk produce. I’ll probably take the nephews to both those places next week so I can process the items and get them in the freezer. And it’s blueberry season and the wild blueberries are ripe for the picking.
And you might be wondering what pictures of the garden and chickens have to do with not spending money, but it’s a good reminder to me of why I’m doing what I’m doing. So I can live a less stressful life doing what matters and means the most to me. And that’s homesteading. When I think about whether I need something, is it in line with the my homesteading and life goals? Do I really need that new dress. Or that super flashy thing? Is that really me? I was reading an email from Mrs. Frugalwoods about how our world has become such an instant gratification society that we want things. Right. Now. And shopping online gives that to us. And I realized that I have definitely become a ‘I want it now’ person so I shop online. A lot. She also talks about putting things in our shopping cart and walking away for a few days. Or jotting it down on paper and walking away. And then if you come back to it in a few days and you still need it, then you can consider purchasing the item. I have to totally walk away from online things. But I think my goals will help with that. If I’m too busy writing and researching and canning and playing with chickens, hopefully I’ll be too busy to shop online!
Overall, I think these goals are achievable. We discussed doing the no spend months thru October but I think one month at a time is less overwhelming. I do need to find a part time job that will allow us to have spending money but also not take up so much of my time that I can’t homestead. Oh, and we’re getting more chickens. I’ve decided that the current flock can just be pets and live out their lives as they see fit and I’ll start a new flock for eggs. And pets. Let’s face it, they’ll all always be my pets. But I had to buy eggs yesterday, which is really shameful. For the girls. But I don’t think they cared.
I think that’s it folks. I’m really excited about our no spend August. I’m looking forward to the challenge and to actually getting things accomplished. I’m also considering making all our Christmas presents. And I’m hitting the dollar store before August 5th so I can buy lots of things to craft with. I want to make Halloween and Christmas decorations. I’ll definitely be posting more about those decorations, and updating you on our no spending progress. Wish us luck!