Making Ends Meet – The Essentials

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In an earlier post I identified the essentials for life as shelter, food and clothing.

I talked a bit about food and how you can immediately reduce your costs by creatively using what you have on hand and also the importance of not wasting precious food.

Now for the other 2 essentials before we move back to food.

Shelter

I know it is unwise to assume, but for the purpose of this exercise I will make the assumption that you currently have somewhere to live.  This means that you will most likely have the expense of either rent or mortgage payments.  These need to be your first priority when you are accounting for money and if you are unable to meet this payments then your situation is very dire.  You should seek financial counselling as soon as possible.

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It is not a good idea to try to sell or move to another rental property when things are really tight as there are costs associated with moving house, so, if it all possible, it is best to see if you can possibly maintain your current location by cutting back in other areas.  If it is absolutely essential that you move, you could consider moving in with other family members as a temporary solution or sharing with another couple or family to reduce the costs.  All of these strategies have been done before, and whilst not perfect, they are better than ending up homeless.

Clothing

“It is interesting, because I often don’t think of clothing myself as an essential. When I was trying to save for a deposit for a house, that’s the category I set to zero (save for a three week holiday I budgeted for overseas, and within that budget I was allowed to buy whatever, which happened to include lots of clothes!). Admittedly, most people have clothing, so can skimp for a while. And there’s free clothing, through hand me downs, swaps and freecycle. Or there’s op shops. Still, very interesting reading!”

This was a comment in response to my post where I placed clothing in the ‘essential’ category.  Having clothes to wear is essential – we are not in the Garden of Eden – but buying new clothes is definitely not essential!  In fact, like Sarah’s comment, in tough times the clothing budget should be set to zero.

Think about this:  You had enough clothes last week and nothing has changed so there is no need to go and buy more.  Children’s clothes can be let down, patched and created from refashioned adult items.  Check out websites and you will find many references to challenging yourself to buy no new clothes for a year.  It can easily be done.

A final tip:  Use it up, wear it out, make do or do without.

In my next post I will look at what meals I can create using the list of contents of Sarah’s refrigerator and pantry.

 

Making Ends Meet – Emergency Action

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As I mentioned in my previous post, these are the things that you can do immediately that will make a difference.

1  Eat from what you already have

We have all heard the cry, “But there is nothing to eat!”  If you are living in a developed country it is very, very unlikely that this is the case.  In fact many of us do the grocery shopping out of habit as much as for the real need of buying food.  The other thing to consider is that in the UK, USA and Australia research shows that somewhere between 20 and 40% of all food is wasted.  Imagine buying 5 bags of groceries and throwing 1-2 bags full straight in the bin.  It sounds ridiculous but that is essentially what is happening.

us-food-waste-disposal
The first step is to make an inventory of what you have – in the refrigerator, freezer and pantry.  Then plan as many meals and snacks as possible from what you have.  Trawl around the internet and you will find literally hundreds of sites offering ways to create meals from limited ingredients. 

2  Stay away from the shops

If you are not there you cannot spend money.  It is simple really.  Shopping is not entertainment.

3  Curtail your car usage. 

Walk or cycle everywhere that you possibly can.

4  Minimise your heating costs

Wear more clothes at home.  Put a beanie on.  It may not look glamorous but a disproportionate amount is lost through your head.

keeping warm
Do all of these things for 2 weeks and you have immediately saved the equivalent of what you would normally spend on:

Food
Incidental purchases
Fuel
Heating

Try it and see how you go.

If you would like to send me a list of what is in your freezer, refrigerator and pantry right now I will do a menu plan for a week (at least) and use it as the basis of an upcoming post.  Just let me know the number in the family and ages of children.  You can email me at the address in the ‘About Me’ tab at the top of the page.

Is Simplicity the New Black?

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“Cherishing what you have, not want, is the key to contentment”  So runs the headline to an article on page 4 of today’s Courier Mail, Brisbane’s daily newspaper. What a revelation!!

2012-12-14 01So the mainstream media are beginning to pick up on what many of us already know, you cannot buy happiness.

Will we begin to see people trying to outdo each other in the simplicity stakes – sort of a reverse ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ or will they really understand that simplicity takes a range of guises and it is definitely not a competition?

Is voluntary simplicity the realm of those who can afford to make the choice?

Let me know what you think of this article.

I would also like to say a huge welcome to those of you who have visited today because of the link Rhonda posted at Down to Earth.  I hope you will find something here that is of interest and that you consider coming back and perhaps joining as a follower.

Have a great weekend, whatever you are doing.

Project 333 – Frocktober

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It must be because the name of the month lends itself to corruption, but as well as my participation in Frugal Queen’s  ‘Stoptober’ I have also taken up the challenge of ‘Frocktober’.  This is an initiative of the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation here in Australia to raise funds for and awareness of ovarian cancer.

As those of you who read this blog regularly will know, I only own 1 dress/frock and I am not quite ready to embark on a challenge of the magnitude of ‘One Brown Dress’.  This was one woman’s personal challenge to wear the same dress everyday for a year.  Although the original blog no longer exists the link gives an idea of the project.

I have not registered officially for ‘Frocktober’ but plan to make a donation to my friend who has registered.  I have broadened the scope slightly to include skirts and tops and my goal is to wear a skirt or dress to work every day this month and also whenever I go out socially or just to the shops.

To add some interest I am planning not to wear the same combination twice during the month.  This will test just how versatile my wardrobe items are.  When I started Project 333 about 6 months ago I had to seriously consider what I had in my wardrobe.  I decided that everything I kept needed to earn its place and be able to be worn as part of several different outfits.

At the end of the week I will post photos of the outfits I wore.

On another note, today was another no-spend day and in fact, I even made money.  I sold 1.5 dozen eggs for $6.  I also received an email advising that someone wanted to buy 2 dresses that I had offered for sale (a closed group) for $10 each so that will be a bit of additional income also.  I had not worn the dresses for several years and they no longer fit me so it is better that someone else gets the opportunity to wear them.