Since we’re in the process of building a new deck and M is currently attending (and paying for) a university course, it seems like an ideal time for a no-spend week (or several).
Things I love about no-spend week:
- Forces me to clean out my fridge, freezer and pantry, while also being more creative about meal planning and prep. We’ve had a lot of overnight guests lately, which adds to the grocery bill. We’ve also been squirreling a lot of leftovers that need to be used up. And while things are less packed, it’s a great time to literally clean out these spaces as well.
- Gives me a chance to think about what I spend money on and whether it’s worth it. Some of my bad habits include picking up non-food items at the grocery store, like a candle for the living room or a set of jammies for one of the kids from the clearance rack or a cosmetic item for myself. Suddenly I have no concept of how much we’re consuming in food because these extras just absorb into our grocery budget.
- I can technically cheat a little and buy fresh foods if needed using more than $150 worth of PC points I’ve saved for a rainy day.
- It seems kind of counter-intuitive, but saving money makes me want to earn more money, so I’ll find unneeded items around the house that we can sell on Kijiji or I’ll seek out freelance writing gigs.
Some free things we do on a regular basis:
- A) Borrow books and movies from the library. B) Make sure everything is returned on time to avoid fines.
- Pack drinks and snacks when we go anywhere so we don’t feel tempted to spend.
- Buy in bulk. I don’t go to Costco on a regular basis (about every six weeks or so), but when I do, I choose carefully based on the prices I pay in the grocery store to ensure I’m getting a better value (otherwise it’s not worth the cost of membership).
- Keeping a watchful eye at the cash register. At least once a month, maybe more, something I purchase rings up at the wrong price. In Canada, many retailers display the Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP), which means when an item rings up higher than advertised, and you note it and are correct, you’re entitled to that item free up to a value of $10. If I get one free item per month, that can be up to $120 free annually. Doesn’t seem like a lot, but that’s a lot of things I could’ve paid too much for so I’d rather have it free than shell out unnecessary extra.
Things I need to do more regularly:
- Ensure M and I both have lunch organized the night before. We both have cafeterias available to us at work and it’s super easy to default to buying lunch when something isn’t ready to go in the morning. Even though it’s relatively inexpensive (often less than $5 each), it can still add up. Not to mention the expense of calories, but that’s another topic altogether.
- We can live more frugally by monitoring local sites, like Saving with Gail, and utilizing coupons and apps, like Coupgon.
- Consider some of our utilities. We cut cable several years ago. We do have Netflix but I can’t live without muh Netflix. But what about water and power? Surely a family of four can conserve. My plan is to post our next bills for both on the fridge as a reminder and see if we can bring them down by the next bill. I plan to get the kids engaged and I think it’ll actually be kind of fun.
Longer-term saving plans for 2017 (or what’s left of it):
- Review our insurance costs with our broker. In a conversation about this recently, a few friends referenced their satisfaction with the same insurance provider. I contacted them for a quote but need to wait for my renewal dates in August. I set a reminder and can’t wait to explore new quotes.
- Ditch the Lysol wipes. They’re my vice. They’re so convenient but they’re terrible for the environment. I’m going to use Pinterest (like these ideas) to find a better version for the planet and for the family.
- Build an emergency fund. I’d like to set aside at least $500 (preferably $1,000) in a rainy day fund to ensure we’re covered (and don’t go into more debt) if something unexpected happens.