- All the kids have left home in the last 2 years (some very recently), but life has gotten even busier, and sometimes it's easy to default to the "easy option" rather than cook what could be a more frugal meal, especially on days when one is particularly tired or feeling unwell or stressed.
- The "easy option" might look like a home-made but not very balanced meal, or it might be takeaways. Sometimes the easy option is simply buying more steak or chicken, when we already have venison, duck and goat in the freezer, because I can't be bothered to make the effort to decide what to do with it, and do it.
- Adjusting to cooking meals for only 1 or 2 people when one is used to cooking for 7+ takes time and effort. Back when the kids were all at home, if events occurred to take everyone but me away for an evening, I would consider it a well-deserved but rare night off. That mindset can easily become a habit, and suddenly when it's often just me, or just the two of us, one can subconsiously not see much point in cooking.
- A lack of motivation to attend to being as frugal as possible sometimes spills over into not picking produce in the garden before it's past it's peak, or not making use of what is available in season, which is wasteful.
- Not making the effort to properly plan and prepare meals results in a less balanced and nutritious diet...which in turn leads to a less healthy body and mind..which in turn leads to being less well and less mentally and physically energised, which in turn leads to being less motivated or able...which in turn leads to not feeling up to the effort of planning etc.... A vicious circle!
- Multiple food intolerances and allergies, underlined by my autoimmune condition, mean that a lot of our food options are more expensive. Most "cheap" foods are simply not things I can eat. Non-dairy milks are more expensive than cows milk, for example. Gluten free products are massively more expensive (even though, typically, made from cheap ingredients). Most available products contain multiple ingredients I react to, so I often have to be very selective, and can't chose things by price alone. But a lot of these things I could make cheaper, and better, at home (or do without).
- We have been consistently overspending on groceries etc for a long time; this needs to change! While we have managed to make ends meet anyway, I want to do better than that - I would rather have money left over to reduce our mortgage faster, or maybe save for a holiday, or both. I don't want to enter retirement age with a mortgage, and if that's not to be, we must start acting now!
- I have long had a preference for homemade and frugal options in food, cleaners, household products etc. At different times, I have made many things "from scratch" one way or another. I currently have on hand quite a lot of the ingredients necessary to make a number of household products, but again, I have picked the easy option too often, and purchased laundry powder, dishwashing liquid, dishwasher tablets, spray cleaners, moisturiser, shampoo, deodorant and so on and so forth, even though other options are potentially available, with a bit of effort and experimenting.
I am also of the belief that having some food etc stored up against hard times, if possible, is a good thing - one never knows when financial hardship or health problems or natural disasters will prevent food or money from being readily available for a time. So my aim is not to empty our supplies to the point of non-existence.
- Change current unhelpful habits and mindsets by choosing to set contraints upon myself that will "force" me to do things differently.
- Limit spending severely for a period of time, and in so doing, discover/practice ways to permanently moderate it within reasonable bounds.
- Save money
- Use up foods and products currently available in my garden, pantry, fridge/freezer, and other storage, using them to feed and care for ourselves, and also try out new recipes and new ideas that will save money and improve health in the long run.
- Make space in our pantry/freezers for the new seasonal homestead produce that will soon need somewhere to be stored.
- Focus on meals that bring health and life. Use up or get rid of anything that does not.
- From Jan 1st 2018, I will set aside $50/week, to be potentially used for essential items that may be needed to turn other things we already have into a meal, or to purchase things we truly cannot do without.
- Try not to spend that $50 - see how much is in the kitty at the end of the challenge.
- Avoid entering stores or other places that engender temptation to spend, unless absolutely essential.
- "Found money" can be added to the kitty - money might be "found" by selling items from the house or garden.
- The $50/week is for all items that normally come from my grocery money - food of any kind, personal hygiene items, pet food (1 dog, 3 cats), cleaners, toilet paper, and so on.
- Poultry feed is not included - at this time of year we have a large number of ducklings and chicks which need feeding as we grow them for the freezer. While I will be contemplating the number of poultry we have, and their cost vs benefit, and considering adjustments, I am not including their feed at this time, as it's seasonally costly, with the pay off being food down the track, and would skew everything else.
- I am not going to "stock up" before we start, with the exception of a few selected items which I know I cannot substitute for at this point, and will need on an ongoing basis. I prefer to buy them in advance, so I can avoid the stores as much as possible. Therefore I will buy this weekend a three month supply of: cat food, sanitary product, olive oil, coconut oil, sugar for making kombucha and preserving, vinegar for cleaning and preserving.
- This challenge has no particular time limit - I will carry it on as long as I can. I'm aiming for 2-3 months, but will see how we go.
- I plan to blog each day - not a boring blow-by-blow, but a general update, recipes and instructions for interesting and useful items, and an update on any spending and/or achievements. Related posts will be titled with a "SN2N" for short (spend next to nothing).
- If my husband feels he particularly needs something we don't have, then he's free to buy it for himself with his own discretionary money, and eat it himself. This little challenge is not about causing hardship or friction. He is onboard with the overall plan though, so this may not happen, but if it does, no big deal.
Why am I blogging about it? I know myself well enough to know that if I want to achieve something, it works best if I set a goal, and make it public, with updates. Like the year I started my garden with the aim to grow 1000kg of produce in 12 months. :-) So, knowing you are reading this will help keep me motivated. And hopefully, reading it will provide you with some encouragement and ideas too.