Tag Archives: buy little

Ronnica’s Buy Little Month Wrap-Up, January 2016

coinsJanuary has gone quickly for me, even though it was my “Buy Little” month. Typically these months where I am focusing on not spending are slow, as I’m hyper-aware of each day’s decisions. I think that’s one of the beauties of doing something like this: it forces me to pay attention to something I might have otherwise done mindlessly.

While this was my 3rd go around at a “Buy Little” month, I was surprised that I had different lessons to learn this go around than previously. The biggest take away I had this month was that I really did not have a lot of excess food, and quickly had to start buying almost everything again.

I think the last 2 cycles of “Buy Little” months has trained me to buy less groceries throughout normal months. I still have room to grow, as always, but I’m encouraged to see the progress that I have made.

So how much of my regular budget was I able to save this month?

$119.27 from my grocery budget
$47.77 from my gas budget
$19.92 from my utilities budget
$187.16 total saved

This is not an insignificant amount, as January I wasn’t otherwise able to save as much I would like as I was not yet working overtime in my new position.

I also spent $13.22 mailing Bibles to a charity who takes used Bibles. I find this worthwhile money as I wasn’t going to donate the Bibles to Goodwill or throw them out, and they were just taking room up on my shelf.

I want to keep up this month’s conscientiousness in a new way next month by keeping track of every item that comes in and out of my apartment. I look forward to what I will learn from that experiment as well!

Photo by John Liu

Amanda’s Buy Little Month Wrap-Up, January 2016

unnamed (13)January was “Buy Little Month” in our house.  Ronnica sang the praises of intentionally minimizing purchases, so I figured…why not try it?

We did not keep records as meticulously as she did, instead opting to track expenses as we would ordinarily.  Rather, our thought processes were what we took note of more than anything.  “Is this a need or a want?” is something that crossed my mind whenever potential purchases came up.  (I think this is how Riley thinks on a regular basis, Buy Little Month or not, so this month really benefited me more than anyone in that regard!)

That said, I wasn’t terribly surprised to find that not much changed in how things went–we didn’t save a great deal of money (although if one considers what has been saved via the new grocery shopping method alone, we did pocket an extra couple hundred dollars).  It turns out, one of our financial strengths is that we tend to be pretty intentional and thoughtful when it comes to purchases.

What I did appreciate about our Buy Little Month exercise was the fact that it was good to refocus on our financial goals at the beginning of the new year.  I don’t know that this is something we will actually sign on to do again, but making sure we continue to stay on the same page as a couple is always a good practice.

Be sure to come back on Thursday to read about Ronnica’s Buy Little Month experience!

August Project Check-In

6757849129_54c4f1ab10_mAlthough this post is set to be published on August 14, I am writing my first Amanda’s August Project Check-in on Tuesday, August 4.

The reason:  holy smokes, y’all, I’m learning a lot about where our money goes.

Some highlights thus far:

1.  I spent all of my “fun money” for August by Day Three.  Husband and I both get a few bucks each month to spend (or save) on whatever we want.  This isn’t a huge amount of money, but I learned it can go up in smoke pretty quickly.  I chose to spend mine on morning coffees and treats, and before I knew it, poof!  There went my money for 31 days…on the third day of the month.

Lesson learned:  Taking a few minutes to plan where I want my money to go can result in less impulse purchases.  Or I can quit coffee, but that’s not likely to happen anytime soon.  I can also make my own coffee at home for a lot less…and still get caffeinated.

2.  Communication with others in the household is crucial.  This one is more of a reminder than a lesson learned, but it was great to get a refresher.  If only one person in the household knows where the money is going, or spends without consulting the other people in the house first, then it can be all too easy to 1) be left in the dark, and 2) see your bank account dwindle rapidly.

3.  Budget.  You had to know this was coming, right?  Also more of a reminder, but if you don’t tell your money where to go, then it will be gone before you know it (see Highlight #1).

Stay tuned for more take-away lessons from AAP!

Photo by http://401kcalculator.org

Intentionality

brownies
Making my own sweet for the week.

I’m now almost halfway through my 2nd Buy Little Month.  It’s interesting what stands out to me this time around that didn’t the first time around.

I’ve noticed that one thing that happens when you don’t allow yourself to go out and buy something to meet every need (real or perceived) is that you are more intentional.

Even outside my Buy Little Months, I don’t spend a lot. But it’s easy to fall into consumer habits and continue doing what you’ve always done. My Buy Little Months allow me to take a step back and pause before I purchase the same thing again for the umpteenth time.

Instead of grabbing that same item yet again off the store shelf, I think through why I need it. If it’s a genuine need, I search my house and the Internet to see if there is something that I already have that I may be able to replace it with. Creativity is a must.

Another aspect of intentionality during my Buy Little Month is that I can’t assume that I have something easy on hand for the day’s meals. I have to spend time at the first of the week or day to think through my options (yes, I still have options hiding in my cupboards and fridge). Routines that I have, particularly for sweets and snacks, are naturally broken when my favorite treats are no longer around. I’ve found that a sweet that I bake from scratch is harder to gorge on than one that comes out of a box.

While I won’t be saving as much this time around (I’ve built up less excess in the last 5 months than I had during January’s Buy Little Month), I’m very thankful that I’ve done it as I still have lessons to learn. Breaking routines and habits can be a healthy way to discover what really works and is important.

Buy Little Month Wrap-up

It’s February! I’m not sure when the last time I was this conscious of the calendar month. But this month, I got to ease up on my self-imposed buying restrictions.

So what are the end result of my Buy Little Month? (If you missed it, here’s my halfway-point update.) Here’s my first Buy Little Month by the numbers:

$284.51: How much money I did not spend in my January budget by “buying little.”
$254.51: How much extra money I put directly towards my student loans.
93: the number of meals I improvised
$30: the small donation I made from the money I saved (more below)
$13.09: the money I spent this month (gas and bills excluded)
4: the number of items I bought: medicine, eggs, dry milk and an onion
2: the number of meals provided to me (thanks, Jess)
0: the number of well-rationed Diet Dr Peppers I ended up with at the end of the month

Empty Fridge
The contents of my fridge on January 31st. Not pictured is 2 1/2 bags of shredded mozzarella cheese, 8 bottles of various condiments and half an onion.

The further into the month I got, the more I thought about those who have to “buy little” because of financial circumstances or lack of resources in their area.

While I think this month has been really good for me, it began to feel more and more like something I was just playing at. After all, I had the luxury of spending $100 on groceries as soon as the month was done, and could have quit at any time.

With this in mind, I decided that I couldn’t just do this for me. I figured that the least I could do is provide the same amount of food for others that I was able to provide myself from the abundance of my shelves and freezer. I gave $30 to the Food Bank of the Rockies, who can leverage that to provide 120 meals.

I’m almost embarrassed to even mention it, since it’s so small and not as much as I obviously could give. But it’s a start. I refuse to not do something just because it’s “small.”

When I do my next “Buy Little” month, I think I will plan to donate half of the food budget I save to the Food Bank. That brings up my next point…

Will I do it again?

Absolutely. It was a good budget and diet corrective, which I hope spills over to other months. Still, I know that I’ll need the corrective again. I hope to make this a bi-annual event, doing my next Buy Little Month in July.

Buy Little Month: Halfway Point Update

As I write this post, I’m just over halfway through my Buy Little Month experiment. As a recap, here are the “rules” of this month:

1. Fixed expenses like rent, utilities, and insurance don’t count.

2. If I need something, use something I already have.

3. If I can’t make do with what I have, I’ll shop my own grocery reserves.

4. If I absolutely need something and I don’t have something that will work, only then will I buy something.

Already, I’ve learned so much. Truly, it’s been much easier than I expected. I anticipate the second half of the month to be a little harder, as I have less variety to choose from as far as food.

personal store
My “store” isn’t out of business yet.

What have I bought?

As of January 18th, I’ve bought:

medicine $7.40
eggs $1.98
dry milk $2.98

That’s it. There were another half dozen or so things I considered buying, but with some creativity, I figured out how to do without.

I’ve also spent about $20/week of my grocery budget “buying” things from my grocery reserve.

What have I saved?

$4.86 from my utilities budget
$49.80 from my grocery budget
$90 from my transportation budget

That makes $144.66 extra that I have put against my student loan. I should definitely make my goal of saving $220.

So, what is my biggest struggle?

Sweets. I knew that this was my weakness: I’ve long developed the habit of treating myself with something sweet at the end of a busy day. At first, I still had Christmas candy, but I ate through that the first week. I wish I had rationed it.

I’m learning that I don’t have to have that treat; I don’t have to be ruled by my stomach.

kitchen pantry
This is what I still have left after eating for 18 days with almost no shopping (not including what I still have in my freezer).

What are my 3 biggest surprises?

1. The reaction I’ve received from others. It’s incredibly humbling to have others offer you food, as several people have. While I know that this voluntary period of living without spending is nothing like true poverty, I believe I’m getting a glimpse of what it would be like to be hungry. I hope I respond with less superiority and more solidarity than I have in the past when I interact with those in need.

2. How much food I had in my small kitchen. Of course I’m only feeding myself, but my kitchen stores have been sufficient to feed myself for 18 days (and counting…the shelves aren’t yet bare).

3. I can settle for less than ideal. Of course I can, but I really thought that it would be more of a struggle. I’ve eaten some cobbled-together meals contently that I would previously have turned up my nose against.

I look forward to sharing again when I’ve completed my Buy Little month. In the meantime, I share updates on Twitter: @TheStewardesses.

The First Two Rs

reduce_reuse_recycleI remember as a child in the 90s hearing of the slogan “Reduce Reuse Recycle,” but I never really knew what the first two Rs meant. I just assumed that all three were synonyms of recycling, because that’s all I ever remember anyone talking about.

Even when I started to realize my responsibility towards the world, I primarily focused on recycling. Recycling was something I understood and was comfortable with.

Recycling is a good thing when compared to littering or landfilling. But instead of expending energy in this manner, what if we focused on reducing and reusing instead?

In the last few years, I have gone beyond just recycling and have focused on reducing and reusing. But when I started to do so, I didn’t immediately recognize it was something that I had been encouraged to do since I was young. It wasn’t until the last year when I started to focus on the first R, reduce, that I recognized that there was purpose to the order of the three Rs.

Reducing my consumption should be my first priority. The less I buy and bring into my home, the better. If I don’t buy it, it doesn’t have to be manufactured in a polluting factory and transported by a polluting truck. It’s packaging doesn’t end up in a landfill. If I don’t buy it, I have that money to use for other things like paying off debt, saving and giving. If I don’t buy it, it doesn’t become clutter in my small apartment.

Despite what politics and polls tell us, I refuse to mindless agree to the concept that increased consumption is what is best for our country (let alone our world). Can we be big, bad America without an over-sized economy? Maybe not. And I’m okay with that.

I still have a long ways to go towards reducing my consumption. I find packaging-heavy, nutritionally-light fast food too tempting at times. I would rather buy new clothes than have to weed through items at a thrift shop. I like my comforts.

Next month I’ll be doing a “Buy Little” month to grow myself in this area.

While I should reduce my consumption first, my next task should be to reuse items I am done with whenever possible. I still have work to do in this area as well. Donating items I no longer want is pretty easy, but I want to work at finding new purposes for items that I’d otherwise donate or dispose of. Hopefully this is something that we can brainstorm together as we find new purposes for old items.

What ways have you found to reduce or reuse?