The embargo is about
“saving money but it is also about examining my family’s needs and wants, and abstaining from buying things we don’t really need. The point is to think about the things we buy and why we buy them” (read Andrea’s 2011 Shopping Embargo post here)
Visit my first Shopping Embargo post to read more about my plans.
One month into the Shopping Embargo and I’m enjoying it. Yes, yes, shake your heads in bewilderment.
I like challenges. And even though I’m not a recreational or compulsive spender, I like feeling more in control of the little money we do manage to hold onto.
I feel like our first month was a success. We had three ‘big’ purchases (its all relative folks):
- Bedding for the monkey ($80): it was a planned purchase after moving into our new house in June, it just took 6 months for us to find something he (we) loved!
- A new wardrobe for my shrinking self ($300): I have lost almost 40 pounds and discovered having only two pairs of pants was no longer feasible.
- A new mop ($100): A $100 mop!?!? Actually, it is a Shark steam cleaner for our floors. We had to put our 11 year old dog to sleep at the beginning of January. Since then I’ve discovered he was entirely responsible for the cleanliness of the floors on the main level of our house. He must have had a gut of steel for the amount of food and liquid he put away everyday. Our two year old mop, which I used light-heartedly every week to get what the dog didn’t, was threadbare and I needed something powerful to get rid of the ‘stick’. I opted for the steam mop because we have sealed hardwood and ceramic tile and I wanted something that would clean my floors without harsh cleaners or leave a residue behind. Plus I love how quickly the floors dry afterwards!
Because I love lists, here are my ‘goals’ for the embargo:
- Cut our discretionary spending by 10%: We have two discretionary budgets in our household: one for annual variable spending (lessons, clothes, birthday parties, gifts etc.) and another for monthly variable spending (alcohol, groceries, entertainment, kids etc). We spent 8.55% of our annual budget this month instead of the 8.3% average. Had I not broken out in an unexplained rash and hives we would have stayed under. $100 at Shoppers Drug Mart for lotions, creams, and OTC drugs broke the bank. For our monthly variable spending we only used 82% of our budget. At the end of the month we end up with a few extra hundred dollars to pad our bank account. Success!
- Bake snacks instead of buying them: My poor oven is begging for mercy. Muffins, cookies, and home-cooked meals galore. The only store-bought snacks I still buy are Arrowroot biscuits, raisins, and fruit leather.
- Make homemade / creative gifts for family and friends (I promise, I will not try to knit you anything):We are in the process of making Valentine’s cards for 43 children. There were no birthdays in January but February is a doozy. Not only do several family members have birthdays but my 4 year old firefighter will be 5 (insert weep here).
- Find fun (and free) activities and entertainment for our family: We took advantage of our museum memberships, were given free tickets to the Sesame Street Live show, played outside in the snow, and spent $23 to bowl (for an hour) with friends.
Birthday’s are a big deal in our house. We usually have two parties: one for friends and another for family. Excessive? Probably. Tons of fun? Most definitely.
We are still going to have both parties but I’m going to ask family members to contribute to a potluck meal for one party and for the fire-fighter’s friends, we’re going to have the party at home.
Here’s where I need your help! The firefighter is going to be 5. I feel no need to stick to a theme so I’d like to hear your best (CHEAP) birthday party entertainment ideas. We won’t serve a meal to the kids, just snacks and a (homemade) cake. I’d love to do an art and craft and play some games.
And there will be no loot bags: Not because I’m cheap but because I’ve yet to find loot bag contents that aren’t junky. There will be around 12 kids, ages two to five, both boys and girls.