One month into my spending fast, and I have to admit, I am loving it. It seriously feels GOOD to be able to put a little bit more money into paying off debt. But there was a part of me that felt guilty giving people DIY gifts at Christmas, especially when they had already purchased things for me. It wasn’t that there was anything “wrong” with the gifts I had made, but it seemed “unequal” in a sense. The truth is that everyone LOVED the things I made them— and I had A LOT of fun making Christmas gifts. There was equal love, even if not equal cost. Here’s a recap of how I did it—>
I reserved a little time on the weekend, usually Sunday afternoon, to devote to gift making and I really enjoyed the process. I made peppermint sugar scrub, which was easy and worked out well. You can find the directions here: http://www.mommymusings.com/diy-peppermint-sugar-scrub/. This awesome blogger even had little printable labels! Hooray!
Next I concocted homemade granola, which was a HUGE hit. I found a recipe that called for ingredients you already have in the house, which made it very easy and affordable. The inspiration and directions are found here: http://ambertheblack.com/no-recipe-easy-homemade-granola/
Finally I made these super easy fabric bowls—> (See picture below, my word press site is not fancy enough to allow me to place a photo any old place!)
This was a delightfully easy and fun project. So easy, that even a less than adept seamstress like myself could make it. I’ll share a tutorial in a separate post.
The hardest part of the spending fast has been food and restaurants. I really love good food, and I LOVE supporting local eateries. I am trying to stick to a food budget, and had completely eliminated eating out as an option. A friend suggested that I allow myself to eat out IF it was within the budget I had already set aside for groceries. This seemed much more realistic, and so still sticking to my budget, we have eaten out (albeit at cheap places!!) twice in the month of December. Bahn’s Cuisine and Ninth Street Bakery here in Durham, NC have vegan friendly eats that cost around $5-6 dollars for a full meal. It is very hard to beat that!
A few more tips on sticking to a budget while grocery shopping.
1. Do NOT go to a “big box” store such as Target or Wal-Mart to get groceries unless you have to. You WILL think you need other random things, like scented candles, a new ironing board, or other random plastic shit, that I PROMISE you DONT NEED. :) Just go to a regular grocery store, they have everything you need, and if you aren’t afraid of generics, it will be just as cheap.
2. Keeping a grocery budget low means avoiding all pre-packaged food, including the healthy stuff like salad dressing, hummus and my beloved Lara bars. All of these things you can make at home very easily. Again, I plan to offer separate posts on the most financially friendly ways to make these items at home. Plus they are way tastier!
3. When you start cooking and creating more at home, there will be a “Start-up” cost. Buying tahini,miso, dijon and maple syrup to make my favorite salad dressing IS more expensive than grabbing a bottle. But those few ingredients will make salad dressing for the next several months. A very significant savings overall.
Finally, my intention going into 2014 is to have FUN with this spending fast. This doesn’t have to be torture, it is a choice to live more simply and see what emerges with a more mindful approach to spending. Cheers to a frugally fun New Year!