One week down, 51 to go!
It’s been a case of so far, so good this week. It’s summer holidays here in New Zealand, so schools, kindergartens and playgroups are closed until the school year begins in February. School holidays can be an expensive time of year for parents, but I’ve managed to keep Sausage occupied for almost-free this week.
One of my BFF cousins is in town with her school-aged children. Sausage has loved getting to know her cousins, and they have provided her with her favourite form of entertainment – a captive audience to watch her antics. Our cousins are on a limited budget, so we’ve enjoyed a few meals at home together, a walk around the lake, watched a DVD, and had a brilliant time visiting the excellent Whanganui Regional Museum (free entry) which meant sticking to the Dollar Diet was easy.
I’m a very organised person, but the Dollar Diet is already making me plan ahead a lot more than I have before. I’m good at making sure I have enough food and drink for my tots, but often don’t take anything for myself when I’m out and about. I keep sugar to a minimum (which I blog about over at Giving Up Sugar) but hunger can make any sugary food waved in my face look tempting, so this week I made sure to pack a piece of fruit in the baby bag for me, which also stops me from needing to buy a quick snack at a cafe.
Here’s some other things that I’ve done this week:
- Removed several ‘lines’ in our budget, such as our clothing allowance, date night allowance, eating out allowance, and some of our gift budget (I will probably still need a little $ to make gifts).
- Our weekly clothing allowance was $6.92 (D) and $11.54 (me) per week so that will potentially save us $959.92 this year. I thought our allowance was pretty darn frugal and got us used to saving up for items of clothing that I wanted, but seeing it in a lump sum like that makes me reconsider just how much I might be overspending on clothes I probably don’t need.
- Our weekly date night allowance was a generous $35.00 a week and has generally always been well in credit because we haven’t gone out every week, or always spent money on our dates. Occasionally we’d treat ourselves to an expensive dinner and a movie, but D and I have always been pretty happy with fish and chips at the beach, or cuddling up on the couch to watch Foyle’s War. As our date night budget is now zero, I’m really looking forward to getting my thinking cap on. D and I take turns planning our date night so I can’t wait to see what he comes up with too. Anyway, that’s a massive $1820 in potential savings this year.
- Even though we meal plan, we’re not always the best at sticking to it or at taking food with us when we are out and about (see above!), so our weekly eating out budget was $40.00. This was also pretty generous and has always been in the black. The other day I had forgotten to take meat out of the freezer for that night’s meal, and my mind went ‘Oh well, I can just make a tuna pasta thingee, or we could get Fish and Chips. No, wait! I forgot we’re on a Dollar Diet! Tuna Pasta Thingee it is. Oooh, Dollar Diet, you are good…‘ Eating at home, and ensuring we take food with us when we’re out will potentially save us $2080 this year!
- I was going to cancel our subscription to our local newspaper, but I haven’t quite. The man I spoke to asked me why I was cancelling. I could have told a white lie and said I was moving (it would have been easier) but I decided to be truthful and told him all about the Dollar Diet. He was actually really interested and we had a great chat. He then offered me the paper at a greatly reduced rate. I know many businesses will do this rather than lose customers, but I was so pleased that he did. Supporting local businesses is really important to us, and we were feeling quite stink about cancelling, so our discount is kind of a happy medium. While we won’t save as much money as simply cancelling the newspaper would do, our discount will save us almost $100 this year.
- I’ve unsubscribed to any emails that want to sell me something. There have been more times than I care to remember that I’ve seen an email advertising a sale that’s made me go ‘Oooh! 60% off! I must have a look…’ This way I will be completely oblivious to all the things I am missing out on that I most certainly don’t need anyway.
- I sold some boots ($11) and a dress ($10) on our NZ trading website Trade Me.
One ‘unnecessary’ thing we spent money on this week was taking Sausage to our local pool. The admission price of the pool is a bit of a bug-bear of mine as I think it is outrageously expensive compared to pools in other cities. However, I want Sausage to be used to deep water so I do plan to take her swimming every now and then throughout the year. It will still be a couple more years before she can really learn to swim, but mucking about in the pool with Mummy or Daddy is a step in the right direction. D bought a plastic bread slicing thing (you know, those things that help you cut uniform slices) as he is now a bread-making king. It turned out to be completely useless at helping you slice breadmaker loaves, so that was a waste of $10. D also wants you to know he spent $2 on a cheeseburger, but he was feeling faint and was worried he was going to pass out (it was a hot day, so I think he can be forgiven 🙂 ).