Dollar Diet: Week 20, counting the change

Wow, 20 weeks into the year.  Doesn’t seem possible!  But yep, 20 weeks of our Dollar Diet done and dusted.

Our new frugal ways have become like second nature and our bank account is looking much rosier.

I thought this would be a good opportunity to review our list of goals and see how we are actually doing:

Our ‘Needs’ List

  • Groceries – and sticking to our strict budget! (I have only gone over budget twice this year, due to special occasions)
  • Electricity, firewood
  • Internet/phone
  • Netflix (we might look at getting rid of this as we hardly ever watch TV these days!)
  • Insurances
  • Petrol, vehicle maintenance
  • Rates
  • Tithing, sponsor children, church activities
  • University money for kids (we put $10 a week into their accounts)
  • Doctor’s visits & prescriptions
  • Playgroups (we attend 3, at a total cost of $6 a week)
  • Haircuts (we both only get our hair cut 2 or 3 times a year) (I’ve had one so far this year.  They only cost me $25)
  • Moisturizer, bug spray (mozzies LOVE me), undies – A (have needed all of these, including new undies thanks to Trim Healthy Mama)
  • Theology papers, work trips, study trips, Toastmasters – D (D decided not to study this year so we don’t have to pay for his papers or study trips)
  • Rubbish & recycling collection
  • Garden & house maintenance (we get our lawns mowed as our place is HUGE) (this budget line has increased a little as I’m able to spend more time in the garden.  Having said that I try to be as frugal as possible here.  I did just make a new raised garden for $13, and grow my plants from seed)
  • Chickens & chicken feed & maintenance (we haven’t got the chickens yet, but plan to in 2015) (still haven’t got the chickens, but plan to in the next few weeks)
  • Shoes & clothes for the children (but trying to get second-hand or free where appropriate) (The only new items I’ve purchased have been shoes and a few warm clothes for the children.  I also managed to get a ton of gently-used clothes for free.)
  • Holidays (free accommodation where possible) (We haven’t been on a family holiday yet!)
  • Eloise’s hospital appointments (she is still being treated for a club foot, which means 3-4 trips to Wellington a year) (we haven’t had any trips yet, but one is coming up in June)

You might notice we don’t have a line for rent/mortgage.  That’s because we own our house outright.  As I said, we are very fortunate.  This was a major factor in our relocating to Whanganui.  House prices here are awesome.  If we’d stayed in Wellington I’d probably be back at work by now, in order to service a mortgage.

Here’s what we won’t be spending money on:

  • clothes and shoes for D and I (I bought a vest a few weeks ago in a fit of madness.  But otherwise, no new clothes for either of us.  I’m enjoying making the most of what I have by trying out new combinations.)
  • gifts, cards and wrapping paper (they will have to be home made) (D bought some design-your-own cards for Sausage to make me a card for mother’s day, but otherwise we have used what we’ve had to hand.  I paid for a couple of gifts to be sent overseas, but they weren’t things I could make myself i.e. US friends wanting NZ candy.  We’ve also purchased 3 other gifts, and I’ve handmade four.  We need to get better at this one!  I  am planning for all my gifts to be hand made for the rest of the year.)
  • date nights – no going out to restaurants, or to movies 😦 (Hurray!  We’ve stuck to this)
  • eating out (no meeting friends at cafes, no sandwiches on the run, no coffees for D) (While I’d like to say we have stuck to this, I can still count on one hand the number of times we’ve had takeaways.  And I’ve been to a cafe once due to being out and about much longer than anticipated)
  • toy library subscription (it runs out in July) (still plan to give this up)
  • childcare (due to constant pregnancy fatigue with my second child, our daughter was being looked after two afternoons a week.  We kept it going after the baby was born so as not to disrupt her routine, but will stop in the new year) (yes, done)
  • makeup for me (yes!)
  • cute clothes for the children (as above)
  • gadgets/invention stuff for D (must raise cash if anything is wanted by selling things/earning through side business) (ooh, this one has been hard for D, but he’s much better than he was)
  • a new laptop for me (Yep, still chugging along like a 6-packs-of-smokes-a-day-octogenarian.  I also haven’t replaced my cellphone when it died the other week)
  • treasures in my favourite second-hand stores (the only things I have purchased have been one gift, and a bread slice guide for D’s home made bread, so no treasures for me!)
  • lovely things for our house (yes)
  • books (sob, but that’s why libraries were invented, right?) (I have only purchased one as a wedding gift, all the other books have been from the library or swapped with friends)
  • fancy holidays (unless my friend’s wedding date ends up being set for next year) (My trip to Adelaide came up quite quickly, but has been paid for thanks to the Dollar Diet.  D has a trip to the Netherlands coming up, but most of the expense has been paid by his generous Opa.  Our Dollar Diet savings will cover the rest)
  • Plays, concerts, exhibitions, community events (We spent $20 going to Pecha Kucha, but D used money he’d raised by selling something.  Every other event we’ve been to this year has been free!)
  • Pizza at the Whanganui River Traders market (this may kill me…)  (No delicious pizza has been consumed by me)
  • my subscription to Good magazine (ok, now I’m crying) (done)
  • my subscription to the Wanganui Chronicle (we were offered the paper at a much reduced rate)
  • cookies for church morning teas (just going to have to be more organised and bake them myself) (had one occasion where I had to buy something, but every other time has been home made)

So we are not perfectly frugal.  But I think we’ve made great progress, and our new behaviours are definitely beginning to stick.  I look at clothes in the shops and can tell myself I don’t need them.  I can let my kids grow out of their clothes without needing to dash out to buy more because they already have ‘enough’ thanks to hand-me-downs from friends.  And tell myself that small children don’t need a huge wardrobe of clothes anyway.  D and I no longer get to lunch time and say ‘I can’t be bothered, let’s buy some sandwiches‘.  In fact, now I think ‘spending money on sandwiches?  That’s completely loco!‘  We make our own damn sandwiches.  We are experts at finding free stuff to do.  We hang out at home and with our friends a lot more.  We get into nature more.  We make do, mend and upcycle more.

There’s no deprivation.  Just a good life.