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Join Us for No Buy February

January 31st, 2011

This weekend I heard about Xan’s No Buy February Challenge. Since I’m a big fan of saving money and being thrifty I joined up. Mr Chiots and I did a no buy year 5-6 years ago and it was a wonderful thing, it really helped us get off that treadmill of buying stuff we didn’t need only to get rid of it a few years later and replace it with more stuff! It was a turning point for us financially, it really made us think about needs vs. wants and as a result we were able to pay off our house last year.

The idea of No Buy February, is to refrain from purchasing anything you don’t absolutely “NEED” during the entire month. You set the parameters for what you need or don’t need, here’s what Xan says:

Take the pledge with me for a NoBuyFebruary. If you don’t need it to live, don’t buy it. Taken to extremes, this means only buy groceries, because I’m guessing you have plenty of clothes, and you certainly don’t need any more dust catchers. If you can make it at home, you can’t buy it. Coffee. Meals. I’m including electronic expenditures, too, so that means no Kindle books or online subscriptions. Just go for a month without spending any money that you don’t have to spend. No fair using the last day of January to go on a buying binge either.

Of course you can still purchase things you need, I’ll be buying supplies to make my own seeds starting mix and a few amendments for the garden when I head up to Ohio Earth Food later this week and maybe some more seeds once I finish planning the garden. To me these things count as needs though not wants, if I didn’t purchase them I wouldn’t be able to grow my own food this summer. I’m fairly certain, however, that I can go the entire month of February without purchasing any additional food, heaven knows I have enough in the pantry to survive for months. It may mean going without mushrooms, or maybe running out of something, but we won’t starve! I decided that I was going to keep track of the amount of money I’m saving buy not purchasing things I don’t need and at the end of the month I’m going to donate that money to charity.

I’m also going to focus on going through the house and getting rid of stuff I don’t need during February. This is a perfect way to reinforce the don’t buy mindset. When you start making piles of stuff to give away or sell, it’s eye opening. You see how much you actually have and how little you really need.

What about you, do you think you can go a whole month without purchasing anything you don’t need?

Being Prepared = Saving Money

March 2nd, 2010

Mr Chiots and I are savers. We hate to spend money, especially on things that can be avoided, like eating out. Restaurant food is expensive and often unhealthy. It’s much cheaper and healthier to prepare food at home. Once you start eating healthful homemade food, often you find that you don’t really like restaurant food either. That being said, there are times when it can’t be avoided or times when you want to eat out. We do eat out on occasion and try to choose restaurants that serve healthy food. We have a set monthly budget for eating out, and if we do not spend it we transfer it to our vacation fund (which is also a deterrent to eating out, I’d prefer a weekend away to meals out).

The main way we manage save money in this area, is by being prepared. We always carry water with us (in stainless steel water bottles), this helps us avoid the need to buy drinks if we get thirsty (and we can refill at a drinking fountain). We also carry apples with us wherever we go. Apples are the perfect portable snack, they’re filling and you can eat them anywhere. We carry nuts and dried fruit as well and other quick snack foods that are high in protein and nutrition. Often a handful or two of nuts and an apple will keep you full until you can get home to eat a proper meal.

How do you find time to make a snack bag every time you go somewhere? I keep a bag with snacks in it by the back door. We simply grab the bag on our way out. We always carry snacks even if we only plan to be gone for an hour or two. It’s amazing how often you get behind or things don’t go as planned and you end up being out longer than anticipated. If we are planning on being gone during a meal time I will often pack sandwiches and more substantial snacks.

Another way we avoid eating out is by having quick meals at home. I always know that I have a few quick meal options that can be on the table within 15-20 minutes after arriving home. One of our favorite quick meals is homecanned tomato soup. Eggs also make the perfect quick meal, you can prepare them in all kinds of ways that are perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I often have soup or lasagna in the freezer and if I plan ahead I can thaw some out to be ready on short order.

Despite our best efforts, we occasionally find ourselves out and about without snacks and starving. What do we do then? Sometimes we just eat out and enjoy it, we have money budgeted for this purpose. Sometimes we buy a small snack and then eat a meal when we get home. Sometimes we go to a grocery store and buy apples, bananas, or nuts for a healthy snack that’s much cheaper than eating out. By doing this we save a lot of money and we eat more healthfully.

What strategies do you have for saving money on eating out?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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