September 5, 2012 by Warren Wilkinson
“After a $4 dollar raise, getting all your books from the library, and making your own coffee (as opposed to Starbucks), you haven’t been able to save anything?” I asked my girlfriend, incredulously. She confirmed my statement.
Saving is hard, because lifestyle enhancements creep in. I’ve lived on $200 a month (not including rent), but now can’t seem to survive on less than $1,200 (again, not including rent). But we should be saving for our China trip.
And besides that, I couldn’t afford Hutterite chicken today. My nearby Co-op sells them, big beautiful Hutterite chickens; $25 dollars a bird, compared to $7 for the factory farmed ones.
If I continue buying unpasteurized raw milk ($20 for 2 liters), backyard farm eggs and buy Hutterite chickens, I’ll have escaped the factory farm system. Just add backyard vegetables!
Unfortunately, I’m spending too much, and I need to stop. Here’s where my budget seems to be at:
|Restaurants||$320 (inc coffee shops, fast food, alcohol in bars)|
|Misc||$300 (blowing the budget, clothes, etc)|
The Cost of Things
|Buy a book monthly||25.00||12||300.00|
|Fast Food Thrice a week||15.00||156||2340.00|
|Friday Night After Work Drinks||48.00||48||2304.00|
|Monthly Wacky Adventure||60.00||12||720.00|
|Weekly restaurant date||38.00||52||1976.00|
These are examples, between my girlfriend and I we do (or did) all of them. These numbers are the cost of things that may not be adding to our lives. Morning coffee, maybe – a bus pass, sure – but fast food? $2,340 just to worrying about our weight.
In any case, I want eat quality food and that costs money, see:
|Weekly Raw Milk||20.00||52||1040.00|
|Weekly 3x Hutterite Chickens||25.00||156||3900.00|
|Weekly more vegetables||30.00||52||1560.00|
Reducing our Costs
Here are some things we’ve been able to do.
- Book Buying
- We use the library now pretty much exclusively.
- I don’t drink Coffee, my girlfriend now takes coffee from home. Probably saves her about $450 a year, which is over half of the cost of the China flight.
- Buying Lunches
- We bulk-prepare lunches on the weekend. AFAIK it’s her lunches for the week, so that saves her $2400 a year. I eat my half and more, so I still eat lunches out occasionally, but I’m trying to stop.
- Weekly Wine
- We started brewing our own! 23L (which should do about half a year) costs about $45. So we spend $90 instead of $624, a savings of about $530 per year.The plan is to trade our wine with other brewers so we get some variety.
- Weekly Sushi
- We make our own sushi – most of our bulk lunches are sushi. It’s cheap and fun.
- Monthly Gym
- Probably has to go. I need to work harder and train at home. On the other hand, the paleo diet seems to reduce my need for exercise.
- Monthly Gas
- I’m trying to walk more places.
- Fast Food Thrice a Week
- This is my problem, I gotta start cutting this out… and I know just the way! The envelope system! Read on!
The Envelope system
I’ve been using debit and letting Mint.com show me the trends, some of my spending is ridiculous. But I haven’t been able to curb it.
The envelope system is where you withdraw cash at the start of the month and put it into marked envelopes. In my case they’re marked: ‘Restaurants/Fastfood/Coffee’, ‘Groceries’, ‘Gas’ and ‘Misc’
When I go to get groceries, I take grocery money. If I’m out of grocery money, I steal from another account. For restaurants, gas and misc – I do without.
I’ve tried virtual accounts (having a budget set within mint), but because I can go over, I do. It’s only these categories though. For others, like clothes, I have no problem staying in budget.
I’ve been trying to get into this for a while. A few weeks ago my compost died, so I’ll have to restart it. I’m starting small, just a little kitchen compost and then use the soil to grow some herbs.
The lady and I have been doing this! We’ve learned to make Sushi, cabbage rolls, fish and chips, french fries, mussels and more. Cooking is a cool.
We’re also taking over the spices. A pack of taco seasoning is like $2.00, but just last week my lady love made a far better mix from our spice rack. If we can duplicate the Swiss Chalet recipe, we’re gold!
Offal and Tougher cuts
My goal is to have more offal in my diet. It’s cheap and very nutritious. Along this same lines I’d like to introduce tougher cuts that need more cooking time. They’re usually cheaper because they’re not as convenient.