What shall I report this week? That I am confused? That I don’t know if this little experiment in cutting out needless spending is working out at all?
I was both thrifty and spendy this week in almost equal measure.
On the spendy: I will be brief about this, but let me just say that sometimes as a mom, it is more expedient to go somewhere close and easily accessible but more pricey, than somewhere farther away but more cost effective.
This was me as I walked into Whole Foods on my way home from a play date, my kids on the verge of breakdown pre-nap. I had to get food and I had to get it fast. I think I left with maybe enough food for several meals, a measly pile yet a strikingly high bill. As I left the store I thought, dang, I better make this the best salt chicken I have ever made in my life!
As a result of that spendiness, I ended up vowing to not return to the grocery store this week, no matter how dire; I would make due with what was in my cupboards, garden and pantry. For the most part, I think I did great. I did have to go out for some spices to make curry from scratch, and pick up some naan, but all else was scrounged from the dim back corners of my cupboards. As of this writing, my cupboards are rather bare. I eked out a pear (instead of banana) bread with the last bar of butter, last cup and a half of rye flour, last bit of sugar…and the only two eggs (freshly laid by our lovely hens) left in the house.
Tomorrow is grocery day, I basically need everything. I hope to get to a grocery store where I can spend the same but get a lot more bang for my buck.
I spent on other things. Namely a gift for my soon to be 3 year old, and a toy that, in my husband’s estimation helps to expose her to pursuits more in-line with what daddy finds fun and interesting: A tool box.
I also couldn’t help thrift shopping with my aunt ( our favourite activity to do together ) in search of items to furnish this kitchen remodel my hubs is launching into. We hit up the local ReStore and I found us a great stainless steel sink, $40 with some wear and tear. We investigated it’s original cost: $700! So I came away feeling pretty darn good about that one. Considering the many temptations before my eyes (being a trinket collector at heart) I did really well, coming away with the sink and 3 sets of dresses for my tot who is obsessed with dresses and dirt in equal measure…and at $2 per dress, I felt it was a wise investment…both for her joy and my ease of mind ( if it gets spoiled, no big deal!)
On the thrifty: I started selling stuff on that local yard sale facebook page I discovered.
It took some time. I had 4 items posted for a week with no real takers. I also had a few flakers. But ultimately, I sold almost all of the items I posted and posted some more items that sold quickly. It felt good to open my mailbox to find some cash in it rather than bills! And it’s kind of addictive. I keep casting around looking to see what else I can sell off. This is an excellent way to rid our house of clutter in a far more targeted way than the laborious business of a yard sale.
I also became a sort of homesteader (as one of my mom friends calls it when she cans) this weekend making preserves! Yeah, I made pear jam from pears I’d picked up on a random, unplanned detour; I was drawn to turn down a road by beautifully hand painted signs saying “pears for sale”. I followed the well placed painted pears and arrows to a driveway with a tent erected over a table with single pears, small flats of pears and large flats of pears, for 75cents, 4 bucks or 7 bucks respectively. I placed the 14 dollars in the honour system jar and gleefully hauled away two massive flats of Bartlett pears, grinning like a maniac while quickly trying to figure out what one could DO with so many wonderful pears. I was certain I would think of something.
A week later, they were all gorgeously ripe and far too soft for my juicer. It was pear jam or nothing. Like a Tyrannosaurus attempting to tie his shoelaces with his tiny, tiny hands, I entered my kitchen equipped only with a few googled recipes, my mother-in-laws canning equipment and my almost overripe pears to begin the preserving process. Yeah, it was a little comical. To begin with, I had no jars. My hubs had kindly bought me three lemons and one small packet of pectin on my behest earlier in the day (far too little, as it turned out that two flats of pears makes an enormous amount of jam). Mid way through the jam making the hubs again went out and bought me some canning jars (again, far too few, I could have done with triple the number). What ended up coming of all that was actually, some decently delicious pear jam with a hint of ginger and cardamom…of which a portion was properly canned…and the remainder (over half) hastily poured into whatever vessels of varying sizes were available to contain it.
It was a sticky mess. I’d like to say that I learned a bit about canning and preparedness. I think maybe I did. Whatever it was that happened in there….it was exciting if not perfect. I am already looking ahead to perhaps begging some gorgeous peaches from a mama friend of mine so that I might attempt this whole canning adventure once again. I may be hooked! As to it’s thriftiness. It felt darn thrifty (maybe because it was so laborious). The fruits themselves were a steal. The additional cost of lemons, pectin and cans threw off the margins of “dead cheap” to “moderately cheap”. In the future, provided not all the cans are given away, I will only have to replace the lids, and if I were to continue this canning craziness, the thriftiness factor might start to rise.
I’ve been thinking about this whole blog and what it is I am trying to achieve. I feel like I’ve waffled a lot and sent my few readers on a bit of a journey of confusion.
Essentially, it is confusing. It’s confusing that spending is such a big part of life. Trying to discern what spending is of the utmost necessity and what is not, is even more confusing. It really comes down to goals. Is my goal to save up money and not spend at all? Or is my goal to live comfortably, surrounding myself with things that matter, not depriving myself of things but choosing carefully what it is I bring in? Over arcing it all is my relationship to things and money. Do I feel guilt when I spend? When and why? Do I feel pleasure when I spend? Is it lasting? Are the things I have appreciated?
I’m still getting to the bottom of all this. So, in that regard, this is not a futile effort, as confusing and meandering as it may seem.
I do, in many ways, feel accountable to you, my invisible readers. I sure hope you are out there. I like to think that you are, because you help me assess my progress week by week. Please feel free to comment here on my blog page and offer ideas, thoughts and support. Thank you for taking your valuable time to read this. Much gratitude.