Wednesday, 10 October 2012
Don't fear the winter... First steps
This lovely vase of pink flowers is a vintage illustration by Kate Greenaway. It is from the old storybook Marigold Garden, circa 1892 (starsunflowerstudio.blogspot.co.uk)
The Womanly Art of Thrift, continued.
There are many first steps that can be taken towards learning this art, and it is a vast subject indeed. Whichever you begin with, it is important to understand that it need not be a depressing or miserable exercise by any means. It may be also be a very useful thing, to stop frequenting fearful frugal blogs, or watching gloomy news programmes as much as possible to avoid being infected by their negative outlook.
Two areas of home life in which you can begin right away, are in grocery shopping and cooking for the family. They are very rewarding and make a long term impact on the finances as well as on family health. Remember, with an enthusiastic attitude, this can be fun!
Start by finding out how much you spend each month on your grocery shopping. You DON'T have to do any real maths, or trawl through bank statements to find this out. A pleasant way to do this is to find any kind of notebook which you will use only for this purpose. If it already has writing in it, then check there is nothing important there before tearing out the used pages. Pop on a sticky label or write 'Grocery Budget' or something similar on the front. You will use this notebook constantly, and need it to hand daily. When you see a nice picture on a piece of junk mail, cut it out and stick it to the front of your book, or draw and colour on a simple, pretty design.
At the beginning of the month, write down EVERY penny you spend on your groceries. Keep each receipt and slip them into your book. Don't be afraid, or feel guilty, you have already made a great first step. Remember to write down every purchase, including top-up shopping. At the end of the month, add up what you've written down and there you will have your total for the month. Maybe you spent £200 or $200 in total. We each have different families so there is no 'right' figure in this.
Next, divide your total into four and you'll see your weekly average. You'll now be ready to tailor your thriftiness to suit you and your family. If you've spent an average of, say, £50 or $50 per week, last month, you know to keep within that average this month. You may spend more than the £50 one week because you may buy meat that is on offer that week, or stock up on something else. But you know that next week you'll be buying slightly less to average things out.
This small step will often make you much more aware of your spending and you will be more thoughtful when confronted with the temptation to impulse buy.
Jars of our home-made Jam. Blackberries gathered from the hedgerows. I hope to post a simple tutorial soon
I welcome all respectful comments and non-contentious comments, so please share them here.
As regards meal planning and cooking as a way of developing the art of thrift, I will be posting some ideas on those next time.