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How We Reduced Our Food Spending

Last month I told you about how we are attempting to spend less money on food. The result of our February experiment was that we spent $280 for the month which ended up being $109 less than February last year (2017). It’s also consistent with the $10 a day spending experiment that I have been doing to see if it is possible to eat well for $10 per day for two people. It IS possible.

The main things that made this possible were the following:

Eating in season. We bought blueberries when they were in season in the summer at a great price and then froze them for use now. We also froze most of our own fruit, including currants, raspberries and apples.

Not buying convenience foods. This is an obvious one. Convenience foods may look cheaper to start with but they are used up faster because the quality is poor. You end up spending more because you have to repurchase more often.

Eating a bit less. There is nothing wrong with eating less. I found this quite liberating. We were eating better quality food, and therefore not needing to eat as much because there were no cravings.

Cooking everything for ourselves. This is a must. I have found that eating at restaurants is actually not that fun for me. It’s really for convenience. I prefer the food that we make for ourselves, for the taste, the control of the quality, and time spent together. I know where the food is coming from and what goes in it.

Having a garden. Naturally, growing your own food is going to save you a bundle. It is more work for sure, but the quality of the food, at least in our case, is superior to anything we’d buy from the store.

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The Coming Months

We are continuing our spending freeze on food for the next two months at least to see if it can be kept up. We are definitely going to run out of potatoes this year but that should be about it and not sure if we’ll buy from the store when we do. We’d only buy if they are locally grown potatoes so we can’t predict if there will be many or any to buy in the spring.

Our source for meat is local, which provides us with grass fed beef, humanely slaughtered on farm, so we don’t need to buy meat at the store. This also saves us money. Even though we don’t eat much meat, I eat it for the energy it provides me. Not every one needs to do this but by the same token, not everyone can be healthy by eating only plants.

As an aside, but following the nutritional topic, our dogs eat a raw meat and whole food diet (no kibble or canned dog food). We are able to keep their meal costs to $100 per dog per month (more or less, as the dogs are different sizes and eat accordingly) which is extremely good.

So, all in all, our experiment is providing us with an interesting and useful pastime with a very good result so far.

Spending Less-on

This month (Feb) we have decided to “try” to reduce our spending. The reason for this is vehicle insurance. It is outrageously high, and in order to avoid paying extra fees, my husband likes to pay it all at once, rather than making monthly payments.

In order to do this, we take money out of savings twice a year for two different vehicles.

This time around, since it is my van that we are insuring, I said no. We’re not taking money out of savings to pay this. I felt that it must be possible to survive all month on our cash and money in the chequing account. This was an experiment for both of us. For Ernie, it was completely out of his thinking, and for me, it was a reminder of how I wanted to do things.

Half way through the month of February, our spending on food is at $84.  We do actually, have a secret. We have a large garden from which we harvest 90% of our vegetables. We also harvest our own fruit — raspberries, apples, strawberries and buy in season blueberries and freeze them. So this goes a long way to helping us save money on food. But it can be done without a garden.

It’s important to understand that most people spend money and time on many things that they don’t really want. Little things add up and end up creating big results. This occurs in areas that we don’t like or want as well as in those we do. Spend a whole bunch of money on things you don’t need, like processed food and junk food and without realizing it you end up malnourished and broke (an exaggeration obviously, but you get the idea). Spend two hours a day on social media and you have wasted hours and hours of your precious life over a month or year doing something useless at the expense of actually making a difference.

Instead of buying crap to eat, which is usually a single serving or snack anyway, you could put $2 a day in a jar from your pocket or wallet and you have $730 at the end of the year. We are doing just this. We started with the jar on November 29th and now have $154.00.

Within a year, I will have my laptop, and with no difficulty to us during any specific month.

Spend a half an hour a day writing (or doing whatever it is you like to do) and eventually you will have an article or a book. But most people spend that time easily on social media or buying crap to fulfill simple and immediate cravings.

I believe this is mostly because humans have difficulty with things that take a long time. We all want instant results for everything we do.

Well, I for one will no longer be participating in this type of thinking.

Sometimes doing something other than what the masses are doing seems impossible. How can we stop wasting time doing useless stuff if everyone else is doing it to? After all there is so much important stuff to see and keep up with.

This month, I have started asking myself, before I do anything on the computer, is what I am going to do important to me or help me move towards my goals? If not, I don’t do it, no matter how much I am drawn to it (i.e. FB — the draw to check social media is strong. I have found I can overcome it by using the method above).

By spending less on food, we are also accomplishing a great deal. The most important thing being having to actually THINK to create good quality meals out of what we already have and what we are able to creatively buy. It is like puzzle, seeing how little you can spend and create something new and interesting to eat.

By doing what is best for me I am automatically not doing what everyone else is doing. When you do your own thing, likely in no way will it be the most common route. It will be unique by default, even if you occasionally need to use social media to accomplish that.

I challenge anyone reading this to give something up that you think might be keeping you from accomplishing something of importance in your life. Start small and see what happens. Life is more interesting and creative this way. We’ll see how it goes for us by the end of February. Let us know what you are changing for yourself if anything.

Work Burnout Leads To Learning To Paint

I am currently experiencing extreme burnout at work. So much so that I have to stop working and shut down my business. My job and business –  grooming, training and boarding dogs, has for years ( 9 years) made it so that there is no time away from dogs. I work from home and I have my own dogs here as well as other people’s as part of the business. The whole thing was part of my plan to be an urban homesteader: working from home at something I love to help support the homestead lifestyle.

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Most people enjoy going home from work to be away from work. For me, there is no such thing. When I board dogs, the dogs live here with us so I am on edge 24 hours a day thinking about the boarding dogs.

Don’t get me wrong here, I appreciate being able to even HAVE a job that I can do at home and not have to commute. I know there are people who don’t have jobs. However, in my enthusiasm to work from home, I picked a career that was too similar to my home life and therefore had no separation.

Because we live in a lowly populated area, I am forced to take most if not all clients at the risk of not making enough money that year or losing clients. Sometimes there is overlap of clients so that I don’t have any days off for weeks and weeks. We can’t go anywhere or really do anything as there is always someone’s dog to consider, even if it is just one dog staying with us.

As a business owner, I also am in charge of promotion of the business in real life, and on social media. As well, I took on some extra work as a social media manager for several other businesses. These were not pet businesses, but added to the workload.

I discussed this with Ernie, and we both agree that the burnout is in part because of the long hours and no breaks, but I also believe that at some point my heart was not really into it. I feel that I may have been pursuing the pet professional business because I had something to prove. This, however, is a subject for a completely different post so I won’t elaborate here.

My burnout is so extreme, that I have even stopped going to dog shows which I used to enjoy, training my own dogs, and have completely changed my hobby interests. I am now painting.

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Strangely, I am OK with all this, especially the painting part. Yes, I am a beginner, but this is something that I am using to relax my mind as I recover from the burnout and is purely for the love of the process. I don’t care if it ever gets me anywhere. It is FUN.

So, I am a little depressed and sad about closing down my business that I have pursued for so many years, and leaving behind the clients that I enjoyed meeting and interacting with. But I think that I will be able to do more in another area of work when I find it because I learned what I did wrong with the previous one.

Happy Homesteading!

 

 

 

 

Eating Well On Little Money Part 1

Last year I started a project in which I was trying to figure out, if you start with NOTHING, and spend only $10 a day (and you live in the city and don’t have a garden) can you eat well?

In the documentary “Food Inc” there was a family that believed they couldn’t eat well because good food was too expensive, yet they went to a fast food restaurant for supper.

I am trying demonstrate that it can be done, that two adults CAN eat well on $10 a day, and likely even less.

I used the local Co-op food store and their sales flyer each week for 4 weeks. The food at the co-op here is more expensive than larger grocery chains in the big city, but my point is to be able to shop where you are and still eat well. The food had to be non-processed (you know, not the canned stuff, frozen stuff etc.), and thus good food. Some was on sale and some wasn’t.

The daily food purchases for Day One and Day Two are as follows:

Day 1: Eggs, Butter, Pasta (made from white flour, not great but that is what we used for now), Salt.

From this you could eat for the day and if you did have some condiments left over from previous purchases of food you could use those to spruce things up.

At our food store, this all cost $9.54 cents. At other stores you could get it for less, I’m sure, but that is not part of the project. The point is use what is available. The belief is often that you can’t eat well and cheap, locally.

Day 2: Carrots, Bananas, Potatoes, Onion, Barley. Cost: $10.00

With the ingredients from these two days, I made a vegetable soup that was unbelieveably good. I expect that some people don’t know how to make soup from scratch, and therefore think that they have to buy canned and therefore can’t eat well. We figured out that our soup cost us 38 cents a serving while a store brand, canned, cream of mushroom soup cost about 24 cents. However the nutritional content of the canned soup is clearly lower.

One may wonder how this food can sustain you for days but what actually happens is that you build up your stock of food over the week and then weeks, and you are able to continue eating well day after day. Maybe the first day or two isn’t ideal, but when you are considering eating nothing as opposed to this, it looks ok. And fast food costs more.

So the point of all this is to, again, show that you can eat well for little money IF you can use your creativity and figure out how to use the food you can purchase. I figure it is often the lack of knowledge in how to cook real food that contributes to eating poorly. Just my thoughts.

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Spending Money On Homestead Renos

Our kitchen renovation is complete.

We chose an expensive sink and tap. The reason was, that it was the best quality we could get in the style that we wanted. We splurged on these two things because they are important to making our daily homestead lives comfortable. We don’t splurge on everything – obviously – but this helps to make it feel like we are living well (which we are) but still saving money.

The sink will last forever and the tap is really the best tap for us because we don’t have to touch the handle with dirty working hands (that were cutting meat or other yuck) to turn on the water. We can use our arm or elbow. This makes cleaning easier and makes things more sanitary really.

The counter top and cupboards are not conventional but I will have to leave that for another post.

Spending more money on certain things that you need helps to offset the times you don’t spend, especially on frivolous stuff. You will end up with awesome useful things you need that are incredible to use and nice to look at and still be saving money because you aren’t spending money on everything you want. And you won’t feel deprived in the process. This is a key to homestead spending.

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