Welcome back! Let me ask you something, have you ever tried to commit to something you know you’ll struggle with, just to see how far you’ll get? Well this was me for the whole month of January (I know I’m late in posting this blog :P). I decided I wanted to try to give this ‘no spend month’ a go and see just how far I’ll go without cracking. I find the idea of non consumerism and Zero Waste go hand in hand, so I figured… why not?! Let me tell you, it was NOT easy and I definitely did not achieve what I sought out to do. This being said, I learned a lot about my own spending habits and my limits. All in all… a pretty eventful month.
The rules I set were simple.
1) Regular bills (rent, hydro, car payments, savings, insurances, etc) do not count. They’ve already been minimized as much as they can. Trust me!
2-) For stuff like groceries and other basic necessities, I had a budget that I tried to follow closely.
3-) I do not buy anything new (as a general rule, I shop second hand if I absolutely NEED anything).
4-) Rather than going out to eat/party, I encourage something that’s free or done at home to avoid the extra costs.
For the most part, these rules did work for me. We had board game nights with family and held suppers with friends for entertainment. On more than one occasion, my activity was going for a swim at the local indoor pool or for a walk, even when it was cold. It got me out of the house and it kept me active. On one particularly frigid night, I tried my hand at homemade hot chocolate for a friend and I… easier than it sounds and surprisingly delish (recipe here)!
Speaking of walking, I really got in the spirit and even decided to start walking to work, despite the temperature. If you’ve spent any time this month in Montreal, you know exactly how challenging this aspect was! I’m usually really lazy, but this felt amazing to commit to. I wasn’t able to do it every morning. Some days did not permit it at all, but I made a solid effort to relax on the gas. Not solely for the cost of it, but everything. In general I try to use my car as minimally as possible and this challenge really encouraged me to prioritize when I actually NEEDED it versus when I WANTED it.
Our groceries were the usual and primarily Zero Waste (at least mine were) and we tried to eat more from the stock in our freezer which needs to go at some point anyways. This helped SO MUCH! I never realized how much food our deep freeze held until we were 2 weeks in and have only bought items like fresh fruits, Kombucha, milk and candy. It also helps that I don’t eat meat and love legumes. Dried beans and lentils cost so little and are easy enough to add to so many meals to create a balanced diet. If you want to cut costs in your grocery order, I suggest learning how to re-hydrate these bad boys (link here).
Within the first few days of my challenge, I found myself to be particularly lethargic and was too easily convinced to go out for breakfast. I was lured with the idea of deliciousness I did not have to cook or clean myself. Strike one.
Other stuff/events I spent on:
- Headlight bulb for my car
- Clippers for my cats nails (rather than going to the groomer once a month)
- Breakfasts with husband (X2)
- Lunch out (X1)
- Supper with Vince (X2)
- Supper with friends (X1)
- Ordered in with co-workers *it was a big thing and I’m so happy I decided to participate (X1)
- Textbook for school (second hand – bought from kijiji for less than ⅓ of the new book’s cost)
- Reusable Cake Box/Cover (could not find used, so I bought new – with a discount coupon)
Finishing up this month, I have a way better understanding of myself and my own personal limits. I feel great in that I gave it a shot and worked hard at finding alternatives. When I was younger and had no concept of a budget, I would spend spend spend. On CRAP! Nothing I needed and caused so much waste in the process. Living in the Zero Waste lifestyle has really taught me to prioritize what I need and that there are almost always alternatives that suit you and your needs.
At the end of the day, I’m incredibly proud of what I was able to accomplish this month and although I may not be as strict on myself in the upcoming months, I’m happy I did this and will keep this challenge in mind for future purchases.
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