Friday, January 29, 2010

Guest Author - Kelli from Thoughts of a Sober White Woman

On Monday we heard from Lesley who is just beginning a "Buy Nothing New Year". Today I thought it would be fun to hear from my bloggy friend Kelli who has just finished a whole year of a "No Spending Diet". You might remember Kelli from last June when she stopped in and shared a few of the unique ways she uses plastic bags (you can read that article HERE). Kelli also writes a fine blog called Thoughts of a Sober White Woman where she shares all kinds of things, including Eco-friendly ideas.

So ... sit back, relax and let's hear what Kelli has to say about her year:

Reduce Footprints asked me to write a follow up on a no spending diet, since I did it for a year.

Now let me explain a few things. I live in California, I have four teenagers, 2 dogs, and several cats and I have the honor of being mom to any marine that walks into my house. Oh and I have a husband who works his bum off just to provide for us, and he is the love of my life.

My daughters have traveled the world and one still wants to be a missionary, so every summer she is in a different country. I have a handicap son who tears his clothes up or he will hit a growth spurt and I still won't be able to have decent jeans for him. Our oldest son has a job and is joining the service. I am just glad that he does not grow anymore. Now if only I could fill up his hollow leg.

I started on my no spending journey, right after I got of the hospital. I was sitting in bed reading a magazine, when I read this article about a family that tried to spend no money ( except for basics) for a whole year. I guess I need something new to challenge me, after all what else does a mom with four teens suppose to do. I was just getting started on the challenge when my girlfriend and her mom flew in to see me. I shared the article with my girlfriend, and she said that she was going to try it as well.

So how did it go for me? I must say that it went rather well for ME. Hubby really did not want to do the challenge and the children could really care less weather I did it or not. However since I am the mom I made them make changes.

I had to go back and search my blog for some of the things that I did. First we got nothing "new". If we did not have it, then we bought it used. Now this may sound simple, and to some extent is. Lets talk about clothing for a moment. Hubby and I are not growing so it is very rare that either of us buy new clothing anyway. Our son Ryan however is very hard on his clothes. So this is where I had to get real creative at. Ryan will only wear white socks, but when I do his laundry I would notice that a lot of them had huge holes in them. I would throw those into the rag bag, and put the other one aside. I would eventually take all my one socks and match them up and put them in his drawer. Does anyone really see his socks? How many people are going to ask him to lift up his jeans so they can see if socks match? Who care if one has a green ring at the top and the other one does not.

For me personally I realized just how much clothing I had. During the summer I live in flip flops and swim suits. OH and Hubbys t shirts. So when I start going through all my summer stuff I realized how much I did not wear. I grabbed a bag and all of that went into the yard sale pile. You know, I am happy with my summer skirts, and two pairs of shorts. I NEED nothing more.

The same thing happened when winter came around. I must have gotten rid of a ton of sweaters and sweat shirts. It is amazing that when you force yourself to not buy new clothing you do realize how much you have and how much you can live without.

When it came to our food, I put down a few basic rules. If it was not bought when we went shopping then I would have to do without it until next payday. I also only allowed my self a certain amount of money, so that way I could not go out on payday on buy everything in sight.

There were times when I had to get real creative and force myself to not run to the store for one item. One time I was going to make bbq chicken sandwiches for dinner. Well I guess I forgot to buy bbq sauce. I started digging in the fridge and I found three half used bottles. I mixed them up and boom there was dinner. No emergency trip to the store, no wasted gas, no wasted money, and no wasted time. This also got me back to making a few things from scratch instead of buying it boxed. However once again it makes you realize how much you have. I must laugh because just today I found a box of those single serving things you mix into water. I actually made a pitcher of whatever it was.

I am a quilter so cutting back on material is just very hard. I had started cutting back a little bit, simply because material was getting very expensive. The more people I talk to, the more ideas I got. I now use "old" sheets as back of quilts. I use old blankets as batting for my quilts. Yes I am spending money, but I was not spending nearly as much as if I was going to the fabric store. My own local yard sales have worked out just fine. I have also found people giving away material and sheets, so I try to pick them up as much as possible.

My pets are my life. I have two big dogs. I don't think they are big, but I have been told that they are. I really did not change to much with them. I still bought the same food, and everything. However this summer I needed some extra water bowls for them to drink out of, so I found some old pans and buckets and I just used those when the dogs were outside.

I also have cats, and I do foster care for cats. While cats are very low maintenance animals they are also very picky animals. One of the problems I had was when they would get out of the litter box the would track litter everywhere. I could have gone out and bought one of those plastic mats, but I am not suppose to spend money. So I found some old sheets and towels. Now my litter boxes sit on top of them and they catch all the litter. Now all I have to do is shake them out and wash them.

I also foster bottle babies. At one point last year when I was at the shelter one of the workers took me into a storage room. She started offering me stuff and I turned it all down. I did not need dishes, I would find something at my house. No I don't need a litter pan, I had saved all my pie pans. No I don't need formula. I was digging in my pantry and I found some. I only ended up needing nipples. I know this is a no spending diet, and they were giving me the stuff, but I just could not see taking what I did not need.

I use a ton of lotion. Yep you guessed it I ran out. So I started going around to my daughters room and I gathered up all the lotion that had an inch of dust on it. Then I noticed they had a ton of body wash that was also covered in dust. I mixed all the almost empty bottles together. I used that body wash for the next two months, and I am still trying to use up all the lotion that I found. The girls now ask people to please not buy them lotion and body wash any more.

I have no idea how much money I saved. I would wait until the day before payday and what ever was left I would transfer into savings. However this is a list of things I was able to do with the money I did save.

1. I bought a new carpet cleaner, o.k. it was used but it was new to me.

2. We replaced the engine in hubby's truck, and paid cash for it.

3. We had a $200 vet bill and it did not stress us out.

While I was thinking about what else to say I caught myself not spending, and here is what I have learned. hornet spray will kill ant's. My daughters old tennis shoes fit me perfectly and they were in good shape, so guess who got a new pair of shoes? LOL I am drinking from an old star wars cup. It has lasted all these years and somehow my children have not broken it, so I don't care if people laugh me. It holds my drink.

I have finally decided that I am going to challenge myself again. Today I heard a saying: "If your grandmother would not recognize the food, then you should not be eating it." I wonder if my grandmother would recognize my cookies or cakes? After all mine come from a box or a bag. So this year I am going to make all of my cakes and cookies from scratch. The interesting part is going to see weather or not I can make a red velvet cake from scratch.

Remember by consuming less you are reducing and if we all reduced then there would be less in our trash and recycling cans, and we would be putting more green in our pockets.

I'd like to say a big Thank You to Kelli for sharing her experience with us. She really proves that one person can make a difference.

Do you think you could go on a "No Spending Diet" for year?

As always, I would love to hear from you!