It’s hard to believe it’s been more than a month since I last posted, and my only excuse is that when you work 35+ hours each week, finding time to not only come up with a topic but articulate it is difficult.
This post is actually quite timely, all things considered. Sacha and I are finally not using nearly 100% of our paychecks on basic necessities, which makes life significantly less stressful. We have both always been pretty thrifty, but I have to say that having some extra cash each month does encourage you to start thinking about all those things you’d like to have at some point (you know, the whole ‘money burning a hole in your pocket’ thing). Our behavior changed almost without us noticing. For example, we started eating out again, something we both really enjoy doing but had put on hiatus since the holidays. The alarm went off when I came home from work with a steal of a deal on a new cashmere scarf. I was met with a judgmental ‘what the hell do you need that for?’ look. It’s true that we all buy things we don’t need, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. But Sacha was right to shame me. Our financial situation is certainly not at a point where we should be buying unnecessary goods that serve no immediate purpose. So, given my already expansive scarf collection, it was not appropriate for me to buy yet another. Before we went to sleep that night, I proposed a pact: no new clothes in April, as part of a broader effort to continue to save more and spend less.
So here we are, one week in. So far, so good. I know not buying clothes for a month may not seem like an actual challenge, but I realized that a significant chunk of my non-essential spending on goods (as opposed to services like eating out and getting my hair cut) is on clothing. I also work part time at one of my favorite clothing retailers, so it’s tempting to utilize the discount offered. Sacha even suggested that each time either of us wants something, we write down the price and tally it up at the end of April. I’m not sure if I’m ready for that yet. One thing that helped was watching a documentary called “The True Cost,” which is a sobering look at the garment industry, especially how it’s changed since the rise of “fast fashion” retailers like Zara and H&M. I’ve always been interested in sustainable garment production, but even I didn’t know just how polluting the industry is and how much waste there is. And of course, how poorly the workers are treated in countries like Bangladesh and Cambodia, where workers can’t unionize to demand better conditions or higher wages. The documentary had been on my list of things to watch for months, but I picked an apt time to watch it. Here’s to saving money and contributing a bit less to the second-most polluting industry in the world.
Like I said, we are trying to save money more generally as well. One thing that has worked out well so far is buying certain things at Costco once a month (at most) to reduce costly trips to the local grocery store or drugstore, where things like paper towels and soap are significantly more expensive. This has worked out especially well for meat. We just buy the giant pack at Costco, portion it out when we get home and then freeze the portions so that they are ready to be thawed the day of. It’s not the most glamorous or even the most sustainable option, but it does save money, which is the primary goal right now. Another strategy is using our Nespresso machine, which Sacha got for free, instead of blowing through money at Starbucks. At less than $1 per cup, Nespresso is a much cheaper option than buying it on the go. The coffee that Nespresso sources is also so much better than what Starbucks has (much more pleasant to drink black). It’s also nice to be able to have a variety of types on hand at any given moment. Sacha’s preference for intense espresso doesn’t interfere with my preference for lighter roasts.
To be sure, there are a number of things we could be doing to save money, such as cutting out our periodic day trips to places in the Lower Mainland. But we decided that some leisure spending is necessary to keep us from losing it, so to speak. I’ll let you know in the next couple of posts how things are going in terms of saving. Until then, enjoy the constantly warming weather.