I am so excited to introduce you to Katie, she is a dear friend of mine (known each other since Elementary school) and her family has an inspiring philosophy on how to save (money and the environment). Please read this entire, thought provoking, post.
You may have hear the term “spending freeze“- this is Katie’s take on it. Will you implement all of these ideas, maybe not. But try a few. A couple of years ago I started to baby step my way into September Save and February Fast. Do we go without electricity? No. But I do take 2 weeks out of each of those months to NOT shop/eat out! Gasp! Yes it is hard for me to not grab those weekly “deals”, but even 4 weeks of no-shopping-savings adds up each year. Ok enough from me. Take it away Katie!…
September Save and February Fast: Spending Freeze Philosophy
Nearly 15 years ago, I spent my first year of marriage shopping “wisely” and putting myself into significant debt. I started my 2nd year of marriage with a concept my husband and I coined “September Save.” We vowed not to spend a single dime for the entire month. We turned off all electricity and ate only from the cupboards. The only exceptions were the fridge, toilet, washer, and gas to work. Over the years, September Save spread to include February Fast (a more challenging month to keep the furnace off) and has led to various opportunities of savings. During these months, we:
- Do not shop anywhere or eat out
- Limit ourselves to 3 loads of laundry per week and all is hanged to dry
- Use one cup and plate per person per day
- Use only the light of day and candles we bought at garage sales
- Cook on the woodstove or campfire as much as possible
- Limit showers to 3 minutes with baby towels or hand towels to dry
Each month that we cut ourselves off from the world of spending, we learn a new trick to use all year. For example, we don’t buy garbage bags or sandwich bags, because now we use the packaging from products (e.g. cereal bags are reused to pack sandwiches; dog food bags are used for garbage cans). Since we do not stock up in anticipation of the Save, we are sometimes taken off guard when we run out of things. Did you realize that the little hotel shampoos can substitute for dish soap? Other tricks that have led to increased savings throughout the year include:
- Making our own bleach sprays and vinegar sprays / rinses
- Buying 5 lbs of meat and dividing it by 6 to be used as “1 lb. meals”
- Sharing what we have. We swap our applesauce and cider for eggs and honey
- Using rags from old clothes as Swiffer wipes
When I look back at our spending throughout the year, it is consistent month to month with two big dips in September and February. So what do we do with all that extra money? Initially, we paid off all debt except our mortgage. More recently, we used the extra money to:
- Fund our mission trip
- Contribute to local shelters, our church, the schools, and other non-profit organizations
- Take a 3-week family vacation to Quebec City, Canada
- Buy a used hot tub off Craigslist
As the start of school got closer, I asked my 2 girls to go shopping for supplies, but they said that they would use last year’s stuff. I asked if they’d go to the salon, but both said that I could cut their hair free. My final attempt was to entice them to go clothes shopping. They said that they had plenty and there was no need for anything new. I showed them a $5.00 coupon and a store credit from when I took their old summer clothes to a consignment shop. They agreed. Although I knew my girls were not the fanciest on the first day of school, I could not have been prouder of the financial responsibility and lack of greed that is developing in their hearts and minds.
I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on September Save & February Fast. What parts would you be willing to add to your life? (or should I say take away!)
Originally published in 2013
Alison at NOVA Frugal Family says
We have changed our budget and spending so that I could quit my job and stay home with my son. We only “eat out” once a month which usually means that we get a $5 take out pizza or go to Wendy’s which is under $10 for the family. We eat out of the pantry as often as possible and spend only $160 on all of our groceries and household goods per month. I do break the 5 pound ground beef into more then 6 packages 🙂 There are also other options like making rice or other things to go with your meal. I don’t know if I could shut off the electricity but I know that I have been tempted to see if there are any other ways to save money.
Mary Hoover says
Good for you Alison! It does take discipline (and some sacrifice)- but you are showing it can be done! Kudos!
Amy Yekin says
I love this story and concept. No need to go to the store when you have a vegtable garden and chickens running around in your back yard.
LOL! True Amy! But for those of us not “on the farm”, you would be surprised how long you can last by cooking out of your freezer and pantry!
It is definitely a lifestyle change. But worth it! I am always surprised what I can make from my cupboards!
Patty A says
I think for September we’ll do no going out to eat. This will be a hard one for us. Thanks for the great post!