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Our first month of spending half

Posted by on November 1, 2013

Another fun family project like all the rest!

We cut our spending in half this month, had a great time doing it, got closer as a family and learned a lot.

I learned that the key was to have a plan, the discipline to stick to it, and that it was also a whole lot easier than I expected.  We had to make some adjustments to our now obviously expensive habits, and it turns out we started spending a lot more time together in the kitchen brainstorming, cooking and enjoying our new creations.  And, of course, it only worked because the whole family is very cooperative, trusting and hard working.

We are spending less on food and found that the produce stand is the best deal for good food.  And since they have a regular sale on 10lb bags of potatoes for $0.99, we came up with lots of new ways to cook potatoes.  At that price, I can get 80 lbs of potatoes for the price of a six pack of beer!  So, we ate a lot of potatoes during the second week, but we’ve moved on to a bunch of other affordable, healthier foods too.  It is difficult to feed a hungry family on a tight budget when you add expensive extras like meat, dairy and alcohol.  So, we’re eating more fresh vegetables than we were eating before and buying less alcohol, red meat and dairy.

The kids are really enjoying having an equal say in how we spend money in our new democratic Francois economy.  They don’t have to ask permission anymore when they  want to buy something.  Now they get to campaign for it if they feel it’s important and they work to get consensus before spending the family’s weekly non-food budget.  Kelly and I do the same when we run out of our allowance money, which for me seems to be during the first week of the month.  It’s been working out great and it is enlightening putting myself in their shoes.  Tate told me it seems more reasonable now that Kel and I are living with the same budgetary constraints as they are.  He said it seemed like Kel and I had an unlimited budget for ourselves, while strictly holding them to their $50/month spending. 

Since we charge the family budget every time we start the car, we have significantly cut down on our driving.  None of us seem to want to pay for gas when we can just as easily get there on a bike for free.  And I quit driving home for lunch since that was doubling my daily gas cost.

We’ve had a lot of fun with this and the only thing we’ve sacrificed was some of the convenience of being able to just use money to make our boredom or hunger go away.  It takes a little more planning, cooperation and coordination, but with a little practice it’s been working out great.  Along with having a good time and saving money, we also unintentionally improved our diet and added more exercise.  We’re not any more bored or hungry than we were before, so I think we are good to continue with this budget.

We haven’t even begun to cut into our tough-to-live-without luxuries, like the housekeeper and the premium internet connection that can handle Luke’s 24/7 YouTube consumption.  I think spending half of half is doable too, but we’ll just stick to half for now.  And I’m so glad we chose to go to half instead of any lesser arbitrary dollar amount.  The experience wouldn’t have been the same with a baby step.

Cut spending in half.  It really is that easy.  Certainly easier than doubling income in a month.

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