Sunday, December 21, 2008

We made the news! - Washington Post

Thank you for coming to check out the blog today! I hope you will find the stories about our frugal living interesting, and maybe inspiring. If you have time, you might also enjoy reading about what a stay-at-home-mom does in Africa with peace-keeping soldiers six times a year...

Here are some links to posts you might find of special interest!

Saving Cash - To Help Those in Need
- Although we no longer live in Africa, I do travel there frequently for work, and have the opportunity to help two friends struggling to survive - one on $30/month income. We know we are lucky to have the home and jobs we do, and we try to give back.

Day One of our Experiment - Bartering to get fruit for the family... Yes, we WILL buy toilet paper if we run out... Tempted to buy two times before 9am on the first day of the experiment; will we actually follow-through...

November-in-review - Here I detail how we did overall for the month of November, after giving up spending for 2 weeks, and then being quite cautious for another two weeks.

Four days after the experiment ended...
We spent no money all day, even though we "can"! I feel like saving money is like dieting...

Two days left, slowly the spending starts. The first non-essential purchase was made tonight. While it was completely a splurge, it felt like a medical necessity! We have eaten up most of the food in our fridge and freezer.

The Washington Post - Satisfaction from a Dollar Well-Unspent
- Summary of how our two weeks' of no spending went. The experts say spend within your means. We agree...

15 comments:

Nathan said...

I loved reading about your experiment! My wife and daughter (3) and I made a New Year's resolution last January to keep a budget. As of December 31, we've kept it for a whole year! It's been eye-opening to write down amounts whenever we spend money. I'll buy a $1 soda at work and write it on the calendar. Right away we stopped eating out, after that my wife canceled her gym membership (she wasn't going). Once we got into a routine it became easy, just like it did for you. As for all those catalogs lying around, whenever we get one my wife calls them up and politely asks not to receive them anymore. After 8 months of this we now get two a month.
Congrats on your experiment!

Katy, Planet Perspectives said...

Nathan,
When we first heard about the friend of a friend who did a more extreme version for a month, we were amazed at how much money he saved. We thought they must be a very wasteful family. Until you track EVERYTHING you spend, to the dime, the average family just doesn't realize just where the money goes. I know some families have everything budgeted to the penny, due to financial difficulties, but I think everyone should be doing this, us included! Tracking the spending is probably the most important part. Your family has done a great job on a year of tracking and budgeting! Congrats!

When we lived in Africa, we used Quicken and tracked every penny (or CFA) even down to the 9 cent public buses! We were much more aware and frugal then. It is certainly one way to save a lot of money in the end!

Anonymous said...

I applaud what you and your family are doing. I'm a long-time believer in frugality although I've slacked off a bit in the last year by eating out quite a bit. Your article in the Post, however has made me excited to get back to my frugal ways. It's amazing how many people try to convince me to needlessly spend money, insisting that I'm "missing out" on life. I always wonder why there aren't more people like yourselves waving the banner for saving!

Katy, Planet Perspectives said...

Here are a few comments about the Post article from friends:

"Very cool, I enjoyed reading your blog and love that you're in the Post!"

"So my husband and I are going to do the same thing in January but we are going to buy food! (My daughter)saw Sophie in the Post and wants to see her ASAP! ..."

"Congrats on the Post article! I loved following your progress!"

"Who knew you were so thrifty! I wondered why we haven't seen you at Los Tios lately. Great article and great picture!"

"That is so awesome!! Great article!"

"It's pretty inspiring, actually."

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on such an intriguing experiment that has opened many eyes. My wife and I had to do much the same when I went back to graduate school, then we had two young children 18 months apart soon after. We went from a comfortable double-income no-kids existence in D.C. to "just scraping by" in upstate New York.

It is definitely hard at first, but you learn how to cope, how to save, and most important, you learned that going without takeout sushi three times a week will not kill you!

Sure, it is hard not to have lengthy family vacation, or iPods, or other luxuries. But it has allowed us to be able to have one parent at home with our young children, rather than have our children in daycare while we both work. And that is the best reward of all.

~ Chris, from upstate NY

GVK said...

Katy,
Regarding cellphone bills: do a fair evaluation of how much you might save by switching one or more accounts/numbers to a pre-paid plan. These cost around 11 cents a minute inclusive. That may sound more expensive than a plan that offers XXX minutes a month for $XX + taxes, except that few people use their limit every month. Sure, there are those unlimited plans, which is fine if one really spends hours every day on the phone ....

Oh, I am confused a bit: the Post says you are both government contractors, your blog says you are a stay-at-home Mom.

Best,
George

stilllifeinbuenosaires said...

I read about your experiment in the WaPo. Good on ya!

Recently I've wondered why there hasn't been a greater emphasis in society on utilizing used or home grown items (like the concept of a Victory Garden).

After traveling and living out of a suitcase over long periods of time, I have a better understanding of what I can live without--what is truly essential. I'm sure you understand after your travels!

Carolyn B. said...

Katy-
For years I have wondered where the people were coming from who bought the McMansions. For years I have wondered how people had so much money to eat out ALL THE TIME. And for years I have wondered when the bottom was going to fall out. SURPRISE! We are there. And I am no saint either. I've lived beyond my means for years, although much of it has been shoveled into higher education and home repairs (though much of it also got pissed away).

This year Christmas expenses may not go above $100, and that includes the tree, which has yet to be (or may not be) bought. Gift buying has been cut way back; most gifts will be homemade- bread for family and friends, and a Household Journal (to record all their important info) for my parents.

It's so sad that we've based our prosperity so heavily on the consumption of disposables for so many years. I wonder if we are mature enough as a society to adopt a new paradigm for prosperity.

Katy, Planet Perspectives said...

George/GVK,
Sorry about the confusion on the job front; I do have a very unusual work situation...
I am a government contractor of sorts ---and a stay-at-home-mom. I am a SAHM most of the year, but about 6 times a year I travel to Africa as an employee of a company that has a State Department contract to train African peace-keeping soldiers. When I'm in Africa, the training portion I do is only a M-F job, so in the end, I don't work much out of the house, but when I'm out, I'm far-gone!

And, thanks for the comment on cell phone bills. I think that the telecommunications are supposed to be a huge portion of the average American's expenses, and I do want to take the time to evaluate that are of spending in detail. I'll blog about it in the next few weeks, and let you know what my research says.

Katy, Planet Perspectives said...

Nathan,
You have inspired me to call and get rid of my catalogs. I had tried an online thing - catalog choice -or something like that, but either it didn't seem to make a dent in the catalogs we receive at the house. To be more green, I'd rather not receive them in the first place. And I'm sure it will be less tempting to consume without all the advertising in the house!

ooglebloops said...

Read about you in the Post -congratulations!! Today's economy offers the perfect time for everyone to try this experiment! Since our move from an urban area, country living gives a new perspective on former spending habits!! Keeping up with the Jones's and their spending seems less important!!! I'll be adding you to my blogroll!

Katy, Planet Perspectives said...

Hi Ooglebloops -
Thanks for adding me to your blogroll. I'll be checking out your blog as well. It certainly is a good time for some soul-searching and a review of spending.

Kelly said...

You inspire me! My children and I are separated 1700 from my husband/their dad and have been for the last 3+ months because we're waiting for our house to sell so we can join him. Because of that, and some other stuff, we have been forced to do something similar to what you did for 2 weeks; though not spending at all is not something I have tried. I am not going to lie to you and say it has been easy, but I have become very creative with meal prep and a lot of other things. It almost becomes like a game to see how much I can save....I only wish there were BOGOs and double coupons where we live now. Congratulations on your success!

None said...

glad to see the return of thrift to america

Anonymous said...

I just hear your interview on Clark Howard. I realize it aired several months ago, but I download podcasts of the show and I'm really behind on them. I think your experiment was really interesting. I'm curious how the Washington Post heard about your story. Just wanted to say thanks for the inspiring story. Keep up the good work.

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