Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Working hard to be thrifty

We are saving up for a home with more land and fewer neighbours. Some days this seems really far away and at times almost impossible. Such is life with unexpected bills and the rising cost of living. Most of the time I enjoy being able to stretch our budget but some days I want to go out and shop frivolously.

Saving is something that in this modern world is a difficult task. We are constantly bombarded with what new things we "need" it clothes, kitchen gadgets, homewares, fitness gear. My way of dealing with this is avoidance. As much as I can I try to avoid advertising; we don't have a T.V. and have an 'ad-blocker' in place on our web browser. This means that when we watch a movie or show the advertisement is blocked. There is a 'no circulars' sign on our letterbox.

 Recently I trawled through my email, pinterest, blog and instagram accounts, deleting/unsubscribing from companies/individuals that were filling my inbox and feeds with stuff to buy. The ones who seemed to relish in the new. The posts that showed only the best and most fancy clothes and homewares. The accounts that gave me a case of the serious "wantsies".

The accounts that really didn't reflect the way I want to live, and didn't help me make my way towards our saving goals. In their place I have an instagram feed that is comprised of people who lead a simple but rich life. Who live off the land, who seem humble and content. It is a joy to scroll through the little squares of flora and fauna, of people making things with their hands and finding beauty in the everyday.

My email notifications ping much less often, gone are the emails that shout out the next sale of something I never knew I wanted until I opened it. That action alone has had a big impact. What the eyes don't see, the heart doesn't want...or something like that. I have consequently spent less time window-shopping both in the virtual world and the real.

The pins on my pinterest page have changed to reflect our need to really knuckle down and put money in the bank. The pins are more ideas to create or grow rather than emulate the latest fashion. More ideas on making food stretch further and upcycling rather than purchasing where possible. Inspiring creativity instead of 'Affluenza'.

Winter vegetable harvested this weekend

There has been other benefits of focusing on decreasing our spending. Meals out, coffee dates and take-aways have become a real treat again. We have takeaways about once or twice a month now instead of weekly. Brunch at a cafe is really only when we meet up with friends had become habit to go out every weekend. We have an approximate spending amount for fun, this is modest and at first felt very restrictive but we have adjusted over the last few months. Returning to buying preloved items where we can. Resisting the urge to get a second car. All these things are reducing our outgoings.

Clothes, especially vintage clothes were a big spending area for me. When we lived in Dunedin this was easy and affordable thanks to the amazing second-hand shops. Here in Auckland vintage clothes are much pricier. Realistically I live in jeans and t-shirts anyway. My wardrobe has shrunk significantly as I have culled out so much stuff. When I was pregnant with cublet we needed to clear space for her nursery. It got the ball rolling for me and letting go of possessions is much easier now. Opening my wardrobe with clothes, bags, scarves etc spilling out doesn't happen anymore. I have kept the clothes I really love and donated the rest.

Being home has meant I have been able to reduce the amount of stuff we have throughout the house. It has been quite a change of heart for me, I come from a family of people who respect belongings and are creative enough to imagine all sorts of purposes for those things. Being able to find things quickly and closing drawers easily however brings me more joy than having so much stuff. That said I have a lot of things stored at my parents'  house that I need to sort through and bring north. And I do so love my collections of treasures both vintage and modern. Our home will never achieve a look of minimalism, it's just not for me.

Adding vintage glass buttons onto a tiny crochet cardigan from Mum's collection

Keeping only my favourite clothes means they have increased wear and tear. Mending and patching items of clothing is a frequent chore. I like clothes with patches. My favourite jeans are about five years old and I have patched the knees with bright fabrics from past crafting projects. They are soft and comfortable and I'm hoping with mending they will last another few years. My merino tops get almost daily wear in the winter..,they too have patches on the arms.

Mending Mae's little clothes has been fun. Clothes from my childhood had been carefully saved by my Mum and Nana. Despite being cared for, thirty years of storage meant some had moth holes or rust stains. Thankfully I know how to embroider and have mended them by adding bullion knot roses or bees.

A beautiful merino cot blanket of 100% NZ wool that had been snagged on the knitting machine had been given to Mum to repair but she hadn't been able to repair it before she passed away. I have spent a lovely few evenings sewing on a binding, repairing the large run and now embroidering on some hollyhocks to hide the repair work and bumblebees to hide oil stains. It will now be a warm addition to Mae's cot this winter.

I would like to get back to making our own bread and laundry liquid again. I'm sure this will happen as Mae gets older. Hopefully with her joining in on the fun process. It feels good to be making my own spray 'n' wipe, especially when I wipe down cublet's highchair or toys. No unnecessary bleaches or toxins and it smells so good.

This post has turned out rather long and is most probably a bore to read but I blog for myself. Sometimes writing down my intentions and feelings helps me reaffirm my intentions and ambitions. Today it has reminded me that it is hard to resist the impulse to buy new things.

It has reminded me that although we don't get to travel to new and faraway places that we are getting closer to our dream. It reminded me that I am more than new shoes, dresses, jewellery etc. It reminded me that I have been brought up to be resourceful and imaginative, to be true to myself and not feel the need to have my self worth in possessions. It reminded me of the sacrifices and hard work my parents made to save for their own patch of paradise. Hopefully it will remind me in years to come that chasing dreams is more rewarding than chasing those elusive Joneses.

Mending in the winter sun


  1. I loved this and read top to bottom! We are kinda in the same boat with the money saving. Good idea: the thought of wiping away the Pinterest "want" boards. I think of cleaning out the closet and junk from the house, but not really about cleaning the junk out of my online life!

    1. Thank you for your kind words. I feel so much less pressure to be someone other than myself without the online chatter! Really enjoy your posts, inspiring me to get my crochet hook out again soon.

  2. Really enjoyed this post! I recently unfollowed all the vintage clothes Instagram accounts I was following as they gave me the "wants" (nice term). It really makes a difference.

    1. Thank you. Oh to be able to have a wardrobe of vintage clothes would be magic! Instead it makes you treasure the pieces you have.

  3. Absolutley lovely post. We were just talking about this last night on our (almost) nightly walk. Stick to it! It's worth it in the end. Over many years, we saved away every last bit we could and finally were able to purchase a piece of (rather wild) land that we now get to spend our summer vacations on and build up to be our "homestead" some day.

  4. Congratulations on your piece of wild! So good to hear of other peoples hard work making their dreams come too. Just visited your are so talented. I am very much looking forward to sitting down later in the day to read your posts in more depth. Thanks for your words of encouragement and for popping by to visit my blog