Over the years, I've lived as an art student, the partner of a person suffering addiction, and a single parent - I've learned a thing or two about how to stretch things financially!
Like many others, shortly after New Year's Day each year, I like to ponder what I'd like to achieve for the year ahead. This year, I decided to tighten the budget for twelve months, in the interest of paying down some (not-huge-but-still-there) debt, and generally just to look at expenditure both in my household and personal spending.
Being a single income household with a teenager in tow, there isn't a lot of fat to strip off, but it's actually been really satisfying to find small ways to cut back.
Welcome to the house of thrift, 2013.
The main changes I made were:
- Buying only one coffee a week, rather than one a day ($24 a week saved - that's $100 a month!). The added bonus is I actually now really enjoy that one coffee, making the effort to walk a little further from my office to the preferred coffee shop instead of just running downstairs to the cafeteria
- Consolidating my utilities to reduce rates and bundled our telco services (and got a better deals for less money - huzzah!)
- Committing to not buying any magazines for 12 months, instead browsing my favourite magazines websites for free content. I really only like 2-3 magazines, but at average $10 each, every 1-2 months, that adds up! Half the time I find the free content online just as satisfying, too
Like I said, not huge amount of fat to cut, but all these little changes add up over 12 months, and I really do feel like I'm already seeing the benefit in my bank accounts, even after 2 months.
Craft-wise, I've been on a bit of a tight-arse kick for a couple of years, trying to consolidate a lot of stashed yarn, patterns, and books. That said, a crafty girl likes to have some variety and new pretties to look at once in a while, so here are a few places I've been visiting - new and old:
Everyone is familiar with the motherload of free patterns – Drops
They have a good “latest patterns” search facility, so you can check in once a month and see what’s new. The patterns can be a little confusing, being translated into English, but you just have to be a bit patient and read your way right through. A neat feature of their (free, printable) patterns is they have a handy measuring guide on the side of them – in cm and inches.
I think this shawl is really pretty.
and a tip - I often find the patterns look a bit "soft" on the Drops website, but when you search on Ravelry and see all the clever interpretations, yarn choices and such, you get a new perspective.
The other place I've been browsing is Craftsy
They have free patterns: http://www.craftsy.com/
This owl hat is so cute!
and free classes: http://www.craftsy.com/
Great little technique-based tutorials. I've signed up for knitted short rows, and two sewn bag tutes too – why not??! Once you download their classes, you have them forever to watch at your leisure or refer back to.
Finally, I've also joined another Ravelry group, a barter-based group where designers can match up with free test knitters willing to test out the patterns in exchange for a free copy of the pattern. So far I've test knit this baby/toddler vest:
and I am currently test-knitting a colourwork hat - photos to come shortly.
Really, life on a budget should always be this good!