Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Tight-arse 2013

I have always liked to think I have a good head for the "make do and mend" mentality of the war era.  The resourcefulness and ingenuity that comes from necessity, and waste-not-want-not, appeals to my sensibility, and always has.

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 

This owl hat is so cute!

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!


Huff said...

It's amazing how all those little savings can add up isn't it! Have you checked out your local library for your magazines? I get Frankie and Burda from mine.

2paw said...

Very cute baby vest. It is a good idea to borrow from the Library. Our State Library lets you suggest books for purchase too, and they always buy them. My knitting group suggests a lot of new knitting books and one of the Librarians is a knitter too- I taught her twins.
I've made a semi-budget this year too. I've also started a Christmas club, it won't be a lot, but $400 will be really helpful in November.
Good luck with your saving.

DrK said...

crafty people are really very good at this kind of thing. ive always admired your knit from stash approach anyway, so im sure you will continue to thrive. we could all do with a little excess, thats for sure. good luck with your efforts.

Rose Red said...

I need to try to do this too. I am not the most thrifty person when it comes to yarn and books though, I find it hard to deny myself! But I've been reasonably good this year, mostly only buying yarn for specific projects and actually starting them! (Mostly...)

Bells said...

Oh this is good. It never, ever hurts really do work on a little making do and mending. I like this very much.