We are learning as we go - obviously we are not experts at frugal living or we wouldn't have had to embark upon this little experiment to begin with. However, we have made a few rules for ourselves. If you plan on attempting anything like this for your family by all means you must develop a rule book that will work for you. Since this is an experiment in progress I am sure we will discover a few new things to add to our book in the coming year. This is pretty much the way we have started, though.
1. My husband's income is our only source of income. I began selling Avon in November; however, anyone that has ever started a new business knows that basically every dime earned goes right back into the business until the business gets on its feet. Therefore, our income is based on my husband's earnings and our expenditures are, as well. I have discovered, though, that by purchasing my shampoo, deodorant (very cheap) and soap through Avon I have already began saving money in these areas.
2. We are only purchasing food or depletable items. We have also decided to add a few non-depletables to the list such as napkins, plastic cutlery, disposable cups and paper plates. We may add to this list as time progresses.
3. Gift giving this year will be strictly hand-made items, gifts we have received and never used thereby employing the idea of re-gifting and also food gifts. Food gifts might include a gift certificate to a store that ONLY sells food such as our local meat market. Grocery stores will not be included because they sell so many other things there. You might be wondering about gift certificates to restaurants. We have debated this one. Due to the fact that this could get just as expensive as any other purchase, if we were to go this route we will set a limit of no more than $10 for any gift certificate to a restaurant. What would be the point if we spent $25 or more on gift certificates to restaurants - we wouldn't save much.
4. What happens if WE receive a gift certificate (as a birthday gift, etc.) to a grocery store, department store, etc.? This would be money we could spend any way we want since it is not part of our family income. However, I think we will be much more likely to seriously consider how we spend it if we were to get a gift like this. When we have precious few dollars to spend on anything we want then wisdom will likely prevail.
5. How will we provide for items our children need such as shoes and clothes? Hopefully, they won't need much over the year. However, clothes wear out and shoes are ruined in mudholes. If this happens, we have a couple of choices. We can post that we are looking for clothing items either by donation from family members that have children or use a barter and trade system. Another option is to visit a thrift store and see if we can give items we have no need for anymore towards a store credit. The credit can then be used when our family needs something. Lastly, another option would be if we were to receive a gift card to a store (as mentioned above) we could always use this to purchase something our children absolutely need.
I will be posting other things when we think of them. The meat market gift card may wind up being just the ticket for the men's dinner Saturday night - we'll see. :)