I admit it: December and January throw me for a loop where frugality is concerned. There are splurges related to the holidays, some kind of illness/cold/virus going around that "justifies" buying prepared foods or unusual supplements, and the winter depression/cold that begs to have spirits lifted by…well, extra measure to comfort us and keep us cozy. And then there are the pre-holiday and post-holiday sales, both local and online, that seem impossible to pass up (especially with four rapidly growing children who needs shoes, clothing, and homeschool supplies). Between the holidays and the inevitable post-holiday slump, I get behind in my usual (reasonably) tight accounting, and then I have to catch up and figure out where we're at.
So I hereby declare February to be Frugality Month. It's time to assess and use up more of the stored food from last summer, especially those winter squashes. It's time to balance the checkbook and make up any deficiency with increased frugality for awhile. It's time to make do with what's in the pantry instead of grabbing something easy or comforting at the food co-op. It's time to keep the checkbook locked shut except on Bill-Paying Day. It's time to vigilantly stay out of stores when I don't have a strict list and an absolutely essential reason for being there.
In a perfect world, I would not NEED to recover and get back on track after the holidays. I don't live in that world yet, but it's a goal. This year I'll be starting with some specific extra bank accounts where I can set aside money all year long for gifts, fuel, taxes, insurance, and other things that take me by surprise once a year.
One of the most helpful thing in keeping me on track with "making do" is making sure I inventory our provisions at least a couple of times a year.
- What do we have in our pantry? What do we need to replenish or need to use up?
- Am I prepared for when each kid outgrows their clothing/shoes unexpectedly or overnight, as they are comically prone to do?
- What necessary items have worn out that need replacing?
- What in the past few months or year have we felt the lack of? Warmer bedding? Useful kitchen items? Some tool that would justify its purchase?
- What purchases or projects would make it easier to think ahead and provision before an anticipated need rears its head? Storage units? Repurposing a crawl space? Boxes or bins or containers?
Midwinter (for those of us in the Northern hemisphere) is the perfect time to assess provisions and needs. With the holidays behind us and the gardening season ahead, we have a little bit of time to catch our breath, tidy up our storage spaces (if they are not unheated — though some must be left until warmer weather, of course), and assess.
What are your February goals?
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