Starting simple

I have a large stash of…well, really, I have large stashes of a lot of stuff.  Food.  Tea.  Books.  Blankets.  Toilet paper.  You know, all the important stuff.

But, the place I was going when I started that sentence was actually yarn.  See, yarn is expensive.  Well, good yarn is, anyway.  If you’ve never priced out good quality yarn, you might be in for a bit of a surprise.  If you have, you’re probably nodding your head right now.  Not that it’s not worth it – it’s just pricey.  Conversely, I am frugal.  And so when good yarn appears at the thrift store for low prices, I tend to buy it.

What this all means is that I have a lot of yarn that I’ve often bought without a project in mind.  It’s also often in limited qualities – in my experience it’s rare to get enough of the same yarn to make a sweater at the thrift store.  So, this means I have a lot of nice stuff just kicking around and no real plan for it.

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On top of that, I suffer from the delightful affliction where I know that my skills need more development and I’m concerned that I’m going to either ruin the materials by not doing a good job or that I haven’t simply picked the most perfect project ever.  And so the stash sits, doing nothing at all, while I ponder and rethink my options and ultimately accomplish nothing at all.

At times, I’ve considered donating some of it or even selling some of it off, but I do want to knit with it.  I bought the yarn because I liked it and wanted to use it. I also see it as a way to further develop my skills as part of my reskilling goals.  So, in the interest of actually doing something, I’ve decided to start simple.  Today I have a three and a half hour train ride, which seems like it could be prime knitting time.  I’ve chosen some yarn – some vintage pure wool, which is nice but nothing I’m too wedded to – and I’m going to adapt a few patterns to make a Guernsey-style cowl.

 

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Priorities

Sometimes, when I talk with people about money, I get the impression that they’re not sure what to think of my frugal ways.  In some cases, they’re actually dismissive. I’m not especially bothered by this, but it did get me thinking about what frugality looks like to people who are less inclined towards it.  At first glance, I suppose it might look like I’m saving just to save, or like I’m simply being cheap. I suspect it’s easy to see frugal living as a life of deprivation and constantly saying no, of self-denial and miserly fortitude.

But being frugal, as many, many people have pointed out before me, is really about priorities.  There are still things that I spend money on. In general, if I’m going to make a purchase I’m generally willing to pay more for something that’s good quality and that will last for a long time.  By saving in the areas that don’t matter as much to you, I can spend a spend a bit more in the areas that do and still save money overall.

My priorities largely centre on my values, particularly around living ethically, sustainably, and in a way that I can help others.  I find that being able to identify my priorities is that it makes it easier to save. From a practical perspective, any spending that doesn’t fit within my goals is something that needs to be carefully considered, if not outright eliminated.  On top of that, living frugally and saving money are not some nebulous things that I do because I’m supposed to.  They’re linked to some tangible goals and it makes it easier to stick with the plan because I know exactly what I’m working towards and can see my progress.

Right now, I have three main priorities that guide my spending and saving.

Buying a house. I’d like to own a place of my own both to build some equity and to start developing more of a homestead where I can focus on living even more frugally and sustainability.  I’m trying to build up as big a down payment as I can to reduce my mortgage and keeping this goal in mind helps keep me saving as much as I can.

Living sustainably and ethically. Most of my values centre on building a strong, resilient community. Part of this, for me, is supporting local producers and artisans. This can be somewhat more expensive than typical store bought options, but saving lets me put my money where my mouth is.

Taking care of myself and others.  My greatest fears have always centred on being able to take of the people I care most about.  I feel better knowing that, if need be, I have the resources to deal with adverse life situations and that if anyone needs help, I’ll be in a position to offer some assistance.

Although I’m sure my inclination is to be frugal anyway, I find that knowing what I’m saving for and why is really helpful and motivating. And, by knowing what’s important, that’s what I can focus my money on. Anything else I can either find inexpensive solutions for or, if possible, do without.

Five frugal things

In the spirit of greater frugality, I’m borrowing a page from the Non-Consumer Advocate and and recording five frugal things from my days here and there.

1. I signed up for a free work wellness challenge. I walked over to pick up my gratitude jar this afternoon, which turned out to be a free canning jar.

2. I scored a piece of free leftover pizza from an event. It made for a very nice afternoon snack.

3. I took advantage of our fitness program and went to a free campus yoga class. Later this week I’ll be going to boot camp and a strength class.

4. I called my insurance company to get my snow tire discount, saving me $36 this year (yes, I’m completely ignoring how much the tires cost in the first place on this one.)

5. I drank looseleaf tea from my desk stash rather than buying it. I save $1.30 every time I do that. I also drank a lot of water, refilling my reusable bottle each time.