2013 for our family has been a physical health rollercoaster. Thankfully that theme ended on a mostly positive note, but over the last few months, my dear hubby and I have been thinking quite heavily about our financial health as well. Since 2013 seemed to be about taking care of our physical being (not always by choice, but necessary measures that we benefitted greatly from happened anyway), we decided to make 2014 a year to really focus on our financial health.
So one night, while hubby was at work, I was thinking long and hard about this. Like most families, looking after our finances is important. It’d be nice to live in a world where we didn’t need money, but in truth, there was always some sort of economy…just the currency may have changed. I am forever thankful that we can work for money that we can trade for goods instead of working for other things, like chickens, that we can use to trade for goods. Money is much easier to manage than a flock of chickens would be. Once that thought entered my mind, I started taking a more candid look at our finances and why we struggle with it at times.
1) I don’t know about you, but talking about needing to “tighten our belts” financially is never fun. It often gets our noses out of joint actually, when we need to work together as a team. Very counter-productive.
2) We waste things…a lot. Especially food. We always have the intention of “re-using” things, including food, but when it comes right down to the heart of it, we save things with the intent of reusing it…only to throw it out a few months later anyway…food gets thrown out much earlier than that, don’t worry.
3) We hold on to things that we don’t need….even financial things, like credit card balances.
I took a look at #1 and started thinking about how to make saving money be more “fun”. Well, perhaps fun is a bit of a strong word, but perhaps a challenge to look forward to. I asked hubby what he thought of perhaps having a money-saving idea for each month of 2014, with the plan that the ideas from previous months would carry on and the upcoming month challenge would be added on.
Then it was tough to figure out where to start. Like trying to de-clutter, it’s often difficult to figure out where the beginning is. Sometimes you just have to start somewhere, often right at the entrance to the door of the room that needs to be de-cluttered.
Now at this point in the thought process, I got hungry and opened the fridge door. I looked at a fridge full of food, complete with left-overs stuffed in the very back of the fridge that truly needed to be thrown out. Clearly, this was the door that needed to be opened to get started with for January’s challenge.
We are terrible at using left-overs. I lack imagination for cooking (usually have to start with a recipe that sparks my interest, and only then will my imagination start working, allowing me to tweak the recipe to suit more our tastes) and lack even more imagination on how to use left-overs. Re-warmed food done exactly the same way as how they were originally prepared is…well…boring. There are enough boring things in life…our food doesn’t need to be a part of that.
So…. I thought it too painful to figure out how much money we were throwing away on food that was rotting in the fridge. Perhaps that is a necessary step, but I know it’s quite a bit, which is all I need to know. We are literally throwing money out into the garbage, and that needs to stop.
Online I went, “Googled” Reinventing Left-overs and Google didn’t disappoint. I was trying to find a link to put into this blog entry and couldn’t narrow it down to a single one, so I figured just to include what I searched. I encourage you to try the same. I will be posting random recipes on here through-out the month but if you too struggle with what to do with every-day left-overs, please go and do a search. In your search, include some of the key ingredients that you have to use and you’d be amazed what comes up.
Now for some of you who are thinking…but what about #1 and #3 up above? Well, for #1, we are not considering or even using the term “tighten our belts” or the other dreaded word… “budget”. We’ve tried them on before and either we are doing it wrong or they just simply don’t work for us.
Don’t get me wrong…we budget of course…you would be in financial ruin if you didn’t, but as a tool to save money and make lifestyle changes…not so much. Using more positive words, like “monthly challenges” makes us feel like we are working towards something rather than doing without. Reinventing Leftovers for example, allows us to get our moneys’ worth out of what we buy rather than throwing at least half of it in the garbage. “Reinventing Left-Overs” sounds more exciting and tasty than “Warming Up Left-Overs”, even though they both boil down to the same thing…using up everything you actually pay for.
Whatever it takes, if we have to have 1-2 “Reinventing” nights in the kitchen as opposed to “Left-Over” nights…as long as it gets done, I’m happy. As for #3, we have decided that credit cards need a serious weeding through. We are paying them off as quickly as possible, but also need get rid of the ones that we don’t use. That will right away make our wallets lighter (what with them and all the rewards cards, wallets get to the overflowing stage quickly) while not making our bank account lighter at the same time. Win Win.
I am also starting the 52 week money challenge, starting with this week. It’s gone around on Facebook a few times and probably has come your way as well. Saving money is something we need to work on, and once again, if we see it as a “challenge”, perhaps we may commit to it. It is my hope that at the end of the 52 weeks, we may be so on fire with the idea that we keep going for another 52. In 5 years time we will have been together for 25 years and the money saved this way would come in really nice to perhaps do a big party or get-away.
If you aren’t sure what I am talking about in regards to the 52 week money challenge, here is a link:
I’ve got my mason jar all ready to go for it, complete with a loonie in it for week 1. SUPER excited about this one! Feel free to do your own if you’d like! Anyway, that’s about it for now. If you have any suggestions/recipes about “Reinventing Left-Overs” please feel free to share them. We could all use tips on how to save money.