Finding Contentment While Spending Less Money

Recently, I have come to realise that my level of spending has  pared back significantly over the past months. This has been partly deliberate, as we have been adjusting to living on one income and partly unintentional. Spending less makes you more mindful of the simple pleasures in life, I find. Read on for a few examples of the areas in which our spending has been reduced and how I and my family have felt about it.

Eating Out

We used to eat out at least once (often twice) per weekend. Often we went for brunch on a Sunday for our favourite Eggs Benedict or Eggs Royale. This ritual mainly stopped because finding cafe tables for a family of five including space for a buggy isn’t always easy, plus when I gave up my job the family income meant that making cutbacks on things such as eating out made sense. I’ve substituted the meals out and takeaways with home-made yet still feel like ‘treat’ or cafe-style meals (such as paninis in our panini maker) and we often enjoy eating in our garden during the warmer months. It actually feels more relaxing to do this than dine out with our young kids as it takes the pressure off my husband and I when we don’t have to worry about the kids misbehaving or whining that they are hungry. As an added bonus, my eldest child is now showing an interest in helping to prepare some of the meals and gladly carries out simple tasks such as grating cheese, stirring sauces etc. Kids are never too young to learn to cook and I hope that my other two begin to express a similar interest before long.

My husband and I only rarely go out for date nights these days- mostly for logistical reasons. Family members have started giving us restaurant vouchers for birthday gifts which is appreciated as it gives a nudge to make us get on and book a meal out rather than having a vague notion that we should but never seeing to get around to it.

Reading Material

Then there’s my reading habit, which has always verged on the voracious. I’ve always loved books and have bought at least some from Amazon and charity shops even though I’ve long been a regular user of the local library. Recently though, I’ve cut out buying books completely and started reserving and ordering books online that I really want to read in to my library to collect from our local branch. Happily, this means I remain stocked with plenty of reading material. If there are any that I read from the library and desperately crave to keep, I ask a family member to give me a copy of it for Christmas or my birthday.

Last year I also discovered the RB Digital app which allows registered library users to read a wide range of magazine publications online for free. How did I not know about this sooner?! As well being available in my local area I have been informed by friends in different areas of England that it is available countrywide. This can represent a significant saving on spends for any magazine fan.

Children’s Clothing

Even though I restrict my own wardrobe items and prefer to keep a pared down, semi capsule wardrobe, I must admit that I have a weakness for buying the kids too many clothes. Children’s clothes are so cute, with colourful appliques and designs. Still, when I changed over their clothes at the end of seasons, I felt bad when I sometimes discovered items that had never been worn even once. I really should know better on this front! The best solution I have found to this issue is to keep a simple spreadsheet on the computer and record every clothing item I acquire for the kids in different sizes. I do tend to stock up on good quality clothes in the sales, even in sizes several years too large at times, but if I forget that I have those larger sizes stashed away it’s too easy to end up buying a similar item later on. This spreadsheets also assists with guiding relatives who ask what clothing items the kids would most benefit from being given as part of their birthday presents. Whenever I find myself tempted to buy cute clothes for the kids, I force myself to check the spreadsheet first to see whether the item is genuinely needed or not.

What do you Gain Most out of Spending on?

Finding cheaper or free alternatives to the things we used to spend money on feels rewarding because it means that we can funnel our money towards things that matter more to us- such as holidays. We love going away together as a family, both in the UK and in European countries and we hold some wonderful memories of times spent on past holidays. Everybody’s priorities for their finances will be different, but being mindful of them and having more funds available to direct to them instead of being frittered on things that we are less bothered about makes a lot of sense.

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4 thoughts on “Finding Contentment While Spending Less Money

  1. What a fabulous post! I grew up with a mother who “went through the Depression” ( that period in the US in the 1930’s where the economy was awful ) and she was a frugal person. She made life fun – but she always said “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without”! I learned to be frugal – and while I will never be as careful with money as she was, both my husband and I have always tried to be good stewards of our money. Shop sales, used shops, remake furniture to suit the new style, cook at home, use coupons and rebates, etc. We would get funny looks from our friends because we would (at home) use our tea bags twice! But, now in retirement, that lifestyle has paid off. We are able to live in a beautiful community and enjoy our savings. We still live frugally…hate waste, using leftovers, sewing, repairing items….and splurging on experiences – travel, theater, etc. But most of all, as a retired school librarian, I want to say THANK YOU for your support of libraries. People think they are not necessary….but they provide a world of entertainment. I rarely buy a book and like you try to get books and movies from the library. And now, with the digital world there is SO much more available. Thanks for a great post and a reminder to enjoy what we have!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It sounds as though I could learn a thing or two from you, Ann in the frugality department! I definitely agree that spending on experiences brings more pleasure than just purchasing ‘stuff’ in shops and we direct most of our disposable income towards experiences.
      Oh yes, I have always made good use of our local libraries. Sadly in the austerity years a few years ago some libraries were closed down, so people must remember ‘use them or lose them’. Fortunately my kids love the library too and fill their arms with stacks of books to check out each time we visit!

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  2. I can relate to what Ann said. I was partly brought up by my Nanna, who had been through 2 World Wars, and the Great Depression. She was extremely frugal!! But…. and this is the point, we had an affluent and lovely life. By example, I became the same, and I tried very hard to emulate some of that feeling and living affluent, with my children, yet employing frugality. I don’t know if I succeeded with all 3, but I did with at least one, so that’s a bonus. And like you, I try to avoid going out for dinner, I use the library for reading material, and have a minimal wardrobe. When I had children at home, 2 of them loved the library!! The other was not a reader. My great grandson gets taken to parks, the beach, plays in Nannies garden (he actually thinks he is gardening), and goes to sing a longs at the library. There is still so much in life that is free.

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