Well, we went to town yesterday. Now you might wonder.... O.K... So whats the big deal about that? You are no doubt thinking I would be itching to get to town after being cooped up on the farm for the last few weeks and you would be right, up to a point.
Going to town is exciting when you only do it every two or three weeks. I actually put on makeup and do my hair! (gasp!) Can you imagine? Now I am not a slob in any way but when I am on the farm I don't bother with make up (unless you consider Chapstick makeup) and doing my hair usually means just putting it up in a clip or those lovely new spiral holders "spin pins" made by Goody that work so well. Farm attire usually consists of old, well worn, soft, jeans and a t-shirt or sweater. Going to town means I actually get to wear some of my good jeans and sweaters! O.K, now I'm sitting here laughing to myself and wondering why I am telling you this! I guess I'm just trying to convey what a different lifestyle this is and what my mood started out as on "going to town day".
Going to town is not just about the fact that I get to dress up like I used to do every day, it is about the whole process. One thing I learned a long time ago about saving money is this: if you don't leave the house you can't spend it. Of course that is not true strictly speaking because you can always purchase items on line but I think the majority of us spend most of our money when we are physically in the store.
One of the things both Mountain Man and I have been doing is making a list of exactly what we need in town, and I do mean exactly what we need. If it isn't on the list we don't purchase it, period. For instance Mountain Man had a craving for blueberry pie so it was on his list as I didn't have any blueberry preserves. Planing like this requires a bit of preparation, sometimes quite a bit of preparation! Just think about it. If you live in town you can stop by a store at any time and I know when I lived in town I was at one store or another almost every day of the week. Now when I think about that time I just shake my head... what was I thinking?
That's exactly what it is, a different way of thinking. When we made the decision this winter to only purchase what was "on the list" and to only go to town every two weeks or more we noticed a complete difference in how we viewed what we need. If I decide I want to make a certain item or food I can't simply just do it. I have to plan for it. The more I plan it seems the less I need. Weird. Now there is always the exception to the rule. If something vital breaks or if it is for a paying project of course that is different but those don't happen very often in the winter. My list today ended up being about 12 items and may of them were little trinkets I needed for a few craft projects. As for groceries? I purchased a total of five items. Five! Worth a total of $18, and I won't need to go anywhere for two weeks.
So, how did I do it? It's all in the planning! Take a look at your pantry or what is in your cupboards, fridge and freezer. One of the things I found when we didn't live like this is that SO much goes to waste! I would purchase a product, often times fruit or veggies, and end up throwing about 1/3 to 1/2 of it out due to spoilage. Sometimes an item I had purchased for the freezer would be stuck in the back and not used, then by the time I found it, it was freezer burnt and inedible. I was so caught up in what I wanted at the moment that I didn't make a plan. If I felt like eating a certain meal that's what I did. If I needed to purchase something to make it? Out I went to get what I needed. I don't do that any more. Now I look at what I have and what needs to be used up, and then decide what I can make out of it. Much more efficient! This is also the reason I'm finding I just don't need as much, and since we have so many canned goods usually what I end up buying is just fresh fruit or veggies.
So, there we were, in town for a shopping trip and I really didn't need much of anything. As we drove from store to store (Mountain Man's list was bigger than mine) I found myself getting more and more irritated. I didn't like the smell, I didn't like the crowds, I didn't like the traffic. ARG! All I wanted to do was go home. Finally we were finished and on our way back to the farm... Big sigh! But all the way home I kept asking myself why? Why was I so frustrated by the process, why didn't I want to be there? and the big question in my mind... am I becoming anti-social? Gasp! It took a bit of conversation (we had a good 45 min to talk while we drove) but I realized the answer is no.
I love to go places. I enjoy entertaining. I especially love to travel and see places I've never been but I also love the calm quietness of where we live and wonderful lack of the need to hurry, hurry, hurry. Ah! There it is! In town I felt like I had to rush to get this done, to go here, to purchase that and was frustrated by my inability to find a few items I felt I needed. Now, at home, I know if I don't have what I need I will just improvise or do without and finally... finally! I have come to accept it. Took me long enough! Sigh... enough rambling for one day... I'm off to make some tea.... maybe read that book I haven't finished or start on another craft project. Hmm...