Sunday, October 25, 2009
The challenge conditions
We have outlined the conditions we're setting on our no spend year - it's just an outline at this stage, but it's a good place to start as any.
Firstly, the $5 for each member of the family. This is our own personal spending money, we can do what we want with it. Doesn't that contradict the no spend concept though? Technically, yes, but we also consider it a pressure valve for the challenge. If one of us suddenly weakens, we have that limited means to money. Limited, being the target reason we're getting the $5. It's there but it's limited.
When we do the maths $5 doesn't sound like much on it's own, but each member of the family will receive $240 for the year. A total of $720 for the period of the challenge. This money is for our own uses, but we can also pool that money for gifts. For example, on Mother's Day, Dave and our daughter have the option to buy something for me individually - or they can pool their money and give a joint gift. They may not want to buy me anything at all, choosing instead to make something - saving money.
If it comes to giving someone else a gift, we can pool our money together too. The objective isn't about "how much" can I have, but rather how much can I do on a limited amount of funds. By including our daughter, we're hoping to help her understand how to manage money better too.
The other condition we're contemplating is a set amount of money for projects. By projects, I don't mean anything our hearts desire. Pretty much, all projects will come to a halt for 12 months. However, one of the connundrums which almost talked me out of doing this challenge in the first place, was the need to maintain our property. There are a few projects/items which would not be sensible in the long run, to hold up for the year of the challenge.
What we were considering were:
1. A freezer: to store bulk foods cooked in advance, and to be able to buy in bulk when there are specials. As we don't have the ability to grow food at this stage, we will still need to buy it in. We will have a set budget for food which won't alter. Having a freezer expands our options of doing more with our food budget.
2. Wood heater: it will be a free source of heat, utilising an on-site wood supply. It will reduce our winter electricity bills, as well as a continued supply of heat during power outages. The chopping, stacking and collecting of wood becomes a source of activity for the family during winter and the months leading up to it. The heat generated will also allow us to do a range of inside activities (in the living areas) with a degree of comfort. Most importantly though, it also helps reduce fuel around the property during the low bushfire risk period - winter.
The above two outlays, I would really like to do in the next 12 months. I will describe a few more soon, but I would consider them "optional" outlays. One and two, described above, would really assist us in our no spend year. I can't imagine how difficult it would be during winter, to not want to crank up the electric heaters if there is money saved in the bank. We would have achieved so much half way into the challenge, only to be thwarted by having to freeze our butts off inside.
3. Fencing: if we could include this one, all the better, as it's possible our dog will be returning to us next year, when a relative sells their property where she's been living. But the fencing is also required to protect lifestock (and plants) from other animals. We have received quite a few visits from our neighbour's dogs - on both sides; and this is a concern for us for our daughter's safety. While they seem like nice dogs, that all changes when a child may not have an adult standing around for protection. I have also caught one of the neighbours' dogs, charging our Hilltop coop, to see the chickens fly around in a tizzy.
4. Carport: to protect the cars from the elements, thereby reducing maintenance bills and generally improving the life of the vehicles. At present we have no protection for the cars, not even the shade of a tree. Of course, I could only see this outlay happening if we could find a second-hand carport or one given to us.
5. Curtains: to help improve the insulation of the home. Our two sliding glass doors (dining room & laundry) currently have no curtains and is a terrible heat escape during winter.
We have not decided if we will proceed with these outlays, but the option for a set amount of money put aside for necessary improvements, is something we feel is important. I was thinking anywhere between $3,000 and $5,000 as the set budget for outlays. When I look at those large numbers, I feel like the challenge is not worth the effort - but I also wonder if I don't put a cap on possible outlays, then we may not last the distance of the challenge.
Giving up spending on unnecessary desires is one thing, but giving up spending where it will save money in the long run - that seems a little contradictory too. Improving the life of a vehicle, saves money in the long run. Providing a free heat source during winter also saves money in the long run. Fencing saves us from having to replace damaged plants and livestock.
With any money spent on outlays however, the aim would be on sourcing second-hand items in reasonable condition.
This is our general (first draft) outline of the conditions for our challenge. Any comments and suggestions welcome. For example, how would you number the 5 outlays according to importance? Could we do without the freezer perhaps? Maybe fencing should be the top priority? Perhaps we should do without the heater for another 12 months?
What do you think...?