So there were some big winners and some big losers in July's Pseudo-Freegan Challenge...to begin with, Arduous totally kicked my ass (unless she's holding out on some undisclosed $400 purchase, which I doubt)! But despite spending $760 in a month where I was trying to spend nothing, I don't think I did all that badly. I spent a lot less than I did the previous month, and if I strip out the two events planned in advance, the birthday trip and the bridal shower, I end up with $241.52, way less than my usual set of expenses.
Like Arduous, I ended up feeling a little ambivalent about freeganism. I like the concept of reducing waste, especially food waste, but I also found myself in a weird bind in which I was trying to live as cheaply as possible. This precludes the habits I've cultivated since Fix ended, which require that I spend a little more on my day-to-day expenses, as with organic and farmer's market food, for example. In other words, cost became the only criterion for purchasing, which is the mindset I was trying to overcome with Fix -- I think we buy so much crap because it is too cheap. My preference for socializing over principles also became clear again: I would rather buy brunch with old friends than be the weirdo just having a coffee (which I buy all the time, btw); I barely gave these instances a second thought.
Still, the current economy and my financial goals might encourage me to continue for another couple of months, though there are some things I've already bought - a couple of nice dinners, some gifts, a reference book, etc. I will try to remain vigilant against needless spending and remember the winners and losers in this experiment:
1. The bike/MTA
I've already raved about biking to work more often: it puts me in a good mood, I get more exercise in an average week, and I spend more time in the sunshine. I would like to continue riding my bike and figure out how to get the right combination of Metrocard and riding so I save even more money in the future.
2. The fridge/freezer
I made a serious effort to empty my fridge/freezer: I got rid of a bunch of stuff by trying new recipes and making some weird meals. Because I end up eating the same things all the time, I don't ever touch the special/wacky ingredients I've socked away in the freezer and cabinets. At month's end, my freezer has a lot more room, I have some homemade veggie burgers for quick meals, and I've discovered a yummy pasta and bread crumbs recipe that will help me get rid of the million pounds of crumbs still in there.
Same issue with laundry. We all know I like wearing the same thing over and over, which means I do the laundry a lot. But if I actually wear all of the clothes I have, I really don't have to do laundry very often. And then my clothes would last longer. Bummer it's not more of a savings - I only saved $10 by waiting until Aug to do the wash.
I didn't buy any in July. I also didn't beg the bodega for singles. 'Nuff said.
1. The bike/MTA
Despite the benefits of riding my bike almost every day, it didn't end up being such a money saver...in fact, I saved a grand total of $2.80! I rode the subway more often than I thought I would and I spent my MTA dollars really inefficiently - I would buy cards with single rides because I decided to take the subway/bus at the last minute. I imagine with more practice I might figure out how to do this better. Or I could just stay home more often, which probably won't happen.
2. The fridge/freezer
Yes, I am so lucky to get food and leftovers from work. Between those and working on the fridge/freezer, I ended up in great shape for food last month. But I could go for even another month on the random things that are clogging up my kitchen. I'll lay off the leftovers and try to continue to be creative.
3. Homemade toothpaste
It's messy and tastes gross. I'll use up what I made and probably go back to Tom's. I gave it a good shot, but I'm afraid it's not a keeper.