The Year of Austerity (YOA) Part I

6 Jun

Inspired by my Jo’s parents-in-law and their self-imposed Year of Austerity last year, Dotan and I decided that saving money seems like an awfully good plan and so we took a leap – 2012 would be officially known as The Year We Tried To Save More. Despite the protestations of 80% of the Israeli population who shout “No! Use up all your savings and buy property!”, we figured this is actually an opportune time in our lives to save. With only ourselves to take care of  – no debt, no mortgage and no wee children to think of  – the main aims of this YOA would be to 1) reel in our spending, 2) to improve upon our ‘money consciousness’ and 3) by saving more each month, to double what’s in our savings account. We didn’t make a long list of ‘we cannot’ or ‘we wont’s’ but we did say (nervously and expecting failure) “Let’s see how it goes!”.  Apparently, ‘austere’ was the word of the year in the USA, in 2010. Who knew?

Yes, it’s a real word.

There’s obviously always room for improvement. Last week, for instance, we bought lunch out one too many times and there were a lot of birthdays in May. But this is how I am learning (a lesson lots of people learned, like, 10 years ago) that being organised and efficient in simple ways can lead to better saving. For example, using meal planning tools to shop like a gangsta. By this mean I mean shop with a list and with meals in mind.  I honestly don’t know anything about gangstas. Or gangsters.

Even though care-taking your own life seems like it should be a natural instinct, we live in a world of convenience and I often forget that we can do lots of things ourselves at home, on the cheap! Take challah, for instance. I’m a good baker, and I know how to make challah. I’ve been doing it since uni. Sometimes though, we have fun plans and it’s more convenient to just stop off and buy it, than spend a morning waiting around for dough to rise. But I still kick myself when I see that perfectly round, store-bought loaf on the table on Friday night.

I want the sweet smell of my own “half & half” challah wafting from the oven on Friday mornings, because I want to take care of myself and of Dotan with good, nourishing food that we have made ourselves. Like a wonderful book I read last year, I call it the desire for ‘A Homemade Life’.

 Hopefully I’ll be able to look back at my blog posts on our YOA and be proud of some of the progress we made as a couple in this area of life. Hopefully. Presuming the plan doesn’t go to pot.

#ItMightGoPearShaped

Even if we don’t manage to save the amount we have envisioned, becoming more ‘money conscious’ is my favourite goal of this YOA. I don’t mean by becoming Mr & Mrs Scrooge McPennyPinchers, but rather in the holistic sense – I want us to take in the long-term consequences and impact of how we use our money in terms of our health, the environment, and overall sense of contentment in life. The aim of this year is not to feel deprived.  It is to learn how to pare down, to ‘trim off the fat’, and generally to try and enjoy life in simpler ways.

It’s a bit like being in the Game of Life, except for real. Interesting side note: ‘The Game of Life was updated in 1991 to reward players for “good” behavior, such as recycling trash and helping the homeless’. (Wikipedia). It’s a funny world we live in.

Will keep you posted!

Many a confused shabbat afternoon was wasted playing this game.

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Please leave a reply! Thanks - Dannii x

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