In preparing for baby Aurora to come, Jonathan and I have evaluated a lot of the ways we do things in life. Though the final decision has yet to be made, I think I am going to keep working. I love my job, and one of the fears I had about having kids was abandoning everything else I was pouring my life into. I am so thankful for a job that allows me to give to, support, and love a demographic of people that are often neglected, avoided, and even feared sometimes. It's all still up in the air, but ideally, I'd like to move into a part time schedule where I only work 3 days a week. This will change our finances somewhat. Not dramatically, but we have been making efforts to cut back or even to see what it would be like to live off of Jonathan's salary.
We're also always looking for ways to give more and consume less in everything. Living in the states, it's so easy to become a consumer and keep compiling more and more and more things and actually start believing we need them. When, in actuality, we don't.
These two ideas have led us to begin a project that we're calling More With Less: Fashion, Food, & Fun. Beginning July 1, 2010, we have committed the next year to spending and consuming less in all areas of our life. Specifically:
Fashion: Aside from personal items and absolutely unavoidable situations (i.e. uniforms, etc.), Jonathan, Aurora, and I will only be buying recycled clothing, wearing homemade items, or buying something new if it is less than $5. Honestly, this isn't much of a change from the ways we already spend. (I'm pretty much obsessed with the bi-weekly dollar day at my favorite consignment store, Revive.) But, making the commitment will make it all the more enjoyable. The other main perk to this is that, in my opinion, buying used clothing is the most ethical way to shop. You know exactly where the money you're spending is going. (Revive gives up to 50% of their profits to a homeless ministry, Goodwill puts people to work, Salvation Army does lots, etc.) And on top of this, you're not contributing to sweatshops, child labor, or abused and overworked individuals. Of course I will try to buy recycled fabric as well, but needing to buy new fabric is unavoidable. I also have the $5 limit at other stores, because sometimes it's even hard to find recycled clothing or shoes for that price. On top of this, we'll be using cloth diapers for Aurora and (hopefully!) making our own laundry and dishwasher soap.
Food: According to the USDA, the "thrifty" family of 2 will spend approximately $350/month on food. The liberal family will spend $695/month. Jonathan and I have committed to a grocery budget of $240/month with hopes to decrease that as we become more and more comfortable with finding deals. Aurora will be breastfeeding and eating homemade baby food when she gets older.
Fun: Since we both work at coffee shops, we come home with tip money. The past few months, we've called our tip money our "fun money." This means we can spend it on whatever "luxury" item we want. Jonathan makes frequent trips to Checkers and Wendys while I stock it up for remnant fabric at Joanns and Hobby Lobby, or opening weekend of Eclipse! I probably won't be working at the coffee shop much longer (7 1/2 months pregnant=very, very sore and uncomfortable after an 8 hr. shift on my feet), so we've decided to apply the mileage reimbursements I receive from Goodwill to my fun money stash. At the moment, Jonathan gets about $15/week and I get around $10.
We (really I) will be blogging about this occasionally. It'll be great accountability and perhaps inspire some of you to do the same thing. Let me know if you want to join in!