Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Pantry Challenge

Hi, all! A VERY, very long time no-write! I’ve just not felt like blogging as I didn’t feel that I had anything positive to say, when I really did. Still, when a person gets into a certain frame of mind & worries & concerns & anxieties start taking over, things look a lot bleaker than they usually are.

I won’t go into detail, and a lot of you know that I’ve been out of work since January. My EI was quite low, & it recently ran out. I did start to work again last week, & that’s good. It’s still only every other weekend, but it’s a start.

The job is as a caregiver for Nurse Next Door, a company that started in Vancouver or North Vancouver by two young men who had needed the services of home support for relatives of theirs. They wanted to start a company that was different & went the extra mile for their clients, & they do that. I’ve heard nothing but good things about this company, & it also cares for its employees. Some companies will be great to the client but not so good to its employees, or it’ll take care of its employees but not of its customers. NND does its best to be good to both its clients and its employees, and that’s good.

I’m starting off as a casual worker, and it always takes time to get going in those kinds of jobs. So I’m looking for other work to add to my income, & I’ve had a few leads. If I end up with a different job that’s full time, I’ll take that since I do need the money. After all, it’s only me supporting myself, although I have had some much welcome & appreciated help along the way.

I’m an independent person who would rather not rely on the help of others, but I’ve learnt to quell my pride & to accept it when it comes. There’s nothing shameful about accepting help, & I certainly don’t want to deny anyone the blessing that comes from helping others. Since September 2006, when I moved back down here to the Fraser Valley from the Arctic, I’ve had to learn to accept help from people, but especially the past couple of years. I’m so tired of having a lower income – I used to make more than average, & it’s still hard for me to accept. I’m starting to, though, & I know that things will get better. It’s just hard to wait for that.

One of my biggest struggles is spending. I love to shop & to spend money, but it always bugs me when I overspend. I don’t always think about the consequences of my overspending, although I’m great at thinking through the possible consequences of other things. So, even though I’m an impulsive person, I tend to play things very safe & to not throw caution in the wind in general.

The number one place where my money goes is food. I love food. I love to eat and I haven’t always eaten what’s best for me. This has changed over the past while, though, and, overall, my diet is a lot better than it used to be, a lot more balanced and healthy. I still like to have the occasional bit of junk food, though, and there’s nothing wrong with that, once in a while. The trouble is, though, that I just don’t have the money for such extravagances. Yes, they are extravagances when you think about it. At least to me right now and to others in similar situations as me. I need to avoid spending money on what’s not necessary for me, and, recently, I read something that gave me an idea.

First of all, though, I’ll tell you about something else that gave me a complete change of mind about my spending.

This past Monday evening, my church had a seminar called “Getting A Grip On Your Finances,” or something close to that. The speaker is a financial advisor with RBC (Royal Bank Of Canada) in Chilliwack, & he’s been in a place like I am right now – very little money coming in. What he did was go on a spending fast. That evening, I was struggling with the idea. I like instant gratification and I don’t want to curb my spending. I thought and prayed about it, though, & realised that it was a wise idea. So I decided to do that.

It doesn’t mean that I don’t spend any money at all. After all, there are things that need my money – gas for my car, car insurance, rent, utilities, and certain essentials. If I could live without spending any money at all, I’d love that. It’s just not realistic in my world, though. What Eddie (sp?) did was curb his spending down to the absolute essentials. He needed food – so he’d only buy the food that he truly needed. He needed to pay his bills and for housing, and when his car died, he didn’t pay to get it fixed, even though the repairs wouldn’t have cost all that much. He even pared down his essential purchases & lived a super sparse lifestyle. He said that it was good since his income was super low and he wasn’t about to use credit for things. He said, too, that it was a really good thing for him at the time, and I got the sense that it made him appreciate what he had even more. He received a lot of valuable lessons at that time.

So I’m going on a spending fast. I mentioned things that I really need, &, yes, I do need my car. In home support work, you go to clients’ homes, and that usually involves some distance between your home and theirs. So I do need my car. I need to pay rent and I need to pay utilities to the people who live upstairs from me – the bills are in their name. I need my phone so that I can get calls about work, and I need certain supplies for a woman’s monthly visitor. I can get them for a really low price at a local store, though, and I can walk there. So no gas needed to get those. I also need to eat.

Now this is where my Pantry Challenge comes in.

I read an article online – or it might’ve been an entry in a blog – & I can’t remember the link. I’d only read through it casually at the time & didn’t pay much attention. Obviously things stuck with me, though, & I’m thankful for that.

From what I remember, the person who did the same thing had seen her pantry and realised that she had lots of things that weren’t being used. There was still a long ways to go before the expiry dates, and she decided to use them up. So she set herself a goal of using up all that was in her pantry and freezer and would only buy things like milk and bread and fresh fruits and veggies as they were needed. If she was doing something for a special event and needed to buy something that she didn’t already have, she would make an exception and buy what she needed for the recipe. Otherwise, she just used the goods she had in her pantry and freezer and, as I mentioned, only bought certain items when they were close to being out.

I thought a lot about this and the spending fast yesterday, and I realised that such a thing would be really good for me. I have a lot of canned goods and items in my freezer that can be used up. I like them, but so often, I tend to go out and get other stuff just because. Well, I really can’t afford to that anymore.

So I’m going to start my own pantry challenge. I was going to set tomorrow as my start date, but I actually started it today – Wednesday 10 June 2015. No time like the present!

Like the blogger, I’m going to use what I already have in my pantry and freezer, and the only things that I’ll buy are perishables that are essentials to my diet. Bread, milk, and produce. I can buy a couple of loaves of bread at a time and keep one in the freezer for when the first one’s done, and I can buy larger bags of fruits and veggies if they’re ones that I’ll use. If it’s stuff I don’t like, I’m not going to eat it. So why buy it? Sometimes I buy something because I want to try it out, but I won’t do that right now. I’ll splurge on stuff when I have the money to do so.

I’ll also buy soap and shampoo when they run out, but I’m really good in that department. I bought a large thing of shampoo a while back, & I just started using it when I ran out of the other shampoo I had. I also bought the corresponding conditioner. Antiperspirant's something else I have plenty of, and soap, well, yeah. I have lots of this. So I shouldn’t have to buy any for a long time. I might have to buy dish soap, although I’m fine right now for it. Just a little bit works well anyway. Laundry detergent, too, is another I’m fine with right now, although it, too, is a need I’ll have to purchase when it’s time for it. Sometimes my mom gives it to me, though, and so I might just take her up on her offer at that time. Of course these things aren’t food and don’t fit into the Pantry Challenge, but I thought I’d mention them because of the spending fast.

Someone I told about this asked about going out for meals if they’re at other people’s homes or if they’re taking me out for a meal, and about accepting gifts of food & household items. I will accept these offers and gifts, although they happen rarely to me. So it’s not something that I’d thought about when putting this together. I also don’t want to take advantage of people’s hospitality & generosity, but if they are offered freely and because someone’s being genuinely kind, then I’ll most likely accept. I just don’t want anyone thinking that I’ll be mooching off anyone.

One thing that will come of this is creativity in the kitchen. I like being creative, and that goes for my cooking as well as my yarn crafts and other things. It’ll be interesting to experiment with what I have, and I’m looking forward to it.I’ll write about those and let y’all know how they turned out! Smile

So, here I go, embarking on adventure that’ll change my life, I’m sure! I’ve already learnt to do without spending a lot of money, but now I’ll learn to truly spend only what’s absolutely & truly necessary. It’ll be very good for me, and I expect to gain wisdom in this area. I do want to be a wise steward of all that God’s given me, and that includes money. ESPECIALLY money, which isn’t something I’ve been all that wise about in the past. I’ve already made changes in this area in the past several years, but now more changes are about to be made, and I’m looking forward to this with nervous yet joyful anticipation.

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