Edited to Add 22/3/20: I wrote this post in early-February when things were a little less dire than they are now. Australia was yet to be placed in lock-down due to the Corona Virus. Last night our Government announced Stage 1 of the process, with most public venues being closed down. I feel like an oracle or at least the start of a conspiracy theory. Here I was thinking I was doing something novel when a novel virus comes along and means EVERYONE is having a Year of Zero forced upon them. Hope you are all OK.
Stay safe, stay away and wash your hands!
At the end of last year, I announced my big project for 2020, The Year of Zero. My aim is to spend as little as possible, save up plenty of zero’s and try to live a less wasteful lifestyle.
Three months are up and here is my first-quarter report.
1. No Overseas Travel
Tick! Nope, no international travel! I have been nowhere!
2. No extended travel within Australia
The only places I have been to were not at my expense and were part of my volunteer response to the devastating bushfires in NSW in January 2020. So tick, done!
3. No new stuff
I bought a handbag. It satisfied the rules for purchases as it was replacing a worn-out item and was second hand. It’s a stylish leather backpack that fits my zero waste kit in it (more on that later). I did get a few NEW new things for my grandson including two train sets. I bought some glass jars to make kombucha kits. I am hoping to sell these on.
A major expense in this quarter has been getting my dining chairs reupholstered as the crappy vinyl was peeling off and shedding everywhere. Kudos needed though! I repaired rather than replaced even though it was cheaper to buy new!
4. Reduction in Expenditure on Groceries.
I decided to cut my fortnightly budget by 40%. I thought I would struggle. For the last three months I have been:
- Carefully planning meals and batch cooking after checking what’s in season and cheap.
- Following a frugal flexitarian diet – Plenty of lentils and no fresh salmon fillets!
- Shopping from my cupboard – and it’s still not empty!
- Making use of the chest freezer that has been sitting empty in my garage for the last 6 years.
- Buying in bulk.
- Not shopping at Woolworths.
- Tracking my expenditure using an app.
These strategies have meant that most fortnights I actually have money left over even after the 40% cut. I have an inkling that a large proportion of the saved money would have previously been spent on booze as “booze-drunk-at-home” came out of the grocery allocation.
I am no longer buying the treats I used to buy, only having meat if I eat out and I’m making nearly everything from scratch. Comment: Pasta is not worth making at home. Preserved lemons, on the other hand, are totally worth it! (A post about that soon)
5. Side hustle happenings
This is coming along slowly. I launched a photography business – OCE Photography – but have no bookings yet. I ran a couple of courses at the local community college and I sold all my 2020 calendars!! That’s good news because last year, I had 20 left over and lost money. I have listed some greeting cards on my Etsy site
The most exciting news though is that I have had my first freelance article for money accepted.
I’m heading in the right direction but not about to replace the day job just yet!
6. Only sign up for Free Courses
In 2019, I spent a lot of money on courses and I have vowed to do only free courses in 2020. I have discovered Future Learn which has great courses. It has a paid option as well, but the free version is working for me. I don’t want a certificate. So far, I have completed a course on Upcycling and Humanism. There are enough courses to keep me busy forever!
7. Sell some of my stuff
With the double aim of getting rid of clutter and making money, I plan to hold another garage sale. This has not happened yet.
8. Concentrate on free activities
Not sure what to report here. I didn’t spend much in the most recent school holiday period as I was assisting with fires. I generally go out with a group of friends once a week to trivia and since I’m not drinking, it’s a very cheap night out.
9. Rewrite my 60 for 60
My revised 60 for 60 plan includes many expensive activities, mainly travel-related, which are now in conflict with my new goals. I have not rewritten them yet. I have completed 22 of the items on the original list.
10. Zero-waste eco-warrior.
I have been doing lots of reading and signed up to some blogs, newsletters and podcasts. However, I am still struggling with getting rid of plastic packaging. My worm farm is already at maximum capacity in terms of dealing with my food scraps. I need to get a compost bin too.
Wins on this front are much less food waste and creating a zero-waste kit which I am carrying around in the “new” backpack. This consists of a reusable coffee mug, cutlery kit, reusable bags and metal water bottle.
I feel I can do much better in the eco-warrior princess department.
11. Year of Zero Booze
Although not declared as an aim at the Year of Zero launch, I decided to stop drinking alcohol as a way of saving money and looking after my health. So far no booze since December 29th, 2019. I am aiming to do the full 12 months.
My overall score on a very arbitrary scale is 67%.
I’ll report back at the end of June for the half-yearly review.
Let’s hope the curve is flattened by then! And I think pasta has now become worth making at home!