17 March, 2011

My austerity drive

I am in the midst of my annual 'austerity' drive. This usually comes around every year when (a) my work offers to send me overseas and (b) I realise I am penniless and cannot afford to pay for my share of the 'personal holiday' bit of my travel (because, surprise surprise, I have spent all my money on vintage!) This is where my desire to have a wonderful time in Italy and Canada overrides my etsy obsession (and who of you can blame me for that?!). This time however, the austerity drive is going to last quite a long time as my hubby and I are saving to buy a house next year. Ouch!

Unfortunately I am not naturally frugal with money. For me, money is there to be spent on wonderful things. When I could have bought a house in my 20s I instead spent all my savings backpacking around the world. It was totally worth it and the best thing I ever did (just the night making out with the handsome Canadian welder in Hanoi was worth it alone!!)(I will spare you the details don't worry)(unless you want to hear them - that will cost you $5 a minute - ha ha!)

But when I do have to save (and I usually need a reason), I actually find it quite therapeutic. Although etsy have great stuff, and it is difficult sometimes to resist its allure, it is actually nice to just enjoy the things you have without having to buy things all the time. And it allows me to take a good, long hard look at my wardrobe and realise I have waaaaay too many clothes anyway - why do I need anymore. Exhibit A - my wardrobe:

Now I have to be honest and say I probably have the equivalent of another of these wardrobes stored in various parts of the house so I cannot tell myself that I don't have enough clothes. And some of them I have worn only once or twice so I really need to work on better utilising the wardrobe I have. I am also starting to find it hard to look after all the clothes I have - make sure they are all mended and clean and free of moths. Another reason for my austerity drive!

Of course, austerity drives are vintage in of themselves. During World War II, rationing was very strictly controlled and there was a public push to 'make do and mend'. . .

Waste Not, Want Not

Of course this philosophy is also great for the environment. The less I consume the better it is for the health of the world.

But of course, saving and not consuming is not always easy. So if you are interested, these are my personal keys to saving success:

(1) Get creative and feed your soul
There is a good reason why the best pop music ever made was in Britain under the rule of Thatcher in the 80s. Everyone was poor and depressed. Result: genius pop music creativity. Now, we don't want to go back to Thatcher (do we?!). But it is an indicator that not buying stuff helps your creativity. So utilise your free time that you would otherwise waste buying things - write a short story, read 'War and Peace', join a Toastmasters or book group. I have had such a great time this past month reading books - I have been devouring about one a week. They have all been brilliant and made me so happy (if you are stuck for recommendations - start off with the No. 1 Ladies Detective Series by Alexander McCall Smith - brilliant. Then go on to Dickens!)

(2) Learn how to bake a cake
One of the best ways to spend your time, and save money too, is to bake your own cakes, and make your own pikelets, scones and pancakes. Your family and friends will love you for it and home made food is much better for you than processed stuff (it is also less fattening as it is more natural)(believe me, its true!). Start off with the Women's Weekly series or recipes by the Country Women's Association (CWA):
Don't go for smancy fancy, just plain honest home cooked fare your nanna would have made. Delish!

(3) We are all in the same boat
Sometimes I read blogs where the writer seems to have limitless money with which to buy fabulously expensive vintage clothes all the time and they live in an enormous house and you think 'where do they get the money for this?'. The answer probably is: debt! We all know about the GFC (Global Financial Crisis). My husband is Irish and many of his family and friends are under financial pressure (another reason for my austerity drive). So I try and remember that everyone has to save - not just me!

I could go on and on about this, but there are a few hints to help you out if you are interested. Hopefully I can stick to my austerity drive and make it to Italy for my trip. You may see me curled up on a park bench in Pisa if I don't start saving for my hotel bills so I had better do it!

Happy saving!


  1. Ah this is a well timed post - I'm heading to Fiji for a friend's wedding in June so it's time to start saving!!

    Though I have been *terrible* with spending this month - We bought the flights as well as THE DRESS I HAD to have for the wedding.

    From now on - no more dresses - I must make them instead!

    And excellent sentiments on the baking of your own cakes. They taste so much better than anything you can get in the supermarket (*shudder*) and much cheaper. Unless you're making cheesecake. Cheesecake is frightfully expensive!! I still love making it hehehe.
    Baking isn't that time consuming either. I can make a batch of decadent choc mini muffins in half an hour.

    Overall I do see a trend back towards the make do and mend philosophy - it may not have cracked the "mainstream" as yet in all places but it's getting there.

  2. Dear E, thanks for your comment and great to hear from you. I am going to the vintage parade on Thursday at Calana (or whatever its called!?). Hope to see you there or at the next vintage occasion (I am planning to go to the Vintage Fair in May so hope to see you then at least!). Best, M x

  3. I would be so happy if you sold some of your stuff on ebay!! A great way to make extra $$$!

  4. Love your blog, I'm so glad I found it! You have great clothes and style!

    Love the tips too! Great post! I am a fine art photographer but was working a job to pay for my art exploits, however was made unemployed due to cuts and now totally broke! Just opened my own wee online store to sell off my wardrobe and other little finds! We sure are struggling! This year my boy and I are going to attempt to grow loads of vegys in the garden! And today we are baking cakes after a good sewing and study session!! Indeed, creativity is the key!!! Have a wonderful day! Zoë x

  5. Wow, I am so envious of your wardrobe! Such a lot of amazing stuff. I'm also trying to be a bit frugal at the moment, and finally pay off my credit card, so I'll be interested to see what other tips you have along the way! Good luck!

  6. Dear all, thanks for your comments. Zoe - just had a look at your blog - what great photos! Great to hear you are going to grow veggies - I haven't done that as yet - but I do have some herbs which is something I guess. Piroska - great to hear from you again. I do have a big wardrobe - its a bit embarassing really, but I guess that represents about 20 years of collecting stuff and not throwing anything away (I am a terrible hoarder). I still have the 80s dress I wore to my Year 10 formal - eek!. BYW, I have been reading like a demon - just finished Sabbath's Theatre by Philip Roth - dirty but really quite marvellous.
    Thanks so much for reading my blog! VS xx