Thursday, September 29, 2011

SSF: The Power of Recreating

Recreate{we heart it}

I'm a few days out from the end of the freeze, and I've been spending a lot of time thinking about what the whole "no spending" thing has taught me.  I think I'll take a good part of October to continue talking about my freeze lessons as well as talking more in detail about some of the things that have helped me survive.  From week one, the biggest thing that's helped me survive is taking a serious look at the things I love to do (and spend money on) and figuring out ways I can recreate a similar experience at home.

Eating out with friends has been one of the biggest sources of spending for Matt and I over the past year.  Chicago is really known for being a foodie city, so during our first year here, we seemed to justify every restaurant stop as part of "experiencing Chicago."  But then we found out we were staying in Chicago long-term and our spending should of changed.  But it didn't.  We continued to eat out with friends several times a week, some days just grabbing drinks and appetizers and other days splurging on hip hot spots.  But at the end of August, we took a good look at our American Express bill and realized just how much we were overindulging.

So the freeze started, and I was forced to give up eating out.  But I found myself trying to be creative about ways I could still get the "experience" without having to eat out and spend money.  I began asking myself what I enjoyed most about grabbing dinner and drinks with friends.  And surprisingly, it wasn't usually about the food.  It was about getting together, with people we love, and having a good time.  We started inviting people over more, cooking for friends on the weekend, having them bring a bottle of wine or a few favorite local beers.  When we craved patio dates with fun cocktails, we'd dust off our patio chairs, blast some fun tunes, and sit outside with the grill going.  When we craved wine nights, we'd hold off on the downtown wine bars and instead hit up Trader Joe's for a few of our favorite cheese and jams, spread them out on our cutting board and open a bottle of wine.  Same feel, same type of food, much different price.

So my advice is to think about the things that you love doing and how you can recreate them at home or on your own for a much cheaper price.  Maybe its a dinner party, maybe its a backyard barbeque for two.  Or maybe its as simple as buying a flavored creamer to create a home version of your favorite Starbucks drink.  Whatever it is, find a way to recreate it, and watch your wallet grow.

8 comments:

Lindsay said...

Just last week I got together with a few of my friends (our monthly meet up) and we decided to go to one of our houses instead. And can I just say that I loved it so much more than going to a restaurant? You don't have to feel like you need to leave becausre you're taking up a table - you can seriously sit and talk for as long as you want and not feel bad about it. Plus, the money you save makes you feel THAT MUCH BETTER.

J and A said...

You inspired me. I am doing a shopping freeze for the month of October. :) Thank you. I posted about it today. Loved this post.

Stephanie said...

A and I have started having date nights at home on Saturdays (when coaching doesn't interfere) after baby goes to bed. This is more about getting creative with making our "just us" time more special post-baby than anything, but it's still awesome. We go to the butcher counter at HEB and pick out the perfect steaks, pick up a bottle of wine we haven't tried, and then after Little goes to bed we fire up the grill. We go all out with the sides, sipe wine while the meat is grilling and actually set the table. It's so special, just as nice as going out (ok, minus having to do the dishes afterward :-)) and less expensive than our favorite splurge spots - Republic, Christophers, etc.

Stephanie said...

Addition - since this means a 9pm or so dinner time, we usually pick up some fun little appetizer at the store too - like little portebello mushroom purses - to munch on throughout baby's dinner/bath/bed routine before we can get to cooking.

LaLa's in the Land of Enchantment said...

I think the September Spending Freeze was the greatest idea ever conceived...With this month and practicing the freeze, my Husband and I have learned so much about what we spend money on and what we really need to cut back on and change in our habits when we took a step back and looked at everything we have done. It has also led us to looking at how we eat, what we eat, and is actually bringing into focus the need for the both of us to take much better care of ourselves, all because of your inspiration!! It is exciting, awesome, rewarding, and challenging,..but a great challenge!

RAW said...

I'm interested to read your posts about the freeze and what it taught you. I could use a spending freeze right about now.

You're completely right about the camaraderie being more important than the food. My girl friends and I like to meet up for drinks after work, but it gets so expensive. A bottle of wine at one of our places would suffice :)

As far as dining out with my fiance, I'm definitely a sweat pants and takeout type of girl. Saves a little bit of money...

Kinsey Michaels said...

hey allison! i'm finally back and settled in after moving out to california, and therefore will be catching up on all the posts i missed :)
ugh, if i went on a spending freeze, i already know that eating out would be the hardest one to eliminate!! but your suggestions for recreating the experience are so spot on. i remember i once added up all my monthly expenses on food & drink - whether it was takeout, going out for cocktails, or grabbing dinner, and it was in the ballpark of $300/month! it horrified me, and i've since cut way back!

Jess @JessCantCook said...

I just found your blog and I'm loving reading about your freeze! My fiance and I are getting married this Saturday and then moving from Virginia to California on November 1. know we're going to want to explore San Diego when we get there but I love this idea of recreating that fun out with friends at home! We're going to be on a much tighter budget than we ever have before so it's going to be an adjustment.