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House Rules

Each year I come up with a personal spending rule for myself, and my partner and I come up with a house rule.

Last year my personal rule was to buy no new clothes. I am permitted new underwear and footwear (hopefully only on a replacement basis: one-in, one-out rule), but shirts, sweaters, skirts, dresses, pants, jeans, coats and jackets, are purchased second-hand only. I can't recall if I followed my personal rule perfectly in 2013, but I might have come very close, especially since a co-worker went on a few closet purges of her own and I became the lucky recipient!

Prior personal rules were to cut out daily take-out coffee and limit take-out lunches. I did succeed with those, and now find the same $20 bill in my wallet for weeks. I now bring snacks and leftovers from home and use the department coffee maker each morning when I get in to the office.

Our house rule for the first year of co-habitation was "no more Wal-mart." This rule became especially important to us as we watched too many local businesses close in our area. We are friendly acquaintances with the owner of the local British-goods shop, and he let his loyal customers know that Wal-mart was selling UK goods at competitive prices. We all knew that if everyone switched to them to save a couple of dollars, that our friend would be out of business, and that was unacceptable to us, so we told each other that we would find other stores for all our household goods. This became more of a challenge when Zellers closed and was replaced with another Wal-mart! But then we looked around our house and realized that we have almost everything we need, so no panic was necessary. We buy most of our foods and drinks from the grocery store, and continue to visit our UK shop for teas and specialty items.

This year's house rule is "no fast food, unless we are on the road." This means that if we want to eat out while in town, that we have to find a restaurant that is locally owned and managed. This excludes big names that might be franchises; it has to be a "mom and pop" place (except Taco Del Mar, because the guys who own it seem so cool, and their food is much fresher than the Taco Bell down the street). We are allowed to eat Tim Horton's or A&W if we are traveling and have not packed a snack. Sometimes we travel over an hour to visit family, and so may work a take-out into the trip.

I have not yet come up with a specific personal rule for myself for 2014, except the acceleration of my savings, and student loan payments. So far, so good.