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Publishing this one a bit early, but I truly don’t believe two more days are going to make any sort of dent in the report at this point.
At a measly 33% savings rate, but boy, oh boy, do I have some not-so-frugal confessions to make for this month!
But since nobody is perfect, I figure it is better to put it all out here. To remind people that it is the journey that matters, and that we are still headed for the same destination.
Behold, this month I/we spent almost 50% of my income on “various”!
Not only that, but this was the month that I got reimbursed for my work trip to Svalbard and a conference, landing me with no less than twice (!) as much money come payday as I would usually receive. You should have seen my reaction when I logged into my bank and saw more money than my checking account has ever been in possession of at any one point in the past!
So yeah, I made some big purchases, and paid off another big event, and I don’t even have the frugal decency to be ashamed of it.
All in cash, obviously!
As you can see on the right, the numbers are not quite what they usually are, with “various” throning way on top of everything else, instead of dwarfed in between groceries and social somewhere.
So what did I spend it all on?
The first payment that came through this month was the 9 300 NOK ($1100) bill for the venue, room and drinks for our wedding. A large part of why we could save even while cash flowing our wedding was that it was divvied up between two months. The venue demanded no deposit, and this bill was paid in full once received the following month.
Believe it or not, I actually bought shoes this month, and two pairs no less!
Mr. E. wants to attend Lindy hop lessons this term as a fun and agile couple bonding activity. I have a pair of sneakers that are quickly wearing out, and have no other shoes that can conceivably be worn as dancing shoes or dress shoes.
So after some puttering about on the internet, I decided to get a pair of El Naturalista heels. I have worn El Naturalista before and been very happy with them. They are comfortable, quiet heels that are not too high. And they produce their shoes in a sustainable manner. I am willing to support that, once in a while.
The second pair of shoes were actually a coincidence. I inherited the bunad I used for the wedding from Mr. E’s family. It is actually Mr. E’s old bunad from before his transition, so me using it had symbolic value as well, beyond the value of the garment.
But the shoes that came with the bunad were too small for me, and for the big day I got to borrow a pair from another family member with the same shoe size. However, when I was just scrolling through our Norwegian equivalent to craigslist/gumtree, I stumbled upon a pair of once-used bunad shoes in exactly my size, in my city!
If that is not a frugal(ish) meant to be, then I don’t know what is. So I jumped on the messaging board and was the proud owner of a barely used pair of shoes in just my size a few days later. That means I now have a full outfit ready for any big occasion, without breaking the bank or the planet.
Total cost to add to various? 1 700 NOK ($210).
Almost as soon as I returned to Trondheim and work, I went to visit my best friend M. to stay there while Mr. E. was still helping out back south.
M. lives 45-60 minutes by bike away from work and our home, and it is quite a trek for unfit me in the summer heat. On one of the first days, I splurged on something I have been wanting for years: Brand new, waterproof and sturdy panniers.
These come with a 5 year guarantee, but usually last more than 20. Not only that, but Ortlieb also pledges to keep parts for repair in their stock at least 10 years after something has gone out of production. That sounds like odds I am willing to take. Price for a pair that can be used separately for daily commuting? 1 500 NOK ($185).
I have only owned them for a little over a week at this point, and I can already say they are saving me so much pain and effort. Especially for my knees, which do not like strenuous hills or me carrying a backpack while pedalling. They also mean I arrive anywhere I go significantly less sweaty, since my back is free to the wind and can perspire as much as it wants.
The story does not end there!
I feel the higher-than-necessary barrier of entry to visiting M, even though we live in the same city. It is a 45 minute bus ride, plus 10-15 minutes walking on either end, or an hour by bike. A car only takes 15 minutes as the bus takes a significant detour, but neither Mr. E. not myself are willing to pay for upkeep and registration for a car, even an electric one, only to use it to visit friends and for the occasional larger shopping trip.
Plus electric cars, even used ones, are still pricy, starting at about 60 000 NOK ($7400) for a decent used Mitsubishi Miev in our city.
Do you know what you can also get for 60k NOK?
2 decent electric bikes and a bike trailer, with more than half of the cash still left to spare! Plus bikes are easier to find parking for, don’t pay parking fees or toll feel, take up considerably less space and require much less maintenance.
So you know what? I actually went ahead and did that. I researched online and found the best deal while still being safe, and I cannot wait for it to arrive and for me to try it. My hope is that it will drastically cut down on commuting time to and from work, as I often walk (45 mins one way) to save my knees from biking up the hills.
I also hope it will be much faster to bike to M. and her partner. Ideally, faster than the bus which is our current alternative. I am hoping for half an hour or so, but I’ll take what I can get. 45 minutes door to door is no mean feat either, and much more enjoyable than a stuffy bus.
Another thing we considered between an electric car and the bikes was also the freedom it provides. If we both eventually get electric bikes (I will be our guinea pig), we can cruise around individually and at the same time, regardless of the other person.
True, I probably cannot use it in the depth of winter, snow and freezing weather for fear of slippery roads and loosing battery power too fast, but I do believe proper clothing and preparation will enable me to use it at least 3/4 of the year.
That would still be a win.
Price? 6 550 NOK ($800), or almost 9 monthly bus passes for the bike with some accessories (more since we pay as we go and don’t actually spend that much on the bus), and 700 NOK ($85) for the bike trailer at 30 % off. We should buy or make a rain cover for the trailer for the marvellous weather we know will come our way eventually, but we are really getting there.
It will be curious to see how fast the bike would pay for itself, if we manage to pay attention to instances where we would have usually taken the bus, but can jump on this new beast instead. It will also be easier to buy in bulk, load the trailer and push it up the hill from the shop to our flat, rather than carrying it in our hiking backpacks, as we have done up until now.
Being conscientious of my own health, I try to go to the dentist every year, which adds another 1000 NOK ($125) to various. So far, so good!
Other big and small expenses that all landed in the “various” category were some more wedding food, stockings, gas and toll fees for the car we borrowed, thank you gifts for the biggest contributors to the wedding, glass bottles for preserving, and union membership fee (the latter being tax deductible).
I also went and found us a used standing freezer with some of the wedding money we received. With the help from M. and the landlady (girl power!) we managed to carefully carry it down our treacherous stone stairs and into the pantry. It was a great surprise for Mr. E. when he came home, and will greatly help our frugal and time saving efforts because we can make larger portions and freeze them for quick frugal dinners on the go later. Saving time, money and resources as the same time? Count me in.
So as far as spending goes, this month has truly been extreme. But both Mr. E. and myself are happy to finally both be back home and ready to get back into some good routines again. I truly hope the electric bike is going to be as good as I think it will be, and if not, I can always resell it to recover some of my costs.
Months like these come and go with some regularity, and I find the best way to deal is to simply roll with it and do the best we can. With some luck, this will be the last big spendy month for a long, long time.
How has your July been?