Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Need or Want?

This month I decided to embark on a "no spend" month. It just happened to be November which adds to the charm (I think), "No Spend November". Now it's not as if I am a spend thrift, just the opposite actually. I am tight. Quite tight. We have a budget, we stick to the budget. We pack lunches, we rent movies, we stay home. If a corner can be cut, I'm cutting it. But somehow, we always end up at the end of the month with a bunch of little purchases that really add up. For me its the unassuming $1 clearance purchases I make while picking up necessities. For my husband it's the beverage or snack that he spends $2 on during his work day. At the end of the month I am beating my head on the kitchen table lamenting, "We spent $120 on WHAT?!?".

Some of you may be laughing, $120 may seem trivial. But think about that $120. Spend that same amount every month for a year and you come to the grand sum of $1,440. Wow. Laugh if you want but that is a considerable chunk of change. I would much rather put that amount towards our future home or retirement then literally flush it down the toilet. This is where my glorious plan of a no spend month came in. 

We just need to STOP. For one month. And think, really think before we swipe that credit card (We use a cc in order to cash in on the rewards. Never have we carried a balance, I'd sell small organs before I carried a balance on a cc.). So what are we spending our money on this month? The basics. And I mean really basic. No eating out, no pointless trips to the bookstore, no meandering through thrift stores. Obviously we are paying our bills, putting gas in the car and eating (at home). I am "shopping" in our freezer and pantry and getting really creative! The only food items I've purchased so far are a few fresh vegetables, milk and creamer. (And before you say creamer isn't a necessity let me set you straight...yes.it.is. End of story.)

So that brings us to last night when I shook the rest of the severely rationed granola over my evening yogurt. Sigh. Granola certainly does not fall under the "necessity" column. And at $3 a box it certainly isn't frugal. I've been *meaning* to start making it for some time. I know it's easy, I know it's cheap...and yet somehow I just never got around to it. No more. Today, I made granola! 

I started by looking at various recipes and drawing inspiration. Things I didn't want in my granola; chocolate chips, peanut butter, vast amounts of sweetner and/or raisins. After that I'm pretty darn flexible. Feel free to substitute any nuts you may prefer. I just used what I had on hand. 

Yield: 2 1/2 quarts

6 cups old fashioned oatmeal
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 cup unsweetened coconut (sulphur free is best)
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Stir together in large bowl. 

1/2 to 1 cup agave (I used 1/2 cup, might increase the amount in future batches)

Add agave and stir to coat. Spread mixture on large cookie sheet and bake at 350* for 30 mins stirring frequently. (I stirred about every 8-10 mins for the first 20 mins and then every 5 mins for the remainder). Continue baking past the initial 30 mins if you do not feel it is browned enough. Just watch it closely so you don't burn it. 

Remove from oven and add 1 cup of your favorite dried fruit. I used cranberries because raisins and I a not friends. (Unless they are plump and juicy in a hot bowl of oatmeal. Then we're best friend.) 

Cool completely and store in an airtight container. I used quart sized mason jars. Great for display! 

I hope you give homemade granola a try, even if this is not your recipe of choice, and let me know how it goes! I would also love to hear from others who have taken the plunge and cut spending for a month! Happy baking and saving! 


  1. I love making granola at home because it infuses the kitchen with such a wonderful aroma. No spend November seems very appropriate for the Thanksgiving holiday, when we can cut back a bit and concentrate on the blessings we've got.

    1. I couldn't agree more! We have so much to be thankful for. Have a wonderful day!

  2. Great Post! I found you through Frugal Days. I would LOVE for you to come share at my Farm Girl Blog Fest: http://fresh-eggs-daily.blogspot.com/2012/11/farm-girl-blog-fest-8.html
    Fresh Eggs Daily

    1. Thanks so much! I'll be sure to check it out! I am new to blogging and still discovering all it has to offer. Thanks again!