Our regular household routine has been disrupted a number of times over the last few months due to illness and then our little sewage leak in the lounge room fiasco. While these disruptions were unavoidable (and, I’d like to add, not all disruptions to routine are bad), it did end up costing us money we wouldn’t normally have spent.
It wasn’t until this point that I realised routines not only help you get things done, a routine can save you money.
While we can’t always avoid disruptions to routine (and sometimes we break routine because we want to – a break from the same old, same old is vital for happiness), we can avoid routine busters breaking the budget or leaving us feeling guilty over unplanned spending.
Here’s how our disruptions to routine increased our spending lately:
- I haven’t been menu planning or even grocery shopping every fortnight, which has meant several last minute dashes to the shop in the evening for something easy (and usually more costly) for dinner.
- It is usually DH who makes these trips to the store. You’re probably nodding in understanding at why this blows the budget but if I’ve lost you: DH comes home with cookies/ chocolate/ ice cream/ chips and a whole heap of other things I don’t normally buy. And junk food adds up pretty quickly.
- When I menu plan I don’t have to think (always a good thing). I just defrost what it says on the plan. Without a menu plan, defrosting and dinner preparation has often been neglected and we end up settling for takeaway as a last minute, oops forgot about dinner, option.
- Walking into a messy kitchen at the end of the day is also pretty demotivating and often results in takeaway. We used to have a really good washing up routine – it needs re-establishing.
- The ironing pile rivals Kilimanjaro. A shortage of pressed shirts sees DH ironing in the morning rather than making lunch, which equals…more takeaway.
- Our regular evening routine involves rinsing and soaking the little fella’s bibs. When the sewage leaked our focus was (necessarily) on cleaning that up. Several days later I came across a couple of mouldy bibs that hadn’t been soaked. They were beyond salvageable – we are talking mould that had evolved into a city-state and had elected a prime minister. They had to be thrown away.
- On the same note, the nappies didn’t get washed either, so we resorted to using disposables for a couple of days.
- Finally, and I can’t work this one out, the TV is on the other side of the room while we wait for new carpet, and for some reason *someone* now forgets to turn it off at the wall at night. An established habit has been disrupted by a simple change in furniture position.
What’s the takeaway?
I’m a fan of routines when it comes to household management. Stuff that needs to get done, gets done with minimum thought and hassle and in the shortest amount of time. Life is easier when you have even just a loose structure to your day.
However, don’t think I’m advocating schedule slavery here, disruptions to the routine are pretty good too! I relish holidays and lazy weekends. New babies are a huge disruption to routine and I’m looking forward to that too. It’s good to be able to just let go.
But how do you save money when the routine flies out the window, for whatever reason?
First, you need to have an established routine in the first place. Constant chaos costs you cash.
Secondly, it’s a good idea to prepare for predicable routines busters. A new baby is a good example here: stocking the freezer with homemade meals, for instance, ready to defrost means you don’t have to worry about cooking but you’re still saving money.
Next, put some ice cream money aside. For the days when you think ‘ah, let’s just go out for dinner and forget the dishes for a night’ .You’ve got ready guilt-free cash to splurge with.
Finally, some of our recent routine busters were due to an emergency, so I had no qualms dipping into our emergency fund for pizza. After spending hours mopping stinky floors, there was no way I was going to cook dinner.
Routines are good. That’s the conclusion here. Not only do they help get the boring stuff done, they save you money as well.
Melissa Goodwin is a writer and the creator of Frugal and Thriving who has a passion for living frugally and encouraging people to thrive on any budget. The blog is nine years old and is almost like her eldest baby. Prior to being a blogger and mum (but not a mummy blogger), she worked as an accountant doing other people’s budgets, books and tax.