My husband scrolls through Ebay ogling trucks while I’m lying in bed next to him reading a book. It’s his way of unwinding, releasing the day’s stress, if any, before we turn the lights out at night.
“Look at this one, honey.”
“….and this one and this one and this one.”
I play the game and respond with tiny lies like, “I love it, babe!” And, “It’s awesome!”
He’s obsessed with trucks. We own two pick-ups. No one drives the 1968 Chevy he refers to as Betty, not even him. Its only purpose is to remain a token from his bachelor days. The other, a 1998 Chevy Silverado is a daily driver. I remember how proud he was when he found it on Ebay. It was in perfect condition with 20,000 miles and priced at $6,000.
His persuasiveness to convince me we should buy it couldn’t be denied. “You’ll look beautiful wearing your prom dresses driving around it this truck,” he said. I caved. He left for Missouri to drive it home the next day.
I’ve never understood the desire to own a specific vehicle. I mean sure, we all want nice things but in reality the actual need to have a vehicle is based on getting from point A to point B and to be functional. I don’t care what I’m driving as long as I can get where I need to go, with affordable gas mileage and reliability.
In 2019 money seems to be a major headline in life. We all want as much as possible to buy as much as possible. This is how we base our success. We’re even willing to sacrifice our own well being, happiness and life in order to get it and we’re accepting of this because we’re programmed to believe money equates to happiness.
We work jobs we hate, argue with our spouses and behave impulsively when it comes to materialistic purchases. We want the next best thing regardless of the cost even if that cost isn’t necessarily money itself.
It is the American way after all, to live beyond our means, to spend our hard earned money on making the rich more rich and then to complain about how rich they are except for the estimated 43 million Americans who live below the poverty level. They’re too poor to get themselves into debt. You can’t run up an enormous dinner tab on payday or put your vacation on a credit card if your economic status doesn’t permit you to do so.
What if we were to value our lives in the same way or even more so than how we value money? What if it weren’t about money? What if we viewed money for its actual intent, survival?
Don’t get me wrong, we absolutely need to make money and as much as possible because that’s how the system is designed but what if we could somehow beat the system? I’m talking about shifting our view on money, changing our perspective and figuring out how to live a life sustainable with money and not for money.
The more money we have, the more money we spend, the more stress we experience, the more it effects our physical and mental health, our relationships, our lifestyle and in turn we end up needing to spend even more money to reverse the negative effects.
We’re chasing our tails.
Here are creative budget ideas that I’ve researched and put into action on spending less and living more.
Eat at home, pack a lunch, twice a month go grocery shopping with a prepared list of what’s needed for meals, designate a leftover dinner night, stock up on rice and beans (cheapest, healthiest, most fulfilling food) so you’re able to eat until your next shopping trip.
Instead of dining out with family and friends invite everyone to your place for a potluck and BYOB (bring your own booze).
Grow your own food. Why are we not all doing this? In the book, All You Can Eat in Three Square Feet Chauney Dunford teaches us how to grow enough food for survival based on the amount of space we have and climate conditions. This includes smalls spaces such as apartments and planting indoors throughout the winter months.
For the price of $17 the Open Seed Vault Survival Garden provides 15,000 seeds. This is more than enough seeds to feed my family of four for five years. I’ve recently just planted our second season of this package of seeds.
Is your stock of food in your refrigerator and kitchen cabinets running low? By using The Super Cook website you’re able to put in the ingredients you have and they’ll create a recipe for you.
If you’re interested in reading more narrative on gardening and learning tips I recommend following John Markowski, The Obsessive Neurotic Gardener and editor of The Garden Collective.
Utilize the Library for Entertainment
The library is an underutilized creative space. Books, music, DVDs and magazines are free to borrow with your free library card. At the public library where I live I can even read the daily newspapers and have a morning cup of coffee for free.
Libraries definitely offer free classes and events. I suggest checking with your local library for a monthly calendar. Another bonus of the library is free access to WiFi. They have WiFi so you don’t need to. How awesome would it be to have zero contact with the outside world while you’re at home?
Notice how many times I used the word free while highlighting points about the library?
Chances are you have more stuff than you need and may not even realize it. I use the word need as if your life depends on it. The New York Times has The Tidy Home Challenge where they offer tips on uncluttering your home based on your lifestyle. They have quizzes to help you determine what essentials to keep and what to rid of based on your quiz results.
The best part is you can make a bit of side hustle cash once your project is complete by having a yard sale. Don’t need it? Sell it.
If you live in an area that provides public transportation this is the cheapest route to take. By using public transit you save money on gas, car maintenance, parking fees and insurance. It you feel taking the bus or train is time consuming keep in mind this is hands (and mind) free travel time and can use it to catch up on work or reading that book you can’t put down.
If you live in a rural area as I do, walk to where you can and only drive when you have far distances to travel. This of course may not be feasible all year round but will save you money during the seasons it is. As an added bonus you’re getting exercise and improving your health.
Shop Thrifty and Secondhand (A.K.A buy, sell, trade)
When purchasing items buy from thrift stores and independently owned secondhand shops that also buy and trade. This is a great way to save money and swap out those unneeded items for new ones (new to you ones, anyway) such as clothes, housewares and books and electronics.
Do it Yourself
Do it yourself and get creative while saving money. The best and most valuable investment you can ever make is in your home, personal space and living environment. When is comes to the saying, Design the life you want, it begins at home.
The Encyclopedia of Country Living : The Original Manual of Living off the Land and Doing It Yourself, written by Carla Emery is filled with practical, easy and with little to zero cost do it yourself ideas on how to live sustainability from anything to building furniture, generating energy, delivering a baby, utilizing local government resources and milling your own flour.
Although some of Emery’s ideas are a bit old fashioned she includes up to date budget guides and money saving tips for present day.
Do you really need a fancy vacation or that dream vacation you’ve always wanted to take? Take it- in your retirement years when you can enjoy it with out the worries of the everyday rat race. Save for it.
For now, day trips are the way to go. They’re cheap, fun, affordable and memorable, or how about an overnight weekend getaway?
How much do you know about the state you live in? Once I did the research on Iowa I was fascinated with the history, culture and never ending tourist sights across the state. Check the internet or your local library for a tourist guide of your home state.
Ax the Frills and Thrills
They gotta go. Look at what you’re spending money on and determine how to cut the cost.
For the price of one Starbucks coffee you can brew coffee at home for two weeks.
Date night? How about a picnic underneath the stars or get cozy with one of those DVDs you borrowed from the library?
For the price of one cocktail at the bar you could buy a bottle to drink at home.
Invite your friends to go on a hike.
Get creative when it comes to wants opposed to needs. Living luxuriously is a mindset, not a factual dollar amount.
Random Money Saving Tips
Ditch the gym membership and exercise at home. There’s a never ending abyss of free exercise videos on YouTube or go back to basics as in, when I was in basic training we didn’t have a gym to work out in yet I was the strongest I’d been in my life. I owe that to pull ups, push ups, squats and running until I thought I’d vomit or die.
Ditch the cellphone service. Think about it, you can still use your cellphone when you have access to WiFi which nowadays is everywhere. You can get a free phone line via Google where you can make phone calls and send messages while you’re in WiFi or the Text-Me App is free and includes video calls. We have landline service with no long distance calling for $9 a month so we’re able to make emergency calls if necessary.
Need your work proofread? Need editing done? So do 8,976,423 other writers (rough guesstimate). Find a writing group either online or in person and swap.
Money Crashes did the research and came up with a list of the best 36 online barter websites for travel, services and goods.
The world is constantly changing and evolving. If you’re interested in taking courses to learn new trades and skills or bump up your knowledge on a specific subject Edx.org offers up to 2000 free online courses each month via university programs across the United States.
I’m not a financial planner but I am proactive in ensuring I can maintain my mid-level lifestyle in my golden years. Outside of the traditional 401K plan your employer may offer, there’s also IRAs you can invest in on your own.
There’s ways to make a little bit of cash go a long way over a long period of time such as stocks, bonds and mutual funds.
I know we’re all a bit stressed about our retirement years with congress waving social security in front of us as if it were bobbing on a fishing pole. Will we take the bait? We’re all thinking and feeling it. What will we do?
Luke Trayser says it best in his article, This is the ONLY thing you need to do to become a multi-millionaire.
“Put an uncomfortable percentage of your paycheck into a mutual fund, and do it every paycheck for 40 years.”