This weekend, my husband and I had about 4 hours in the car together as we drove to the site where we were volunteering with some kids. During that time, I asked him if he thought that we had done enough “sacrificing” to help us achieve our goals and if maybe we couldn’t do better at some aspects of our budget/living/expenses. This started us talking about lifestyle and how things have changed since a year ago when we realized that we would have to move because we couldn’t afford our apartment anymore (this is right before we started to come to terms with our actual liabilities and the consequences – the moving was just one in a long line of wake-up calls).
Here is what we came up with for our list of changes:
- We are on a budget. I’m proud to say that we’ve been on a budget since the beginning of the year and while we have identified areas that we fall down (food), we’re so much more in tune with where our money is going and how we need to “save” and wait on larger purchases.
- We aren’t using credit cards. Since the beginning of the year, we have used a credit card less than 5 occasions. Okay, we closed my husband’s cards, but for the few that I have, this is huge progress for us. Last month, when we had the car repair during our Anniversary weekend and ran out of cash flow to celebrate, we opted for low cost events, instead of “putting it on a card.”
- We cook at home. This has been really significant because we would often rationalize that going out to eat would be more cost effective (time, energy, resources) than the planning, shopping and cooking required to eat at home. But you know what – that’s a lie. And it turns out that one of the ways that my husband and I can show care for one another is to make food for a meal. But the most fun is when we cook together. I’ve been cooking for over 30 years, but my husband is a new foodie convert, and he’s been exploring his “Food Network” skills, so it’s been great to have a sous chef!
- We go to movies in the morning. If you asked my husband what his favorite thing to do for entertainment, he will say “movies” before you can finish the question. We have different tastes, but there is generally a release each week that we will want to attend. Before, we would go on a Friday Opening (or late Thursdays in some cases) whenever we felt like it (on the credit card, of course). Now, we attend AMCinema at AMC Theatres – $6 movies on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays when you attend a showing before noon (first-runs included). And we bring our own candy. With a $24/month movie budget, we can see two/month – it’s not a movie every week, but it is a special time for the two of us.
- We go to used bookstores. I am a voracious reader. I read an average of a book/week. At $13/paperback or $24/hardcover, even with coupons, that can get really expensive. How’s a girl to feed her habit? Used bookstore to the rescue. We found a place that re-sells books for prices between $1-8. I stick to the $1.00 section and have read some truly interesting selections that I would have passed by in a regular bookstore because of the cover price. And the best part is that you can sell them your books, too. I suppose it’s very eco-friendly, too.
There are some other things that we have changed, and I’m sure I’ll write about them later (in fact, I’ll rename this post by adding a “Part 1”) but I thought it would be good to get a look at the initial thoughts.
If you are on this journey, what are some lifestyle changes that you made that have made an impact?