Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Budget Friendly Living: Simplify

Recently I did a post about planning and how it can help you with your budget. I was looking around at what else we do that really makes an impact and I got to thinking about the way we approach our lives.  I almost think that is more important than any other "tips" I could give.  When I think about my life, I try to make it as uncluttered and uncomplicated as possible.  We are busy and do a lot of things, but the more complicated life gets, it seems the more expensive it gets.  Here are just a few examples:

We like the simple things in life.  Hubby and I often take a walk together to spend some time chatting about how our day or week has been going.  Its nice to reconnect, get in some exercise, and be outdoors a little (even in the heat wave we are having).  However, its also much cheaper than going to a movie, watching cable TV, or going out to dinner.  We do go out, don't get me wrong, but sometimes, the simpler activities make it easier to reconnect than shouting over restaurant chatter or whispering between scenes in a movie.

We also don't have phones with data plans.  I find technology has really stressed me out over the years.  I never had a cell phone as a teen because I didn't want to be that accessible to people.  I didn't like Facebook (although I admittedly got a profile a few months ago...) because it was too impersonal and I didn't want people I don't like/from the past to find me and bug me.  I like my privacy.  A data plan, especially for Hubby because of work email, means that one more layer of my privacy and my "alone time" is being stripped away.  I am constantly accessible to people.  We have cable internet at home, and we have some mobile devices that can connect to wireless, but we don't have it on the go, which means we can "unplug" sometimes.  And frankly, we have the cheapest cell phone plan of anyone I know.

We don't have a lot of stuff.  I am not trying to live like a nun, but we don't OWN a lot of things.  We have Netflix (streaming only) and Redbox instead of owning a lot of DVDs, and we have and use a library card (this is new for me and I am still SUPER excited about it).  We only keep the things we use, and we buy high quality stuff for the things we use a lot (for me its kitchen gear - shocker, right?) so we don't wear them out and have to replace them all the time.  We save up for the expensive items slowly over time, and then we have it pretty much forever.  This reduces spending AND waste.  Yay for the environment!  Some of this stems from my hatred of clutter after leaving my parents' houses (they collect EVERYTHING and it makes me crazy!!), but a lot of it is because we don't attach our self worth to what we own, and we don't shop as a hobby or to make ourselves happy.  We probably have a smaller TV than most people, but we also have no debt except our home.

And conservation. We try to conserve everything here; water, power, gas, waste, time, stuff... And I think the savings really add up.The really easy ones are water and electricity. We save in lots of ways. For example, we don't run our dishwasher very often to save on both. It makes life a lot simpler to just do dishes as they come.  And yes, I do a LOT of dishes, but that is part of life.  We also plug everything into a surge protector.  Last winter we had a bad ice storm that took out our power and ruined everyone's TV except ours because we had a serge protector.  And at the end of the day, we turn everything off at the switch so it doesn't passively draw power, but we don't have to constantly plug and unplug it.  Simple, right?

The options are endless and these are just the things I was thinking of today... and I am ALWAYS open to suggestions. :-)

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