Sunday, February 5, 2012

Life changes that have saved us money and even made us happier

I've wanted to write this post for a while, but talking about life changes feels so . . .well, big. In some ways I think our budgeting success has been about making little changes slowly over time. However, I can't deny that we have also made some big life changes over the past five or so years. Some of our changes have been pretty radical and might not be for everyone. But just in case they do help you, here's a list of those that have really helped us out financially:

Paying off debt. We no longer have debt. Having debt makes people feel like they have to do things that they may not want to do. When you are debt free, you can work a part-time job you love instead of a full-time job you hate, start your own business, or follow another dream you might have. 


Giving up TV. First we gave up cable, then we gave up all TV. This has saved us lots of money because we are not being constantly subjected to advertisers who's sole purpose is to make us feel like we are unworthy unless we buy their product. I still remember the first Christmas after we gave up all TV, we asked my son what gift he might like for the holiday. His reply: "Um . . . I think I'd like some sweatshirts because I get cold sometimes." This was a TOTAL change from the constant "gimmes and I wants" we heard when we had TV.

Moving to a small town. Living in the city is expensive. They have high taxes and living costs. There is a lot of temptation to spend money in the city.

Working LESS. Yes, there was a time when we Bushmans had a lot of debt due to credit cards and medical bills. In order to pay it off, we both worked two jobs. Once it was paid off, we both went part-time at work. We found that being home, cooking at home, and playing at home is much cheaper than running around all the time, keeping hectic schedules. Also, when we worked a lot there was lots of purchasing happening due to time constraints or because we felt we deserved it because we'd worked so hard.

Buying used instead of new whenever possible. I made the commitment to only buy used when possible about three years ago. At first it seemed like a big deal and I had to be a real stickler in order to keep myself honest. I remember when the first Christmas rolled around after I had made the promise to myself. I was very nervous about my kids' reactions to their gifts (all used). Guess what? I wrapped them up in used gift bags and they didn't even notice--not one comment about the lack of shrink wrap associated with their gifts!

Working from home. I had to go to a work related conference recently. As I packed my suitcase with hose and a dress I tried to think of the last time I had worn any professional clothes. It has been about a year and a half. Professional clothes are SO expensive, even when I bought them used. Not to mention work lunches, co-workers' birthdays, travel to/from work and more--It all costs money. The first time it occurred to me that I could take a lower paying job for less hours and still come out ahead was after reading this book:




Being a producer instead of a consumer whenever possible. After reading this book



I felt compelled to think about things differently. Is being American synonymous with being a consumer? I am NOT a consumer. I am a mother, a wife, a neighbor, a friend, a knitter, a good cook. I am a lot of things, but I refuse to be defined by an ability or desire to buy stuff. Of course, there are still things I need that I can't make or things I have to buy in order to make what I need. However, everything I am able to do myself in my own home gives me more time I can spend with my family and spend working for myself instead of someone else.

Homeschooling. Our son went to public kindergarten and while it was a fine experience, we wanted something different. Once we started homeschooling, we really noticed a drop in peer pressure related "gimmes and I wants". We also started hanging out with other homeschoolers who ate homemade foods, wore homemade Halloween costumes and made other frugal choices. In essence this changed the company we kept and put us around less consumer minded people which was a very good thing for us and our children.

What's your biggest change that has saved you money or made your life simpler or happier?

1 comment:

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