Making lifestyle changes is much easier when there is a joint agreement. John and I have decided it is time to do just that. I think John decided long ago and I have just come on board but that is another story.
John is a member of the Brethren Faith and I am Catholic. Brethren have a simple living philosophy and Catholics have a Franciscan order that is similar. We thought it might be time in our lives to embrace this lifestyle as we start the downsizing process. We know this is going to be a long hard journey but we think that it will eventually be worth it. I am not ready to sell everything we have but we can certainly live much simpler than we do.
All that said, you skeptics can stop laughing at the fact that two weeks ago I purchased a big gas hog SUV. We can live in it if we have to! And, the discussion and decision came after that purchase. John says that was very convenient and I tend to agree. This is more about changing our spending habits than a social statement.
Breaking habits will be difficult. Luckily I am not a clothes horse so that is not an issue. When I shop, I find one thing I like, buy it in every color and go home. This drives John crazy but I keep telling him he is lucky. It is very rare that I need a brand name anything.
Eating out is probably going to be our biggest challenge. Neither of us like to cook and neither of us are good cooks. Eating out is just easier for two people, two lazy people. I cannot live on fast food so we have to come up with ways to eat out that are healthy and less expensive. Off the top of my head, I made a list of restaurants in our area that are non-tipping restaurants. (I’m sorry all you food servers, you have treated me very well over the years, I just have to limit my time with you!) Besides takeout pizza and wings, there is Chipotle, Boston Market, Crispers, Panera, Tijuana Flats, Pollo Tropical, a sub shop on every corner and the deli at our local supermarket. John loves Captain D’s and insisted I add them to the list. We do not eat out every night so this should be a month’s worth of choices. We can add in John’s favorite sushi place and my favorite Texas Roadhouse here and there and manage this better.
I am really good about taking leftovers to work for lunch. Unfortunately, I am not good at actually eating them. I will ditch them and go out more often that I want to admit. So, there is another expense that can be cut. I am ashamed to admit how much money we spend on food. It is embarrassing. No wonder I am overweight. When this all comes together my diet should be much easier to follow.
When you buy a new vehicle now, most manufacturers give you XM radio free for 90 days. I am sure that is so you fall in love with it and pay when the 90 days are complete. I did that with the Honda and found that I still listened mostly to local stations. Given that, when our 90 days are up, there will be no more XM. GM products give you one year On Star free as well. We tried to use that service for driving directions yesterday and their computers were down. They have 11 months to convince us it is worth keeping.
I am trying to key in to “wants vs needs” now. As I said, I am not much of a clothes shopper but I can go to Yankee candle and spend $100 with ease. Yankee Candle is a pretty weak need, but a strong want. Yesterday at Walmart, I filled my cart with fall decorations. As soon as I realized what I was doing I put everything back. It isn’t that I cannot have and enjoy these things, I just don’t need them. I have a box of fall decorations that will accomplish a festive look for a few weeks.
I have plenty of Tchotchkes in my home and at different times have loved every one of them. There are many today that I pay no attention to at all. I don’t have to get rid of them, it is ok to enjoy their memories, but I also do not need to buy any more. And, as we downsize, some of them will be sold. I was listening to financial expert Suze Orman one afternoon and she said holding on to items for the memories was not necessary because the memories will always be in our hearts. (Obviously not a direct quote!) I have found this has helped me let go of many items. In the end, who wants my stuff anyway?
I have drawers full of sample soaps, creams and make up that I don’t use. If I don’t like the product, I need to either give or throw it away. I have free gifts from makeup manufacturers that I have never used. Why did I wait to make a purchase to get the free gift that I don’t use? I am not buying anymore until my drawer is empty. All those half bottles of shampoo that I bought and didn’t like need to be used. I realize that some shampoos really are a problem for some people but I have fine straight hair, it really doesn’t matter what I use as long as it cleans my hair.
I cannot say that I am a big environmentalist because I am not. Why do I use paper towels and paper plates when I have a drawer full of towels and a cupboard full of dishes? The washing machine and dishwasher work just fine. I can stop wasting money on those items and use the appliances that were purchased for our convenience.
The spare bedroom will be turned into a “garage sale” room. Everything that we don’t use or need is going to be stored until we are ready to have our sale. It is time to get rid of the clothes I won’t ever wear, the shoes that kill my back, spare furniture that we might use, books that I have read or will never read and closets full of other stuff that will be surprises as we open boxes. The eventual plan is to downsize to a two bedroom home. To me, it is easier to make these changes in stages rather than all at once.
I am not good at using coupons, I cannot stand the mess. I don’t like my Facebook and email clogged up with all those advertisements. It really makes me crazy, but as I progress, maybe that is something I can embrace. I am sure there are a lot more ideas for saving money and living simpler that I can find. Share your thoughts with me. I am going to need all the support I can find.