Joanna from It’s Just Change is a computer programmer by day, gardener by night in central Indiana where she lives with her husband and her dog. She writes about saving money & spending it ethically at It’s Just Change and about everything else at Keeping Feet. This guest post was originally published on her own blog as her entry in our Blissfully Frugal contest. Be sure to read all the entries and vote for your favorite.
Every morning, I assemble two lunches. The lunch sack containing a sandwich and chips isn’t glamorous, but it saves my husband and I $3,000 a year. (Two $6 fast-food lunches, 5 days a week, 50 weeks a year.)
In the evening, we snuggle in and watch a TV episode on DVD, or show on Hulu. We can’t join the conversation about the latest Office or American Idol, but for over $700 a year for the basic cable channels, I’m OK with being out of the loop.
The cars we drive may have around 100,000 miles on them, but they are paid for. No debt on the cars, no debt on the credit cards, no debt on the school loans- interest on what we owe works against us, and I avoid it like the plague.
In our home, only our desk and our nightstands were bought new- every other piece of furniture was bought second-hand, handed down to us, or hand-made. Our guests are none the wiser.
On the weekends, a home improvement project often consumes our time- whether it’s painting or re-flooring or siding or something else on a huge list. We could hire out the work, but my husband enjoys working with his hands and taking care of our home (and he does a great job!).
Rather than vacationing during the summer, we’re busy in our yard. The backyard garden provides produce that continues to feed us throughout the year. Green beans, applesauce, herbs, potatoes, pears, peaches, pickles- all these things I haven’t had to buy since they were last in season, and probably won’t have to for a while.
Why live like this? If I can afford to buy a new car or furniture or processed food, why not go the easier route? Because I believe in living mindfully- Mindful of what we consume. Mindful of being a good steward of what we have. Mindful of being in debt to no one. Mindful of our impact on the earth.
Thanks to this mindfulness, and living below our means, we can ride out the ups and downs of life. When a refrigerator started leaking, we were able to save up and get a new one fairly quickly. When a car was caught in a bad hail storm beyond repair, we were able to incur no debt to replace it. A pipe burst in our home, and the panic was only due to the water pouring out of the hole in the wall, not how we were going to afford a repair. This year, we were able to give more than ever to those less fortunate than ourselves, and that was thrilling. Life is good. Blissful, even.