- You can drop from an income of $6000-$8000 a month to $2000 a month (for two people!) and still be extremely happy. We are at least.
- The biggest change you need to make is in your attitude. I am a bit embarrassed to say that around five years ago I was one of those snooty people who would look down on people who took the bus, drove clattering cars, and wore last season anything. Now I take the bus, drive a car that is more than ten years old, and wear clothes from the Goodwill. What a difference a few years (and a growth in maturity) makes!
- If you look at a financial challenge like a shot to your ego and try to get things back "to the way they used to be" then you will miss the lesson (and the adventure) that comes from massive change. Instead, if you look at a financial challenge like a riddle or a game, you can be creative and audacious and turn the problem into a fun experiment then come out on the other end with something really amazing that in your "old life" would have never even been a possibility.
- There are only a few things that you really NEED to have a happy life (and none of these needs have a designer label on them). Prior to our year of travel, I thought that I NEEDED a big house, a nice car, designer clothes/shoes/purses, lots of cash to give gifts to people with, shopping and lunching with the girls, etc. During our year of travel, the only things that we really NEEDED were: a clean, dry, safe place to sleep (thanks to generous friends and relatives we got this FREE for an entire year); a few changes of clothes (we wore the same clothes--and only what would fit in our backpacks--for a year and no one even noticed that we only had about five changes of clothes each); food (yes, you can survive on $1 tacos and burgers for an extended period but I don't recommend it. When it comes to food, the 99 cents store rocks!); and a bit of socialization (the hubby and the internet--you guys who comment on this blog--and friends on FaceBook and Twitter took care of that). Everything else is free--sunshine, fresh air, a nice walk, the library, etc.
- There is always a cheaper way to do things. Again, a few years back, I thought that having a lifestyle where we would spend nearly $8000 a month (!) on everything from big house and car payments to 150+ cable channels, the highest speed internet, restaurant meals a couple of times a day, magazine subscriptions...et al. was how everyone lived. I've since learned that it's not. Cell phone--$30 prepaid plan. Transportation--$50 a month bus pass. TV--$20 for a one time purchase of a TV antenna. Car insurance--liability only because the car is so old. You get the idea...
- And the very best thing: once you set yourself on a changing path, people from your past who were part of "that other" lifestyle kind of disappear and new people, amazing people, people who are on the same journey as you start to appear. Like you all who are reading this. Again, it suddenly dawned on me that the people who filled my life a few short years ago (the ones who got together to talk about their new cars and their latest purchases) have all but disappeared. Now most of our friends are kind of like us. Many are retired or working only part time so they have a lot of free time to have potlucks and volunteer and meet for coffee. When we get together we talk about how to save money on various things and where the best deals are to be found. It doesn't matter what a persons' job title is or what kind of car they drive because they are there for you when you need them and they are genuinely nice people.
Sunday, December 18, 2011
One Year Into Our New Lifestyle and Here's What I Have Learned
It just dawned on me that in a couple of weeks it will be exactly one year since I quit working (actually I am still doing some freelance stuff but on December 31st of last year I "fired" my biggest client which basically left me jobless). Here's what I have learned: