I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions. I never keep them. I’ve been losing the same 40 pounds for the last three years so I’m not sure why I think I can take on a whole year of less – less spending, less eating, less anger, less complaining, more fun, more experiences and less stuff! However, I’m at the point in my life where I financially must spend less and mentally in a place where I must be responsible for less, make room for other things, surround myself with things I truly enjoy, that bring me pleasure. I’ve been fortunate to have had several years to not have to worry about my finances after my husband’s death, but the time has come to be the sole provider of me again. The biggest obstacle to that is that I’m not good at managing money alone (and the other is I don’t make much money). In a couple, I was really good at it. If I did something stupid financially, it would have affected us both. I didn’t want to be responsible for that. However, when it’s just me, I say, “It’s just money. I’ll make some more. I’ve never made much anyway.” All of these are true, but I’ve experienced life from both sides now; that side where the debt is higher than you can ever image paying off and the side where you really have little to no debt and enough to splurge. To those people who say money can’t buy happiness, I say you’ve never been really broke! Money can buy a lot of happiness, and what it mainly buys is security!
Security is what we all really want. To be free of the worry – the worry of how to pay for the house, the car, school, Christmas, the latest cell phone – the worry of what if I lose my job that pays for the house, the car, school, Christmas, the latest cell phone – the worry of what if I get hurt or sick and can’t work – the worry of how to pay for that family trip or worse how to pay for gas to work, food for the week, a trip to the doctor. Financial security alleviates all of this worry. Life does run much smoother and easier when you don’t have these worries. However, you should all know that financial security does NOT solve all your problems (surely you know this, right?). It doesn’t prevent disasters or tragedies from happening to you. It doesn’t make your addictions disappear. It doesn’t make your family get along with each other. It is not a magical shield. Many times, it brings it’s own separate problems, but I promise those are problems you would prefer to have over the broke problems.
So – since I don’t make much money, how do I find financial security? I realized the only other way of possibly reaching it again is by cutting back, i.e., living with less. I will continue to try and increase my income, of course, but my main focus is going to be on spending less. Like really, seriously, trying dramatically to spend less. What I need to survive is not much, relatively. I’m very fortunate to have a great house (with a small note – but needs ongoing repairs), a paid-for car that is 6 years old (and starting to need repairs), little in the way of credit card debt (but I want this gone soon), no children, one dog. It’s just me. No kids to pay for. No spouse to pay for. No ex or spouse to supplement my income either (nor do I want one, but that’s another story). My expenses include the house note (with flood insurance and homeowners included, but not taxes), property taxes, self-employment taxes, electricity, water, home phone/internet, car/life insurance, cell phone (which does include a parent on the account), credit card bills, medical bills, gas, food, dog food and vet bills, entertainment, and some work-related expenses such as website fee and supplies for jobs. Then there are the clothes that I love to buy (but I don’t really go anywhere), the food that I have delivered (I don’t cook and don’t really plan to), the Amazon Prime get-it-here-in-2-days fever, audio-book addiction, the outrageous amount of toys for a dog – A DOG (that I love as if she were a child)! And there’s more, I know there is more because this house is full of STUFF! So that is the main focus of my year, to stop the surplus spending and learn to live modestly.
I know many of you can’t relate to me because I have more than you or maybe I have way less than you. I have no kids, no spouse. I don’t go to a 9-5 job every day – but the truth is this is not about what we have compared to the other. It is about what we really need in life, including what we need to make us happy. Not what the neighbor needs to make them happy or your brother or your college roommate or parents. This is about what you and I actually, really need to be happy and how I think that modest spending may help us find it. I hope you will follow this experience and see if I’m right. Wish me luck because I know I will need it. I will fail along the way – I just really hope I don’t give up!
To come in the new year: Cutting the cord – Life without cable; Surely Someone Will Buy This Crap?; Can’t I Do That Myself?; No Complaining This Week and How I Will Fail Miserably; I Probably Shouldn’t Eat That; Do I Rent Out the Shop?