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Tag Archive: Living Like No One Else

“I don’t really care what other people think.”

As many of you know, my husband and I lived on beans and rice while he was in law school in order to stay out of debt. It wasn’t easy–especially when many others around us were living extravagantly when they had no money to do so.

But one of the biggest lessons we learned was to be content with what we have and stop worrying about what others think. From the old cars to the thrift store clothes to the coupon-clipping to the eating at home, we just got used to being weird and it didn’t bother us if we were the only ones pinching pennies.

One of the things we did to save money was to only have one car for a few years. While it’s nice to have two vehicles, we certainly learned that it is a luxury, not a necessity. And we got along just fine as a one-car family.

When Jesse got a job with a long commute, we saved up and bought a second vehicle–an old blue minivan. This vehicle has been Jesse’s mode of transportation for the last few years and he’s driven Old Blue Van all over the state to his various court appearances and attorney functions. He’s gotten quite a few funny looks and interesting remarks from other attornies since it’s definitely not the typical car a lawyer would drive.

After a number of years of scrimping, saving, investing, and working hard, we’re now in a position where we could afford to pay cash for a newer, nicer car. So I’ve been thinking recently about how badly I felt that Jesse was still driving such a clunker and guessing he probably got tired of the comments about his less-than-ideal vehicle, even though he never has once complained about it.

So I told Jesse the other day that I’d like for us to save up to pay cash for a better car for him. He looked at me and said sincerely, “I don’t need a new car and I don’t care what other people think.”

I love that guy! And I completely agree with him: There’s such a freedom in not having to spend time stressing about impressing other people.

We’ll probably buy a newer vehicle at some point in the not-too-distant future (likely when Old Blue Van breathes its last breath!), but in the mean time, we’re content and thankful. After all, we have two vehicles–a luxury that many people can’t even fathom!

Extreme Frugality: What would you give up?

Over at the wonderful blog, Days to Come, Jeana is doing an incredible series of posts on Extreme Frugality this week. You must run, not walk, over there and read them here, here, and here. Good stuff.

Jeana recently gave up couponing in order to simplify her life and I applaud her decision. While I doubt I would ever completely give up coupons, I’ve found that I’ve greatly simplified things in the past two years–especially since having two children. I’ve cut back considerably on the deals I’ll do, the time I spend planning and shopping, and I have learned that it’s okay to take a break from bargain-shopping.

Many people often wonder why, if I’m such a minimalist, do I have a website which encourages people to buy stuff? It might seem like a contradiction on the surface, except you forgot one important point: by and large the deals I post here are for food and household products–stuff that 99% of most Americans buy at least a few times per year.

One of my goals in blogging here is to not only help everyday, average Americans find ways they can save money on items they would already be buying anyway, but I also aim to alter your mindset. (You mean you hadn’t figured that out? Maybe I shouldn’t have told you!)

You see, I would wager that the majority of Americans would never consider buying the bulk of their groceries on sale with a coupon or stocking up on a good deal to last them until the next good deal. Most people might buy a few items on sale, clip a few coupons, and save a few quarters each week, but the thought of buying almost everything on sale with a coupon is very foreign to a large percentage of the population. When people start grasping these sorts of concepts and applying them to shopping at the grocery store, it often not only saves them a few hundred dollars or more each month, it also often begins to completely change the way they think about life in general.

So while I’m glad to share deals and encourage you to save money at the grocery store, my hope is that what you glean here will not stop with the clipping of coupons. Instead, I hope the things shared here will cause you to consider making other much more substantial life changes: beginning to live below your means, getting on a budget, developing self-discipline, putting a financial plan in place, thinking long-term, and be willing to go against the flow to make sacrifices now to benefit you long-term.

Speaking of thinking and planning for the long-term, Jeana asked a really great question to kick off her series which I thought we would all do well to consider. She wrote:

Lately I’ve been thinking about how over the past few years we have
found new ways to save money as paycuts and higher costs have squeezed
on our budget. I’ve been asking myself, "What is the next thing I would give up or do differently if I had to lower costs?" and then trying to do that next thing now
to put us one step ahead of the next big squeeze. I’ll be writing about
some of the new things I’ve been trying soon. For now, why don’t you
tell me: What’s the next thing you would do to create some wiggle room
in your budget, if you had to?

What would you give up or do differently if you had to lower costs? Is this something you could go ahead and cut from your budget now in order to give you more wiggle room for later? In addition, I’d love to hear how using coupons at the grocery store may have affected your thinking on other areas of life. Tell us about it in the comments section.

The Debt Avalanche: What Do You Think?

I read an interesting article by Consumerism Commentary last week (hat-tip to The Simple Dollar) on "the Debt Avalanche":

If you have a certain amount of money available to pay off a portion
of your debt each month, even if that certain amount changes, there is
a mathematically correct way of paying off that debt. You can call this
approach the Debt Avalanche. It is similar to Dave Ramsey’s popular “debt snowball” method, with one small but important detail: With the Debt Avalanche you will pay off your debt faster and pay less total interest to banks and lenders.

The simple calculation for the Debt Avalanche
requires only the interest rates for each debt account. This assumes
that all debt accounts have the same tax liability, but if that’s not
the case, determine your interest rate after taxes for this calculation.

Read full article.

When my husband and I got married, we purposed to stay out of debt if at all possible while he went through law school. Now that law school is behind us and we’ve avoided debt this long, we’re really determined to completely avoid debt in every way, shape, and form for the rest of our lives.

We’ve sought to debt-proof ourselves through a number of means: living on less than we make; living on a strict budget; building a six-month emergency fund; communicating openly and honestly as a husband and wife about finances; and investing in good life, health, and disability insurance. Only God knows whether we’ll be able to completely avoid debt our entire lives, but we are quite determined to do everything we can to keep from being enslaved to it.

While you all well know that I am a huge Dave Ramsey fan, since I’ve never been in debt, I personally can’t say what works or doesn’t work with regards to getting out of debt. And I don’t necessarily think the same exact steps will work 100% perfectly for each and every person and situation.

So, what do you think? I know a number of you readers are seeking to get out of debt and I’d love to hear what is working for you. Do you think that Dave Ramsey’s "Debt Snowball" method is the method for debt reduction? Or would you agree more with Consumerism Commentary’s proposed "Debt Avalanche"? What has worked for you?

Living like no one else

I just got a less-than-nice comment from someone about our van situation. The basic gist of the comment was (I’ll edit the part out calling me a liar, etc.): "Why on earth if your husband is an attorney and you make money from home can you not just go out and get a new vehicle??"

Since there are quite a number of people who read this blog, rude
comments are pretty normal and I’m pretty used to it–it’s part of blogging in a public forum. However, after I deleted the comment, I got to thinking…

You know, we could go buy a vehicle. We could take our emergency fund money and go buy another used vehicle or even a new vehicle. We could take our house savings and go buy another vehicle. We could even do what most normal Americans do and just go take out a loan for a new car.

But here’s the deal: while we have money in our bank account, we don’t have money saved or allotted for a new vehicle or even a used vehicle. And guess what that means? We aren’t buying a new vehicle or even a new-to-us vehicle. Not right now at least.

We had money to pay for the car repairs, we don’t have money to pay for a new vehicle right now. We’re very hopeful that the mechanic will have our van in good working order by tonight and we’re very hopeful that after replacing just about everything there is to replace on it, the van should run beautifully like it used to.

What we thought was a small problem with the van has mushroomed into weeks of work. Just when we thought it was fixed, something else would go wrong with it and we’d have to take it back to the mechanic again. It has been a much longer and costlier process than we were ever expecting and yes, it’s been frustrating, but that doesn’t mean we just throw in the towel and go buy another vehicle.

Have we considered buying a new vehicle? Absolutely! Do we wish we had piles of cash sitting around without a name on them so we could just go buy a new vehicle and forget all the hassle of trying to get our much-used van fixed? You better believe it!

But you know what? Waiting until we can afford to buy something and trying to make do with what we currently have is how most people used to live. We’re learning patience, we’re learning flexibility, and we’re learning to be content with what we have.

We still have one running vehicle and if need be, we can go back to being a one-car family again. It’s not my first choice, but we did it for a few years and I’m willing to do it again.

Yes, we’re "living like no one else". Yes, a lot of people think we’re really crazy. Yes, sharing what I share on my blog means that some people aren’t going to understand, are going to question why we’re doing what we’re doing, and some people will say rude comments about our life choices.

You know what, though? While I don’t like car problems and I’d not have chosen the kinks in our plans they’ve resulted in the last few weeks, I’d much prefer to wait until I can afford something before I buy it. I much prefer not having to live paycheck-to-paycheck. And I much prefer not being slave to the bondage of debt.

We’re living like no one else so that someday we can live and give like no one else!