One evening sitting around the television, my husband told our children he would be taking the following day off work just to spend with family. He got back a couple of nods and an “Okay dad”. Working more than 60 hours a week on a regular basis had driven a stake between dad and children that was large enough to span the Grand Canyon.
We had the house, cars, toys and more but we didn’t have the family relationship to hold a funny conversation at the dinner table. There was nothing to talk about but work and schedules, missed holidays and how to spend the money. In an effort to make a change that would last a lifetime, we gave up the $100,000 a year paycheck and chose to downgrade our lifestyle to one most people would consider living in poverty. How did we make the change?
Living on Less Money – Give up on things that truly do not matter.
How many channels can you truly watch at one time? Our cable and Internet service bill totaled more than $150 a month.
We scrapped that and chose high speed Internet for $35 a month and Netflix for $10 a month. Total savings $105 a month or $1260 a year.
How many wears does each pair of pants get before they are outgrown? It was nothing for us to spend hours at the mall shopping with our children. Growing like weeds, these pieces of clothing were soon donated to the local Goodwill or Thrift Store and new clothing purchased. On average we spent $1000 on back to school clothes alone.
We scrapped new clothes buying for most items. Instead of shopping the malls, we chose to shop thrift stores. Total back to school clothes expenses for clothing equaled about $100 for four children. Total savings $900 a year.
How far do you drive in a month? Commuting to and from work equaled about two tanks of gas per week for my husband. With an average fill up cost of $45, we were spending at least $90 a week on gas alone, not including maintenance.
We scrapped working out of the home and chose to find jobs with no commute. Total savings $360 a month or $4320 a year.
Do you remember that theater movie more than the one from Netflix? Entertainment was a huge expense for our family. Every new movie release and new video game release was something we wanted and purchased. About $50 a week was spent on movies and video games on average – some weeks more than $100.
We scrapped buying new movies and game and opted for watching what was offered on Netflix and the Internet. Total savings $200 to $400 a month or $2400 to $4800 a year.
How big of a house do you need? Our monthly rent was $1650.
We moved out of the larger than life house and into a smaller home on the beach. New rent $750. Total savings equals $10800.
These small changes for our family decreased our monthly expenses by more than $21000. There were other changes too like buying food in bulk, choosing generic brands over name brands and eating out less often.
Living on less money is not an easy choice, but most people have the resources and information to make a change for the better. We work though living on less money by spending more time with each other and talking about the trials and tribulations associated with downsizing and living life on less. This summer went spent more time with our children than we have ever spent in their lives. The $100,000 pay check is out the door, but the life we always dreamed of living in within our walls. Living on less is the hardest thing we have ever chosen to do, but the most rewarding choice we could have made.