The wife and I are self employed and have been for years. Every year we take home less and less. Government regulation, competition in our marketplace, rising cost of everything (fuel, insurance, equipment and on and on) have us working harder for less money than we were making ten years ago. Two teens at home, the youngest homeschooling, cuts into the amount of time we can spend working so employees must be paid to do jobs we have done ourselves for years. Honestly, I am surprised at the end of every month when she tells me we covered everything again. I’d like to cover some of the ways we squeak by each month all the while setting aside money for projects on our property. It will probably take me a few weeks to cover them all.
I’d say the most important thing we did a few years ago was to turn the television off. We still have it and rent the occasional movie or find something on Netflix if we’re looking to unwind but the $100 per month satellite subscription is long gone. My first thought was, “$1200 can buy a lot of x,y or z- that’s reason enough”. After a few months you find yourself finishing old projects, finally getting around to putting that piece of junk on Craigslist for sale, finishing books you couldn’t get into years prior. I’m sure someone in the blog world has done a better job of breaking down the ins and outs of why turning the tube off is a great move than I ever will but my point is easy to get.
Several years ago our typical evening would start with take-out or some pre-packaged container of processed whatever in the microwave so we could be ready to catch our favorite shows. Once the TV was off my wife started picking up old cook books and my taste buds were extremely supportive of this. Our idea of date night went from going out to dinner to pouring some cocktails and cooking a meal together at home. The side effect of saving a ton of money was never on our minds but sure was a nice bonus.
Real conversations with your family. This one really doesn’t need much explaining. Whip out a board game like “Sorry” and even your teens talk and smile.
There is a certain calm that comes with not being inundated with commercials for things you don’t want or need several hours per day. The cravings for fast food, soda, restaurants and new cars seemed to disappear almost immediately. Those ad guys are really good at what they do! Has this affected our spending? I am sure of it.
Dropping out of the televised world easily saves us several thousand dollars per year but the quality of life you regain is where it’s at. That is something I can’t put a price on.