Thursday, February 16, 2012

What have I learned from being broke?

So having been virtually unemployed  for the past 3 years, feeling isolated from everyone I was almost in disbelief when things changed.

When I found out that I was officially going to begin my part time job I was overcome with thoughts of "Wow, now you will have money, now what??"

For me when I am suddenly faced with an influx of wealth the first things I used to think of was "What thing have I always wanted?" or "What would be fun?"  then the fiance and I were forced to live on 1500 a month and 200 dollars a month food budget for two people, a dog, three elder cats, and a foster cat.

Needless to say we had to get cheap and creative FAST.

Suddenly any influx of money was now "Cat food, Dog food, oil change, repairs" things like haircuts, gym memberships, clothes, dining out, and amusements simply were not part of the budget.

Date nights became making home made dinner and watching free episodes of south park online.

Haircuts became standing over newspaper while using clippers, scissors, and a ruler to cut each others hair.

Gym memberships became yoga while fighting for floor space from a 70 pound bulldog.

After about a year although I couldn't go out with friends to the bar (having long since deciding drinking was a luxury we could not afford) a year of home made birthday cakes, cheap but fun gifts for holidays (Like the paw print in home made play dough I made for my fiance's fathers day plaque)

Instead of becoming more and more frustrated with our lack of funds I found myself really seeing more "crap" I could do without.  I spent time donating bags and bags of old clothing to charity, went through all our old documents and papers to weed out what we had just kept "in case" threw out broken gadgets, toys, and chotchki's that we had held on to because someone gave them to us (I found a rooster from the dollar store and thought WHY did I keep this?) I gave away yarn, books, food, games, puzzles and more.

We started cutting out more things like driving by walking to the local coop for groceries.  Or using the bus to save gas, best yet riding our bikes to places within 3 miles of our house.

With the money we saved we survived the economic crisis.  Our animals ate better than we did, and we still managed to have fun and do nice things for each other.

So now that I have a job my friends ask me "What are you going to buy first!?"  I was speechless.

My answer?  Nothing.  I am happy that I learned to live so simply and frugally.  I like having my fiance cut my hair, I enjoy hunting at thrift stores for clothing, and I love having friends over for a home made meal on my vintage plates and stem wear that I inherited from my Nana. 

I am glad that I learned what really matters and how to recognize quality over quantity.  I don't think I would have ever been as grateful for what we have without having to had done without for so long.

Although, I would like to trade a certain outdated gazelle for a recumbent bike.  I guess no one is perfect.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am not broke, but I am paying off massive debt. Things I do to conserve money because I have developed a natural frugality are:
home made deodorant. Using baking soda for most if not all household cleaning, washing my hair, tooth brushing etc. Hubby uses reg toothpaste but I buy it at a discount place.

Bring my lunch to work from leftovers. We cook at home most times. Thrifting, re-using, bringing less into the house than I take out.

Making trips in the car count. We live rurally so a car is a necessity but I don't ever want to make a trip for just one thing. I combine work and personal errands so I get more stuff done per trip.
I check the dollar store first for things, then the grocery outlet then the regular store. After I have gone to the thrift store to make sure they don't have it;-).

I drive slower to conserve gas and get oil changes every 5-6000 miles.

I save money first and then pay bills. That way I don't spend any extra on something I don't need.

I hope you put a tiny bit aside for yourself for a total splurge thing. Then I hope you work on an emergency fund for those unexpected expenses. I advise myself and my kids to do this;-).