During the year and a half I lived with my folks to intensely pay off my debt, I learned to live on less. I made sacrifices and spent little money. Basically, I put most of my money into either my emergency fund or towards my debt. In this phase of my life, I learned that less leads to more.
Less Leads to More
Before moving into my parent’s house, I met with a woman who was keeping me financially accountable. We slashed some things off my budget and she pointed out some categories that seemed high. The categories which were slashed are:
At the time my grocery budget included eating out and random stops for food. One of the best suggestions given to me was to take snack items in my car. At the time I was doing a lot of commuting to and from work. Furthermore, if I was hungry I’d stop for a snack. As you may know, those little dollars can add up when you do it every day.
Additionally, I learned to start shopping smarter. I like quality, organic foods so these items typically cost a little more. However, I’ve found that Aldi’s and Trader Joe’s have a good selection of organic foods at a fraction of the cost of some higher-end chains.
I also stopped going out to restaurants. Yeah, I left a little money in my budget for special occasions. You tend to appreciate things more when you do them less.
Another tip I have for reducing your grocery budget is to take advantage of local agriculture. Of course, if you are able to do your own gardening that is where the real win comes in but for those of us living in apartments, there is another option.
I purchase a Consumer Supported Agriculture (CSA) annually. This means that for 20 weeks in the late spring, summer, and early fall I have fresh crops. In Cleveland, we have a phenomenal farm called the Refugee Response. I love supporting this farm as I’m directly supporting local refugees.
Furthermore, it’s a financial win. In 2018 I bought my 20 weeks of crops for $280 which comes out to $14 per week for a huge bag of vegetables. I’d never buy some of these vegetables on my own so it gets me eating new things and results in a lot of meal prepping.
Alright, so the Frugalwoods have everyone beat on this hack. They’ve mastered cutting each other’s hair at home and save a ton of money (and time) in the process. They even put out this article with tips on how to give home haircuts.
I’m all for that but as a single person, it’s not so easy. Here is the progression I’ve made in reducing my hair grooming costs:
I used to spend close to $100 on my hair every three months with cuts and highlights. My first reduction came when I started having my hair done at the Aveda Brown Hair Institute. They train students and part of their training process is practicing. One can pay a fraction of the cost of a typical saloon to have a student to perform the duties.
I used this method for a year and was satisfied. There are teachers looking on so to minimize potential mistakes.
The one downside is that it takes longer. Depending on what you are getting done, you could be there for hours. Keep in mind these are students who are learning so they are slow. Furthermore, the teachers have to approve each step. However, they do make the experience relaxing.
If you don’t mind the extra time, this can be a good way to save costs on your hair.
When I was moving in with my folks I decided I really wanted to get intense on all fronts. I was there for a season and a reason and wanted to reduce my spending habits. As a result of that decision, I stopped highlighting my hair altogether. Fortunately, the ombre look was in so growing out the color was fine.
Furthermore, I decided to get my haircuts at Great Clips. I was growing my hair out so I only needed a basic trim every three months. It literally only takes 10 minutes. Great Clips cost for a haircut is typically around $15, but sometimes you can obtain coupons and/or deals. At times, I’ve paid as low as $7 for a haircut. Additionally, you don’t have to make an appointment.
Once I got out of debt I decided I wanted to start highlighting my hair again. I realized I valued this but only if I could do it on the cheap. My solution is to get baby lights which is only a handful of highlights. It’s cheap and doesn’t require a lot of upkeep. In fact, I can stop at any time and it looks fine. I have a friend who has this skill and does it inexpensively.
Whenever I need a quick trim, I’ll still stop in at a Great Clips. I think the key to using an inexpensive salon is to have a simple hairstyle, which I do, as it is hard to mess that up.
This was a big reduction as skiing is not a cheap hobby. While I lived with my folks, I decided to cut this completely out of my budget. I knew it was short term and I could survive a year or two without it.
Turns out I received some gifts to ski twice during that phase of my life which was lovely.
Now that I’m out of debt, I decided to add this back into my budget. I set aside a certain dollar amount each month that I use for skiing in the winter months. I’m always looking for hacks on reducing costs here and if I find them, I’ll write about them.
I’m planning my first real trip out west to ski in 2019. In an effort to reduce cost, my friend & I are flying to Utah on travel rewards miles. Additionally, we are staying in a hotel using travel reward miles. This leaves our only cost to be food, skiing and ground transportation. You can bet your sweet little bippy that I’ll write a wrap up of our trip.
Sacrifice was not really sacrificing
In my intense phase of living with my folks, I said no to a lot of things. I tend to have tunnel vision and it served me well. I knew I wanted to focus on the main objective and in the end it paid off.
Initially, I calculated that it might take me two years from the date I moved in with my folks to pay off all of my debt. However, I was able to complete it in 15 months.
I noticed something huge in the process…I was no less happy. Actually, I found that my happiness increased. Why? Because I was eating an elephant that needed to be eaten. I was facing my debt and reducing it. A goal was set and I was crushing it.
It can be extremely satisfying to see something to completion.
Relationships and Experiences
I also found what I value in life. Surprise, it’s not things! It’s relationships and experiences. Neither of those really have to cost money.
The way to foster relationships is by devoting your time to them.
Think about it, when you are out with friends are you focused on the stuff that you are buying? I’m not. For me, it’s about the conversation and enjoyment. That can be done without spending a lot of money. All you need is a little creative thinking.
Experiences can come in many forms and for me, the most important part is the person I’m enjoying the experience with. I’ve decided I value skiing and am willing to work the cost into my budget. It’s a fun and healthy way to enjoy the winter months with my friends. However, there are a plethora of options to enjoy the beautiful world we live in for a low-cost. Some great examples are hiking and biking.
Paying off my debt has put me in a different place financially. I can choose what I value and still have room for a very high savings rate. Furthermore, I get to be generous. Those things in and of themselves are huge.
However, what I’m loving most is my shift in mindset. I recognize what I value in life and am thoughtful about what I spend money on. Furthermore, I really don’t want more stuff. As a matter of fact, I’m always getting rid of stuff and simplifying my life (future post). Moreover, I’ve really learned that the less I have the more abundant my life is…in every way. My conclusion is that less leads to more.
What do you value in life? What do you need less of? Finally, what do you need more of?