We all have choices. Deciding how we want to spend our time and money is a big part of everyone’s life, which ultimately impacts your future. As I move into my 40’s, my perspective on life, money, and my future has changed. I now see things through a different lens; many things look different now than they did when I was in my 20’s. I see my family and friends getting older; some friends saying they will work until their 70 and others taking early retirement because they can. There are numerous articles talking about how people today are hitting their retirement years no where near ready – both financially and emotionally. It’s scary how unprepared Americans are for retirement.
Over the last few years, I have really started to assess my lifestyle to understand the choices I’ve made for myself and what truly makes me happy. What I’ve discovered about myself is that I love living simply. I have chosen to give up a lot of things that at one point in my life I thought I needed to make me happy. But in actuality, when I gave these things up or stopped doing them, I found they really don’t bring me happiness. We tend to keep doing what we’ve always done because it’s easy and we don’t take the time to explore other options.
What did I give up over the last year?
- No new clothes and shoes – My closet was overflowing! Instead, I’m trying to wear the clothes I have and for those that just sit in my closet collecting dust will eventually get donated to Goodwill.
- Cosmetics – My bathroom was full of products I didn’t even use. I took an inventory of what I had and only buy the things I need and use all the time.
- Massages every month – This is a luxury that I may go back to in the future if it helps reduce pain, but it isn’t something I need right now.
- Haircuts at a salon – I just go to GreatClips and get a nice trim for only $7-10.
- Red meat – Eliminated red meat, as well as shifting the majority of my meals to veggies really helped reduce my grocery budget.
- Eating out, especially for lunch – I bring my lunch to work 99% of the time. It’s healthier and cheaper.
- Soda – Although soda isn’t a huge expense, research has shown that drinking soda has a detrimental impact to your health.
- Cable TV – I tried out a digital TV antenna and cut the DirecTV cord.
The changes I made were primarily motivated by my choice to live a healthier life and to save more money with the goal of financial independence. I’ve made some lifestyle changes by cooking most of my meals at home, including making larger servings to freeze and take to work for lunch. I also don’t go out as much as I used to, as I’ve gotten older (and wiser) going to the bars all the time to hang out and meet guys wasn’t as appealing as it was in my 20’s. Even changes in my hobby of reading – from buying books on Amazon, a bookstore, or even used at Goodwill, to now using the library exclusively to borrow books and moves – for free! I feel I make new frugal discoveries every day that impacts my choices, lifestyle and finances.
Some may think that I’m depriving myself of things, but I’ve cut certain things out little by little and find I don’t miss those things. They really don’t bring me any joy or happiness. In fact, I often wonder why I didnt’ start simplifying sooner. I am now choosing my future and my financial independence, which is ultimately what I decided is my happiness. I am not giving up pleasure or happiness since I have discovered the joy of living with what I minimally needs. It’s also fun for me to find new ways to save money because I am a finance and accounting nerd after all.
So, what did I learn? I’ve learned to be creative and try new things. There are so many choices you can make in your life that can have a big impact on your lifestyle and finances, that it pays (literally) to try something new and see if it works for you. You can change your habits and make better choices. It may not be easy, but it can be done if you take the time and effort to try new and different things.