Sunday, August 9, 2015

Making Room for Experiences



I believe I have mastered the one in two out rule I gave myself months back as part of my downsizing goal.  Personally, I've updated very few things in the last 6 months to either the house or my wardrobe. I've learned to combine individual items into what seem like new to me outfits, and found a perfect for me pair of long shorts, second hand, so feel like I might have saved them from a trash bin.  Additional closet purging continues. Even for the teen, who outgrew a bunch of things, was on board with clearing hose to make room for a couple bags of hand me downs.  (These were cream of the crop teen items too.) This approach to downsizing, while on the slow track, has been a help in closing the gap my voluntary pay cut gave the checkbook. 

We haven't stopped putting money towards experiences, and that I am happy to report.  It was one of the worries I had with the significantly lower monthly cash flow. I didn't want to be sitting home every night, looking at the television, and eating nothing but potatoes and pasta. Even when in overall outlook, long term savings, commuting costs, and other shifts that made the net pay difference fairly low, seeing $1,000+ less in actual deposits was a bit of a gulp. By not channeling money to stuff, we've maintained room in the budget for experiences.

We added weekly private violin lessons for DD#2, who is moving on to high school orchestra, but didn't want to give up choir. She also wants to be in an extra orchestra that plays at a higher level, and for that the teacher requires additional lessons. She adores her new teacher, who is helping to correct bad habits she picked up when her regular orchestra teacher just couldn't do private lessons, so had kids working in groups of 2-4, 9 times per year, and, a full class of 25 or more students. 

She also went on a mission trip out of state, and participated in Summer Stretch, a weekly youth group  that blends a 1/2 day of community service with an afternoon fun activity like water parks, fun zones, and roller skating, culminating in an amusement park day. She earned part of her costs through fundraisers like church breakfasts and bagging groceries.

We've spent money on things for the lake days such as gas for the boat, extra quantities of food for the extra guests both girls have brought along, tons of extra sunscreen for the same reason. There has been other expenses that have come up from things that just needed done, and DH just took care of them, of course without asking for reimbursement or sharing the cost from anyone. These are things his dad always just took care of. Other years we've invested in an extra air mattress and tent to expand sleeping space-worth every penny spent. 

We've met friends for happy hours and burger nights listening to live music, putting some tip money in the jar in appreciation. Both DH and I have had lunch out on occasion with work colleagues, building and maintaining relationships with people we spend a lot of time with. I don't want to always be left behind at the office! DD has had a little pocket money for a movie or two, or a walk to the park and then for ice cream with her friends. We've continued wine club, enjoying the learning, and socializing. I've bought new spices for trying out dishes we haven't made at home before, lots of farmers market vegetables, and locally canned jams, and DD is leaning to expand her cooking beyond ramen noodles.

We have play tickets tonight and starting this Sunday, will be an outdoor concert series on the grounds of a historic mansion, with price of a  free will donation. A different nonprofit or church group runs concessions which are items like home made pies and ice cream with fresh fruit toppings, fresh squeezed lemonade and brewed ice tea.

None of these  cost much considering the value, and with my more flexible schedule and more free time, we can be more organized to take advantage of affordable options. We can snap a picture or two as we want, or hold the memories just in our heads, clutter free.  What have you invested in that is giving you enjoyment this summer?



Live music is always a treat for me.

8 comments:

  1. It's lovely to read about all the great things you are doing....and you've got the bonus of having time to enjoy them properly. It's nice to read that your daughter is enjoying learning the violin. Some of my best memories are from playing the violin in various school and borough orchestras as a teenager... it was a great way to meet friends from other year groups and schools. Jx

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  2. I get the bonus of having little concerts each night when she plays. Her teacher just suggested a lot of fiddle music choices, so she will move onward from Turkey in the Straw! I hope your summer is going well-lots of car shows, but lots of music as well I'm sure.

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  3. Potatoes and pasta is my fear. I would hate to have to cut back on food. I try and keep our spending down and try to plan for hard times but there are always unforeseen things that come up. You really are coping well and I love reading about how you are adapting. I think if it was me I wouldn't have such a positive view. I tend to complain a bit. ;p

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    1. Oh, you are reading the sunny side of this coming out, not the pain in the lessons. I am trying to focus on the positive aspects of this change, and not the things we may have given up. Though, I don't really feel like we've given up too much. The time exchange seems to have made a huge difference in how I shop, how I prepare meals, and how we spend free time, that I honestly can't think of any sacrifices. Sure, I'd love a vacation on a whim and not stress about paying for it, but I can think of several vacations in the past that we spent good money on, and then someone from the office tracked me down to resolve some ridiculous "crisis" or more frequently, working 70+ hour weeks before the vacation making sure all the balls stayed juggled, and then another 70+ hour week after coming home to clean up messes. Even now, as I sit here, I'm flexing my day today to be a shorter work day, because tomorrow I will work a longer one-a longer day that had been my daily norm 6 months ago. What-that was a long response to your comment LOL!

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  4. I'm investing time and effort in my health and fitness this Summer, and I spent £25 on a new pair of trainers to replace the pair I spent £1 on 2 years ago ( they were bought at a carboot sale and were unworn). Despite needing them desperatelyand them being a perfect fit, I sat in the shop for ages justifying the spend and rang John to talk to him about spending money on them.
    I think you ( and most other people) would hate my life; the need to plan every single purchase, £100 per month grocery budget for the last 3 years, eating out 4 times per year at most, a day/ evening out every few months, never having takeaways, and no car! I'm not on a diet of pasta and potatoes yet though!

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    1. I think I understand, but can't say I have experience-not really, how the stress of justifying and balancing out every purchase can be draining. Though, I would never say I hate your life, with your lovely family and home, that you work so hard for. I know people that are completely miserable beings and never have to think a second thought about money and purchases-or other human beings. That is a sad existence and a lifestyle I would never want let alone aspire to achieve. I wish there was balance in the world, and can't understand the rich get richer policies, and the heck with the humble austerity measures. I am trying to do my little piece of helping to not over consume, not take advantage of others, donate when I can, and volunteer where I can genuinely help.

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    2. I perhaps didn't word it correctly( I think that comes from writing very little for over 3 months!) I think most people would hate the financial aspect of my life, and the things that I listed.Fingers are very firmly crossed that John keeps his job for the next few years until the mortgage is paid, then we will no longer have to worry about losing our home. I'm fortunate that my children were happy with the very simple things in life such as a picnic in the park, a walk in the woods or a movie afternoon at home. We turned everything into an adventure to make up for the fact that most of the time there simply wasn't the money for them to do the things that their friends did, such as horse riding, dance or music lessons, or holidays to far flung destinations several times a year. We gave them our time and taught them that money wasn't everything, and that time, love, kindness, respect and tolerance were far more worthwhile. It seems to have worked. The girls are in frequent contact with us ( even though K is currently touring Europe with her husband), and both have said how fortunate they feel to have parents who taught them about respect, tolerance and kindness when so many display ignorance and bigotry. I read on another blog earlier this week about legacies. If that was to be mine, I can't think of anything better.
      I really enjoy your blog Sam; it often makes me think hard about things.

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    3. I get it, having to always balance and think about everything must be draining, and should not be so. While we are fortunate to have been able to provide many of these things, I truly think the things my kids will most remember is the day to day experiences. I love your thoughts on legacy, and the real things of value I hope I have given my kids are all the gifts you listed-and these are gifts. As always, thank you for your feedback and support in reading.

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