Finding a Way to Live a Simple Life: Money
He is always itching for money but he never scratches for it.
A complicated task in this modern age is finding a way to live a simple life. For me, living the simple life is being able to support my family financially. Living a simple life has taught me to be grateful for what I do have. If I don’t enjoy what I have now, how can I be happy with more? Also living a simple life has taught me to understand the difference between a want versus a need. We are constantly bombarded from our well intentioned relatives, friends and society with the idea that we must buy more and have more things in order to be happy. I have learned that the most important things in life aren’t things. I have learned that if I am going to have a bit of money socked away for a rainy day that I can’t keep up with the spending of the “Joneses”.
Let me share with you some of things I do to help meet my family’s financial needs. The first thing is income. It is so important to have other sources of income besides your main place of employment. Yes, it is important to have a well-paying job that brings you enjoyment, but you also need to have multiple streams of income. These ‘streams of income’ do not have to be rushing rivers of money, but just money that can supplement your income. These streams of income can be part-time employment working a few nights a week for someone else or could be self-employment from a home-based business. The purpose of this extra income is not so that I can afford to buy more, but so that I can save money for retirement and to put away for a rainy day. Also this extra money helps out when there is a down turn of income in my main employment.
Another strategy that I employ to help meet my family’s financial needs is to control my expenses. I know how much money I make and make it a habit to write down how much money I have. Writing down my income and my expenses is very important for me since it helps me to see the money visually. Every time I pay bills I subtract it from my income. This act of writing down my expenses helps me to realize how much money I have and helps me see in what area of spending I need to cut back so that I can live within my income.
Expenses that we consider might be fixed such as property taxes, cost of cable and etc. can be negotiated. For example, when I get a new property tax bill that I feel is unjustified I go online with my local county appraisal district and find out how much my neighbors are paying in property tax and compare it to my bill and then go argue my case and I get my property taxes lowered. I have done this on three separate occasions in the past ten years.
I also negotiate cable bills, phone bills and more. I am not afraid to ask if there are discounts and often mention how much their competitors are charging. With this strategy I have almost always gotten a reduced rate for my bills. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
I also make small cuts in my expenses on a daily basis. These small cuts really add up over the year. I cook at home daily; almost always putting food into the slow-cooker on days I know I will be too busy to cook. I put my electrical appliances on surge protectors and turn them off when not in use. I keep a coin jar to deposit small bits of money at the end of the day. It is amazing how fast leftover change can add up.
When I do find that I am in need of something that I cannot afford to buy brand new, I find ways to make it, do without it, borrow it, or buy it used. It is amazing how things I need will come my way when I stay positive and put the word out with friends and neighbors that I am in need of something.
It is very important to spend less money than I make. It is said that nothing puts a family deeper in debt than a small raise in salary, because we often equate making more money to having the luxury of spending more money. We have to retrain ourselves to spend less than we make. We have to save for a rainy day and for upcoming big expenditures. There is a great satisfaction and relief to know that no matter what financial turmoil heads my way, I feel confident that with a little more ‘belt tightening’, the little bit I have socked away, and my willingness to overcome adversity will pull me through any financial difficulties I may face.