I’ve mentioned before that we use one credit card for pretty much all of our spending. We get 1% cash back on the card, and it’s an easy way to keep track of our spending, since it’s all listed in one place on the statement. Our billing cycle starts and ends around the 10th of each month. This morning, I noticed that we’ve spent a total of $835 so far in this cycle, and we’re already 2/3 of the way through it. And that includes plane tickets to go visit my husband’s parents in the spring ($280 for two tickets – our son will still be under two, and flying for free at that point), and $110 to have all of our locks and deadbolts changed (something we had been meaning to do ever since we moved in, but only got around to doing a few weeks ago). That means we’ve only spent $445 on everything else so far, and we only have about another eleven days in this billing period.
Most of that money was for food and home repair stuff, with a few other random things here and there. Basically, we’re living well below our means, and loving it.
Last night, after dinner, we sat around the living room and my husband made funny noises at the cat. Every time he did, she would open her eyes very wide, and stick her ears straight up. I was laughing so hard that it hurt, and our son couldn’t stop laughing either. And it hit me – this is what it’s all about. Having fun, laughing, enjoying my family… we really don’t need anything else. There is nothing that I could have bought that would have given me more pleasure than just laughing with my two favorite guys. (Ok, so I guess we did buy the cat – the adoption fee was $85 at the animal shelter, and we do have to feed her. But she’s obviously worth it.)
Lately, I’ve been noticing more and more that I am really happy, nearly all of the time. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my happiness seems to have increased as we’ve been actively trying to simplify our life. I have mentioned before that I don’t particularly like to clean. As a result, our house was often chaotic and messy, but I brushed it off by telling myself that I was just a creative cook, or too busy to clean. A couple months ago, I decided to change this aspect of myself. I started by making the bed every morning. For two months now, I’ve been making the bed as soon as we get up, every morning. At this point, I can’t imagine not making the bed – even though I only used to make it once or twice a week. After I got in the habit of making the bed, I decided to tackle the kitchen. First, I decluttered in a big way. Then I committed to cleaning up the kitchen after every meal. I cook from scratch pretty much all the time, and used to only clean the kitchen after it got really messy. But for the last month, I’ve been cleaning as I cook, and cleaning thoroughly after each meal. I cannot even describe the difference this had made in the state of our kitchen, and in my own mental wellbeing. I love walking through our house now, and seeing lots of wide open spaces and clean counters. Just as with making the bed, I now cannot imagine leaving a mess in the kitchen after a meal. Frugal Trenches, one of my favorite bloggers, keeps her house 5 minutes from ready. We have a toddler, so I’m shooting for 15 minutes from ready – still a big improvement over what it used to be.
I know this post seems a bit disjointed, but I’m hoping to convey the feeling of peace and calm that I have nearly all of the time now. We don’t even have to try to not spend money anymore, because we’ve just gotten in the habit of doing things that don’t cost money. We don’t know what the future holds as far as our income, and by not spending the money we’re earning now, we’re giving ourselves a cushion against future lulls in our income. And if that doesn’t happen? Well, early retirement sounds good to me. Living simply and frugally, combined with decluttering, organizing, and keeping our living space clean and simple has all contributed to greatly reducing the stress and worry that I used to carry around with me.