Privilege is the word I’m thinking of.
It’s tempting to pat ourselves on the back for making good choices. Choices that mean that if, God forbid, ML is out of work until March 2022 we shouldn’t see a decrease in our lifestyle. Here’s where I see our privilege:
- We both have jobs that allowed us to get out of the debt we accrued when we were making less than a living wage
- The housing market, when we purchased, was no where near this crazy
- We each tend to work only 35-40 hours a week, which has given us time to build our community, invest in ourselves (including shop for good deals) and stave off health-related issues due to exhaustion
- We have good health benefit packages so have been able to deal with injuries and illnesses quickly; those jobs also gave us the time off needed or accommodations to recover
I’m highlighting all of this because while I celebrate the good stuff, I also want to recognize that I’m lucky. Sure I did the ‘right things’ but I also had the opportunity to do it. ML & I were reflecting that 10 years ago this would have been a crushing blow that we would take us years to recover. Ten years ago we had the house, student debt, consumer debt, car payments and no network. I know other people in similar financial situations who haven’t weathered these changes as well. Here’s how we’re doing it.
We don’t have kids
This seems like a strange thing to list, however, because we don’t have children we haven’t had to worry about so many things that parents consider namely the feeding, clothing and mental stimulation of children. Daycare alone would have taken away almost half my monthly income for at least 3 years and then about a quarter of it as we would need before and after school care.
Combat Lifestyle Inflation
We’re in a starter home. It’s what it was termed when we bought it and it’s most likely how it will be listed when we sell it. While mortgage brokers and banks are happy to extend us further credit to purchase a larger house or at least one in a swankier area, we decided to make this our forever home. We opted to invest in renovating our kitchen to better suit our needs once we though we could do it with minimal credit support. I was so pleased that we paid 0 interest on that kitchen! Even when we’ve made decisions that were a bit pricey, I was usually able to shift back within a short time frame.
The pandemic has actually been fantastic for helping us stay in our budget. With the limits to hosting, opportunities to eat out or find entertainment outside the home – so many of our previous spending triggers have gone. Our practice with frugality also makes us work to find the ‘free’ version of something.
This seems like a strange one to list, however, enjoying our now and what we have allows us to not bee searching for the next best thing. I very rarely accept the free-trial of anything. Why? Because once you get used to something, it can be hard to give it up. This ties into the way we have avoided lifestyle inflation.
I’ve been using this blog since 2015 and though my blogging has dropped sharply, my budget use hasn’t. I have been finessing my budget spreadsheet over that time and have been tracking my own rise and fall annually.
Making Savings Work for us
The way we save may not work for everyone but it works for us. I have lines dedicated to the things that matter to me and every time I have gotten a raise, I’ve figured out how to either incorporate it into my existing savings plan (increasing our mortgage repayment fund was one of these) or direct it to an area of interest (my layoff account which turned into an education fund which has been redirected to bill paying).
The decision to increase savings lines that could have long term impacts on our financial well being (home reno, mortgage repayment and car care) rather than increasing either our spending or short term savings (gifts,medical not covered by insurance, or vacation) has meant that now that something big is happening we’re not trying to re-evaluate our values and see how we can work within our means.
I’m feeling pretty proud of who we have become.
Do we spend too much on things we don’t truly need (I type as I consider our bar, tea collection and my array of candles)? Yes!
The name of this blog has always reflected our values. Can we pull back in these areas when called to? Yes!
Will it be hard to not click on the next pain relieving, must-have tool that Instagram offers up in the ads? Yes!
Will I resist temptation? Most likely because I’ve got my budget as a guide and I’m using this blog again to help keep me honest.
Is this all possible because we’ve both been making (above) living wages in good working conditions that leave us with enough energy and time to be thoughtful? YES!