Today, I’d like to welcome J.K! Below is the beginning of her memoir/practical guide to frugal living. I know you will enjoy it–and please, leave your comments below to encourage her to keep writing!
Taking Us Back to Basics – Personal Finance
After reading an article about a family that makes $100,000 a year and “still feels poor,” I want to state my personal beliefs and strategies for not “feeling poor” on approximately $18,000 a year. First of all, somewhere along the way the American Dream got cross-pollinated with…insanity. The American Dream IS NOT and WAS NEVER to buy things you cannot afford, waste food and other resources indiscriminately, most certainly not to borrow money to buy things you do not need.
I praise God that I was raised in a reasonable household that had a reasonable head on its shoulders. I didn’t know it at the time, but we were “poor.” The reason I didn’t know it because my mother and father are awesome. They worked hard to put food on the table and pay our bills. We did the best we could with what we had, which wasn’t much, apparently. We wore clothes from yard sales, thrift stores, and hand-me-downs. We furnished our home with yard sales, thrift stores, and hand-me-downs. We ate plain, home-cooked food and utilized every dead wild animal that was carried through the front door. We didn’t do these things because we’re hillbillies or because we love eating shit-on-shingles. We did it because that’s what we could afford.
Nowadays, it seems that living within your means is a lost art. I say “art” because that’s what it is. In many cases, it takes skill and determination to live within your means. And practice. After moving out on my own I quickly realized that life was expensive, college loans have to be paid back, and minimum wage is very minimal. Living within your means is a personal choice, a commitment. Modern-day America has made it TOO EASY to live in debt. To many people, owing the credit card company money isn’t a big deal; the average Joe expects to have credit card debt. As long as they can make the minimum payment, no problemo. Personally, owing people money makes me anxious. I don’t want to be anxious. I want to live my life without worrying about living in a house I don’t own, built on land that isn’t mine.
Do not misunderstand- I am not debt free, my finances are not perfect, and I have only just begun my journey to a simpler fiscal reality. Somewhere between age 24 and age 25 I had an epiphany about how I want to live my life. Here are some tips I use to live within my means (yours are different).
It is okay to say “No.” To your family. To yourself. As traumatic is it seemed at the time, I was not scarred for life because my mom never let me get those magic pill things that grow into spongy dinosaurs when you put them in water.
It can wait. Just because you can’t have it now, doesn’t mean you can’t ever have it. This applies to most wants and some needs. Maybe it’s just not a good time for a purchase. Maybe saving your pocket change will allow you to purchase this item. It is silly to put yourself in a financial bind, when simply waiting and/or saving for a bit will allow you to enjoy your purchase to the max.
Expect the unexpected. Eventually your car will explode. Someday the roof on your house will leak. Planning for expenses like these will alleviate stress and worry in your life. Having an “Emergency Fund” can turn a crisis into an inconvenience.
Prioritize, even when the truth hurts. At the moment, I am not rolling in dough, but I do have enough money to pay my bills. Usually there is a seemingly insignificant amount left over at the end of the month. This is where my problems arise. It would be so fantastical to drive to the mall and buy a super-cute outfit, followed by a spa treatment and a fancy date with my man. However, this frivolousness would ultimately lead to me huddling in the bathtub in a state of total panic (complete with nausea and sweating) because my 1995 Nissan Sentra is DEAD and I am totally BROKE. Saving needs to be a priority.
Basically, I think that Americans need to get back to the basics. What ever happened to giving 10%, saving 20%, and living on the rest? Give, save, spend. It’s not rocket science, it just makes good sense.
Bio: J.K is a super-cool chick who loves the outdoors, food, and hanging with her friends.
Thanks J.K! That was entertaining and eye-opening.
See you Thursday with a short post on what it’s like living with someone with epilepsy!