Wednesday, March 19, 2008

How do I live simply?

I try to live my life as simple as possible without being a materialistic American. I watch what I spend and where I spend it. Anytime I see something that I want, I ask myself, "Do I really need this item? Would it create clutter in my house? Couldn't that money be spent on my bills?" Here are a few things I do to reduce my spending and keep money in the bank:
  • The car I currently drive is a 1995 Honda Civic I bought when I was a senior in high school. It is a wonderful thing not having a car payment, and really, why would I trade it in? It's nice and clean on the inside, no dents or bumps on the outside, standard windows and locks so I don't have to worry about spending hundreds of $$ to replace the motors, and although my A/C has been broken for almost a year, I drive with the windows and sunroof open. Hey, I'm helping the environment by reducing emissions. Now granted I eventually will get it fixed since we do get 112 degree weather, but I've driven it this long that it doesn't bother me all that much; so I'm saving my wallet and helping the environment all at once. :) The car is my baby and I will drive it till the wheels fall off, literally. It's been with me everywhere including college, roadtrips to Texas, and the six years that I lived in England so I'm not getting rid of it anytime soon! Plus I want to save enough $$ so that I can pay cash for my next car (A Toyota Prius, Toyota Matrix, or Honda Civic Hybrid).
  • I don't shop at the mall. WHAT? you might say, that's Un-American. I really don't. The only time I go to the mall is to get my hair cut every 8 weeks and if I really need something, oh, say, Red Robin veggie burgers! But honestly, why would I go to the mall to kill time? It's just asking for money to be spent and really, do I need $10.50 hand lotion when the Olay Body Quench is soo much better anyway? No thanks! I'd rather take my dog to the dog park or drive to the mountains.
  • I don't eat out a lot. I make amazing smoothies in the morning for breakfast accompanied by some raw nuts, and for lunch I have salad at home with nuts and raw cheese. Snacks are generally raw fruit or veg. Sometimes I'll go out for dinner, but a lot of the time it's an avocado with salsa and hemp seeds. Eating out is not only really bad on the pocketbook, but also REALLY bad for your waistline! I get home late from work anyway, and so if I go out to eat, that kills the time that I spend at home.
  • I only drink water. I don't drink milk, I hate soda (it burns my throat), and juice is too sugary. I gave up soda when I was 16 just because I thought, this is dumb, I'm just drinking liquid calories. I don't buy bottled water either, unless I'm on a roadtrip. I carry a plastic bottle with me that I fill up with my Brita water filter; this goes to work with me or if I know I'm going to be out all day. We have a water machine at work so I fill it up there; I generally drink well over 64oz of water a day. It's great for your body and saves a ton of money! Soda is so expensive that if you add it up, you could be saving a lot of money each month. Most restaurants charge $2.00 for soda, if you eat out 3 times a week, that's $12, just for 2 people and that's $624 a year! Just for having a soda with your meal! Not counting gas stations, 20oz bottles here and there. That's a lot of money! Wasteful! Try going without soda, it may be hard at first but I truly do not miss it!
  • I rarely buy clothes. If I do, I make sure I have at least 4 pairs of pants for work with enough tops to mix-and-match outfits. I buy shoes only when I need then or if they wear out. I just don't enjoy clothes shopping that much anyway, but when I do go shopping, I go to Kohl's, their clothes are very cute, fit great, and are very affordable.

Living simply is not boring, it's about making smart choices on what to spend money on, what are your priorities? Do you really need $200 jeans?

So, what do I spend the most money on?

  • A quality haircut. I go to Toni and Guy in the mall every 8 weeks, no one cuts my hair better than them and paying $40.00 for getting a great cut everytime can't be substituted. But I dye my own hair, my best friend can get the salon-quality hairdye at cost. So by doing it myself it costs me about $2.00 using the SAME brand hairdye that if Toni and Guy did it, it would cost me about $50!
  • My pets. I have two cats and one dog. They get quality food that is specifically for them, my two cats are almost 13 and indoor, so they get a food that is for indoor cats over 10 years old (it's about $10 for a 3.5lb bag). My animals are my family and so their health is very important to me, I want them to be as healthy as possible and live as long as possible! Juno gets groomed every month at PetSmart; they bathe her, clip her nails, and trim up everything, I COULD do this myself, but with my busy schedule, it's much easier this way. Juno also has health insurance that costs me $35.00/month. For dog owners, I don't think you could pass this up; if she's in an accident say she gets hit by a car, gets bit by another dog, or gets a disease, including cancer, these costs would be in the thousands, but her insurance would cover them and I would pay a small portion. This fee also covers yearly vaccinations, trips to the vet, and heartworm testing; VERY worth it in my book. I'm looking out for her future, and my wallet. I guess I spend the most money on my dog buying treats, etc. She's a lot of fun and I want to give her the best home that she's ever had.

That's about it! I really don't spend a lot of money, I don't need to! I like going to thrift stores every once in a while to find some cool vintage finds, but that's all I look for. I like to get out and do as much as possible since the weather here is so beautiful and Arizona has a lot to offer.

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