Last year, my wife and I decided we needed a change.
We decided that since we were living in Southern California, and we did not know how long we were going to be here, we really needed to live by the water. You know, the REAL California. Where we were living before, while it was still in Los Angeles, might as well have been in Ohio; it was like any other suburb. (No offense to Ohio of course..) However, this was going to take some sacrifices and changes in the way we handled/spent our money and our finances. When we started looking for a new place, most apartments were about $1000 more per month than we were spending and that was a scary prospect. But with some number crunching, we found some ways to save and scrimp our way to being able to live at the beach. At first I didn’t really think it was possible; I mean we came close to matching our income every month in the cheap apartment, so where would I come up with the extra $1,000 we would need to move? These are the financial sacrifices and money savers that I can remember that we did in order to make it happen.
Consolidated our cell phone plans into 1 family plan, and as an added bonus got what we wanted from Sprint
Reduced DSL speed to basic high speed internet. This was something I never really thought of before, as we were paying $34.95 for high speed DSL, and I did not even realize that is was the “tier 2″ speed. Reducing it to tier 1 saved us $15.00 per month, and we have not suffered any noticeable loss of web browsing speed.
Started working from home. This saved on commuting costs, car insurance, clothing, meals, etc. I am guessing that by working from home, I am saving several hundred dollars per month.
Stopped eating out at restaurants as often as we were. I think we go out about once a week now instead of several times a week, which is saving us a lot of money. Plus, we have more to look forward to in that our once a week is really special!
Went grocery shopping with an actual list and decided that we needed to stick to it. Too often in the past we went with only a slight idea of what we needed and ended up spending a fortune on extra stuff. Now we are in and out of the store in 30 minutes and spend a lot less.
Moved somewhere where we did not need air conditioning. Where we used to live, the summer was just brutal. 100 degrees + all summer and the electric bills killed us! Now that we moved down near the beach, we don’t even have air conditioning in our apartment and it stays between 65-85 year round. We barely even use the heat even in the winter.
Joined Netflix for our movie entertainment. We do not really go out to the movies anymore, as it costs about $30 each time for the both of us to see the movie and get some popcorn. Now we watch movies all month for about $15 per month, and we end up seeing new releases only a month or 2 after they were in theatres. This was a big savings!
My wife took on teaching a toddler’s class part-time, which brings in another couple hundred dollars a month. This goes a long way to helping us financially.
Got our own private health care instead of through an employer. We are both covered and it costs less than I was paying through my former job.
Canceled our gym memberships. With the ocean and the parks as your backyard, what did we need to go to a sweaty gym for?
Combining all of the above with a basic cutting back in our recreational activities enabled us to move to the beach, where we felt like we were really living in Southern California. Sure, we do not go out as often and we do not shop that much anymore for clothes or electronics, but when I walk out my door and see the ocean, it makes the sacrifice, both in finances and lifestyle, all worthwhile. Sacrifice is important to get what you want from life. If you want to retire early, you have to put away a lot of money early so compounding will work wonders for you. Want to take fabulous vacations every year? Start putting $100 a month into a vacation fund so you don’t have to put it on the credit card. It takes work and patience and some sacrifice, but in the end what you really want to have is attainable if you are willing to give up instant gratification and save for it!