Is Your Life Fiction Or Non-Fiction?

Are your life choices and decisions based in reality or fiction? Do you feel entitled to a better standard of living than you can currently afford? Are you deep in debt because of it? These are questions I always ask myself when I see stories of people living in trailer parks but driving $40,000 cars, school bus drivers living in $800,000 homes, or single women having 14 children when they are on welfare. (more…)


What, If Anything, Have You Given Up During This Recession?

Every day on the news (which I really need to stop watching, to be honest), there are stories about families giving up this or that due to the continuing downturn in the economy. As I mentioned the other day, we have not really felt that much of an impact yet due to where we live and what we do for a living, but people are really struggling out there. Some are giving up “luxury” expenses, like nights at the movies, while others are selling their second cars and making due with just one. Each situation is different, of course, dependent upon income level, job security, location, size of family, etc.. But as I see each of these stories, I cannot help but give some thought to the things that I would definitely give up immediately if we were in a financial bind due to the economy, and this is what I came up with:

Drastically Reduce Any Dining Out

As of late, we have been spending about $150-$200 a month eating out at local restaurants, give or take a meal or two. This would probably be the first thing we would cut out of our budget if times started getting really tight.

Look Into Alternative Cellphone Plans

We are no longer on a contract with AT&T, and for the benefit of my family I would definitely give up my iPhone and it’s expensive plan. I rarely if ever use any minutes, and I could adapt to not always having the internet in my pocket. We could both ditch this plan and get prepaid phones for much cheaper. In fact, mine would probably cost nothing as I don’t use minutes!

Reduce Or Eliminate Satellite TV

Granted, we cannot do this right now because of stupid DirecTV and their contract. (Never again, never again) But if I was out of my contract or had cable TV, we would either reduce our package to a cheaper one or just dump it altogether.

Reduce Contributions To Retirement Accounts

Because we are young and have a long time to go before retirement, to have an extra chunk of change each month available for food or shelter, I would cut contributions to our retirement accounts down to the bare minimum. We can always play catch up when things start looking up.

Cut Back Our Movie Rental Plan

I have long been an advocate of Netflix, and absolutely love their service. We are on the 2 at a time unlimited plan, which is $13.99 a month. Since every penny would help, I think we could cut that back to the 1 at a time, maximum 2 for the month plan for $4.99.

We are already pretty frugal for a lot of things: by reducing our energy use, by avoiding bank charges, by keeping high deductibles on our insurance policies, and by not doing a lot of shopping. But even for us, there are some changes we could make to free up a few hundred bucks a month to put towards the truly important stuff in life. These things don’t make or break us, they are just nice little luxuries we can afford right now. If we couldn’t, losing them would not have that much of an affect on our quality of life but would definitely have an impact on our balance sheet. So my question to you is – what would or could you give up if you absolutely had to? Have you already started giving some of these things up due to the economy? Let us all know what you think in the comments!


Nature Provides Very Cheap Weekend Entertainment.

During this weekend, I spent nearly all my daytime hours in the outdoors. Saturday, I took the Jeep for a long ride through a canyon, a forest, a flat mesa and over a stream or two. I brought some food, some water, my chair and my camera and had an incredibly enjoyable day siteseeing all sorts of places I had not gone to since we moved here. I watched hawks flying overhead and diving down to pick up rabbits, I saw fishermen angling for trout swimming in a deep river by the side of the road, and I sat out in my camping chair with a good book at an overlook checking out the entire valley below. The sun was shining, the breeze was blowing, trees and ground shrub were slowly getting back their green, and I was truly entertained and relaxed. Total cost of my Saturday? $9 for gasoline.

On Sunday, I headed out to the hills for some exercise. If Saturday was spent sitting outside most of the day, Sunday was going to be my activity day. I packed a backpack and headed out to some National Park land that I had not hiked on yet. This was one steep hike, gaining about 1,500 feet in not that long of a distance, so I had my work cut out for me. I have to admit that when we first moved here, I had trouble catching my breath at this altitude – almost 8,000 feet above sea level. (We came from actual sea level in Los Angeles, so this was a big adjustment) I am fine now, but this was a tough hike. I took my time, watching my step, looking for signs of life – lizards, spiders, new plant life coming up after the thaw, and the rare cactus or three that we rarely see here. As I climbed higher and higher the trees were seemingly all dead or dying, victims of the back beetle. The cactus were thriving here along some strange looking flowers, but the trees were getting thinner and thinner. It’s amazing what you don’t see from down below as you speed along in your car. As I approached the top, I stopped for a while on a rock to relax and watch the birds hunting for prey, and took this picture:

So how much did I spend on Sunday? $0. What a way to spend a weekend. I wasn’t stuck in a mall looking at things I didn’t need or spending a fortune on one form of entertainment or another – I was in nature, being entertained for free. I got some exercise, some sun, some new memories, and a look at some beautiful things. I think too many people skip out on the free (or cheap) entertainment right outside their window while searching for “things” to entertain them. If you haven’t enjoyed nature lately, I highly recommend it. Not only is it good for you, but it saves you money too!


Sunday Money Roundup – Ghost Riders Edition.

Yesterday I spent quite some time driving around New Mexico looking for cool things to take pictures of, and this old ranch definitely caught my eye:

Pretty cool no? New Mexico is great for finding forgotten treasures like this. Now, on to the roundup…

Cash Money Life continues his series How to Start a Blog for Fun or Profit with How to Choose a Domain.

Moolanomy asks if you should be buying a house if you are in debt. So, should you?

Money Ning has the 7 must-read tax changes of 2008.

Mrs. Micah is doing a feature called “Where is my money going month?” for February. If you missed the start of it, head on over now and start reading!

Frugal Dad wants to help you pay off your credit card debt in 10 simple steps.

My Dollar Plan is offering some advice on setting up an exit plan for yourself or your business.

Dough Roller gives his thoughts on when the recession might end.

The Frugal Duchess is working on curing her “bag lady” fears. See what she is doing to make sure she doesn’t end up one!

Almost Frugal has some free online activities for children.

The Digerati Life is talking about stress at work and has some tips on how to manage job burnout.


Money Quote Friday – Money Is No Hope For Independence Edition.

“If money is your hope for independence you will never have it. The only real security that a man will have in this world is a reserve of knowledge, experience, and ability.”

– Henry Ford

Have a good weekend everyone.