Week 1: What's Essential?
In order to live on less income, you have to identify what is essential in your life. What do you want to keep and what can you eliminate? So much of our American lifestyle is made up of non-essentials. The longer we survive on limited income, the more I realize that much of what was normalcy in our budget really wasn't necessary in the first place. As I begin to re-evaluate our budget, I thought I would start by identifying what is essential in our life right now. Things like our home mortgage & food. electricity is essential to us. Is your house too big for you family? Is your food bill outrageous because of spending on convenience? Is you electric bill as small as it could be?
Once you really consider your essentials, many of the other "essentials" are really not essential at all. Cable T.V. or satellite? Land line an cell phone? Internet service? How many of those things are required? Multiple pairs of athletic shoes... car washes... are there ways to cut back on these? Are they necessary??
I also plan to look at my activities. How many activities that I schedule for myself or the kids are essential? Is the gas to get there justified? Are the activities essential to the health and or welfare of those involved? What about the things I do that fill my day? Gardening may be essential as if falls under food, even looking for deals in sales flyers is important, but is the time I spend visiting my friends' facebook pages justified? Probably not. I am pretty sure I could find a much more productive thing to do with that 15-20 minutes I allow myself and touch base with a phone call once a month to my friend. I wouldn't think that our discussion would cover the fact that she was tired on Tuesday or that she just got home from work on Friday evening and we could really touch on the important things that are going on in her life. As I take a hard look at what I do, I realize the prioritizing eliminates the fluff and simplifies my life. With simplicity comes true happiness on many levels for me.
Evaluating what makes you happy is important to your health and well-being. My family is VERY important to me. My faith is monumental. If I don't put time in each day for that, what is the point in life? When you over-schedule and over-spend, you have little left for the things that bring true happiness.
As I look at all of these things I hope to focus on the essentials. By de-cluttering my life, I hope to find that I have more energy and resources to spend on what matters. When is the last time you looked at these things? Is it time to do so again? What did you find?