Hello! Amanda and I are up in the Upper Peninsula (The UP) of Michigan this week on a mini-road trip to see a new part of the country, hang with friends, and enjoy a wedding in Green Bay, WI on the way home.
We’ve never been to Michigan before, but so far it’s been beautiful. The white sandy beaches of the northern lake Michigan shoreline were such a translucent green and blue the water almost looked tropical at times:
One of our favorite things about money is that it allows you to explore the magnificent world around us. I don’t know if we’ll ever become full-time travelers because we love having a place to call home too. But I can guarantee you that the more financially independent we become, the more risks we will take to venture out of the state we grew up in (Minnesota) and explore the rest of the earth that is out there floating around in space. Traveling more is definitely one of the dreams that keeps us saving, investing, building little location-independent businesses with our side time, and dreaming about incredible new ways we can live our lives.
But in order to travel, you need to accumulate the resources to do it. You must trim away every un-necessary expense in your budget, and then buy income-generating assets with the money you save. These income-producing investments will then generate money for you to put gas in your car, buy plane tickets, and lodging even when you don’t go to work. This is the goal we’re working toward right now.
Speaking of trimming un-necessary expenses in your budget…. I recently read this question posted by or friends at The Savvy Couple: “What are ways you cut small expenses in your budget?”
Here is how I personally answered this question:
- We eat at home.
- We avoid paying for entertainment.
- We avoid recurring monthly subscriptions.
Honestly, these are the three biggest action steps we have taken to reduce our expenses so that we have more money to accomplish the dreams we really want to live in life. Let’s break these three things down:
We Eat At Home:
My wife and I haven’t always taken this one step seriously. When I was a teenager and college student, I was always broke because all of my money was going to bars and restaurants. My wife was in a similar situation when we met. She was in debt because she also had a bad habit of eating out with the portion of her paycheck that didn’t go to bills.
Together we had the revelation that there are better things in life than going to restaurants and putting yummy things in our mouths. Having the money to buy these better things in life was our motivation to rarely eating out ever again. Instead we shop at the grocery store, we buy what’s on sale, and we cook and do our own dishes at home.
These dining experiences aren’t as glamorous as being a “foodie” and trying out all of the hip resultants and fancy drinks in the city. But I’ll be honest with you: Being wealthy, and working for fun and purpose, is a whole lot more fun than being trapped in a job I hate because I have to pay my restaurant bills. Logically, it was simply a worth-while decision for us to choose to cook our own meals, clean up after ourselves, and eat at home, so we can afford to do the really awesome things in life, and that’s why we do it.
We Avoid Paying for Entertainment:
There are two ways to be entertained: You either pay for entertainment, or you create entertainment like your a kid on a playground again. Paying for entertainment can get expensive. Creating entertainment allows you to encourage your inner-child to come out to learn, grow, and experience the world by playing with the things the earth gives to us. If you do this right, and see the earth like a very wise child, you can create tons of entertainment incredibly cheaply.
Here’s some examples of what paying for entertainment looks like: Netflix subscriptions, Concert Tickets, Lavish Vacations, and Obnoxiously-Priced Alcoholic Drinks.
Here’s what creating entertainment looks like: Long walks and hikes on your favorite trails; Bringing a book to a public beach; Utilizing the resources at your public library. We even attend a free Yoga class that our local park and rec hosts every Monday night.
Learn to see the world like a kid again. Go out and play and learn to have fun being yourself again. You’ll be amazed by all of the fun you can have for free when you learn to create your own entertainment.
We Avoid Re-Curring Monthly Subscriptions:
I’ll be honest, if a business tries to sell me on the idea that a monthly-subscription-fee is a good idea to add to my budget, I am immediately skeptical of it’s intentions. Why? Too often monthly subscriptions remind me of evil families of giant leeches trying to suck every dime I’ve saved in my bank account. Personally, I don’t like leeches vacuum-sucking cash out of my pockets, so I avoid monthly-subscription-fees like they’re the plague. I run from monthly media bills; debt interest payments; service or warranty subscriptions; and techy apps promising to enhance the quality of my life. If it has a monthly subscription attached to it, I avoid it, because it’s often too hard to cut off the payment once it’s already attached to you like an evil leech and sucking the cash out of your wallet.
I do keep the monthly payments that are essential for me to live a happy life in my budget. For example:
Our mortgage payment is 6.9% of our annual income. It’s recommended to spend around 30%, so we’re kicking butt there.
We drive older, but reliable cars that are cheap to insure and maintain. I think we pay $100 a month in car insurance for both of our cars, and $100 for tabs for both of our cars per year.
We pay for the cheapest internet service we can find ($50 a month) and avoid any package trying to up-sell us to have more products or services. Anyone have any ideas for cheaper service?
We choose the cheapest high-deductible health insurance plan that covers us from catastrophic medical bills. Then we always make sure our emergency fund is fully-stocked with $10,000 cash in case a dreaded medical emergency happens.
So in the end, these are the three big ways we trim a tight budget. I’ll be enjoying Michigan for the rest of the weekend, and then we’ll be back in Minnesota on Monday. God bless.