The Details: Downsizing, Prioritizing and Living With Less

A few points of follow-up to my last post, The American Dream?, lest you think I am a communist, hippie or completely unrealistic about money.

I believe in goal setting, hard work and that everyone has a right to these. I do like things, but I am learning to be more discerning when buying them. I used to hate dealing with money (probably because I’ve never had much of it) but I have now found greater confidence and maturity in handling it (due in no small part to the influence of my much braver-in-money-matters husband).

On that last point, I’d like to share some of our progress with you to show that my declarations on the misdirection of extreme capitalism are not just idle chatter.

These are our jars:

Budget Jars

{Please note: there was no failure of my aesthetic sensibility. While I allow that buying pretty, matching jars or handsome labels for this purpose would have been painfully and ironically frivolous, I would have at least removed the salsa stickers from the jars before slapping on our own labels. Alas, I cannot always control the occasional boorishness of my husband.}

Anyhow, every week, we fill them with cash based on the carefully planned (and rather tight) budget. No more credit card filling in the cash gap, no more fuzzy idea of the checking account balance, no more worrying about how things will get paid for at the end of the month. Now there is a pre-established amount set aside for each area of expense, along with savings filtering out here or there and the rest of the bills being paid according to the budget.

There are a number of additional benefits to this sort of careful planning:

    • We both contribute a proportional amount to the jars. Filling them and balancing our book is something we do together. Rather than money coming between us (as it does for many couples), it actually brings us closer.
    • I have a more concrete appreciation for how much I have and how big a dent a “little” impulse purchase (or meal out) will put in my budget.
    • We save up for big purchases that we really need or want. The appreciation of a purchase tends to diminish quickly for most people. But not so when you’ve been planning and saving for months, and when you chose quality so you won’t be purchasing a new whatever any time soon.
    • Our house is kind of Scandinavian-chic–no clutter! I plot out the decor details very carefully. As a result, I am still frequently thrilled by careful purchases made many months or years ago.
    • I don’t make a lot right now. And though I’d certainly welcome more, I nevertheless feel that with careful planning, we’ll always get by.

This is really just an excuse to show my ridiculously adorable dog, Becks. But I'll go with: note the carpet--a purchase we agonized over for months and that I still love every time I look at it.

Lastly, here is some major (and fun) inspiration for down-sizing, going into this nationalist holiday weekend:

Happy Canada Day and Fourth of July (and anniversary for Mike and me) !

8 responses to “The Details: Downsizing, Prioritizing and Living With Less

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  5. This post made me smile. I did the same thing with my limited budget when I was employed elsewhere, it really does help you stress out less when you plan spending out like this.

  6. First, Happy Anniversary (ours is July 3) and secondly, I do love the rug. Nicely done.

    Interesting use of jars. My mother talks about the money envelopes that her parents during the Depression had to help allocate for various expenses. When my husband and I “retired” we used them and they really helped us budget monthly and downsize the monthly expenses. Good for you both.

    PS I’ve seen those tiny homes and been intrigued by them.

    • Thanks, Georgette-and happy anniversary to you too!

      Yeah, the jars are very similar to the envelopes (I think my grandparents used envelopes, too!). Very helpful!

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