12 February 2011

The road less travelled

Sixteen years ago, when we chose this Cheapskates lifestyle, it was out of necessity.

Now it's from choice.

Today we choose what we spend our money on and deliberately live beneath our means. It is these choices that have given us the lifestyle we love.

Back then we were the odd couple amongst our friends and family.  I stayed at home and looked after the babies, kept house, baked, sewed, tended our garden and hunted out bargains. Wayne was the breadwinner.

We were a single income family, with a rather irregular income to boot, and yet our lifestyle hadn't changed. To all intents and purposes we lived exactly the same way we always had. And that confused people. They didn't see, and couldn't understand, that the changes we had made were hidden or disguised as something else.

In essence all we did was stop wasting our money on things that really weren't important to us: the takeaway dinners, cheap toys for the kids, even overseas holidays. We didn't miss any of these things but we did have more money to enjoy the things that were important to us.

We became smarter at handling our money. I discovered that it's really easy to shop for a month and stick to a budget when you have a plan.  Our love of anything old was well and truly pandered to when we discovered op shop and garage sale treasures.  We honed our creative skills and learned to make many of the things we needed and wanted. We actually learned the difference between a want and a need. Seeing how far we could stretch our money became an incredible game.

Still, there were those folk who didn't understand that just because the kids were dressed in hand-me-downs and garage sale specials we weren't poor.  They couldn't grasp the benefits of Penny Pinchin' Pan Pizza over Pizza Hut or Dominoes (aside from the health benefits, the financial were huge - about 220%!). They thought that because we stopped updating our car every three years that we were broke.

These poor spendthrifts just couldn't see past the material image and so they thought we were poor, broke, penniless, on the verge of bankruptcy, in hock up to our ears, stingy, mean, tight, miserly, cheap (I may be a Cheapskate but there is absolutely nothing cheap about me) - these are all the things I've been told we are over the years.

There have been times when I've wanted to bang my head against a brick wall. The day a young mother, who had spent the best part of 40 minutes telling me how much debt they had and how her husband had to work 7 days a week and they were still not able to pay the bills, then proceeded to tell me that her 5 year old daughter would never accept a second-hand Baby Born for her birthday so she had spent the $68 to buy a new one, springs to mind. Actually that day it was her head I wanted to bang, not mine.

Some people just don't get it.

We go without things in the short term so we can enjoy more in the long term. For a few years we didn't go on holidays to exotic places. We still don't, but in those lean years we visited with family and friends. And you know what? It was much more fun and did us all the world of good. Our children grew up with their cousins and aunts and uncles, so that today, even though we are spread all over the country, they keep in touch.  If we'd gone into debt and visited Dreamworld or wherever there's a better than fair to middling chance they wouldn't have that same relationship with their extended family and we would still be paying for it.

Choosing the Cheapskates way is often scary but living life debt free, cashed up and laughing puts those scary thoughts into perspective.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Cath,

    Just love it!
    My sentiments exactly.
    We must have started on this journey at very similar times.

    Dec 1991 was when we (husband & myself) arrived back here from Canada with $1,000 between us. No car, no jobs, but with a 'Can do Attitude' & 'God will Provide'
    Now, with 2 teenagers, a dog & 4 chickens & NO debt, and a house we completely own & cash in the bank - we are so blessed!
    Please note: hubby has been out of workforce for nearly a year & God is still providing for us!

    You should re-post this article every year!
    (the wider the net - the greater the catch)



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