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If you donít have it you canít give it up

May 13th, 2006 at 10:23 pm

Although Iím proud of taking on this (Modified) Minimum Wage Challenge, Iíve been worrying that my overall life is not that different and therefore there are no stories to tell. Iíve been wondering why this has been a relatively smooth transition.

I came to the conclusion that I havenít had to give up a lot of things. When I had little money I did without, and got used to it. When my debt was gone, and then my income increased, I didnít upgrade my lifestyle much, and when I did upgrade, it was in small ways.

We didnít start buying convenience food when we could, so I donít miss it now. Iíve always bought the cheapest bulk oatmeal, so I havenít had to give up instant oatmeal with flavors, or fancy low carb oatmeal, or cold cereals that are expensive. We didnít start buying precut vegetables, or frozen pre-made vegetables and sauce, or frozen meals. We didnít start buying the more expensive fruits and vegetables like asparagus and pineapple, except as rare treats.

We never got a dishwasher, so washing by hand is what we do. We rarely bought many cleaning items beyond bleach and ammonia which we used diluted and sparingly, and didnít have a variety of Simple Green and 409 and other cleaning agents. We never paid someone to clean the house.

We didnít have TiVO or satellite TV or a Plasma TV or Full cable to give up. We felt that getting Netflix and the $9.95 cable to get us a small number of channels was quite luxurious. (Iím still keeping them on the Challenge, partially because My Guy is a partner in these bills and I do not want to negatively affect him with My Challenge. We thought long and hard before committing to baby cable and Netflix and made the decision together).

We didnít switch where we bought clothes, such as Ross Dress for Less, though we may have bought more items. We didnít buy new CDs, or DVDs, or accessories. We werenít into household decorating items except for the infrequent item we fell in love with.

I never bought lattťs or any coffee out. I never bought soda or water from vending machines. I kept packing a lunch.

So there wasnít nearly as much for me to cut back on, because we never added it once we had more money. And thatís why my Challenge may be boring. Some stories that I can not tell:
-> Iím adjusting to making my own coffee in the morning.
-> Iím getting used to our once a week housecleaner not coming.
-> Iím getting used to only having a handful of channels.
-> Iím overcoming my desire to clothes shop at Macyís and Nordstrom.
-> Iíve switched from the Salad packs to buying the lettuce, yea for me.
-> I tried beans for the first time in a while, and theyíre not bad.
-> You know, making oatmeal isnít so hard, why did I ever buy instant?
-> Iíve discovered the bread thrift store.
-> Iím experimenting to see if I can handle store brand shampoo.

Here is what I want to tell people who are moving out of debt or have increased income: donít add on luxuries you donít need, because you canít miss them if you havenít had them.

5 Responses to “If you donít have it you canít give it up”

  1. 2Ę Worth Says:

    That's so true. Each of those "dollar a pop" habits adds up to huge amounts spent, especially if it's every day. As you've pointed out, it's best to have never started at all.

  2. spendless Says:

    Bravo.....well stated.

  3. Thrifty Ray Says:

    Yes....that is so true!! (But I was one of the 'others' who had to practice at new behaviors when I was planning on staying home...

    However, most are second nature now...so it's never too late to make a positive change in your circumstances and choices!!!

    Fellow bloggers and lurkers.....If you haven't, why not start today?

  4. lrjohnson Says:

    The one thing I have had to give up that I got used to was eating out a lot, about 2-4 times a week. And it's true that I've again become used to not going out. I agree, Ray, that new behaviors can be adopted. If someone is used to all the extras, they can take steps to become used to not having the extras. But it is harder, and they might need to give up only a couple things at a time.

    I think what's key is deciding what extra means something to you. If you have a little extra money and you have always dreamed of having new appliances in the kitchen, and you cook a lot and know those appliances will be used all the time, that's not a bad upgrade. But upgrading just because you can when you are rarely in the kitchen doesn't make sense. The upgrade I plan on keeping is travel-I do it relatively inexpensively, but I could not have travelled internationally twice a year when I had a much lower income.

  5. Olympia Says:

    how do you take part in the $20. dollar challenge? and what is it?

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