Have you ever desired to spend more time at home? To be debt free? To be less tied to the extractive economy? To have more time for family, for friends, for living?
Have you ever thought there was no way you could never possibly do that?
How much money do you think you really need to survive? In reality, there will be a magic number that is different for each person/couple/family, but I have a feeling it is a lot less than what most people conclude.
My husband and I live off of $12,000 per year in one of the most expensive cities to live in: Pasadena, CA.
How is that possible you say?
1. We live in a city where bikes, feet, and public transportation are plentiful and cars are not a need. (We do not own a car, but own two bikes).
2. We have two roommates who share living space, thus making rent in an increasingly expensive city, much more affordable (Our share is $525/month).
3. We know how to cook, scavenge, and look for food. Cooking helps us eat well, healthy, and cheaply. We have also dumpster dived when desiring that thrill, and visited food banks to help offset the cost of eating. (We spend an average of $50 per week on food).
4. We do not own cell phones, and granted, at times it is less convenient but saves a fair amount of money.
5. We do not pay for internet access. We go to the library, the local coffee shop, our local school, or mooch off of something unsecured.
6. We utilize low-cost health care options. I.e. My husband and I both had our teeth deep cleaned at our local community college by students in training. While it took longer, it was very inexpensive ($20/person).
7. We do not have health insurance, home insurance, renter's insurance or any insurance. This is the risk I think most people are not willing to take saying "What if you got cancer?" "What if you got in an accident while riding your bike?" "What if...?" My husband continues to challenge me not to let fear be driving force in my life - and I would challenge others to do the same. That being said, we do have a substantial nest egg we could use if something came up. Sure - it would wipe us out - but what is money, eh? (Some day I'd like to write a blog on the corruption of our health insurance system - and the moral reasons for not participating in it -but that is for another day).
8. We are debt free.
9. We buy most items second-hand and try to make others.
10. We are learning the art of bartering. (I.e. exchanging one service/item for another).
In a recent conversation with a friend who was trying to find more ways to save money, my husband suggested she reduce her gas expenditures and take public transportation. She responded with the usual: "But I don't have time!" My husband replied: "Well, it's either time or money - what's more important to you?"
I choose time. (And by the way, the bus doesn't really take that much more time than a car - especially in Los Angeles).