Living Frugal – Back to the Basics

A quick note before we begin today’s post.  This came from Safecastle the other day.  If you haven’t made a submission yet, but are interested you’d better get busy!

The reminder from Safecastle:

Hello. Once again, thank you for participating in the 2011 Safecastle Freedom Awards contest–the new Media recognition program in the area of survivalism and preparedness.
The deadline for contestants to submit and actually publish to your website is December 31, 2011. Please get the word out about that now so that if anyone still wants to enter, they have some time to do so.
Also, please note that I will be needing YOUR selections for your site’s 2011 “submission champions” in the two categories we are recognizing: original video and original written non-fiction. Once we have those site winners, we will post them at our blog through January and determine overall winners for the grand prizes to be awarded in February.
Here is the latest release on the contest that you may want to refer to:
Also, here is the original blog post that includes contest rules:
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On to the post….

Every once in awhile I get the urge to buy something I really don’t need.  I recently bought a Kindle Fire, which I really didn’t need, but man is it fun.  The thing about the Kindle is that it’s a device made for consumption and not creating.  I can watch a movie on it, or a read a book, or listen to music, but the device is not meant to create any of these things.  I went into the relationship with the Kindle understanding this, but I didn’t realize how easy it is to buy stuff with it.

It's all about keeping the spending down.

And that goes for all things online.  I love to draw and found a website awhile back that taught step by step how to draw portraits and other cool stuff – for a price.  I’ve been drawing for a long time now and when I saw the results the guy promised I bought in and I wasn’t disappointed, but now there’s always email from the guy’s site showing how to do more and better things with your art.  I haven’t bought his other stuff, but it’s tempting.

Frugal in the 21st Century

What does living frugally mean to us today?  Other than these small extravagances I like to think I live a fairly frugal life style.  I drive a truck that’s about 15 years old and has almost 250,000 miles on it.  It’s not beautiful, but it’s rugged and gets the job done.  We have a fairly big TV set we bought on sale, but all we have is the basic cable package.  Our phone plan is simple and is combined with the cable and Internet to keep the costs down.  We burn pellets and only use oil for hot water.  Heating oil is expensive here in the Northeast!

This year we bought a 1/2 pig and a 1/4 of a cow from a local farmer and grew some of our own vegetables and plan to do the same next year.  The meat was a lot cheaper when we bought it that way.

We don’t have any credit card debt or other outstanding debt.

Could we get by on a lot less?  Sure, if we had to we could cut back even more, but at this point we’re happy and comfortable with our lifestyle.  And isn’t that what life is all about?

Living Comfortably

By my standards we are very comfortable.  We’re warm and dry, we have a nice house with a lot of forest acreage behind us, and we have plenty of food.

But if someone were to break in looking for valuables they’d be terribly disappointed.  Mrs Jarhead doesn’t care for expensive jewelry and I don’t wear expensive watches or go in for any of that “metrosexual” bull… crap.

I’m a Maine guy pure and simple and I don’t need a lot of stuff to make me happy.

Riches

So where are my riches?

My children.  Mrs. Jarhead.  My parents.  My sister and her family.  That’s where true wealth is measured.

We go for experiences together rather than stuff.  I’d much rather take the family up a difficult mountain here in Maine than on an expensive cruise we’d be paying for over the next five years.

Our family likes to get together for a fire behind my parent’s house at all times of the year.  We’ve spent many weekend afternoons in the snow standing around the fire, laughing, joking, and talking while the kids run around playing with sleds.

Debt

I’ve been a slave to the credit card in the past and it’s no fun screening my calls because some creditor wants a piece of me.  If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time you’ve heard me tell the story of my credit card debt and what I had to do to get rid of it.  Is it fun cutting back?  No.  Especially if you’re used to living a life of entitlement, as in:  I’m entitled to this because I work hard.  Or, I’m entitled to that because I’m an American.

Wrong.

If you go into to debt you’re entitled to pay back the credit card companies what you owe because you’re the one who racked up the debt.  They might have made it easy for you, but they didn’t put a gun to your head and demand you take the two week all-expenses paid trip to Cancun.  If you have medical expenses or some such I can understand that, but simply because you bought too much stuff?  Nope.  You’re on the hook.

Want to get out of debt?  Stop spending and start living frugally.  When I started paying off my debt I didn’t have cable or a lot of other things people assume they’re entitled to.  It’s no fun, but it can be achieved if you try.  Check out Dave Ramsey’s site.  I don’t agree with some of his financial advice, but the getting out of debt part is spot on.

The only reason I live comfortably today is because I went on the “debt diet” and got rid of all my credit card debt.  These days I pay the bills on time and I have enough left over to put in the bank and still live comfortably by my standards.

I’m an avid reader and let’s just say a writer from the 1800’s caught my attention during a dark period in my life.  Walden showed me that having stuff isn’t necessary as long as you can enjoy life for what it is.  Check it out:

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.”

-Henry David Thoreau

Is that cool or what?  How do you measure riches?

-Jarhead Survivor