A dignified low income class for America.

A dignified low income class for America.

We are beginning our journey to a simpler life.  I’m making some changes.  Look out!

I took a look at my finances to see what we’re spending and this is what January looked like…

Category Amount
Gym Membership $74
Wine $11
Amazon Orders $56.96
Car Insurance $114.78
Child Care $446
Eating Out $111.76
Gas $30.48
Gifts $127.19
Groceries $983.60
Internet $35
Parking $10
Rent & Utilities $1,858
Uber $33.54
Total $3,89

This is what it costs for us to exist in our daily routine.  No special trips, no major meals out.  No date nights.  And we’re on our parent’s cell phone plans (shh… don’t tell anyone.)  Some of you, if anyone ever find my obscure blog and actually reads it, are probably thinking that’s pretty cheap, but is it really?  $4,000 a month just to exist?  Plus, our kid may want to attend college some day, we may want to retire some day, and occasionally we may even want to take a vacation.  Our rent is a ridiculous $1800 a month.  Yes, we live in Denver and it’s expensive but there has to be a better option.  Also, we spend at least $800 and sometimes upwards of $1000 at the grocery store each month, plus we eat a meal out once or twice a week.  Who do we think we are?  The Trump family?  Ha. No!  If they gave me every penny they owned, I wouldn’t take it!  In other countries people feed an entire family for less than $3 a day. We spend nearly $50, and I consider us pretty frugal.

Fortunately, we do have some cash saved and we are looking at buying a house.  Unfortunately the real estate market in Denver in INSANE.  Like, houses stay on the market only for about 11 minutes.  By the time you make an appointment to see a house and actually drive there, it’s under contract because someone else put in an offer site unseen.  Craziness!  Anyway, we could use the money for a down payment on an overpriced house in Denver and work all day and night at jobs we hate to pay the mortgage, or, we could move out of the city a little ways and try to find a place that we can comfortably afford.  Plus, if I succeed at simplifying our life, and I will because I’m persistent to a fault and I won’t give up even if my husband cries, begs, and pleads, we really shouldn’t need much space.  Right?  We do, however, want to live somewhere safe and somewhere where we can find a sense of community.  I think that will be the hard part.

Our country doesn’t really seem to have a class of happy, lower income families.  When we were in Costa Rica, I saw kids in school uniforms happily skipping out of houses with dirt floors and no windows and walking down the street to school arm in arm with their siblings, singing songs and laughing.  They had less money then we can possibly imagine, but they seemed happy.  In countries where the majority of the population is poor, it’s not such a tragedy.  It’s just a way of life.  You make sure everyone is fed and clothed and that’s enough to be happy.  Here, it seems that poverty is almost always associated with crime, hunger, dysfunctional families, and drugs.  Are there people in our country that live without the extras but maintain their dignity, pride, and happiness?

I mean, what if every outfit isn’t a fashion statement?  What if I wear my clothes until they actually wear out?  When was the last time you actually wore out an article of clothing?  Like, the clothing actually had holes in it.  And I’m not talking about your favorite hoodie that you wear only in your own kitchen.  When I show up at the gym in 2 year old sweatpants and no makeup, people look at me funny.  What is going to happen if I just stop buying new clothes until I need them?

I don’t tend to buy a lot of street clothes, but I feel obligated to own some minimally fashionable clothes just so I can go to dinner with friends or attend the occasional concert.  I will admit, though, that I spend way too much money on workout clothes.  Do I need $80 running tights?  Three pairs?  Do I need six winter coats in varying degrees of warmth?  Probably not.  That’s it.  I don’t care what the world thinks.  No more clothes!  I can survive for a very long time on the closet and dresser full of clothes in my bedroom.  Plus, I’d rather focus on my health and look great in anything than buy expensive clothes to cover up the parts of me I don’t like.

Obviously, there are lots ways we can save money and live simpler but, one thing at a time, right?  First, I am going to change our food budget.  I think we should be able to feed ourselves hearty, healthy meals for $150 a week.  I picked that number sort of arbitrarily, or rather completely arbitrarily, but I’m going to try it.  That’s my goal this month.  Feed the family for $600.  That means no more $3 coffees from Starbucks.  And probably, no more wine.  Oh, man.  I like wine a lot.  Maybe I can squeeze one bottle a month into the budget.  We’ll fast for a day.  It’ll bring us closer to god, right?  Just kidding.  After a week or so, I probably won’t even notice that there’s no wine in the fridge.  It’s mostly just a habit, anyway.  Right?  Hopefully.    We are also looking at smaller houses in small towns north of Denver, but changing our eating habits is something I can do immediately to start saving money and living simpler.  I’ll let you know how it goes…

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