Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Living Lite

We have been living on a much reduced income since we left our two full time jobs last year. One of our questions, of course, was can we do it? Well, it has been nearly a year and we have found out. We can, or at least, we are, so far. It has meant some changes in our lifestyle. We left a very expensive place to live but it was an island which helped us get used to a minimal lifestyle. There was a lot to do there but most of it was outside oriented, i.e. hiking, biking, beach combing, fishing. It was a cold place and it rained a lot, and it was dark much of the winter (good guess: it was Alaska). So, in those months people got together for dinners, games and school and church activities. It made for a rich community life. It also was cheap. There were not many places to shop and there were few restaurants. Still, things like groceries, transportation, housing and utilities cost well above the average. When we left our income was cut more than half.

So, we knew we needed to be intentional about cutting what costs we could. Housing costs were less here (Florida) but much of the other stuff was about the same. We kept our cell phones but cut cable. I miss sports but most of the other programs we want to watch we can stream after they have been shown on tv. We've grown to love PBS! We don't buy dvds and no place rents them anymore. But, with a Kindle we can watch movies when they come out on dvd and with Amazon Prime many older movies are free.

I have had to cut my book buying budget way back. Jacksonville has a great library and for $40 a year (out of county residents) we can borrow any book we want to read. We have had to reduce food costs, too. The local farmers bring fresh produce to market almost year round so we stock up on good food there. We make our own bread and we skip the restaurants unless we have coupons or they are running a special. Naturally, we only go out for lunch since it is a discounted dinner already.

Transportation is still a big budget item. Flights are cheaper here and so is gas but the miles add up. It's a 60 mile round trip from our house to most places we want to get to in the city.

Most of our recreation is still cheap, i.e., biking, walking, going to the gym. The state parks are good values. Church activities and getting together with family remains the hub of our social life.

Downsized feels like an upgrade.