|Doris Dobkins is the publisher of $mart Money New$. You can subscribe by
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in all our efforts to live more frugally, save money and simplify
our lives, we forget why we are making these choices.
Is the American Dream still more is
better or is it shifting to something more along the lines of more
fun, less stuff?
I don't know about you, but I need to
be reminded on a regular basis of why I am trying to save money, pay
off my bills and live a simpler life. It's easy to get quickly back
into the phase of spend, spend, spend and buy, buy, buy. While this
may satisfy me short-term, it impacts my long-term goals of getting
out of debt and having more family time instead of work time.
Some ways to downshift include
staying in your smaller house, not trying to keep up with the
Jones's, buying used economy cars, paying off credit cards and other
debts, investing raises and other cash windfalls, buying used
instead of new as much as possible and not being slaves to fashion.
The less you spend, the less you need
to work to pay for those expenses. This ultimately allows you more
time for your true passions, whatever they may be. For some it is
travel. For others it is gardening or reading a book.
For the next 60 day (hopefully it
will become a habit by then) I'd like to suggest that you evaluate
every purchase you make. Calculate how many hours (after tax) you'd
have to work to pay for each purchase. Then decide if trading your
life (work hours) is worth the exchange.
This can be a fun process. Make it
fun and be creative with it. Involve your family so you are all
headed in the same direction, together. You'll get there faster that
Together as a family, determine what
is important to you and what your family goals are for the next few
years. Break them down into 1 year, 5 year and 10 year goals, if you
can. Then focus on what's important to you and your family by
keeping your goals in mind and avoiding or getting rid of anything
that doesn't matter or becomes an obstacle in your path. If you have
a goal of retiring in 5 years and your car breaks down, your goal
will help you determine your next step. Buying a new, top of the
line SUV may be nice but it will set you back 18 months on your
5-year retirement goal. Does it look as good to you now as it did
when you were at the dealer? These are the kinds of questions you
need to ask yourself and work through with your family.
If you have already taken some steps
in your life towards a more meaningful life, you'll know exactly
what I mean when I say that it is usually a one-way trip. Once you
have experienced it, you'll never look back.