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Saturday, October 21, 2017   
 

More Meaning in Life
by Doris Dobkins
Doris Dobkins is the publisher of $mart Money New$. You can subscribe by visiting her web site at CreativeFinances.com
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Doris Dobkins

Sometimes 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 way.

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.

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