I remember when we first got married (just 3.5 years ago) everything was so wide open. Our lives. Our minds. Our future. Our hearts. I had just graduated from college a month earlier and he had been working off and on since his graduation just two years earlier. We moved to where he found a job and when we saw our first apartment we felt like it was the greatest place we could possibly live. It wasn’t the greatest apartment complex and we had some pretty shady neighbors and the kitchen was pretty tiny, but we loved it. We were together and everything was brand new.
I have yet to work a full time job outside of the home since we got married. Because of that we decided early on to spend as little money as possible in order to save for a future home and pay off our student loans as fast as possible. We have learned to go against societal norms and try to find out what we could live without. Some of these things are big, others small, but they all in some way save us money and cultivate simplicity in our lives.
Five things we can live without:
- Personal care products. I always enjoyed nice smelling soaps, body sprays, body washes, shampoos, conditioners, perfumes, lotions and creams. Just writing out that list makes me thankful we no longer use them. Now we have a few items that we use for hair and body cleaning, as deodorant, moisturizer, etc. They all serve another purpose as well. We can either eat them or clean with them as well. This has taken the level of toxins entering our bodies and at the same time has saved us money.
- Hot showers every day. No, seriously. I have found that this was simply a habit and not a necessity. I actually didn’t decide one day that I was going to shower less frequently. It started when I had a newborn for the first time. It was just impossible to find that time everyday, so I started counting my showers in weekly increments instead of daily. I find that 3-4 times per week is plenty. There are other ways to clean yourself besides a hot shower. This saves me time, saves us money and is actually better for your hair and skin.
- A dishwasher. Our first apartment didn’t have a dishwasher and it worked out fine because I had plenty of time to wash dishes since I wasn’t working and our oldest son wasn’t born yet. When we moved into our second apartment I found the dishwasher so much easier, especially having a new baby. I got so dependent on it that when we moved again a year later I was really hoping to get a place with a dishwasher. We had the option of living where we do now or in an apartment complex with all new features and a dishwasher. Our current home won out and I am so thankful that my desire for a dishwasher didn’t influence our decision too heavily. Not having a dishwasher saved us $150/month on rent and has also given us a back yard where we can garden and be outside together as a family. This has been priceless.
- Furniture. When we first married we bought a bed with some of the money given to us by our wedding guests. Other than that we had some old, dirty sitting chairs, a coffee table and some card tables. We lived without a dining table and chairs for a few months before someone in our family decided we needed them. We got rid of the chairs when we moved into our second apartment because we didn’t have space. We now have a sofa that I purchased earlier this year with some birthday money and a second-hand chair I found for $20 at a garage sale. Our dressers were handed down from our parents as well. We simply sat on the floor or our dining chairs until we purchased our living room furniture. When we had guests over they would get the chairs and we would sit on the floor. This saved us money and again it allowed me to see that you really can live without certain things.
- A second car. When we got married I got rid of my car, my husband sold his car and we bought his grandparents’ car with some of the money we received as a wedding gift. We don’t need a second car when I can simply drop my husband off at work (~8 miles away) and take it where I need to go. We may have to get something a bit bigger if we have a third baby (because of large car seats), but for now this works well. This saves us money (buying the car, insurance, gas) and it also has helped us be content being at home as a family.