Walking the dog this evening, I found (not far from my house) several large sacks of beer bottles set out with the recycling. Of course I didn't leave them there...I brought them home to turn in to the store. There's almost enough to pay for a gallon of milk!
We have been "living on less" for many years now--sometimes out of strong necessity, sometimes out of choice and because of choices. Most of the years the Minou and I have been married we have lived on one income, or pretty darn close. Some years and months I have sourly struggled with it, others have gone full-force with gusto and tried to make saving into a game. And, we are a little inconsistent too--but that goes along with the making choices.
Some of you might have noticed that there are a variety of links in the "Inspiration" sidebar in several general categories. Some are bloggers sharing their creative family living ideas. A few have to do with birth business--doulas or midwives. Several are about my new passion, minimalist living. And others are related to frugal living, a recurrent theme in my life.
Just recently, I took over the family budgeting. I was a late adopter of budgeting, but it has been very helpful in keeping track and figuring out where the dollars are actually going. Now I start the month by subtracting what's budgeted from each category and "hiding" it in Quicken or alloting it to other accounts for future expenses like property taxes or life insurance that aren't paid every month. What's left to see is the food budget. And as I mentioned before, I'm trying to make living on less into a sport this summer.
For me, frugal living affords a level of freedom. I know that we're prepared to face challenges if needed, and it wouldn't be too painful to make deeper cuts if called for because I've already thought about what they would be (CAR!). This penny-pinching lifestyle is allowing Minou to pursue his dream of building up his own business and working from home, spending more time with G1 and G2, and me to work for a non-profit health organization I believe in, even though it pays significantly less than a hospital setting.
But...is it possible to carry frugal living and nonconsumerism too far? What do you think?
Which brings me to this question: What do you do (and would you do) to pinch pennies?