Less Leads to More

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During the year and a half I lived with my folks to intensely pay off my debt, I learned to live on less. I made sacrifices and spent little money. Basically, I put most of my money into either my emergency fund or towards my debt. In this phase of my life, I learned that less leads to more.

Less Leads to More

Before moving into my parent’s house, I met with a woman who was keeping me financially accountable. We slashed some things off my budget and she pointed out some categories that seemed high. The categories which were slashed are:

  • Grocery
  • Hair
  • Skiing

Grocery

At the time my grocery budget included eating out and random stops for food. One of the best suggestions given to me was to take snack items in my car. At the time I was doing a lot of commuting to and from work. Furthermore, if I was hungry I’d stop for a snack. As you may know, those little dollars can add up when you do it every day.

Additionally, I learned to start shopping smarter. I like quality, organic foods so these items typically cost a little more. However, I’ve found that Aldi’s and Trader Joe’s have a good selection of organic foods at a fraction of the cost of some higher-end chains.

I also stopped going out to restaurants. Yeah, I left a little money in my budget for special occasions. You tend to appreciate things more when you do them less. 

Local Agriculture

Another tip I have for reducing your grocery budget is to take advantage of local agriculture. Of course, if you are able to do your own gardening that is where the real win comes in but for those of us living in apartments, there is another option.

I purchase a Consumer Supported Agriculture (CSA) annually. This means that for 20 weeks in the late spring, summer, and early fall I have fresh crops. In Cleveland, we have a phenomenal farm called the Refugee ResponseI love supporting this farm as I’m directly supporting local refugees.

Furthermore, it’s a financial win. In 2018 I bought my 20 weeks of crops for $280 which comes out to $14 per week for a huge bag of vegetables. I’d never buy some of these vegetables on my own so it gets me eating new things and results in a lot of meal prepping.

Hair

Alright, so the Frugalwoods have everyone beat on this hack. They’ve mastered cutting each other’s hair at home and save a ton of money (and time) in the process. They even put out this article with tips on how to give home haircuts.

I’m all for that but as a single person, it’s not so easy. Here is the progression I’ve made in reducing my hair grooming costs:

First step

I used to spend close to $100 on my hair every three months with cuts and highlights. My first reduction came when I started having my hair done at the Aveda Brown Hair Institute. They train students and part of their training process is practicing. One can pay a fraction of the cost of a typical saloon to have a student to perform the duties.

I used this method for a year and was satisfied. There are teachers looking on so to minimize potential mistakes.

The one downside is that it takes longer. Depending on what you are getting done, you could be there for hours. Keep in mind these are students who are learning so they are slow. Furthermore, the teachers have to approve each step. However, they do make the experience relaxing.

If you don’t mind the extra time, this can be a good way to save costs on your hair.

Second Step

When I was moving in with my folks I decided I really wanted to get intense on all fronts. I was there for a season and a reason and wanted to reduce my spending habits. As a result of that decision, I stopped highlighting my hair altogether. Fortunately, the ombre look was in so growing out the color was fine.

Furthermore, I decided to get my haircuts at Great Clips.  I was growing my hair out so I only needed a basic trim every three months. It literally only takes 10 minutes. Great Clips cost for a haircut is typically around $15, but sometimes you can obtain coupons and/or deals. At times, I’ve paid as low as $7 for a haircut. Additionally, you don’t have to make an appointment.

Third Step

Once I got out of debt I decided I wanted to start highlighting my hair again. I realized I valued this but only if I could do it on the cheap. My solution is to get baby lights which is only a handful of highlights. It’s cheap and doesn’t require a lot of upkeep. In fact, I can stop at any time and it looks fine. I have a friend who has this skill and does it inexpensively.

Whenever I need a quick trim, I’ll still stop in at a Great Clips. I think the key to using an inexpensive salon is to have a simple hairstyle, which I do, as it is hard to mess that up.

Skiing

This was a big reduction as skiing is not a cheap hobby. While I lived with my folks, I decided to cut this completely out of my budget. I knew it was short term and I could survive a year or two without it.

Turns out I received some gifts to ski twice during that phase of my life which was lovely.

Now that I’m out of debt, I decided to add this back into my budget. I set aside a certain dollar amount each month that I use for skiing in the winter months. I’m always looking for hacks on reducing costs here and if I find them, I’ll write about them.

I’m planning my first real trip out west to ski in 2019. In an effort to reduce cost, my friend & I are flying to Utah on travel rewards miles. Additionally, we are staying in a hotel using travel reward miles. This leaves our only cost to be food, skiing and ground transportation.  You can bet your sweet little bippy that I’ll write a wrap up of our trip.

Sacrifice was not really sacrificing

In my intense phase of living with my folks, I said no to a lot of things. I tend to have tunnel vision and it served me well. I knew I wanted to focus on the main objective and in the end it paid off.

Initially, I calculated that it might take me two years from the date I moved in with my folks to pay off all of my debt. However, I was able to complete it in 15 months.

I noticed something huge in the process…I was no less happy. Actually, I found that my happiness increased. Why? Because I was eating an elephant that needed to be eaten. I was facing my debt and reducing it. A goal was set and I was crushing it.

It can be extremely satisfying to see something to completion.

Relationships and Experiences

I also found what I value in life. Surprise, it’s not things! It’s relationships and experiences. Neither of those really have to cost money.

The way to foster relationships is by devoting your time to them.

Think about it, when you are out with friends are you focused on the stuff that you are buying? I’m not. For me, it’s about the conversation and enjoyment. That can be done without spending a lot of money. All you need is a little creative thinking.

Experiences can come in many forms and for me, the most important part is the person I’m enjoying the experience with. I’ve decided I value skiing and am willing to work the cost into my budget. It’s a fun and healthy way to enjoy the winter months with my friends. However, there are a plethora of options to enjoy the beautiful world we live in for a low-cost. Some great examples are hiking and biking.

Final Thoughts

Paying off my debt has put me in a different place financially. I can choose what I value and still have room for a very high savings rate. Furthermore, I get to be generous. Those things in and of themselves are huge.

However, what I’m loving most is my shift in mindset. I recognize what I value in life and am thoughtful about what I spend money on. Furthermore, I really don’t want more stuff. As a matter of fact, I’m always getting rid of stuff and simplifying my life (future post). Moreover, I’ve really learned that the less I have the more abundant my life is…in every way. My conclusion is that less leads to more.

What do you value in life? What do you need less of? Finally, what do you need more of?

 

 

 

 

 

9 thoughts on “Less Leads to More”

  1. I love this post Deanna. Great points made here about bring snacks along on the go to save money and shopping at places like Aldi’s and Trader Joe’s. We shop at Aldi’s almost every week and I wish we had a Trader Joe’s in Toledo but we do not. Minimalism seems to really help us be able to appreciate what we have much better too. Doing a no spend month has made me far more aware of what I am spending and what I need to cut back on too.

  2. Great article! Coming from a woman the hair thing is a big deal! I couldn’t stand spending hundreds of dollars on hair color, cuts, highlights etc.., one we didn’t have it and two it’s koo koo! I took matters into my own hands to cut the cost. I love the local agriculture idea, if only there were land here. When we lived in Indiana we had a great garden, and composting bin, grew tomatoes, green beans, corn, pea pods, cucumbers, etc. Now that were in NOVA we live in a townhouse with no yard. I’m lucky to grow herbs. We do have farmer markets in the spring in fall. You are so right about relationships and experiences. Most of us learn this over time that things and stuff do not matter. When you stay with us, for Fincon, you will see all the stuff I need to rid the house of within 4 years before retirement. I’m heading back on the bandwagon to start selling holiday decorations. Who can set up decorations in an RV? LOL! Thank you so much for the share!

    1. Hi Cathy! That sounds lovely when you lived in Indiana. However, sometimes life takes us different places and that’s when CSAs or farmer’s markets are a great resource. Thanks for the tips on growing herbs. I can definitely do that next summer on my balcony.

      Can’t wait to stay with you for FinCon! Yes, moving to an RV will certainly cause you to downsize…big time!

  3. I have definitely found that I like nice things, but once I have the nice thing, I no longer want to get a “nicer” version of that thing. Maybe that’s because I’m building my furnishings back up in my apartment? So I admit, I like nice things, but I do value experiences too.

    I’m so glad you’re getting to ski again! I have never went, but I don’t think it’s something I would enjoy. I’m more of a “sit at the resort and drink coffee while cheering you on” type.

    I miss my friends a lot since my move to Florida. We used to go out to eat together on weeknights, and it was one of my favorite things to do, even if I just got an appetizer. We always had a good time. I don’t get to do that as much anymore and I find I miss it the most. You are right when you say you value something so much more when you do it less.

    1. I do think it is wise to buy quality when we are buying stuff, for sure.

      Haha, on sitting at the resort and drinking coffee and cheering people on! I do my fair share of that in between ski runs 😉.

      I know being in a new state without your friends is tough. Moving as a single person takes grit. My hope & prayer (which I know will come true) is that you’ll gain some good friends in Florida.

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  5. The hair care can be an expensive deal, especially when you are doing the color and highlights, plus it destroys your hair. Like the frugalwoods, we do the at home haircuts. This crazy (like a fox) lady had her new boyfriend, now husband give her a haircut shortly after we started dating.i told him I dreaded going to the salon, plus I really didn’t have it in my budget to go and get a much needed haircut. He told me he knew how, had the shears and supplies to do it for me. I asked for details, he explained the process and I asked him to please give me a haircut and he did. I asked for four inches off, he said he could remove the splits/damaged ends and shape it by taking off just an inch or so. Best haircut I could remember getting and later that evening at work, a coworker knew I had mentioned I needed to get my haircut complimented me on how great my hair looked. I told her the guy I just met cut it for me and her response was that I should marry him and by the way…do you think he could cut mine? Needless to say I married him, he cuts my hair for me every couple months, my children’s a couple of my friends and even my mom asked him to cut her hair. Saves me hundreds a year and I enjoy the bonding time with him as well as knowing he will not get scissor happy on me or screw up my hair.
    We have a garden, I can, freeze and we eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Make no mistake, a garden is a lot of work, so while you are saving money, you are going to be planting, weeding, watering, pruning, etc.
    we don’t do cable tv, we have an antenna on the roof and get 26 free channels. More than enough.

    1. Carolyn, this is a great story!! Firstly, where/how did he learn?? Since he explained the process I can see you trusting him right off the bat on that one (not so crazy!). Secondly, I love that your co-worker told you to marry him…eventually you did. I do imagine it is a great bonding and intimate experience.

      Yeah, a garden does seem like a lot of work.

      It sounds like you are crushing it on all sides!

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