It’s finally happened! I wasn’t sure it ever would, but here we are. Our expenses were finally under $2,000 including our giving. (2 other months we would have made it, but our giving pushed us over.) I am so excited! I had originally estimated our expenses at $3500 a month, but we have actually averaged about $2800 over the last 10 months. These lower expenses are so exciting to me for 2 reasons. 1. We are enjoying life so much that it’s hard to imagine spending more money could make our daily life much better. 2. Lower expenses mean more freedom! As we talk about what we want to do after this year off, having that freedom and flexibility from low expenses is AWESOME.
In part, none of our big bills were due this month; things like property tax, home or car insurance which we pay in a big chunk once or twice a year.
After my near panic attack last month, I was happy to see we had reigned in the food expenses. We still haven’t scored a deer, but fingers are crossed. They are very helpful in stocking the freezer full of nearly free, free range, grass fed meat. =) Hopefully we cross paths with a rather unlucky deer before the season is over.
Mr. Mt had saved up his personal money to buy a new pair of skis this year. (I still have hardly spent any of mine. Every month you will notice a $150 “expense.” That is actually and auto transfer of $75 to a separate account for Mr. Mt and me. You will notice in our 2016 Net Worth, his account is generally empty and mine rather full!).
Ski season will be here in a few weeks! The $45 misc was the binding on his skis and waxing and sharpening the edges of our other two pair. He insisted on keeping his old skis, because he swears they serve different purposes. Whatever. We shall see how much snow that old set actually sees. But I warned him that our home can’t be a refuge for barely used things. Those old skis better see some snow or they have to go.
We also hit up the second hand store and scored a good deal on some snow gear for the kids. We found a few good pairs of boots. I have no idea how my kids lose boots. But every single year it happens. Don’t even get me started on gloves. I stock up on those suckers in February when they are 50% off.
We ended up needing 2 pairs of new shoes for the kids, which wasn’t bad out of a crew of 5. None of the kids are able to pass their shoes down. After 3 or 4 months, the shoes have basically dissolved. Again. I have no idea. I tried to lecture my kids on proper shoe use for a while. You can image how well that went. I will never get those minutes of my life back.
I had a big breakthrough this month.
We celebrated 3 birthdays in our house, and spent a total of $38. This is huge for me for a few reasons. One, we have been trying to focus our gift giving on experiences over things in an effort to continue with our moderate minimalism. We had a gift card to a trampoline place, and took our kids there with some friends to celebrate. I also baked a sheet cake, circa 1980’s birthday party. I had actually told them that we weren’t going to do any gifts. Just the one sharing gift from Opa and Oma (my parents), which they were fine with. I did end up surprising them each with one gift. A Pokémon book for my oldest ($8), and a skylander game figure ($6) for my 8 year old.
But here is why this was big for me.
When you grow up poor, there are two days a year where you try to pretend, to the best of your ability, that you are not poor. All the stress and struggle of the rest of the year is put on pause and you just get to be normal. One is your birthday, and the other is Christmas. Every other day can be scarcity and struggle, but not those two days. Those days are just supposed to me nice.
But my kids don’t feel that way at all. Every day is nice. They have their parents’ home with them. They have a warm and comfortable home. They have a nice winter coat, even if it’s the third one they have lost this year. Like magic we make another one appear. We travel and have adventures. Our cars don’t break down in the school parking lot in front of all their friends. So they were thrilled with the party and gifts. They thought it was awesome. They know they still have FAR too many toys, even though we have purged 50% of them.
My past isn’t my kids present.
I don’t have to buy 10 gifts per child so they don’t feel the lack and scarcity. They don’t need a whole pile of gifts to compensate for the pain of going without the rest of the year.
They don’t know lack. Or scarcity. They know nothing about going without.
So they were happy with 1 simple gift.
And for one of the first times, I was happy too.
Any hunters out there who have found dinner yet? What is up with kids and losing their winter gear? Maybe it’s just Motana kids, but if it hits 50 degrees on the playground, they strip off all the winter gear and abandon it in a pile. How do you approach birthday parties, gift giving, or dealing with a crap ton of toys?