So here, in a nutshell, is how two everyday normal people
can get motivated enough to save the cash to buy
Not long after setting our goal we decided to live entirely off
of Richâ's salary and save every penny Amanda earned.
We had to squash our spending to fit into this newer, smaller
budget. We asked for receipts and wrote down every last
cent that left our pockets. At the end of the month we looked
at where the money went and asked ourselves if each item
was worth the cost. There were some big surprises.
Trimming the fat was a pleasure as we watched, cha-ching,
the bank balance grow. We competed with one another, not
in how much we could spend like most of our friends, but in
how much we could save. On our way out the door to a party
we would tally the price we paid for our thrift-shop clothing
and mock one another for a pair of hoity-toity $3 shoes or a
frivolously colorful 99 cent blouse. We would scan the
Thursday newspaper for free events over the weekend and
load up on the complimentary champagne and Beluga at an
exhibition opening on Friday night then go to a book reading
on Saturday. Momentum built naturally and we were drawn
from paying full price for movies, to attending less expensive
matinees, to renting videos, and finally to borrowing videos
from the free library on Saturday night.
We discovered that our local grocery store would offer
several items for free as a loss leader to those persistent
customers who combined the double coupon savings with a
special in store discount. So Rich began taking an evening
stroll and plucked the coupons from the Sunday newspapers
in the recycle bin at our apartment complex. One week we
would stock up on a year's supply of free toothpaste, the
next week it was olive oil or frozen soy burgers or deodorant.
Every so often a sly cashier would secretly admitted to doing
The recycle bins were kept in an area with the trash
dumpsters and frequently other goodies would pop up.
Once there was a box of books that we traded at a used
bookstore for three travel guidebooks. Another time an
oriental carpet netted us $100 at a consignment shop. Our
best find was a perfectly new short -wave radio that sat right
on top just waiting for us to come and take it.
As things began to snowball we became ever-more extreme
in our spending habits but we did not ignore the other end of
the earning-spending equation. Every few months we would
jot down notes on the big projects we completed at work and
present them to our boss at the end of the year with a
request for a raise. This positive reminder of how valuable
an employee we'd been often jolted our bosses into opening
up their purse just a little wider and in the last few years
before leaving we saved a good chunk of Rich's salary in
addition to all of Amanda's.
Extremism became fun and we continued with our frugal
habits after leaving our jobs, selling most of our worldly
possessions and beginning to travel. We continued to ask
one another the key question, do we need it or want it?
Rather than eating out at expensive restaurants while
traveling we cornered an old lady in the municipal market
and asked her recipe for the local delicacy, then went back
to the van and tried to reproduce it. Rather than buying
expensive, cheesy souvenirs we bought small trinket that we
could use in our everyday traveling lives, like a small carpet,
a fruit basket or an intricately woven pillow. Rather than
spending the nights drinking with fellow travelers at the local
bar we rose early and went for morning runs through the
sleepy eyed, blossoming towns. Even while traveling we
continued to find ways to live inexpensively and spent an
average of only $46 per dayl. Not $46 per person. Not $46
plus insurance or plus entertainment. Forty-six dollars per
day was the total amount we spent. If you add it up it's a little
less than the cost of a new four-wheel drive vehicle.
So you want to know how two regular schmoes in the middle
of their careers could gather together enough change to
avoid the rather blase pastime of work for an extended
period of time. The answer is either exceedingly simple or
overwhelmingly complex. Come to think of it, it is not much
different than losing weight. Short answer, to loose weight
exercise as much as possible and eat fewer calories than
you burn. To save money, earn as much as possible and
spend fewer pennies than you earn. But like all things, the
devil is in the details
Fact is, it is easy to be a dreamer. The poorest fool can lie
in bed staring at the ceiling and dream of exotic places.
Worse yet, that same poor fool can bend the ear of anyone
who will listen about how she's going to someday, right after
she gets her bank-roll together, reinvent to push-up bra or
sail around the world. Problem is, she never seems to get
the cash rolled together.
|Amanda in her $15 North Face down
(Thrift Shop) Sleeping Bag
from the trash
a signed copy