I’ve been flirting with minimalism for the past year. Turns out that minimalism, frugality, and early retirement extreme (also known as ERE) often go hand in hand. One popular frugality/ERE website is run by Mr. Money Mustache. His blog posts are entertaining and have given me a lot of food for thought. Once I discovered his blog I attacked it in my typical Type-A fashion and read a year’s worth of posts in just a few days. This seemed to have some sort of brainwashing effect on me, and I immediately imposed austerity measures on my family in that same Type-A fashion:
“No more eating out on Fridays – or ever!”
“No more activities for the kids until all the debt is paid!”
“No more clothes!”
“No more toys!”
“We’re cancelling cable!”
“We will learn to love the library!”
“We’ll have more family time!” (This one deserves a whole blog post of its own. Coming soon.)
Hubby is typically pretty laid back and just sat back and let me go to town. (Or not. We did the opposite of going to town; we stopped going to town. Completely.)
Things were good for a few months, and the debt did indeed start to melt away. Unfortunately my sanity went with it.
We weren’t extravagant with our finances to begin with. It’s not like we started cutting out weekend trips to the coast and cut back from four vehicles to two – we’ve only ever had just one. We were cutting out things like pizza and take-out Pho on Fridays, and I was having heart palpitations every time I bought a latte at Second Cup. Most of our debt (well ok not all but a lot) is the result of home improvements we made after our move last year, like installing a new furnace – hello, Canadian winter! And putting in central air -hello, Canadian summer! With the humidity, it’s 43 degrees Celcius as I type this. 43 freaking degrees! We painted the kids’ rooms shortly after moving in, and then stopped decorating. Every other room desperately needs a new coat of paint and some minor touches but hey, austerity measures in force! I couldn’t very well spend money on paint when the kids had been denied soccer lessons . I was starting to hate the house. Stupid house. You seduced us with your old-world charm and original, unpainted wood trim. We bought you and poured money into invisible upgrades so that you could be livable, and now I don’t have enough money to make you look nice. Where’s the fun in that??
(Though I must say that even though the cold air coming out of the vents is invisible, I would give up Pho for the rest of my life to keep it.)
With our tenth anniversary approaching, I wanted to party, dammit. I wanted to fix up the house. I wanted the kids to play soccer. I really, desperately, needed cable back. (Canadian Netflix sucks). I was sinking into a pit of despair and going to bed every night at 8 pm.
And then I snapped.
Hello, new iPhone! Where have you been these past five years? Hello, tenth anniversary blingy-necklacy-bling, you sexy bling you! Hello, mid-range cable package (haven’t completely lost my mind, apparently). I can’t wait to gorge myself on Storage Wars and Property Brothers while sitting in my newly painted living room wearing my new blingy-necklacy-bling!
Austerity sucks. Bling is better.