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Frugal Advice - Living Life

January 30th, 2011 at 08:54 am

The best financial wisdom I have picked up for over the years is that there is usually a way to have something virtually identical for much cheaper.

Just seems to be a constant recurring theme in the discourse of personal finance. A recurring theme in everyday conversation with people around me.


Having been raised by frugal parents with a good sense of balance, *living life* frugally has always come rather easy to me.

When I think back over the years, it's funny, because dh and I have always gotten criticism for our life choices. We work too hard and are such tightwads. If I had a dollar every time someone told me to *Live Life.* So what is so funny about that? We do *Live Life* plenty. I just didn't know I had to spend more money and work less, to live life.

Of course, as teenagers and in our young 20s this was something that came up far more often. We were raised to be very responsible, always worked, and were on our own very young (me - age 18). The prevailing attitude is you should do very little in your teens and 20s because you have your whole life ahead of you to work and run the rat race. But, in the end, working hard while young has afforded us so much more opportunity to slow down and relax. & I alluded to the balance. No matter how hard I have worked, I have always taken time to *live life.*

Beyond that, when we do spend money, people tell us *life is to be lived.* Yay - you lived life! This is just the culture I suppose. But it REALLY grates on me. Spending more money on something doesn't mean anything to the joy it will bring to my life. I know this, but few people seem to understand that.

Beyond all this, having dealt with very sick loved ones in recent years, I feel like I am on a different spiritual plane lately. I've come to a far deeper understanding about that which is important in life.

Anyway, one day recently, I sat down and wrote a bucket list of sorts, when I could no longer take the "You don't live life" thing. I brainstormed the many things I had done while living life. IT just so happens most of the stuff didn't cost much money.

This is my version of the bucket list. I might have had a traditional bucket list before dh was diagnosed with a brain tumor, but I now realize the list was completely ridiculous and means little. I think it means more to look back at what I have done than to think what I haven't done will bring more meaning to my life. (& if there is something really important I haven't done, then I should do it now).

I had already shared that when dh was first diagnosed with his tumor, I told him if the prognosis was bad, we could cash out some retirement money and do whatever he wanted. Thinking to the traditional bucket list, right? & then dh said to me, "I don't want to go anywhere or buy anything. I just want more time with my family." Those words just really struck a chord with me. & that is when I threw away my first bucket list, because I Realized it wouldn't mean a thing to me at the end of my life.

For my new list - I threw in a few things I had planned in my life that fell through. Some due to money and lack of time (due to work). The list is VERY short.

Why don't I start with those?

MISSED OPPORTUNITIES: (Or, things I had planned that fell through)

**Study abroad in London
**Travel to India (with lifelong Indian friend)
**Travel through Europe for a month with friends

(I know there will be more opportunities to take the place of these).

Of course, the most important things I have done in my life:



& while I have been "working far too hard and saving too much money to actually enjoy life" - this is what I have been doing:


**Built our dream home
**Owned a convertible - many road trips
**Europe (Spain, Italy, France, Moracco)
**Mexico (cruise)
**Hawaii (Oahu & Kauai)
**Las Vegas - many road trips
**New Orleans
**New York
**Washington DC
**Oregon/Washington - road trip
**Denver, CO
**North Carolina
**Disney Land
**Disney World
**Many road trips
**Skinny Dipped
**Jumped in a lake
**Boated around Lake Tahoe
**Skiied in Utah; saw Olympic location
**Done some intense/long bike rides
**Camped on the Beach
**Seen many shooting stars
**Pet a wild baby panther
**Saved/rehabbed baby birds & released back into the wild
**Volunteered at the animal shelter
**Skiied in Tahoe (down hill & cross country)
**White water rafting in Sacramento
**Kayaked in the ocean (with the sea otters)
**Gone whale watching (twice)
**Swam/boogie boarded in the ocean
**Swam under a waterfall
**Ran (walked) the Bay to Breakers 10k
**Helped Habitat for Humanity
**zip lined in Hawaii
**Hiked all day
**Learned to salsa & tried to learn to Swing
**Snorkeled in the ocean
**Seen a musical (or 2 or 3)
**Seen some amazing concerts (most notably, Tori Amos more times than I can count, Zappa Jr., and Metallica playing with the SF symphony).
**Watched live taping of the Daily Show (year 2000)
**Performed for others (marching band, singing, choir, piano, orchestra, etc.)
**Twirled a flag in a college marching band
**Lived in more than one city
**Taught piano to the old and young
**Married a wonderful man (10 years +)
**Birthed 2 children
**Earned a College degree
**Earned my CPA license
**Found a career that I enjoy
**I've been VP of a Professional Association
**VP, Treasurer, etc. of College Academic Fraternity
**Studied Philosophy
**Studied Astronomy
**Learned to play piano, violin, flute, drums

(Interestingly, MANY travel opportunities have come from free or very cheaply from my involvement in bands and clubs. Most travel I listed was done very cheaply, staying with friends, etc.).

I haven't added a lot to my list lately. Nothing gives me greater joy than spending time with my kids. So, instead of using my time to volunteer and try new things, I find I spend a lot of time sharing some of the above experiences with my kids. I suppose we also find much more joy in the mundane, these days. Raising a child is a life experience in itself, for sure. IT should probably TOP my list.


Given more time, there are certainly things I would still like to do.


**Grand Canyon/Bryce Canyon
**Alaskan Cruise
**Ride in a Hot Air Balloon
**Repay a $1500 scholarship received in college (pay it forward)
**Learn to sew
**Have Grandchildren (there's something I have no control over!)

6 Responses to “Frugal Advice - Living Life”

  1. SavingBucks Says:

    I really enjoyed your post ---- I also value time spent with family versus monies spent on family. Your bucket list also got me thinking of mine -- I may post on that as well. I tend to think that I have not done very much in my life time but perhaps I have!

  2. scottish girl Says:

    Aw what a lovely post Smile I was also reading one of your pages "The BIG Financial Picture" Great advice.

  3. Apprentice Bliss Hunter Says:

    Great post thanks for sharing !

    The two things that stand out for me are your realization that "Spending more money on something doesn't mean anything to the joy it will bring to my life."

    and also

    the fact you were lucky enough to met your Life Partner so young and doubly lucky that he shared your financial values.

    I'm 31 and seemingly terminally single (lol) and I do envy the way you have your love life, your family and your finances where you want them to be. :-)

  4. MonkeyMama Says:

    Apprentice Bliss Hunter - Very true. I get annoyed when my hard work is often labeled as *luck,* but when it comes to love, I have been VERY lucky.

    That said, I have often pondered on how much of that was luck and how much wasn't. I don't have the answer, but my parents and my grandparents met around age 18, also. You got to wonder if it is something genetic? I only share because one of the criticisms I have gotten a lot over the years is settling down very young. It kind of goes with the theme of my blog post. (How can you live life when you settle down so young???) I am glad I was smart enough to realize I had a GOOD thing. I often wonder how many people gave up good things because they were *too young.* Because they had to *live life.* I don't know. Kind of interesting if you think about.

    Most of the time I just feel lucky. All of my lifelong friends are terminally single. Most of dh's friends are very family minded (want to be settled down) but are divorced and childless. So we seem to be constantly reminded that we have a very rare and good thing going.

  5. Apprentice Bliss Hunter Says:

    Yep - that is a really interesting topic and very topical for our generation.

    It is almost impossible to generalize because people have so many different experiences. Some girls get pregnant after high school and enter a bad marriage as teens. On the other hand, people like you find a Good thing as teenagers. It's just so random or appears to be anyway. But it's interesting how meeting people young runs in your family - maybe the kids in your family are brought up to respect themselves and have good self-esteem so the Bad Ones are quickly dismissed leaving room for the Good Ones ??

    I don't know - we could talk about this all day - and I don't want to hijack your thread.

    But I do think there is something in my generation that makes us particularly self-centred and "all-about-me" (my job,career, house, world travelling, sowing wild oats phase) that somehow our interpersonal skills are relatively poor and we don't make enough genuine connections with people of the opposite sex. It's as if we almost view other people like commodities (or experiences to be "had") as opposed to heart-and-soul beings like ourselves.

    That is all. Great topic though. :-)

  6. MonkeyMama Says:

    ABH - Interesting posts and you can hijack a way.

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