I was talking with a physician friend of mine about this two-part blog series. She said I was writing about I’s and O’s. This is medical talk for “In” and “Out.” In other words, what doctors monitor in hospitalized patients: how much liquid they took in and how much they put out.
After having spent years borrowing money just to eat (hello undergrad (for me) and med school for both of us), we’ve focused on frugality, so more money stays in then goes out.
Last week I talked a little about how we consciously choose to fight the American consumer trends by consuming less and how we are beyond blessed in our current life circumstances.
We’ll pick up today where I left off about how we are counter culture and how this gives us more freedom to choose how we spend our time:
2) We’d rather spend money on experiences—like travel—than a big house or nice cars.
And it shows with our cars!
People expect physicians to have certain types of cars —which we don’t care about owning. DH (dear husband) isn’t a car guy. I used to be a car gal (heck, I had to be growing up in the sticks. If I didn’t know how to tear an old windshield wiper apart to use it to bypass a dead starter, I’d be stuck for half a day next to a dead car!).
But after having to tear out so many engines, transmissions, and raid a farmer’s fence for barbed wire to jerry-rig a broken muffler, I’m totally over having “cool” cars because those are the ones that seem to have the most mechanical problems!
Both our cars are decidedly not cool and aren’t worth much. They’re dependable, “older” and have dings. Our eleven-year-old Prius is missing its front grill, and our six-year-old van is a basic, no frills model. These vehicles do what I ask: they start, are low maintenance, haul our belongings, and keep our kids safe. That’s all I currently care about.
My “I’s and O’s” physician friend pointed out that we are still frugal across the board with our spending. She considers our travel frugal as we use cruise deals, camp, and participate in home exchange.
3) We rarely eat out.
There are a lot of reasons for this, but the main one is because I’m a foodie. Most food you eat out—unless it’s a hole-in-the-wall or really expensive restaurant—is cooked in a factory somewhere, and reheated on site.
Stop and think about that for a second. You could go to a grocery store and do the same thing at home for a fraction of the price!
Case in point: one year we went to this upscale place on the water for Thanksgiving, and I could tell the food had been made off premise somewhere and reheated. Expensive and gross!
When we go out, I want it to be a culinary pleasure. And I want the food to taste better than what I can make at home. It’s surprising that over three-quarters of American restaurants can’t manage this.
4) I guess you could say I’m a minimalist?
Compared to the usual two physician household, we don’t own a whole lot of stuff.
Having designer clothes or shoes doesn’t fill my heart with happiness. I avoid clothes shopping if at all possible. To the point where when DH and I packed for a trip at the end of May, we were hard pressed to come up with a week’s worth of decent clothes. We both need new clothes, but neither one of us can stomach the thought of shopping.
Our furniture is mostly—but not all—used or from Ikea. Our playroom couch is something DH found used at the end of residency eleven years ago. We delayed purchasing furniture for years after we moved down here. And we needed new bar stools when we moved into our house five years ago. Since I hate shopping so much, I put off buying them until a few months ago.
And our “poor” children have exactly one IKEA wardrobe full of toys, and that’s it. Since they basically only play with four bins of legos, maybe I should get rid of the rest of their toys? (I wish I was only as awesome as this lady!)
People—think about how to spend less on furniture, whether it be delaying purchases or sourcing from Craigslist or Ikea. You don’t have to spend a small fortune to outfit a house.
5) At this stage in life, I don’t want the hassle of a pool (probably never will actually), and I don’t want to live on the water yet. When one of my friends was looking for a vacation to take, I told her she should go on a cruise with a balcony room so she could see, hear, and smell the ocean. She said that wasn’t exciting for her since she already lived on the ocean.
But for right now, I don’t choose that because it steals the enjoyment from my vacations. That and neither DH and I are “boat people,” so living on the water for the sake of a boat also doesn’t appeal to us.
Again, I can’t stress enough that when it comes to housing, you should read this book—it literally changed our lives and freed us up towards getting to the desired life we’re currently living.
So there you have it, folks. I aired the “dirty laundry” of our spending compared to our peers. Feel free to voice your opinions—I’m interested to hear any and all reactions.