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Living Within Our Means: What a Difference a Recession Makes

I honestly have no idea what we were thinking in 2007. When I compare the money my husband and I spent on entertainment and life expenses to this year’s spending and last, it shocks me. In comparison, we gushed cash as a regular function of living in 2007. Did we have more fun? Was life better? We’re spending (and making) thousands less in 2010. But we might be enjoying it more than ever before.

Living closer to the dollar has brought us into relationship with our resources. Now we make a good time out of getting creative with our resources, and discovering riches we never utilized.

We went to a fancy schmancy spa for a three-day weekend double date as couples. When we left, we had dropped $3,000 on three days of spa life in the hills.

We bought a 1977 Dodge Beaver camper, drove ten minutes to the state beach, and paid $30 to camp overnight. That’s it. I brought oils and face creams and masks, and did facials with my daughter, mani-pedis on the beach. When our nails dried, we combed the beach for shells at sunset. It was so much fun. We felt elegant, pampered, and loving being together. Add gas, it was a $35 vacation.

Our house was on the party circuit. We love to be social with our community, and we had bought it a couple of years earlier to host family and friends. Before each event, we’d go all out, getting flowers delivered for every room, bringing out the cookbooks and making a dish from every section–entree, sides, desserts. It was over-the-top in a way that it didn’t seem over-the-top at the time.

New era. We hosted a potluck that was exactly that: people brought dishes! Casseroles and salads from their own kitchens. I cut the last blooms from our yard and our neighbor’s, and even cut one of the stalks in half so it would be enough for two vases. I rummaged through the extra fridge we used to keep stocked for parties and made do with its remaining contents. And when the night was over, I pulled out the vacuum cleaner and sponge and invited anyone to help clean up before they left. We all had a blast, ate well, and enjoyed each other as much as we ever had.

I was proud my efforts had paid off in the form of a brand new black Mercedes biodiesel SUV.

We sold the Mercedes for the aging Land Rover my husband bought used and refurbished.

Thing is I feel happy. I feel more comfy in my Land Rover and in my own skin than I’ve ever felt. I feel congruent, resourceful, fulfilled that we utilize everything in our possession and that we’re living efficiently.

The point for me is, it’s not about making peace with having less. It’s about making peace with what you have. I don’t think I ever made peace with the excess when we had it. And now, I don’t view how we live as less. I feel in total alignment with our friends, our life, our funds. For maybe the first time, we really truly live within our means, and that feels good.

Originally published on Green Sherpa