We live on the top floor of our apartment building. The roof has a cooling unit for the building’s A/C that makes a constant whining sound. Imagine someone blowing a vuvuzela into your living room 24/7. The offending noise lasts from April through November, and despite repeated attempts to get the issue fixed, we still suffer through it year after year. We told ourselves we didn’t mind it. Temporary discomfort isn’t a big deal. Every apartment has its quirks, right? But even as we try to ignore it, the noise has been slowly breaking down our sanity.
We didn’t realize how bad it was until recently. One Sunday morning we woke up, lazed around in bed, and noticed it was quiet. Unsettlingly quiet. It took a moment for us to notice the buzzing sound had stopped. A weight lifted off our shoulders. This is what silence feels like! We could open our windows without the droning noise assaulting our ears. Music didn’t have buzzing mingling with the bass line. Our moods dramatically improved. For two blissful hours, we saw what it’s like to not have that noise disrupt our lives. We experienced what it would be like to improve our surroundings. And most importantly, we learned it was worth it. That weekend kicked off the hunt for our new apartment. Without it, we may have continued to live in discomfort even though we deserve better.
After we started our first jobs out of college, we fell victim to some serious lifestyle inflation. We were living large by traveling several times per year, buying clothes and electronics just for fun, and eating out almost every day. Of course we budgeted for these expenses, but we didn’t realize we were left with little leftover at the end of the month and living paycheck-to-paycheck. We just wondered where all of our money went!
Despite all of this, we thought we were smart with our money. We paid off our credit cards every month. We never bought anything we couldn’t afford, although there’s been some close calls! No matter what we always stashed away an emergency fund. Aside from those Personal Finance 101 principles, we thought we were free to spend the rest of our money. There’s no harm in living a little in your twenties! That’s what social media and advertisements told us. Have as much fun as you can before you hit thirty and have to start worrying about kids and mortgage payments.
At some point, we looked at our paltry savings accounts and wondered if we were going overboard. We thought about our future goals and how much money it would take to get there. Things like our cabin in the woods, early retirement, and side projects we’ve considered but never pursued. How can we possibly save for these goals if we fritter away our hard-earned money? We found examples of people who have created the life we envision without going broke, like Frugalwoods and Our Next Life. We were inspired to get our act together and start saving as much as we can.
The enigmatic “morning routine.” I am a firm believer that what you do in the morning sets the stage for the rest of the day. At that, I believe in the old mantra of “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” It may be more or less disproven as a scientific thing, but psychologically, I think it gives me the boost I need to take on the day.
I used to think I was a so-called “night owl,” because that seemed to be what all the cool people were doing. The people I talked to online would be up into the wee hours of the night, so I figured I should be one of those people too. I ignored the fact that I felt awful every morning, shrugging it off as a part of the night owl complex. As it turns out, I was so miserable in the morning because I was a closet morning person.
Our Frugal August Challenge just wrapped up. For the month of August we pledged to ban eating out, reduce our grocery spending, and cook every meal at home. Let me tell you, it was way easier than we expected! We thought this challenge would be difficult, and we feared losing steam halfway through the month. But we ate tasty meals, hosted friends and family, and saved tons of money without feeling deprived or bored. If you don’t believe us, take a look at our spending breakdown for the past 90 days.
We knew we had saved money, but we didn’t expect saving this much money! That’s hundreds of dollars saved! It goes to show how easy it can be to overspend without realizing it. The changes we made didn’t feel too significant, but they made a huge difference.
Alright, so you have to shave so you don’t scare children on the street. You want to have coffee in the morning so… well, so children on the street don’t scare you. You want to listen to music to relax on the weekends or evenings, and you need to work out because health is paramount.
So now you have a razor. Maybe you got it from Dollar Shave Club, I hear they’re the new hotness. Or maybe you have the Gillette ColdFusion Supreme™, or maybe you have some torture-device looking metal contraption with 2 motors and a “clean” function on the base that it docks into to charge every day. You walk over to your coffee maker with 8 buttons, a dial, and stunningly, a digitalanalog clock. It has a replaceable charcoal filter and makes a solid 12 cup pot.
Now you have a subscription to Spotify. You have your Sonos speaker system and your phone with the LTE plan so you can stream from the cloud. You have a wireless receiver in your speakers so you can cast music from anywhere. Amazing! Now you can take your music and go to the gym with that premium membership. You can hop on the exercise machine that moves every which way and get to working up a sweat.
We are almost done with our Frugal August Challenge! Hard to believe the month is almost over. We learned some great lessons through this experience – the biggest one being the magic of meal planning. It’s so simple, but it saved our butts throughout the month. Who knew planning ahead could make such a difference?
If you asked us six months ago what our ideal next living space would be, we would have said a 2+ bedroom, 1,800 square-foot townhome. We’ve lived in apartments for the past few years, and we felt like it was time to upgrade. We are grown adults that deserve a second bedroom! We would have no trouble finding a townhome or condo that’s a little further away but with twice the space (maybe even a yard for our future dog!). After all, we can afford our rent now. Why not pay a little more for some luxury?
We recently watched a documentary called The True Cost. It digs into the financial, societal, and environmental costs of the fashion industry and provides an eye-opening account of the lives of garment workers around the world. The film did a tremendous job illustrating how much waste is generated by the fashion industry, especially in the last 20 years with the advent of fast-fashion brands like H&M, Forever 21, LOFT, and Old Navy. As we incorporate minimalism into our daily lives, we want to re-evaluate things we previously took for granted and try to understand their impact. This documentary allowed us to see fashion in a totally different light.
Last year Mr. Rustic Walks and I decided to make healthier meals by using quality, local foods. We weren’t happy with our diets, and we thought shopping at farmers markets and Whole Foods would force us to buy healthy food. It made us get creative in the kitchen and work together to plan dishes that are both tasty and healthy. We have significantly improved the nutritional value of our meals by choosing quality over convenience.
You all can guess how this experiment ended. Sure, we aren’t living off of prepared taco kits and frozen pizzas. But we are spending hundreds of dollars on meat and produce that is way cheaper at our local grocery store. Our mindset was that higher cost meant better quality. Unfortunately, the $7 loaf of bread, $6 carton of eggs, and $10 pound of ground beef at the farmers market costs much more than the grocery store alternatives. It may seem silly, but we had no idea our pursuit of healthy food would blow up our grocery budget. We needed to re-calibrate the true value of these extra costs.