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Sunday, June 27, 2010

I Walk the Line

So lately I've been thinking a lot about the line that exists between frugal living ("living like no one else so that later you can live like no one else") and seizing the day ("Carpe Diem").  Most of the time the two are not mutually exclusive, however there are times in which they feel as if they are.

In regular day to day living I don't really feel like I'm missing out on anything that would greatly increase my quality of life.  I still find it within my budget to fill our summer up with fun, outdoor activities, shop for necessary clothing, makeup, kids' stuff, birthday presents, etc.  Sure there are things that I'd LOVE to buy right now that kind of irk me when I notice their absence, like a good landscaping job in my front yard (TREES!!), a new paint job for the exterior of the house, a new car/truck for Michael, new countertops and paint job for my kitchen cabinets, and more.  But I've settled it in my mind that those things will just have to wait until the house is paid off (2 years from right now).  So I'm not crushed, just a little annoyed.

There are, however, some other opportunities to spend money that I do feel like would increase the "life" in our lives - carpe diem type of things.  For instance, some very close friends of ours moved out of the country three years ago and are in the States on furlough for the first time since.  BUT they'll be in Washington and Colorado the whole time visiting their families.  I'd LOVE it if we could just postpone our financial goals a month or more so that we could go visit them in either of those states.  Sounds reasonable, doesn't it?  I guess I just don't know where the line should be drawn, and that's something that Michael and I will have to agree on.

Michael and I are "slippery slope" kind of people, and we know it.  We don't want to allow something like that in our budget and then start calling a ton of other things "carpe diem" kinds of things.  That's how we got into the mess in which we found ourselves.  We're not really "balanced" type of people, either; we're usually one extreme or the other.  So some balance would probably be nice in our lives.  When I say, "I walk the line," it's not really true.  I WANT to walk the line.  We'll see.  (We're also usually harder on ourselves than we ought to be, and that's part of it.)  **sigh**  That's all I got.


  1. Annie, we live on a very tight budget (out of necessity, mostly, but also to stay debt free). But on Father's Day we took a little day trip that we absolutely couldn't afford. My only advice about your "dilemma" (not that I think you need any advice), would be to actively seek God about each and every penny. We've found so much freedom in that when GOD says to spend, He has already worked out the details:)

  2. Our budget is very tight (by which I mean every dollar has a name) but something we have done since the beginning is to be pretty generous with "blow money" for each of us. It helps us stay sane. He still has money for his car parts for tinkering, and I can go out to lunch with my girlfriends... we can go on dates together (blow money - not a separate "date" or "eating out" or "entertainment" line in the budget). If there's a "toy" I want I can save up my blow money - bought myself a DSLR a while back, and I saved for a plane ticket to visit a friend in Boston too.

    He typically spends his - I try to save at least 1/3 of mine for bigger purchases down the road or flexibility to buy nicer gifts (I bought him a Kindle for christmas last year).

    I know I would feel a LOT more guilt and stress if we didn't have the blow money we do - and probably argue more too. So that's super-important to the success of our budget, even though it's hard not to imagine "what if we put this $xxx toward retirement/house downpayment savings/whatever each month?"

    It works for us... and my advice to you would be to re-evaluate your budget if there's not enough "wiggle room" for quality of life. But don't make it an EXCEPTION and say "I'm seizing the day!" Give those dollars the name "carpe diem" or "blow money" or "allowance" or whatever... and deal with them the same way you do the other dollars that pass through your hands! Then the slippery slope won't exist.

  3. Thanks, you guys! Good food for thought! J.A., I think you're right on the money with budgeting for "Carpe Diem". We have a zero-based budget, too, and always have, so it makes sense. Thanks!!

  4. BTW, would you be willing to share how much you budget for blow money a month?

  5. Sure. We each get 280/month. It used to be an even 300 a month, but when we got iPhones our cell bill went up $60/month due to data packages. I "found" $20 in the budget by moving some things around, but the other $40 had to come out of our blow money - so worth it though. We love our phones!

    Again, it sounds like a LOT especially compared to other DR-ers, but it includes a lot of different "categories" ... eating out, entertainment, date nights, "hobbies," any hair/nails/personal stuff (I cut my own hair, but my husband gets his cut about every 2 weeks), etc...


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