Lately I’ve been reflecting on the ways our lives have changed since we transitioned into our homesteading lifestyle. Now that we’ve been living this way a while, I’m able to be more objective than I was at the beginning (and I have a lot more experience to draw on).
I recently discovered some old journals from 10-15 years ago, and it was interesting to see how much anxiety and fear I had as I struggled with whether I should quit my job. Quitting meant a precipitous drop in income (from very high to almost nothing) and I expect that should give any reasonably responsible person pause. I mostly worried about whether I would be able to satisfy my responsibilities to my family, but to a lesser degree I also worried about having to give up some of the things we had come to enjoy.
We were never extravagant spenders, back during the city-life/lawyering days. In fact our frugality was the butt of jokes among my colleagues.
But frugality is relative. We didn’t spend piles of money on show-off cars, expensive private schools, ski vacations, country clubs and the like. But we were able to buy whatever we wanted, and even though our “entertainment budget” may have seemed modest at the time, we were still spending a lot on it. We had NFL season tickets, we traveled to my alma mater for football and basketball games several times a year, I went to NASCAR races, we went to concerts, I bought at least one new CD per month, and we went out to dinner about once a week, usually followed by a visit to Barnes and Noble, where we usually ended up buying a book or two.
When I finally quit my old job altogether, it was obvious that we had to cut back on what we had been spending for entertainment.
As it turned out, that part of our transition has been easy and painless. I weaned myself off my sports addiction during the crazy years I was commuting. Having no TV helped. It’s now been many years since I watched other people play sports and I no longer have any interest in it.
Nowadays our “date nights” are monthly, not weekly. Even in our small community, we have excellent local musicians and youth theater groups, whose performances are usually free or inexpensive. This month we’re going to the orchestra, which will feature a world-class trio. The concert is free.
We both love to read and try to spend at least an hour every evening with a book. Now Cherie downloads books from the library onto her Kindle reader. We have a huge personal library of books we’ve accumulated through the years, enough to probably keep me satisfied the rest of my life. If I want to read something we don’t already have, I check to see if the library has it. If not, I try to find a used copy on Amazon. Rarely do I buy books at full price anymore.
Recently the local Friends of the Library sponsored a book sale/fundraiser at the farmers market. I scored this lovely stack of books for only $2.
Actually they cost me nothing, as all the farmers market vendors were given $2 in coupons to spend at the sale.
To promote the sale, some books were given away as door prizes. We won this biography of the Romanovs, which I’m looking forward to reading.
I have hundreds of compact discs, but they’re all packed away in a crate in the basement and I gave my old stereo to my sister. Nowadays I listen to music on an ipod, having loaded all the CDs onto my computer. When I want to add to my collection I can usually find free downloads. And even if I never add another record, my collection is big enough to last a lifetime.
So at least in this respect, my concerns were unwarranted. We have discovered that, as with many other things, we were able to reduce our entertainment spending to nearly zero, while continuing to do the things we enjoy, and without diminishing in any way in the quality of our life.