My Journey out of Debt

Featured customers currently enrolled in a CareOne Debt Relief Plan, share journey to become debt-free; hear how they juggle family, finances, and more.

Life Simplification

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We're all busy.  I'm sure you know what I mean. Between getting kids ready for school, jobs, kids' activities, social events, and countless other things, there used to be many days that when I finally laid my head down on the pillow for the night, I would think to myself, "I didn't do anything for ME today." 

Late last summer, I decided to examine my life, the things in it, and the things I spent my time on.  I wanted to discontinue doing things that I deemed were no longer worth the energy they required.  I also wanted to examine my daily life and eliminate unnecessary expenses. 

I have come to refer to this process as "life simplification."  

Pets:  At this point in my life, I'm a take it or leave it person, with respect to pets.  However, the kids and my wife adore our two cats, so they stay. The fish tank, however, was a different story.  Constant chemical adjustments, fish food, and filters are necessary for a clean and healthy fish tank, not to mention the periodic cleaning.  It was a constant headache, so it got cleaned out and sold in a garage sale.   

Kids' Activities:  We all want our children to explore the world they live in, find out what they are interested in, and pursue those interests.  However, I found that my wife and I were pushing a little too hard in this regard.  My daughter had been in cheerleading, gymnastics, dance, and other things.  She initially enjoyed them, but after the newness wore off, so did the enjoyment.  We held the "you made a commitment, so you have to stick with it," line. That maybe works for one season, but we should know better when deciding whether to sign her up again the next session.  Why spend the entire evening driving kids to and from activities that they do not like?  We cut back to only those activities that the kids really wanted to be in.  This saved us not only time, but money as well. 

Eating out:  I used to eat out for lunch every day.  My theory was that I didn't have time to make a lunch each day; but, when I really examined what I was doing, by the time I left work, got to a fast food place, got my food, and brought it back to work, it had been 30 minutes or longer.  I make lunches and/or snacks for my kids to bring to school every day; adding my own added 5 minutes to the process.   Bringing my own lunch actually saves me time, and money. 

Cable:  I found that as I flipped through the channels when watching television, I would see nothing on the movie channels and say, "Why do I have all these channels?"  So, I called the cable company to get information about different packages that would fit my need.  I found that my cable company is extremely willing to offer deals if they think you might drop your service.  I found that asking for the customer retention department helped my cause.  The customer retention department was described to me by one customer service representative as the "let's make a deal" department. Not only did I reduce my service to save money, but I also got put on a special package which saved me even more money. 

Phone:  While I was examining my cable bill, I also started thinking about my phone usage.  Currently, my wife and I each have a mobile phone, and we also have a home phone through the cable company.  I started to wonder why I have both a home phone and a cell phone.  I know people that have axed their home phone, and it works out for them just fine.  I haven't pulled the trigger on this one yet...but, I keep asking myself the question every month when I pay the bill. 

Thermostats:  OK, everyone knows the "turn down the heat in your house at night and when nobody is home" trick.  But how many people look at their water heaters?  When we moved into my house I cranked mine up because I like hot water.  I turned mine down to the lowest setting in the "recommended" range.  It turned out that was a bit low for a family of four, so I had to do some experimentation to figure out where it should be.  When it was all said and done, it was set much lower than it had been, and my monthly gas bill reflected it. 

Insurance deductibles:  I looked at the deductibles for my homeowner and automobile insurance.  Naturally, I had them set to the lowest possible to make it easier on my pocketbook if something happened.  But, what are the chances I'll need to use it? I called my insurance company and got quotes to move the deductibles to various amounts.  In the end, I felt most comfortable somewhere in the middle, resulting in a modest monthly savings. 

In the end, my Life Simplification process was just as much about weeding out unnecessary expenses as it was about expunging my life of unwanted activities.  None of the individual changes I made resulted in a huge savings in time or money, but collectively they did.  My family has more time for the activities that we really enjoy, and a little more cash in our pocket.   

Everybody's idea of what is important differs, thus you have to examine your own life and decide what stays, and what goes.  Do you have ideas of other ways to simplify your life?  Please share!

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  • Do you know about majic jack ? It works through your computer for a home phone.  It costs 20.00 bucks a year after you buy the gizmo at your local drug store for 20.00    Try looking at majicjack.com

    Also youcan get a timer for your water heater--Or do it manually if you are on a regular schedule.  First one up turns on--last bather turns off.If everyone is out of the house all day you can time it that way--or the very least turn off overnight.  May need to have on a little more during cold weather  but I live in very warm area.  I usually only run mine for the dishwaher  and have enough hot water for two or three showers.  I do live alone

    but you can probably work out a schedule to fir your family.

    I enjoyed your comments.  Thanks.

  • Thanks for your comment, Norma Keene!  I have indeed heard of magic jack, and have thought of switching to it several times.  However,  I have read some people having issues with it, and I believe the 911 service is not guaranteed - those things make me hesitant.  Then again, I've read of many people switching to it and loving it.  Your trick with the water heater may indeed work...I have played the setting on mine to set it to the lowest level such that I have the hot water I need when I need it, but not "over heating" the water.

    Great comment!

  • It's hard to sacrifice. We're a full year into our projected five-year Debt Management Plan to get out of debt, and after all the budget cutting, downsizing, and life-simplification projects, I'm finding that I'm not yet done cutting the excess fat out

  • What are we going to do when life in the United States sends all the money of the financial treaure to Soviet Union so tht they can live in France without recluse of charm that they have stolen the money from government to get there.  They have supplanted the supplies of our life which was money into a kanger saw will that it belonged to them.  In a personal mannner.  They have forsakened there mankind and decided to ride out on charm living there families behind to live in great houses and charm large deficits which they didn't pay for because they believed they were the government and owned the balance sheets of the nation of rome in america and came home to live in france and the europe community rich witout there constituents to prove themselves worthy of the queen.

  • The main message of the blog is that even if you are in debt, you can afford anything. You just cannot afford everything. Obviously there are limits to this, as there's no way I can afford a $30 million dollar mansion, but I think you get the idea.

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