Sunday, August 5, 2012

Deprivation-What Deprivation?

I'm not sure why, but lately I've been getting some comments about my frugal lifestyle, many of them frankly questioning.  While at one time this blog shared frugal retirement and how to tips, lately I've been simply blogging about my life (hoping that is encouragement in itself). I don't know if it's due to all my housing discussions or somthing else. Either way, some people have intimated that I cannot possibly be happy living on a fixed income. Others have wondered what life will be like if they are in similar circumstance.

The best way I know to answer this question is to simply talk about the things that I do with my life. By this I mean my day to day, week to week life.  I'll leave travel and how I do it well for another day, as my frugal roadtripping is deserving of a discussion on it's own. The same is probably true of those occasional "special events" (plays, expensive concerts and gourmet restaurants) that enter my life on occasion.( Both of those areas deserve their own missives, if you will). Today I'm writing about the regular day to day things that are part of normal (my normal, at least) retirement life. 

First let me say that my day to day life doesn't include shopping as recreation, or playing golf on a regular basis. If those things are important to you as a reader, I'm sure they could probably be done frugally as well. I hate shopping (except for flea markets on occasion) and I don't play golf. However, my son does. He has expensive clubs (hey, the boy is six foot six inches), but he plays on city and county courses often at off hours. Frugally. That said:

  • I read. What's more I read a great deal. I belong to two book clubs, both of which meat at local establishments and cost nothing. I get my books from the library, and generally order an iced tea once a month when each of these book groups meet. I also read plenty of mindless drivel, just because I like to.
  • I swim, almost every day when the weather allows. I do this alone sometimes, and sometimes with friends.  Half the year I do this for free, the other half of the year I spend a nominal fee to swim inside.
  • I walk, when the weather allows. I do this as a solitary exercise on purpose, but there are (free) walking, hiking and jogging clubs in my area, where the only cost is the appropriate shoe wear. There is even a Volksmarching group. If I wanted to and was physically able to do any of these, I would go to my neaby locally owned running store, where they have free classes and running/walking groups. For me the cost is the good clark's shoes that I normaly wear.
  • I enjoy my home and yard and spend time in, and working on, both places. I'm slowly making small landscape changes to my yard (look for my next entry to be about those small changes). The same is true of the house. Sometimes improvements cost money, often just a small bit of change and some labor.
  • I volunteer, both because I am committed and because I enjoy it. The cost, nothing more than my gas to get to my volunteer location.
  • I study. In my case I am offically "going to college" and have gotten financial aid, but there are lots of other ways to learn. My local college offers a program called Seniors Active Learning for folks fifty five and older. Classes range from the history (a course on the founding fathers, for example), to languages to art (both history and practicum).
  • I do arts and crafts. Aside from the quilting (which is a business), none of these are particularly expensive. I'm teaching myself to knit-my daughter has hinted that she really wants a long Washington Redskin's scarf, and I need something to do when watching television in the evening. I do card crafting with recycled materials.
  • Yes, I watch TV, and fairly regularly, but only in the evening. There are actually alot of good shows on television and cable, from mini series like the Hatfields and Mcoys to classic movies.
  • I go to the movies at least once a week, sometimes with a group mentioned below, and sometimes on my own. On my own, I go to the first showing of the day and bring my own snacks with me unless I have a coupon. Cost from three to five dollars.
  • Once a week I meet with another group of gals, and we visit, quilt, socialize and kibbitz. About once a month we go out to eat, and I budget for that.
  • In terms of other "social activity", I belong to two social groups that meet once a month, and one that meets every two weeks. The monthly groups are dinner and socialization groups with everyone contributing. I also belong to a dinner and a movie meet up group. I'm also active in a varity of church occasions.
  • In other out of the house type activities, I try and take a short day trip a couple times a month, and I visit local festivals as they happen and fit my mood. Sometimes I do this with family, sometimes with friends, sometimes alone (I am not afraid of going out alone). The cost for these are gas, and a drink and snack as a rule.
  • I enjoy eating out, and do so every couple of months. When I eat out it is true gourmet dining and I have planned ahead-no Outback type chains for me (yes, I am a food snob)
  • Finally, yes, I work (in a manner of speaking). I spend part of my days earning money. I do this out of choice and have no plans to work at seventy, but for now my little income streams serve their purpose. Most importantly I do them at my own time on my own time.
I'm sure there are things I've left out (such as learning to can and starting geneology), and I don't want to bore anyone, but you get my point. Most of the things I do cost very little and for the activites that do have a cost, that cost is minimal. It's worth saying that this is the lifestyle I have chosen and with much more money I doubt that it would change much at all in terms of day to day living (it would all go to travel). Everyone's life is different, obviously. In my case, give me all the above, add a mimosa or glass of wine here and there, and I'm happy as the proverbial clam.

How about you?


  1. I'm 38 & agree with everything you wrote... I enjoy the simple things & they truly make me happy! :)

  2. Your life sounds busy and interesting. I, too, would do what I do regardless of available money.

  3. I never saw your life as deprived. You have a much more active life then me! Enjoy!

  4. It sounds like you have a very full life Barb! No need to defend it at all!:)!

  5. To pass judgment that your life cannot be happy living on a fixed income is like looking through a very narrow lens. Sometimes you need to snap on the wide angle to see the big picture.

  6. Great list of some great tips for some great things to do ... although, personally, I LIKE Outback!

  7. I have been enjoying your blog for months. I am also retired, older that you and live in a large northeast city and have a decent retirement income and I find your writing inspirational. You seem to have a rich and stimulating life and having to do things in a frugal manner appears to spur you to be especially creative in living your life.

  8. Actually, I've always admired and been inspired by your ability to make social contacts and live fully in that manner. I think of you as living a full and busy life, not a deprived one.

  9. I am retired and have no money concerns and do most of the things that you do - simple and thoughtful.
    I like to stay home more and more - it is so comfortable here and I love to sew and knit and read. I always walk for four miles every morning at 7.30 so I dont feel guilty about reading some afternoons or watching an hour of tv in the evening. It is so important to get some proper exercise every single day but it does have to be iron man or anything.
    Like your blog.......


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