Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Spending to Save, and Saving to Spend-Part One

we now take a brief break from our moving and downsizing saga....sort of

Sunday morning I travel to church a good twenty to thirty minutes away, depending on traffic.  It's the closest progressive church in the Dallas area (a separate discussion for a separate time). For the most part, I try to keep Sunday for church, family and quiet time.  At least once a month however, I do make some stops on the way home.  There are a few specific shops that are on my way, and it makes sense to save gas and make this a "combined trip". These stops include the office supply store where they refill my cartridges, Joanne's fabrics, the Barnes and Noble bookstore, and Catherine's clothing store.  On this occasion, I needed fabric-there was a specific color of blue, and I simply did not have it. 

While there, I decided to hit Catherine's and check out their clothing.  I walked into the store, stood looking, and felt a wave come over me.  I wear extremely seasonal colors. Women readers will understand when I say I had my "colors done" years ago, and they were correct. I wear bright blues and greens, yellow, cream, Lavender and soft pink on top-with some variations. A great portion of the year, these colors are hard to find-even in thrift stores, where I do the majority of shopping. This store was full, especially of bright blue and green.  While I did not purchase anything yesterday, I plan on going tomorrow and buying at least one if not two tops.  At full price, and not on sale.

Which of course, leads me to one of my two points.  I can afford to buy this brand new, not on sale top for two reasons.  First, because I only buy a few things that I really like. Secondly, because at least ninety percent of my shopping is done only at deep discount end of season prices or at used outlets. It's precisely because I spend most of my time at goodwill and the sale racks that I can afford to by this one sixty dollar top. Being able to make this kind of purchase on rare occasions is important to my quality of life, and worth the lack of spending all the other times.  It's worth noting here that I don't consider shopping at Goodwill to be a drudge or a punishment, and many of the items I purchase there are just as good quality as my brand new not on sale top. I don't mean to imply that goodwill shopping is depression, or misery-it's a treasure hunt).

This retirement financial philosophy can be translated to many parts of my life. Most of the time I eat simple and tasty homemade meals with loss leader priced items-chicken with wine in the slow cooker, beef stew,  chili, and the like at this time of year. Because I eat this way and don't mind doing so, I am able on rare occasions to buy those gourmet items that I love-lobster tails and rack of lamb for example. Eating home most of the time allows eating out once in awhile.

Recently I decided to downsize my home. I was stretched on my income and had become "house poor". All of my money was going to house, or house maintenance. I enjoy my home and love being a homebody-traveling half the year would not work for me. But being forced to be a home all the time was not working for me either.  When I first opened this discussion some time back (long before actually listing this house),most people applauded me. A couple folks said they were sad and this was a terrible decision. I should be willing to sacrifice everything to keep my house. If, I say again IF, this house was paid for or close to being paid for I suppose that might have worked for me.  However, I am not ready to cocoon for the rest of my life yet.

After I leave Dallas I will be visiting with a sister who has lovingly invited me and my poochies into her house for a month or so while I find a new place to live. I intend to rent for a full year-a smaller house, probably a two bedroom-maybe even a nice patio apartment for the dogs. In year or so, I may look for a longer term living situation after I learn my new town.  I may buy a small house, I may buy a condo, I may stay as a renter. I don't know yet.

I do know that by cutting my costs and my space by a third to a half (as well as changing locations), I am opening up many more possibilities. More time with family.  The ability to decide on the spur of the moment on rare occasions to eat out, to shop, to pay for an expensive craft fair space or to jump in the car and take a trip for a week or so. I have even looked at the smallest size of camper/motor home as a way to increase my quilt business and let me go further afield. I'll be able to give more to church and charities than I have been, and be able to quilt when the mood hits (but I'll still sell my goodies).  I'll even be able to help my son as he jumps of the precipice into his own business (as he cannot find a job) in some small ways.

In other words, while I'm living smaller in terms of size, I'll be living even larger and more richly in retirement in terms of overall lifestyle.  I'm looking forward to making my new space mine and settling in.  I'm ready to go.

Now, if I could just do the math and figure out how much of this stuff will fit into a twenty food truck, I would be happy. My mind doesn't do that kind of visualization, and I have to load the truck and have the house empty in the same day-I expect my buyers to be here with their truck one hour after closing!  Arggggggggg!


  1. This is a great post. I operate on this theory (but don't practice it as well as I would like all the time) & am sad watching my daughter try to hold onto a condo (her first) that was purchased at the top of the house bubble & which is taking over 60% of her income. She has had to give up travel, work 2, 3, or 4 jobs to pay the bills & now has credit card debt. It's got to be her life lesson, but your post is timely.

    Thanks for taking the time to post. I'll bet life is busy there!


  2. I agree with Pam-it's hard to watch a loved one being consumed be a shelter at the expense of other priorities. The same is true with servicing credit card debt. But you can only do so much without coming across as critical and unloving.

    Keep moving forward, Barb.


  3. You've already made the big decisions - to sell, and then to rent in your new location until you have a sense of what you want to do next (great choice IMHO). You're moving in a direction that will open up your life on many levels, so please don't stress about your furniture. It's the least important part of this whole equation, and you'll figure it out as you go I'm confident!

  4. You know, you can be house poor even if you don't have a mortgage anymore, what with real-estate taxes, heat and electric and maintenance (oh, the maintenance!) It seems clear you're doing the right thing, and it's smart to rent for a while until you get to know your new environs. Meantime, good luck finding that 20 food truck -- I was real excited there for a minute (it's almost dinner time) until I realized it was just a typo!

  5. It sounds like good things are in store for you, Barb!! :) We are also "house poor", we pay so much for our home and related bills, but for the location & safety... it's worth it for now.

  6. Thanks tamara, Im not stressing, I have a vision. At home and with family and volunteering, quilting and do ing all the other things I enjoy in my home and traveling out about four times of year for a few weeks at atime..

  7. Tom, I agree, especially depending on taxes and so on-especially if you are not a do it yourself type. If I only had one typo, that was a good day, lol!!

  8. Awesome! I sure things will work out even better than you can imagine right now!

  9. Barb,

    You are at the beginning of an exciting adventure. It will come with lots of stress and concerns, but few things in life are more invigorating than a move to a new place.

    I can't see a single flaw in your logic and planning. I bet even your quilts will start to look different when you are looking at mountains and snow instead of the flat Texas landscape...all new colors and shapes to inspire you!

  10. Good things are in your future Barb. I love your blog. I rarely comment, but I do always make frequent visits to your blog for new entries. I find it interesting to learn how other single, retired people are living.

  11. Barb, you think the way I do. I have my eye on a beautiful pair of pull on capris in the clothing store I frequent. I don't have this colour and while I could make them.... Much rather buy these as a celebration of savings.

    God bless.

  12. One of my close friends sold their river cottage so they could move into a small condo. They wanted to live near their children and grandchild. They also wanted to be able to do a few things besides live on the river. I don't think they could be any happier.

    One step at a time and don't always be thinking three steps ahead...take it from me you can drive yourself nuts if you do that. The course will be clear when you make the next and next decision. Be well and have fun.


  13. I think you are smart! Alot of your choices mean FREEDOM nice job.One year to do a thorough assessment of area and your needs in living arrangements seems so wise to me.Luckily 30 yrs ago we chose a small 1300sq ft home that has been paid for since 2005.It has 1 acre of land so it feels like we have space to stretch our legs but I also thought in an emergency our daughter and her family could have the house hubby and I could put an apartment above garage and all will be safe.


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