Austerity…. by choice.

We’ve made two payments to Ella’s college – and have made my Fall semester payment for my PhD program.

We’re now officially broke.  😉

We’ve cut back on all categories, and have completely eliminated others.  The days of heading to the Diner for dinner are done.   Although I’ve generally been a “scratch” cook, we’ve moved further towards eliminating processed foods and have increased meal planning.  My usual weekly allowance will now need to stretch for a month…. and gift-giving will focus more on hand-made.  We’ve given up internet at home, as well as a landline – and I’ve put aside my Blackberry for a phone that makes phone calls.  And texts.  And that’s it.

It’s austerity.  And it’s good.

1)  This is self-imposed austerity, for the most part.  We could take out loans.  We may need to in subsequent years, but this year we’re trying to see if we can do this without further debt.

2)  It actually feels good.  I know this choice for our family will eventually pay off in higher dividends.  I’m spending less, and therefore also creating less waste.  Our footprint as a family is becoming smaller.

3) It makes sense.  When Bill and I reviewed our finances and discovered what we were able to do, if we so chose, I immediately realized how much money we’ve ‘blown’ in the last few years.  I had always thought we lived fairly modestly, but working our budget differently has truly opened my eyes. Had we started this sooner, who knows what we might have done with the money we had saved.  Put water in up at our property?  Built a small cabin?  Amazing.

Unlike many in the world who have no choice – we’ve made the choice to live a bit simpler That small fact is what continues to motivate me and move me forward.  We’re doing this because we’ve chosen to do so – and yet when I read about the poverty and famine (Somalia, anyone?) that exist throughout the world, the fact that I am able to even make this choice shames me.  I can make this choice because I AM wealthy.  I can choose to send my daughter to a good school, and take up another degree for myself because I AM privileged…. and that sudden self-awareness is what wakes me up in the middle of the night wondering how I could do otherwise.

There are moments when I hold a bit of a pity-party for myself.  Poor Karen.  She can’t update her Facebook status or look at her Starbucks balance while noshing at the local watering hole while reading a magazine and dreaming about future yarn projects.  Thankfully, I’m able to slap myself with the knowledge that I’ve chosen this… and I’m blessed because I *can* choose this.

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