Step 4: Cutting Costs

My Wildly Expensive Year

Whew, this year has been one of my more expensive. It seems to come in waves, everything needing replacement at once. Our bikes (including their accessories and locks) were stolen, the car’s tires need replacing for the very first time in seven years, after six years of daily use my laptop battery AND power adapter died, and the book cost me a good $4000 to produce. Holy schmoley. I won’t lie: It kinda hurts to face bill after bill after bill!

But, I don’t let it trick me.

My car is still cheaper than transit.
My laptop brings me a gazillion more dollars than it ever costs.
My son is now perfectly happy with a used, undersized bike we got for $80.
The book was my best possible contribution to the world, is gaining ground, and should pay for itself eventually.

However, when the car place recommended (again) that I swap winter and summer tires twice a year, and I explained that with a 450 sq foot home, I don’t have the storage room, my next thought was: “Wait, should I get a bigger place so I can comfortably store tires?” No, because it’s way cheaper to run through winter tires than it is to pay market rent to store them. Oh, right!

Most relevantly, though, I had used the previous six years to prepare for this one.

  • When I own a car, I know full well some maintenance will be required.
  • When I use a laptop, I know full well that parts (and ultimately the whole machine) will need replacement eventually.
  • When we expand the number of our possessions, we’re clear that we now have more things that can be stolen.
  • When I develop a project, I’m aware that I’m gambling every single penny I put into it.

And because I choose to use luxury devices and to contribute my very best, I manage my finances accordingly.

My son asked me today, “When we visit grandma for her birthday, what are you giving her?” Dude, my travelling for 8+ hours IS my gift. It will cost me time, energy, and money—and it’s sufficient. In fact, “time with” is already the greatest possible gift there is.

My goal is balance.

As I learn, I take hits to the wallet but also tweak each approach for next time:

  • Now that I’m finally aware of the tire matter, I’ll use a tire place that stores them for me for free.
  • With two laptop parts having died, I’ll now ask the school grant system to buy me whole a new device.
  • With four power cords for three devices having died in the last two years, I now own one universal cord that can support any device.
  • With a steep learning curve under my belt, I can pace any future contributions per a reasonable annual budget.

A wildly expensive year stings.
But, these do come up.

For one person, it’s an unanticipated health event.
For another, it’s the necessity to get a child screened for a disability.
For a third, it’s needing to take a year off work per stress.

Life happens, and it can cost.
That’s what the money is for.

Let’s be grateful for our lower-cost years, and use those to save up for the non-surprising “surprises.”

2 thoughts on “My Wildly Expensive Year

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