What We Could Give Up

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

I remember a time about eight years ago when Jared and I were desperately trying to come up with a list of things we could live without.

We were broke. More than broke. We had way more month than money and a mounting credit card bill that received no more attention than minimum payments. In an attempt to create a balanced household budget, we were looking for ways to cut our expenses.

What could we live without?

The car payments had to stay, as did the student loan payments, the utilities, and the mortgage. We couldn’t stop paying for childcare unless we were going to stop working. We had to keep eating and feeding our young son, although we did decide to put a little more effort into getting invited to our parents’ houses for dinner a few times a month.

We were frustrated to realize that even if we were willing to live frugally, the bulk of our expenses couldn’t be eliminated easily. It became a running joke in our house that Jared’s solution to every financial crisis was to cancel the cable, but the truth was that was one of the only things we could easily remove from our lives, even if the impact was minor. It was then that we resolved to rid ourselves of monthly payments as quickly as possible.

Eight years later, I found myself standing beside a pay-per-load washer and dryer set outside of a bathhouse at a state park in Georgia and it occurred to me that we’ve given up a lot more than cable recently. Sure, we’d given up a house we loved, a car we enjoyed, and a whole lot of stuff as we prepared for a year on the road, but there had been (and continue to be) less obvious sacrifices as well. What struck me was how quickly we’d learned to live without a variety of luxuries that we had considered requirements for most of our lives.

What do we live without now?

Constant access to the Internet.

We’ve had Internet in our home since before we were married, and we’ve lived with 24 hour access to wireless Internet since 2004. Of course, both Jared and I can remember a time when Internet access itself was novel, but that was decades before I made my living writing online. Now, in a world where we are more reliant on the world wide web than ever, we don’t know from one day to the next how – or if- we’ll get connected. We hope for 3G signal on our iPhones to keep us in touch with our social networks and frequent libraries and coffee shops that offer free wifi access to nomadic writers. And why do we live in this wifi limbo? Because personal, mobile Internet service is a monthly payment we’d rather live without. It’s one way of keeping our bills low enough that only one of us has to work.

Baths (or long showers).

The RV we live in now is not a motorhome (motorized home), but a travel trailer that we bought used for $6,000. One of the reasons we selected this model was because it is very light, allowing us to pull it with the SUV we already owned. The camper itself was also considerably less expensive than other options. No car payment, better gas mileage, and more money in our savings came at the expense of – among other things – teeny tiny waste holding tanks. That means we can take about 1.5 showers and wash 2 loads of dishes before the gray water tank needs to be emptied. Even with the recent purchase of a portable holding tank (SO! EXCITED!) that makes frequent dumping easier, we still have to be very mindful of how much water we use when we aren’t hooked up to sewer. Inexpensive state parks rarely offer sewer service at individual campsites and even larger RV resorts offer discounted rates for sites without the convenience of on-site sewage.

In other words, no one is taking a bath in this thing.

Multi-tasking.

Most working parents – and probably any adult – will tell you that learning to multi-task is the secret to “getting it all done”. One of you cooks while another one cleans. You run laundry while paying bills. The kids do homework while you get dinner on the table. Very rarely will you walk into a family home in America and find just one activity going on. And yet, our home doesn’t provide enough room to accommodate multiple activities. We’ve learned quickly that when meal preparation begins, every other activity has to end in order to make room for cutting and cooking and plating. Laundry is done in a place designated for laundry that allow for only simple things like reading or talking on the phone while you watch and wait for your clothes to get clean. We still manage to get it all done, but only, I suspect, because there is less that needs to be done.

Variety – not just in clothes, but in food, evening entertainment.

Again, we simply don’t have the room to store multiple options of anything. Our fridge is tiny, our cupboards are tinier. We purchase a few days worth of grocery at a time and pass up two-for-one deals unless we’re willing to use whatever it is up in a short amount of time. Obviously we aren’t buying anything in bulk.

Re-thinking what’s required

None of these sacrifices are particularly extreme or difficult to make. People who live in small apartments make similar choices every single day, but it illustrated for me how easy it is to change one’s perception of what is required for normal life.

There are so many things we have come to see as necessities, often forgetting the difference between a need and an expectation. I hear people talk about things like health insurance, credit, job security, and equity as if it is a foregone conclusion that these are things that have to be possessed at all costs. While none of these things are inherently bad, and all of them have the potential to make life better, they are not the unquestionable necessities they’ve been made out to be. Like cable and online shopping, they can be sacrificed in exchange for other equally optional luxuries.

The more you’re able to sacrifice, the more you’re able to gain.

The beauty is not in minimalism or living with less. The beauty, I believe, is in recognizing the difference between the things you have to have and the things you choose to have in your life.

Most of us learned in elementary school about our basic human needs. Food, water, shelter, and love can sustain a healthy human. Everything else that gets piled on top of that is a matter of choice. Understanding that, I think, is potentially very powerful. We have so many options for what our lives can look like!

What do you think? Have you ever thought about what you could live without? Could you make that list a little longer by shifting your perspective?

Opt In Image
Need happiness for the real world?

You want to be happy. You want to be grateful. You want to be authentic and courageous. But you also have stuff to do.

Take the Happiness Challenge, a 31-day email guide that helps busy people like you make room for happiness.

  1. I love this post! After spending three years hauling everything I needed around the globe on a bicycle, I’ve figured out that we don’t need much “stuff” at all! I sit here in a chair (luxury) typing on a regular size computer (luxury) with a lamp beside me (luxury) on a table (luxury). I am amazed at how many simple things are truly luxuries if we take a good look at them.

    I’m loving reading your perspective about life on the road!

    Nancy

    • Miss Britt says:

      I was partly inspired by your recent discussion on health insurance, actually. I kept thinking that you didn’t HAVE TO have health insurance if you were willing to find a work around. ;-)

      • Insurance is something we absolutely will not go without. In 1996 John – who was very fit and active and healthy – went out for a bike ride in Ethiopia (where we lived at the time). It’s kind of a long story, but the upshot is that his heart mysteriously went into arrythmia and didn’t beat correctly for the next 22 days.

        He ended up being evacuated out to Israel – to the tune of $90,000. In was in the hospital for two weeks – very expensive hotel room. When they finally converted him, the surgeon was completely scrubbed and prepared to insert a pacemaker – didn’t have to do it in the end, but the cost just to get him prepared and ready to go was outrageous.

        Overall, we think the bill for that simple bike ride came to somewhere around $130,000 – but insurance paid it all. If we hadn’t had insurance we would still be paying for that day. Actually, Israel never would have sent the plane to Ethiopia to pick him if he didn’t have insurance so he would have simply died.

        Like I said, insurance is a non-negotiable for us. But we’ve been there and know how fast things can happen. We would go back to teaching before we went without insurance.

  2. karla archer says:

    gosh… everytime I read your posts it’s like a mirror (only, our tiny “trailer” has no hitch or wheels…) I so identify with this, and I’m so grateful for other like-minded people who I can hold hands with through this journey.
    It’s hard going against the norm, but so so freakin’ worth it!!
    xo

    • Miss Britt says:

      It is absolutely worth it! That’s the great thing about CHOOSING – you know the result is worth it because you picked it out yourself. :-)

  3. Suzy says:

    Last year I learned one of my friends and her family didn’t have cable, just basic TV. I asked her how on EARTH she lived without cable. In January of this year I cut my cable, which saved me $40 a month. I wasn’t happy about it but I needed to cut back on expenses.

    In the last 6 months I’ve seen how much time I wasted watching TV. It kept me from doing things, creating more. I may miss it once in a while but it’s no tragedy. I also switched to a pay as you go phone and that saved me $47 a month. So all in all? I think I would have trouble going back to paying that extra $87 a month.

    • Miss Britt says:

      We used to have two car payments, now we have none. Once you cut out a monthly payment of any size, it’s hard to let them back in.

      (Jared has talked about pay as you go phones. I have a serious addiction to my iPhone that would be heard to quit.)

  4. Lynda says:

    I disagree with you on health insurance. I don’t think that should be considered a luxury item. A smartphone is more of a luxury than health insurance.

    I did the court may thing for a while after I moved. I met some … * cough *…interesting people.

    • Miss Britt says:

      They are both luxuries. People all over the world live without either. A thing either is or isn’t a necessity, I think. When you say one is more or less than another, you’re talking about priorities, which are individual preferences.

      For the record? We have health insurance. :-) I’ve lived without health insurance before and it is so hard with kids. You find yourself questioning how sick they are for fear of a doctor’s bill. For us, the security of knowing we can get to a doctor for only $30 is worth the $400 a month we pay for insurance.

      I was just using that as an example of something that has been deeply ingrained in us as a need. :-)

      • Momma says:

        I sure don’t think health insurance is a luxury! My blood runs cold when I think of not having it. Virtually all developed countries with the exception of the USA have universal health care. That is one very important thing we count on. Thank God for our health care particularly when Poppa had a heart attack in Florida, NO premiums (except for our drugs which now amount to about $100 a month with Poppa’s heart meds) Our bill for everything after his surgery, ambulance, return home, etc. was absolutely nothing. Our provider even wanted to send a medivac to pick us up instead of having the procedure done in Florida, but the cardiologist refused to release him for flying.

        But, this is a whole other thing, I know!

        Anyway, isn’t the freedom from stuff AWESOME? I KNEW it would be!

        • I agree Momma. You just never know when a medical emergency will strike – and the sad fact is that, in the USA, going without health insurance could very well cost you your life. I wrote the story up higher in the comments so won’t go into it again here, but once you’ve dealt with a medivac situation you know how serious it can all be.

          We had hoped to fly a commercial flight out of Ethiopia, but they refused to allow my husband on board with a heart condition and our only way out was an air ambulance – specially equipped airplane that came with it’s own pilot, co-pilot, navigator, doctor, and nurse. It flew 7 hours to Ethiopia and 7 hours back to Israel, plus caused an enormous international diplomatic brouhaha. YIKES!

          • Momma says:

            YIKES

          • Lynda says:

            I didn’t see all these other replies until I did my big reply. I do wonder after reading the comments, if medical insurance is different depending on the state you are in. I do know that back when I was in high school, Oregon decided to adopt a socialized medicine for their state, with a list of things they would treat someone for no matter what. California doesn’t have such a program, and is generally known as an expensive state to live in anyway.

      • Lynda says:

        Until we live in a country that has socialized medicine, I have to disagree with you. You can’t get decent health care for certain issues without health insurance. Or if you can, it is probably some underground club.

        When I was without health insurance, I was going to school, and the school offered me health care for $17. For that I could go in there and get a cream for a rash, or medication for my allergies, but if I was diagnosed with high blood pressure or diabetes, there is no way my little school clinic would have been able to treat me. There are life saving medications that I would not have had access to, because I did not have health insurance. Fortunately, I didn’t need them.

        Also, when I was without insurance, my dad kept telling me to at least look into catastrophic health insurance, so at least I would be covered if I was in a car accident or some other major catastrophic event happened to me. I figured he was in the industry, so he probably knew something I didn’t, but I couldn’t even afford that to get the care I would need if something happened. Fortunately, nothing happened.

        I think health insurance is something that people don’t really appreciate until they need it. I know a few people right now who would love to have health insurance so they can have health care. And if you can afford it, it’s easy to say it’s a luxury, but if you can’t, you are pretty much treated as a second class citizen. Right now, through my work, I have really good health insurance. Tomorrow, I’m getting a mole removed to make sure it isn’t cancerous. When I was without health insurance, it would be, “Well, let’s just wait and see what happens and then…well, I don’t know what I’ll do.” It’s not the most comfortable feeling.

    • Robin says:

      I agree with you. As someone with two chronic conditions that could render me useless without medication, that is one of the only things I could not live without. Everything else is negotiable.

      • Robin says:

        Sorry – this should be “I agree with Lynda.”

        Not trying to get all political, but health insurance should be considered a human right and not a luxury. People shouldn’t have to live without health insurance, especially in America. JMO.

        • Miss Britt says:

          I think when people talk about health insurance being a right, what they really mean is health CARE. Medical treatment.

          But we’ve been conditioned to equate the two. (and I have it)

          In reality, you could choose to put $ into savings and pay cash for your healthcare or rely on Title IX coverage. I’m not saying either of those are better solutions, but they are options.

          • Robin says:

            That is a definite option. We don’t have Title IX coverage in New York State (bummer) but I believe they are working on something similar in the legislature. Who knows if we’ll have it soon because we’re broke (just like every other state…). And yes, I did mean health CARE instead of health INSURANCE. I just got all caught up in the matrix and didn’t proof-read. :)

  5. Lynda says:

    court should be laundromat. I am on my smartphone. :D

  6. Sometimes we need to take an audit of ourselves.
    What do we need?
    What is a waste of time?

    When you find that balance you become happier and you decrease unnecissary expenses.

  7. JudyC says:

    Lived without Electric and 6 growing kids for 6 years. This was in the mid 90′s. We had to draw water from the spring. We lived in a Travel Trailer. Be surprised how the battery operated trailer can be charged with jumper cables, or how you can watch tv or VHS movie connected to the DC outlet while a vehicle has the jumper cables connected to the battery on the trailer. Meanwhile the lights and the water pump are being charged for those evening hours of darkness and showers. The small hot water tank was propane and so was the cook stove which allowed us to refill the propane tank when needed. With a small kerosene heater and some fresh air we kept warm. During hot nights a small DC fan could run for about 3 hours; long enough to put you to sleep. We dug our septic system by pick ax. Eventually we had a well, 500 gal propane tank and electric, We added a room onto the trailer and put us up a wood stove for the winter months. The most exciting thing was seeing the ceiling fan turn, flipping a switch, flushing the toliet and taking longer baths. IN OTHERWORDS, you dont have to sell your travel trailer at the END of your JOURNEY. Find somewhere to park the trailer and add on. You will never feel the same about a big house again, I can promise you. have fun.

    • Miss Britt says:

      I mentioned that to Jared when we decided to buy the trailer. I don’t know that I’d want to live in it permanently, but when we made the investment it was nice to know we’d have that option at the end of the trip.

      But I’m not going to dig a well with a pick axe. lol

      • Momma says:

        I suppose you missed the Nate Burkis program where a young couple lost their job, so had to downsize from their home and mortage. They were given a small mobile home in BAD shape and turned it into a wonderful very stylish one bedroom home….no mortgage.

  8. ally bean says:

    “The more you’re able to sacrifice, the more you’re able to gain.”

    I love this post as I’ve never intentionally sat down and thought about what I could do without. Usually the giving up of things is foisted on me by circumstances, and not a well thought-out plan of action on my part.

    Very interesting. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  9. Nyt says:

    So, I was with you right up until the health insurance thing. In this country, at this point in time, (see how deftly I’m avoiding a political argument?) health insurance is a necessity. Yes, people all over the world live without it, and healthcare around the world is generally a smaller percentage of income than here in this country. The caveat to that is that in many of these places access is limited along with technology and supply. If and when your travels take you outside of our borders, and you get the opportunity to actually SEE the differences around the world, I suspect that your opinion just might change.

    • Miss Britt says:

      I might not be outside of the country on this trip, but I have left the country before. :-)

      I think at the core, healthCARE is a necessity, but it is technically possible to survive without health insurance. I don’t mean to imply that people shouldn’t have health insurance, it’s our family’s single largest monthly expense, but it’s a choice we make in lieu of other choices, like putting several hundred dollars a month into savings and paying for our healthcare with cash.

      There are a lot of people in this country who live without health insurance. Do they live well? That’s a matter of opinion. But they do, in fact, live.

      • But some don’t. If we had put several hundred dollars away every month in order to pay for our health care rather than have insurance, my husband would be dead now. It’s that simple.

  10. Hockeymandad says:

    Looks like your getting some heat on the health insurance thing. I think the cost of medical services has made this insurance a need instead of a luxury. We need health CARE in this country, not just treatments. Sadly, its the byproduct of our capitalistic world and the corporations that make more money by treating a problem instead of solving one. I honestly wish I could live without this, but sadly we cannot afford to these days. As for other stuff I could live without, since my wife reads this blog, I cannot be fully honest about that response or I’d get in trouble. ;)

  11. FyreGoddess says:

    I’m not sure that I agree about variety. While you’re foregoing a lot of variety in food, clothes, toys, even books, you’re in a situation that is almost entirely about variety as a whole. It’s a trade-off, but you lose (or sacrifice) no variety in life.

    You’re experiencing variety in scenery, in excursions, even in the food you eat (I’m thinking specifically about your last post and your locally inspired meal). Right now you’re in the throes of variety.

    I mean, I get what you’re saying about not having a large number of options at any given moment, but with tiny cupboards and limited storage space, you shop more often, leading to even more variety. Not buying in bulk means you’re probably trying all kinds of different snacks and staples, maybe even local or regional brands and specialties.

    But, no, you’re not living without variety. Not by any stretch of the imagination :-)

    • Miss Britt says:

      Ha! Good point. I actually wrote this sitting in my “kitchen” while Jared was making a grocery list and I was reminding him that he couldn’t “stock up,” but you’re right that we have TONS of variety in our lives now.

  12. you know me and my 20 minutes to half hour showers…i would not be happy if i were forced to live without them. sure, i could live, but it would absolutely be more than a sacrifice. week long camping adventures are not a problem. anything longer than that and i get cranky. long, hot showers are where i draw the line!

    • Miss Britt says:

      There are TONS of luxuries I don’t – and wouldn’t want to – live without.

      Like my ridiculously expensive Keurig coffee.

      Recognizing something is a luxury doesn’t mean you have to go without it, it just means recognizing your own power. :-)

  13. Jared says:

    The last time I went to the doctor, the cash price turned out to be cheaper then our insurance co-pay. I really have no idea where you would start however I assume you could shop prices do your own research on treatment plans etc. Don’t get me wrong, just the thought of HAVING to do all that out of necessity instead of choice scares the crap out of me. That’s probably why we have insurance.
    Oh yeah, rest of post makes me wonder what else we could live without.

  14. Lisa says:

    We recently re-connected cable after giving it up 6 months ago. I could still happily be living without it, but I share my life and we make compromises. There’s a lot I could give up, but it would have to be for a very good reason (like yours). With the life we’re leading now, and living under the level of stress I currently am, I find myself less willing to give up the luxuries that make the rest of my time more comfortable.

    While I suppose it is possible to live without health insurance it’s not something I would willingly give up, and since our government has decided that it’s mandatory soon it won’t really be a choice. I’m not saying I agree or disagree with the law, just that it’s there and there will be bigger consequences for not having it.

    • Miss Britt says:

      There are consequences for most sacrifices we make. I don’t mean to sound flippant when I say things are luxuries or a choice, or even to suggest we SHOULD give everything optional up. I wouldn’t suggest ANYONE live with nothing but necessities. In fact, just the opposite. What I hope to suggest is that we fill our lives with the options that are most important to us.

      • i really hate that i can’t sign up to receive comments anymore. seems to me folks would benefit from your response to lisa.
        sigh.

      • Lisa says:

        I didn’t think you were being flip, and I hope I didn’t imply that. I was just saying that with the right motivation I could give up a lot, I just haven’t been motivated in that direction yet :)

  15. muskrat says:

    That picture makes where and how y’all live look peaceful. Most people probably can’t describe their lives in that manner.

  16. This post reminded me about those first few months living on the road…and also reminded me how far I’ve come since then. When we were recently visiting family they asked me about doing laundry at their house, but I now prefer the laundromat…I can do it all at once, big items too, and it’s my time to read. Sometimes I read “real” books, read online or (my favorite) read the local paper to get a taste of what’s important in that town.
    Health insurance is a tough issue, in fact today I’m expecting a call from our agent to sort out a new policy. For those of us who travel full time finding and using medical insurance is a trick. We are 55, I can’t wait to get to 67 when we’ll qualify for some help in that regard.
    I really don’t do well without internet. And I know that because despite several work arounds we do end up in places with poor to none and it’s difficult. I totally understand what a miracle the internet is, and how past peoples did without, but today for me it’s my connection to the world, to my family and it’s how I make my living. It’s not a cut-back I’m willing to make. And my iPhone is part of that. A choice I make.
    Multi-tasking is less of an issue who aren’t traveling with kids, but you’ll find you all get into an unspoken rhythm after a while. He’ll do this, you’ll do that and it will all happen. It just feels weird now.
    But I still miss bubble baths. :-(

  17. Megan says:

    I think, in the end, it’s about making conscious choices instead of doing things because “that’s what you do.” I don’t know how many times someone has said to me, “You don’t have TiVo?” in the same tone as they’d say “you were born without a tongue?” As cool as it might be, TV is just not so important that I want to spend even more money on it. We’ve cut back our cable drastically and I can’t even tell the difference except in the bill.

    And, of course, what is a necessity to one is not necessarily so to another. Health insurance is a necessity for my family. Our health care bills are in the five figures WITH the insurance. Without it, expenses would exceed our annual income by quite a bit. But if you go to the doctor once a year for a checkup, it may be cheaper to pay out of pocket instead.

  18. naomi says:

    hmmm – health insurance …

    do I dare comment?

    There is no such thing as health insurance in India. Health care though is CHEAP and reasonable affordable especially when you compare it to the costs of non-insured health care in the United States.

    So it all becomes quite the discussion …. yes .. most people outside of the United States do not have health insurance, but the cost to see a doctor, have surgery, get a tooth extracted, purchase medicine is LITERALLY a fraction of the cost it would be inside of the States without insurance …

    Anyway — I know this wasn’t about health insurance, but had to just say that — for what it’s worth.

    I struggle with this personally — the whole notion of doing with less. I have to admit that in the years of living abroad, I have been suckered into the concept of rewarding my family with “stuff” because of all of the other things they are doing “without” because they don’t live in the precious United States….

    Will set out to make a list of the things I/we don’t need in the coming days …. will be an upcoming journal prompt for me. Thx Britt!

  19. We could certainly do with an audit over here… but my girly boy husband would suffer greatly without his bath time ;)

  20. I really believe that we could live without 90% of what we have now. But I also believe that we’ll never get rid of that 90% until we have to. I can only imagine the freedom…

  21. Melissa says:

    We have gone through similar “what can we live without” conversations, especially when spending weeks at a time in our RV and the discrepancy between want and need is so apparant! Your post has made me want to go home and purge stuff from my closets!

  22. Penbleth says:

    When I read a post or article like this I always feel I should take a look at all my stuff and have a serious downsize in what I have and reassessment of what I need. Yet I know I won’t. Perhaps it takes a major event to make us really take action on reassessing our lives and what really is a necessity.

  23. I always enjoy reading your posts,they are so inspiring.

  24. Nanna says:

    This is so good

  25. martymankins says:

    You answered one of my curious questions about your on the road internet access (wondering if you had a broadband adapter for your laptop).

    As for what I need and can’t live without, it actually is a short list:
    - hot water
    - refrigeration
    - constant internet access
    - at least two devices that use that constant internet access
    - firm mattress to sleep on

    I could live with a lot less and obviously, I could get by on here and there wifi access. But hot water and a cold place to keep food and drinks are pretty important to me.

  26. Dinwizzle says:

    This is a super interesting topic to me right now. I think a lot of it is giving things up purposefully vs. being forced to reduce your intake of consumer products or expectations. For example I figured out how much money I could put away in savings if I just gave up my car. Once I realized that, even though I could afford having one, it became appealing to make the “sacrifice.” I think so far my biggest sacrifice was the time it takes to explain to people, yes I could have a car, no I choose not to have a car. :-) Since I’ve done that I’ve been looking at other things I could give up as a choice- internet and iPhone are definitely on the list of possibilities, but require more thought. Netflix is another. Reducing the amount of clothing I buy each year and focusing on quality purchases is yet another.

    I hope you’ll follow up with this topic again after having lived your nomadic life adventure!

  27. Sodapop says:

    There is so very much I could, and need, to give up in order to save money. I suck at finances. Always have and it’s been extremely difficult for me to change those ways, but I’m working on it. I’m not going to comment on the health insurance thing, because I view it differently than actual health care.

    This is a great post and gives me food for thought.

    xoxo

  28. Eirwin says:

    Reading your posts creates so much angst for me! I have been pondering, more like daydreaming, of downsizing…not to the point of a travel trailer, however, I am envious of that as well, but just letting go of “things”. Do I really honor my mother by holding on to all her beautiful antiques? Is it really more important for my boys and their growing families to have their childhood home to visit a few times a year, or would it be more important to be out from under all this rssponsibility and upkeep so that we can participate in life. I ask myself what am I giving back? It is hard to find the time to give and help others…I am too busy taking care of these things!

    I look forward to following your adventure and I will continue to ponder my “things”.

  29. I know we could live without cable, internet, etc. I know we could. And we could choose to do it. We did recently get rid of newer cars and get two used ones so we had no car payments. We pay off CC bills monthly. I buy almost all clothing second hand, saveab the undies and shoes (I do not believe in used shoes unless they are in perfect condition, my kids beat the crappity out of ‘em). We don’t take fancy vacays and we don’t go out to eat much. We do utilize a babysitter. That’s one of the few things I could not live without.

  30. Colleen says:

    I recently moved to an apartment, and while a good size, its still much smaller than my last house. I actually find I enjoy having less STUFF…less to clean, less to organize…I feel more free!

  31. Rachel says:

    We just moved to the UK from Canada and reduced our living space to 800 sq ft from 1100 sq ft. Not radical but I’m enjoying the smaller space. With the move we have given up:
    - ice cream on a whim: no freezer in our new place
    - soft towels: our flat has a combo washer dryer machine that is horrible. I now hang all of our clothing to dry indoors.
    - iPhones: we ditched our iPhones in Canada and now just have cheap pay as you go phones. We love it. No huge cell phone bills and the quality of our family time has skyrocketed.
    - car ownership: we actually became a car-free family last November and switched to ZipCar (car share) and public transit with a lot of walking. We thought we would buy a car here but… we’re stalling. Takes 25 minutes to walk into town but I love the exercise and fresh air.
    We’ve almost paid of $80,000 in debt in the last year since we cut expenses and sold a lot of stuff.

  32. alisha says:

    you are challenging my mind in such an awesome way. so much to think about.

  33. Tina says:

    Britt, I am loving reading about your trip. I am also amazed. I know we could do without some things… 5 years ago, we had a fire and lost everything. We started over. And now we have more crap again. I keep saying I am going to purge, but I haven’t yet. I really need to.

    In regards to health insurance: my oldest daughter had scoliosis and needed surgery. $300,000 later, we were so so so happy that we had insurance. All we had to pay was $1,000. We would have been BROKE, beyond broke, if we hadn’t had the insurance. And there is Orthodontia and glasses for the kids, and for me… thank GOD for our insurance!

  34. [...] And, finally, the last thing that brought me loads of happiness this week: the purchase of a 35 gallon portable waste tank from Camping World. We’ve decided indoor showers are not something we’re willing to live without. [...]

« « Happiness Highlights: Savannah | Worst-Case Scenario: a Trick for Overcoming Fear » »