I recently upgraded my lifestyle. I went for many years without a car, TV and still do not have a cell phone. It is not that I am a Luddite, rather, I tend to be a minimalist. I like to read books from the library, play chess and do outdoorsy things like shoot baskets with my wife and bike everywhere, and recently a little surfing. But I am not Amish.
I think it has something to do with the fact that I am sitting on the computer working all day, I write language learning software and various other online projects and trade stocks (not much money generated here recently as I moved across the world and have not had my focus in stock trading like I should).
If I am sitting using technology all day long and I really do not want to sit (I just started using the Kola hug for my back pain – another purchase) and drive or channel surf on my flat screen TV. Nothing wrong with it, just I think I would gain weight (more). So I am not anti-technology, but I love to be frugal and like a little bit of an alternative lifestyle guy, as much as an unrepentant capitalist can be.
I really have to confess I love having a car and a TV after so long without one. I question what will I get next, a boat? I think for now this is enough expansion of my home economy on the consumption side. I was at the park today and I was mentioning causally to various people little things about my car and parking and what was on TV last night. I felt normal for the first time in a long time.
We also got a bike trailer for my daughter, an upgrade from a bike seat. A couple of my two alternative reality fantasy lives when I was a kid, used to be owning a bike shop or a bookstore.
Of course I could not get cable, but rather I use a digital antenna which gets about 20 stations. For me this is enough TV and I have no cable bill.
I am Lucky I live near a major metropolitan area, that is Jacksonville. I have to qualify this that about three of the stations are religious stations (Jax is a Baptist mecca) and one Latino station (I really have to improve or learn Spanish). However, the other dozen stations I could watch. I think there is still one analogue station.
Movies I use Netflix streaming and the library (I have advanced to position number 82 in the queue for the last Harry Potter movie).
On the car I intend to use only now and then and with Liberty Mutual I pay 65 dollars a month insurance. Therefore, as long as I do not drive it too much my monthly fixed cost is under 1000 dollars. Car insurance + rent + utilities+ medical insurance (We are Polish citizens and bought a cheap plan from there that we can use here) + Netflix + YMCA (I am typing this post from there, it is more about getting my daughter to use the discovery center). To be honest, I think it might be a little more if I add it all up all my expenses and I think my 30 dollar electric bills will not last in the summer. Although my brother made a point that for 400 years in Florida they did not have A/C.
Food is our biggest variable costs, but my wife being from Poland cooks everything from scratch so it helps. I hope she does not become too American (both my sisters do not cook and but both my brothers do).
Anyway, I have no debt or credit and the last things we need to get is a house. The issue here is we would like to pay mostly cash for a house (It is a European thing not a credit thing), but unless I turn up the dials on my income making machine or start trading more aggressively (with risk) this might be a pipe dream.
Most of my money now is through passive income from my websites. I need to start releasing products.
OK, So I got a TV and a car, I am guilty. I can get off my high horse (a little) about minimalism and try to be like many rich hippies say,’ living in the world but not attached to it’. I still do think you do not need a car, and the fact that I did not have one a good part of my life is a testament to this, but it will be nice for my wife and daughter as we are not living in a major city (St. Augustine beach).
This next year I do not intend to make too many major purchases. I have a wish list of course that includes a telescope, taking my daughter to the Space center and Disney, but now I really need to finish I have had on the back burner because of life issues came up. Then hopefully buy a house.
In the United States of America there is a Puritan ethic and a mythology of success. He who is successful is good. In Latin countries, in Catholic countries, a successful person is a sinner. – Umberto Eco
I have always said economic life is not want you earn or save but your lifestyle on a day-to-day basis. If you are in an hour and ten minute commute each way and with a stressful job, worrying you will lose your job or house, and you have stress at home, because you are always working, who needs it. Life is what you do on a day-to-day basis. I know I could make more, and could afford more anyway, but I want to be a capitalist and entrepreneur, yet not base my lifestyle on too many material things. Kind of a Puritan work ethic type of idea, although I am Catholic.