Tuesday, March 28, 2023

My Observations to Saving and Being Happy

 Good morning.  Today I am going to talk a bit about my observations over the years on gaining financial independence and security and being happy as well!  I know most of the regulars here, know these things, but it is always good to have a reminder.  I also hope that we get some folks who are just attempting to start their financial journey, and perhaps this can give them an idea or two.
We are all in this together.  We all want to be secure.  We all want some financial freedom.  And we all want to be happy.

If you watch the news or just watch TV programming today, you have learned that money does NOT make people happy!  It may give them lots of stuff - big houses, fame, money, stuff - yet they change partners faster than a rabbit breeds!  They commit suicide, they do drugs and alcohol, and they think they are far more important to society than they really are!  NO matter how much money one has - they can't take it with them as much as they may try!!!!!!!

So here are just a few observations and thoughts:

What do you really want?  A huge fancy house and fancy cars and all the stuff - means you work and work and work to gain them and then you work and work to keep them!!!!!  
A reasonable home and vehicle and a modest amount of things - means less working at a job and more time with your family.
More doing YOU and YOURS!  
It is so much easier to have a smaller, less expensive home - and pay it off and being independent of having a mortgage.  It costs less for up-keep as well.  It is all about trade-offs!!!!!
Decide what is REALLY going to make you HAPPY first - then do what is necessary.

Yeah, I know there are people out there at this very moment saying - "take your money and spend it.  Spend it on everything you may need or want.  Just spend it or lose it."
NOOOOOOO - don't do that!  Times are very volatile at the moment - but you don't lose investments IF you don't take them out!  We have seen this happen over and over  - things go down and lose value - but they go back up - sometimes greatly.  So I advise to leave investments alone.
Now to get to this point - you can't just spend and spend at your every whim!  Some people buy anything and everything that pops in their head and that they THINK they want at any given moment.  There is NO saving in doing that.
If you want a stable future - you need to save a percentage of your money every week.  SOMETHING!
Spending is often impulse - and investing is looking to the future.  It is putting value in YOU and your future!

Kind of like above.  Do you need that $6 coffee every day?  Do you need that new outfit for an event?  Do you need the new car?  It isn't just big stuff - those small things add up QUICKLY!
Say you spend $10 a day for lunch out (cheap) - 5 days a week - all year long - that is $1,300.00!
That is just one example.  Many people eat out all the time, buy those fancy coffees, smoke, go out and party, buy new pretties, make a dozen trips a week to the grocery (then still eat out), etc........ and then wonder why they can't save!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Think long and hard before making big purchases, and rethink all those smaller ones.  No impulse buying.  Yes, it is hard to break the cycle - but IF you want a secure future, you need to think.

I think you can be both!  Just my opinion and my experience.
But there can be a difference.  It all depends on your relationship with money.  I was VERY happy and content with my life 4 years ago!  Now I am still content and I am happy - but not the same kind of happy.  There are surely different types of happy.  Many young people do not understand that.  Happiness with a spouse, child, family is the ultimate happiness - stuff is nothing.  But many people never realize that until they lose that special someone, and then all they have is stuff.
To be both of these things one needs to understand gratitude and know what is truly important.
Abundance doesn't always fill the need we have for happy or contentment.
Love, people, quality, gratitude and faith are what will get through the rough days - not all the stuff.

It is never too late to change your ways.  It is never too late to make a start at a financially stable future.
I know the days we live in are difficult.  Folks, this has all happened before and yet here we are.  It will all happen again.  We just do the best we can, plan a little, prepare a little, and still have a nice life.

Living a simpler life does NOT mean doing without or not having fun - not at all.  It just means you think about this and make very divisive and sometimes hard decisions.
It means living a purposeful life.
You choose what is important - and go forward.

I hope this helps someone make a change and gives them hope for a nice future and not just a "live in the moment" type of life.  Help your family.  It takes a village!

What say you?


  1. Great post Cheryl. Ever since I can remember I have looked at purchases as how many hours did I have to work to pay for it. When you realize how many hours of your life it takes to buy certain things you really slow down. Now I'm at a point in my life it really isn't about the money but I just don't want much 'stuff'. Like you said, you have to store it, clean it, etc. I have to really love something to keep it now.

    1. I do this too! It really makes you realise the value of things.

    2. Lori, I think that's why I have a regular box of donations that I fill. If it's going to be in the house, I want to love it or at least have use for it. --Elise

    3. I also keep a box in the extra bedroom for things that I find I no longer want. When it's full, I drop it off.

    4. I have done the same thing and when you realize how much of your life it cost to buy something - it is eye opening.
      Sounds like many of us look at it that way! Great way to look at it.
      And like you - I can now afford it - but don't really want it!!!

  2. Being retired sure cuts down on the temptation to eat out and get the expensive coffees! By the time I go out and get it I can have it made and consumed! We are kind of stuck in the big house where we raised five kids. Real estate here is so crazy expensive that downsizing would be hard. Yes, our house is up in value as well but we just don't want to do an interim move and the next house would have to be exactly what we want. As far as stuff goes, I would love to have half of what we own just disappear!

    1. Lana, there's nothing wrong with staying in a home you raised your family in. You'll know if/when it's time to downsize and it may never be right for you. There's a lot to be said for happy memories all around you. --Elise

    2. Nothing wrong with staying there at all. Heck it is yours - why not? I agree about the stuff but we need to be careful what we wish for!
      I have a yard to take care of and the house and then there is G's garage - but it's mine, so why leave? I can still do the work. I would have to pay a lot to live somewhere else, so here I stay!

    3. Thank you both for the encouraging words. We do love our house and we have great neighbors.

    4. I'm with you, Lana. I opted to relocate after my husband's passing and thought this place (which I absolutely love) would be my "forever" home. I moved to a safer area, and one that was more maintenance free (single-family 100+ years old to newer townhome). But, I neglected to take into account all the stairs. At the time I moved, they were not an issue -- I'd been running stairs for 35 years -- 2 story home with laundry in the basement, so this was nothing different. But as I've aged, 3 stories (garage/bonus room + main living area + bedrooms on the top floor) are becoming more and more problematic. I'm starting to look, but will have to find the perfect place before I take the plunge.

  3. Great post Cheryl. What helped us to get on track financially was me talking with a girlfriend at work, she and her husband had a date they wanted to retire, with a paid off home and two newer paid off cars. That got me thinking. What did we want? We were ten years from retirement. So we did a five year plan to pay off our house (based on our best case savings, we were still far short of paying it off, but over those five years, we sold things, and money arrived from unexpected places and we paid off our mortgage)…and that started us on our way to defining what we wanted to accomplish. It made not spending on luxury items much easier when we had a goal in mind that we both wanted! Hilogene in Az

    1. Thank you, Hilogene. A goal is so important. --Elise

    2. A PLAN!!!! Best advice yet! Yep, you just work towards that freedom a little at a time, and before you know it, you have it.
      A good plan is so very important. Also, both being on the same page with the financial plan is very important.

  4. What an inspiring post today, Cheryl; much food for thought. I'd only add being careful when you think you're being frugal. What do I mean? Well, my in-laws are the best example...

    From the time I met Hubs, they lived in large homes. Even after they retired the 1st house was almost 3000 sq. ft. on 5 acres. The last was 2700 sq. ft. on 3 acres. All were in executive home areas. They appeared to be extremely frugal, though. Good stewardship was a mantra. They wore clothes until they were threadbare. No restaurants. Vacations only in the 5th wheel and/or to see family. Occasionally Christian retreats. Luxury was akin to sin. Imagine my surprise recently!!!

    So, it's not just about making coffee at home vs. coffee shop coffee, or eating out rarely. They did that and more. Who needs 7 sofas, at least 7 recliners, more than a dozen end tables, enough tools to fill a storage unit, etc.? Please understand, I'm not being critical. I'm being practical. What if they took the grands to an amusement park instead of buying more furniture? What if, instead of buying 20 air purifiers, they'd done something special to make memories?

    Your point is a good one, though. They weren't particularly content or happy. And life on this earth is so painfully short. I'm trying to learn. --Elise

    1. They most definitely had their priorities in a different place than some of us! Stuff was obviously important to them. Some people need "that" address to look good. I remember years ago when I worked in HVAC - I would hear the stories about the huge mansions they served in the best areas - and there was no furniture in them! They had the prestige address, but couldn't afford furniture. So some do it both ways.
      You make the point for me - "they weren't particularly content or happy". Stuff means nothing.
      People do!

  5. The old saying is something like, whatever you own, owns you.
    The bigger the house, the more there is to heat, cool, clean, paint and pay taxes on. And in Cheryls case, scrap wall paper. Ha! Then your bones get tired and it's harder to do all of it yourself and so whomever gets your stuff after you pass, gets to deal with all of it. What a cycle! Yes, contentment is the key. The good book says, godliness with contentment is great gain.
    Central Az

    1. AMEN sister! It doesn't stop when you pay it off - it is a big circle.
      Yes, there is then wallpaper!!!!!!!! Never ending wallpaper!!! LOL
      Yes, everything in moderation.

  6. This post, and the comments, are full of wisdom. The more stuff you have, the more time and money you have to spend to maintain it.
    Have a budget. Plan for expenses. I set aside money every month for certain categories, basing it on the yearly total divided by 12 months. Included are school/real estate taxes, home/car insurance, hubby's secondary medical insurance, medical expenses, utilities, veterinary licensure and continuing education expenses. We use 2 credit cards, and every time an expenditure is made, I account for it in that credit card category. These expenditures are for groceries and some monthly bills.
    If you can grow food, do it! It's not only satisfying, good exercise, but good for mental health as well.
    Another thing that it is important to budget for or have an emergency fund for is veterinary care.

    1. Yes mam. Budget. I/we never had a written budget to speak of - but knew we made X amount period - and we didn't spend more!!!! We spent less.
      Pretty basic - but it worked for us. You need to make plans for all the monthly things and include your saving and tithing (if you do so), and go forward.
      Great advice.

  7. I am blessed and happy to just be able to pay my bills that is enough!

  8. I love reading this blog! I have learned so much from you over the years. Last Apr I sold my 3 bedroom house and moved to OK to be with my sister. I live in a converted storage shed with barely more than 100 square footage and could not be happier. I walk to her house to shower and use facilities. I cook and craft in my little house. You don't need things, family is so important. Thanks for sharing with all of us

    1. Thank you for your kind words.
      I love this!!!! It has to be freeing on all levels. I love seeing the shows about 'tiny' homes. That usually means 500 sq ft. or less - but you go gal - 100 sq. ft. is something.
      Truly as George Carlin used to say - we getter bigger houses for more stuff. So true. Free yourself of the stuff and we really need very little room!
      Thank you for commenting.

  9. All the ideas are great. I have one to add. In every group of friends or family there is usually one person/couple who do all the entertaining. Holidays, Birthdays, weekend get togethers etc. It costs a lot to be that one. We all can save a bunch of money by not hosting everything. Not just the food. There will be extra laundry after. The lights and heat will be on for more time. If there are drinkers, the cost of booze. I am sure there are more ideas. Jean from Manitoba Canada

    1. Thank you, Jean. Some of us have been the hosts many times. A long time ago, in a place far away , when Hubs and I were first married, the church did something called "Supper Sixes" every month. Three couple would alternate houses in rotation; the host couple provided the main dish and the other two couples provided a side and dessert + drinks. Children were babysat at one house and everyone split the payment to the sitter. Everyone also helped with set up and clean up. We really enjoyed those.

    2. It sure can be expensive to be the host for a big family event. Been there a lot of times. People do not realize all that goes into it. It does seem it always go to the same person too.
      It would be lovely if family and friends were more willing to rotate the festivities. Thank you!

      Elise that sounds like a fun event.

  10. Hmmmm, lots to think about from this post Cheryl.
    One thing I would like to add when talking about long term financial topics, be them savings, mortgage, investment, is be prepared to have failures. Be prepared to make mistakes, fall short, have lean times, not reach goals. No one makes 100 percent correct decisions every time. Louise

    1. Extremely good point. Stuff happens and we don't always get where or what we want on time. Indeed, we are all fallible fo sure.

  11. Wow. This is good Cheryl! : )

    I think everyone already said some very important things and I agree. We've always lived below our means with my husband being self employed, commission only and it was interesting. I had a girlfriend who rolled her eyes at me one time as I was so excited I got a purse on clearance. I remember going to the dollar section of the fabric store to eek out two maternity dresses to alternate for church.

    The home I grew up in was an older home, built in the 20s or 30s. It was paid for and my parents drove cars til they fell apart and paid cash for the next one. My parents did not care what people thought and our little home was neat and doll-like in that very old neighborhood. I had to go to school with the astronaut families in a very different world and unfortunately my ils always worried about what people 'think'. I have an il that lives extravagantly at a very old age, driving luxury cars but never helps the family ever. It would flabbergast people if they knew the entire sphere! lol That person is not content.

    Thank God my husband and I are very much on the same page and Walmart suits us just fine or a nice deal at Kohls or something to that affect and I sew many of my own clothes from good ol' cottons and rayon. When we eat out it's at sensible restaurants at lunch and take home leftovers for dinner! My Mr. Coffee coffeemaker serves me well and Aldis is my husband's favorite grocery store. We just love being in a rural area appreciating God's handiwork. It's the best and many who are into 'things' don't understand us at all! lol My dogs and cats are such a joy to me as well...Give me the simple life. : )

    Our second born gave me such a beautiful compliment one year for Mother's day. She wrote on facebook that she thanked God that she had a mom who knew 'The best things in life aren't always the best things'. I still think about that...and thank God for that.

    Our home is roomy, our four girls were here from junior high and on but we built it ourselves simply. My kitchen cabinets are the store grade ones that hubs fancied up with trim and we painted them off white. We had wood counters for a long time. Gradually (recently) after ten years we put in sensible store brand laminate wood floors and before that had smoothed concrete (the slab!) stained in coffee colors and copper (turning areas green) it was neat but hard! lol So we do things like that to make do until we can pay cash. Just little by little but we are content.

    I know it's hard to lose loved ones, my mother lost my step dad in '90 and it was brutal for her and all of us, my little girls were around 6 and 8 and lost their best friend, my baby at the time would run up to silver haired men at the store thinking they were Al. I so get the loneliness I see in my mom although she tries to make the best of it and we do what we can.

    We trust in the Lord with all of our hearts and lean not unto our own understandings. We trust him too in how we spend our money and make do when needed, it's freeing and a beautiful way to live. To heck with what people think.

    I too get a white garbage bag and filler up! We bring it to the senior citizens resale shop when it's filled and boy am I getting good at fillin those bags! It makes me so mad at myself that I've let even this stuff take up my time from my grandchildren because Mimi is decluttering.

    One good thing is our youngest daughter at 29 is attending a church that is doing a Dave Ramsey course in Sunday school to get the younger adults straight on things. I miss Larry Burkett but Dave Ramsey is good on many things.

    I'm here with my ramble haha, I'm a sentimental- writer-artist so humor me everyone lol. I appreciate you Cheryl, this is a wowee post! Bravissimo!

    1. I LOVE T H I S response!!!!!!!!!! You have got it - the life.
      It sounds wonderful. I was smiling and reading and saying to myself - check, check, check, check...............
      All but the country - my mind went to Green Acres is the Place to be! You sang it too - didn't you? I would love the country life - but I will be content here.
      It seems the people who perhaps are the happiest and most content - have the least and give the most. Just kind of how my minds eye sees it.
      Thanks for posting.

    2. Hi Amelia
      We were big fans of Larry Burkett too. His book The Coming Economic Earthquake is as relevant today as when it was first written. Our lives were totally changed after reading "Debt Free Living". Cookie

    3. Yes Cheryl! I know that song, yes I've sang that! Love it! : ) Our neighbor lets his cows come here to eat our grass too, I love seeing the cows, they know me too. : )

      I bet you would love the country life, it sounds nice where you are too, very simple and sweet.

      I agree with you....Truly rich people are the ones who have the least and give the most! True contentment can many times be seen in that kind of person.

      Thank you for your encouragement Cheryl, it means the world!

    4. Cookie, Yes! : ) We have that book; 'The Coming Economic Earthquake'! That's a good book! The other one you mentioned on living debt free sounds wonderful. We may have to get that one, we've been looking for a good Larry Burkett book to share with our grown daughters to stay away from common pitfalls. Thank you so much! ~Amelia

  12. Delayed gratification is key. Too many times in the past I have purchased something and later wondered why on earth I thought I needed it. We live very simply and have no desire to travel to faraway places.

    1. Indeed. I have done the same. The anticipation is far greater than the reality!!!

  13. Just enough is perfect. We always need that reminder.

    God bless.

  14. Love this thought provoking post Cheryl! It's one I'll need to reread again. It's taken me a few years to really get the savings bug but I finally have it and it's addictive to try to save more and more each month. I have tried to explain to my kids that being rich doesn't make people happy but they don't believe me yet - they'll figure it out one day. I now realize it's much easier to be frugal and spend less than to try to keep making more and more money. Thanks for giving us some good words to think about and I always love reading the comments too. Have a good week!

    1. Hi Elaine. Thank you. Yes, the kids will figure it out themselves. Sometimes it takes figuring it out on your own and through mistakes.
      A simpler life is so much easier than living beyond our means. Debt is horrible and it can rob us of so much.
      Appreciate your commenting!

  15. Cheryl, you could be my sister! There is such happiness that comes from a good home-life and a loving spouse. That happiness cannot be replicated following their passing, but we find happiness in other ways in our new life.

    I find happiness in my cooking (though not always) and in stretching my budget and household income as far as I can. And, I find contentment through nature and the pond view I have every morning. I find satisfaction with a good appetizer and beverage on the deck, or a home-cooked meal that is restaurant worthy. A dear friend commented once that he loves a good Lou Malnati's pizza (a Chicago institution), but he can make it from scratch at home and enjoy it for a quarter of the price, and use that savings for a really good bottle of cabernet to accompany it. Plus, he said that he doesn't have to worry about having a designated driver for the trip home. Me, if it's a half-decent red, I'm good! When I do have a good glass of wine when I'm out, I always make a note of the label, and then I'll price-check it at Binny's (wine/beer megastore, like Sam's or Costco). A $45/bottle at a restaurant is frequently under $15 at the store.

    On a similar note, I got a call from my financial planner last week, asking how I was doing, especially with all the increases in prices. I retired 3 years ago and rolled my pension into an IRA. I get my monthly SS and I get 1/2 of his municipal pension. I've not started drawing from investments -- at all. And my planner was checking to make sure I wasn't starving, him knowing my monthly income from previous calculations. I'm good. I mention this only because I only learned of the pension calculation AFTER my hubs passed. If you are married, make sure YOU have information on survivor pension(s) and insurance, how they are calculated, and what you are entittled to. It was a rude awakening to find out that our municipal spousal/survivor pension is 50%, not the full pension, and widows were (at that time) not entitiled to the retiree's same insurance coverage. Know what you're entitled to BEFORE you need to know, so you can work those figures into your financial plan / budget. It may be that the payout can be selected at the time of retirement, but make sure you're on the same page and have that info, so you're not taken by surprise. In my case, his municipal is 50% for my lifetime; one union pension was payout over 10 years, and another union pension "died" with him -- no further payments. This was all news to me.

    I have enough to eat, a roof over my head with heat and water, and I have a beautiful view in a neighborhood where I feel safe. I enjoy entertaining friends and joining them for discussions about books we read (bible study and regular book club), crafting, walking, or for an evening concert in the park when temps are warmer. I really think there's something to the communal table that helps. It doesn't have to be fancy, but sharing time and breaking bread with good friends helps bring happiness and contentment. It's not about what you have, but how you live your life, that counts.

    1. Thank you for such a kind 'sister' compliment. I would be honored.
      Yes, one needs to know what is going to be available. I am very fortunate, as Glen had his pension set up to take less while here, so I would get the same amount after his death forever (whatever that means). Plus I get his SS amount. Yep, having to pay for Medicare and insurance is another thing people need to plan.
      It is amazing how little it really does take to live a good life. Like you I love nature and just enjoying my time now and then with family and old friends. Life is simple and it is lovely.
      The view of HAPPY changes all through life. Things change and we change - we make the best of what we have.

  16. I think delayed gratification is a huge deal. If you can't do that any other saving/ preparing is harder or maybe even impossible.

    But I think there's a spirit behind everyone's words here that makes our thoughts different than what you might read elsewhere. And that is embracing the economic challenges cheerfully and hopefully in order to live a certain lifestyle. I've read people saying they weren't going to eat or live like peasants.

    I can say I eat very well. Most meals out hold no appeal for me. I learned that cooking and saving on food is fun and creative! I love my cookbooks for inspiration. I paid pennies for most of them. I once got 30 cookbooks from the thrift store for $5. I figured I'd spend more than that printing off recipes from the computer! Lol I've gotten a lot of pleasure from my cookbooks over the years even though I usually don't use recipes. They do inspire me. Plus the stories on there are fun to read. I know I couldn't buy a movie for $5. Actually, going out isn't all that interesting to me when it involves spending a lot. I enjoy the more low cost outings-- picnics, parks, free museums, free city concerts.

    I try to be a good steward of the blessings the Lord has bestowed on me. I'm sure I fail often but I do try my best.


    1. Indeed!!! Delayed gratification is something that many have never learned. It doesn't mean doing without - just think about it and make sure first.
      I agree, I think this community of people is different from some others. Most are pretty laid back and love have a simpler life. No worries about big debt or drama.
      There is so much we can do to have a good time, eat good food, and commune. It doesn't have to cost a fortune.
      Many just don't get it.
      Being a good steward of the Lord's blessings is top in my book!