Sunday, March 2, 2014

Marriage and the Simple Life

If ya didn't hear, I got married 2.5 months ago. It's been awesome. 

My wife and I come from very different backgrounds and family dynamics so it's been fun to get to figure out our routines, lifestyle, decisions, etc. together. 

That said, even while we were dating we decided that we both desire to live simple lives. We decided to start living a simple life right from the very start and did our best to keep our wedding ceremony simple and cheap (it's possible!!). 

The desire to live simply has continued to grow in both of us and was brought to the next level when some friends of ours, who share a similar passion, invited us to start reading a book together. The book, Almost Amish has been really great and has challenged us in numerous ways. 

Here's a list of things that Britt and I have decided to implement together:
  • Budget. We don't really have a choice here, we're living off my income while she finishes up graduate school. But here's what happens each time we get paid: give, save, spend. We give above our comfort level but that's what we felt God wanted us to do. And, we've loved the ease of Mint as our budgeting platform.
  • Electronics. We choose to put away electronics on a regular basis. We leave them home when we run errands together or go out together. I made the decision to disable email on my phone which is hard but worth it. Britt is naturally good at this and we're both pretty good accountability partners to assure that we don't sit around aimlessly surfing the net. 
  • Laundry. We don't own a washer and dryer and do coin operated laundry at our condo complex. But, we decided to stop drying our clothes, spend $5 on parachute cord, and hang all of our laundry in our 700 square foot condo. It's not convenient -- the drying process is very slow but it teaches us patience. And, it's kind of odd when people come over and we have clothes hanging around but my wife likes to tell people that we're "becoming Amish."
  • Food. Britt loves, loves, loves, perusing the weekly ads for grocery deals each week. She's a coupon'er and saves us so much money (just yesterday she saved us $52 at Sprouts via coupons)! We've also decided to eat natural and locally grown foods and are nearly 100% vegan at home. One might assume that I'd freak out eating vegan but I've actually loved it and I feel so much better (I've lost close to 20 pounds)! Lastly, we both love to eat at nice restaurants but we've made the decision to only eat out once a month. It's hard but it helps us appreciate our once a month rhythm even more (and it's made easier by Britt's amazing cooking skills)!
  • Schedules. This is probably the thing that we have the hardest time with. We both say yes too often. But, as I heard it put recently, "say no to many small things to say yes to a few big things." So, we're trying our best to de-clutter our schedules in order to do a few big things! 
  • Compost. Because we've gone vegan at home, we produce lots of "compostable" waste. We were lamenting that we couldn't really have a compost pile in our rented condo with no yard. But, we asked some friends if we can use theirs and of course they said yes. So, we collect our compost every day in refrigerated bags and bring them to our friends compost pile every ten days or so. 
  • Recycling. In our opinion, God loves the earth and we really want it to be around for as long as possible. So, we've taken recycling very seriously. Fortunately, our condo complex offers basic recycling for free. But, we've also tried to cut back on using plastic grocery bags by using reusable grocery bags. That said, we haven't been able to fully cut out plastic bags so we save them and recycle them at a local Sprouts store. 
  • Mail. Anytime we get junk mailers or catalogs, I unsubscribe using the following websites: Catalog Choice and DMA Choice. There are two reasons for this: (1) we don't want to be tempted to buy things we don't need and (2) we don't want to waste the paper, ink, etc. It's kind of sad to find an empty mailbox but it's for the better! 
  • Clothes. We both have a lot of clothes. So, prior to getting married, we committed to not buying clothes for one year. Britt's been awesome at this. I haven't bought clothes but purchased a new pair of shoes for working at DAM (they were used, via eBay) and a pair of basketball shoes because mine were stolen from my car (they were used, via Craigslist). I really loved this statement from Almost Amish: "If someone else can use it now, why should we store it for someday?" So, we've done our best to give away lots of clothes and have donated four large trash bags of clothes to the Joshua Station in the last couple months.
  • De-Cluttering. I'm 30, she's 25...we have a LOT of stuff. So, we've gone through things we haven't used much or at all and we're either selling them online or giving them away. I sold some old motorcycle gear, police gear, and gave away some old cycling stuff. It's nice to make a little extra cash and to make it a habit to de-clutter! 
  • Books. We both love our library collection and love to read. But, Britt bought me a Kindle for Christmas so we've decided to not purchase any more books. I've found great and easy ways to rent books on my Kindle through local library's and Britt's too busy reading cook books/recipes or graduate school books to buy any. We've saved a ton of money by eliminating this expense.
  • Additional Considerations. One thing that we've had significant discussions about is our TV and cable. We pay a very low price each month for cable which has helped us decide to keep it for the time being -- we just love our sports too much and Britt loves the Food Network. We might decide to cut it soon, though! Another thing we considered but decided to opt out of was a local CSA (community supported agriculture). While we support local and organic foods, we decided it was too expensive and we didn't want to get stuck with produce we wouldn't use. Maybe in the future!  
What about you? What have you done to live a more simplistic life?

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