For some years now, I have recognised that quality and aesthetics are extremely important to me, and that I enjoy owning, using and collecting certain things very much - to the extent that I am quite willing to sacrifice other things in my life to have them. What was necessary, I realised, was simply to identify those items or activities I would be willing to sacrifice. Perhaps there were all sorts of things I was including in my lifestyle out of habit that did not need to be there. If I could endure going without them, it would free up funds for the things I had always dreamed of. So these are the areas of my life where I save in order to afford the things I truly want:
1. Living arrangements: We live in a very small apartment. It often feels cramped, but the rent is low.
2. Television: We do not have cable and do not even own a television set. Does not bother us one bit.
3. Dining out: For me personally, eating in restaurants is just not all that enjoyable. Also, we hardly have the time!
4. Groceries: I know how to cook things from scratch. I learned early from my mother and I can do it quickly. This skill allows me to avoid buying prepared foods and frozen semi-prepared foods. Consequently, our grocery bills are low.
5. Alcohol: We aren't big drinkers, which further reduces the grocery bills.
6. Entertainment: Our preferred methods of entertainment tend to be either free (walking, cycling, looking at stuff) or to coincide with the things that we are already doing as part of work: going on photo-shoots together, browsing art stores, etc. We prefer these activities to movies and concerts.
7. Jewelry: I am not big on owning lots of jewelry. I am more like my grandmother, who had her one "signature set" of pearls and never wore anything else.
8. Shoes: Same goes for shoes. I know that women are supposed to love shoes, and I do - but for me this does not translate into wanting hundreds of pairs. I prefer to own only a few, in classic styles and of high quality.
9. Clothes: When I was younger, I used to be seriously into fashion and would buy clothes constantly. But sometime in my late 20s, something changed and I now prefer the "several mixable classic pieces" thing. It works, it looks good, it minimises the energy I put into getting dressed, and it just happens to save money.
10. Professional salon services: I like to cut my hair myself. I do go to the salon once every 10 weeks to get my colour brightened, but that is it. Lots of women I know go every 4 weeks for cut and colour, which really adds up. I stopped being interested in professional manicures or waxing services in my mid-twenties. And thankfully, I hate massages, spas and saunas.
11. Gym: No gym. No membership fees.
12. Personal care products: Many of us, especially women, own a huge amount of various face creams, body moisturisers and hair serums. I believe that using too many products is not only costly, but, more importantly, not good for you. A couple of years ago I vowed to minimise, and have.
13. Vehicles: We used to own two cars. Now we only own one and we drive it much less than we used to.
So that is my list of things I do not spend money on. The things I choose to spend money on instead include: an enormous library (really, you might be shocked to see how many books I own!), my beloved collection of fountain pens, my vintage photographic equipment, a top of the line laptop every few years, coffee (I am a hopeless addict), and now also - you guessed it - bicycles.
Everybody's list of truly enjoyable things versus things they can do without is personal, and only you can decide where your priorities lie. If you have your heart set on a lovely, but expensive bicycle, ask yourself this:
What do you want more: dinners out every Friday night over the following several months, or a new Pashley?
What do you prefer as a gift for the winter holidays: jewelry, sweaters and trinkets, or a pooled family gift of a Rivendell frame?
Which is more important to you: clothes and shoe shopping every weekend over the following year, or a custom mixte?
Would you rather go to the movies/spa, or shop for bicycle components?
If you've been reading this weblog, you know what my answers to those questions have been. The point is, that you can choose. How much do you enjoy all the different little things in your life that you are paying for on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis? More than you would enjoy a dreamy bicycle? If not, then stop doing some of those things and use the money saved to buy that "unaffordable" bike. Voila. You are now as "lucky" as I am and can afford it. Congratulations and enjoy your new ride!