Lately I've been thinking a lot about our lifestyle and how much we need to get by. It's been a fantastic year, being off on maternity leave, enjoying caring for my son, but it has come with some monetary sacrifices (we won't go into the sleep sacrifices, etc). It seems to be a common theme these days: how much do you need to get by?
It's easy to look at the Jones' across the street and think that they have it so good. Maybe they are friends how are going on vacation, maybe they've bought a new car, or are doing some renovations. It's easy to look around and think that others have it good and you're the only one struggling, but I think if we actually had the chance to look at each others' financial pictures, it would probably be a sobering piece of art. It's funny, because finances is a topic that can be quite taboo, kind of like religion or politics, but I quite like hearing how people run their "operations!" I recently took a detailed look at our finances. I printed off our bank account and credit card statements for two months and categorized absolutely every expenditure (that's a great word I don't get to use that often!). It was very eye-opening to see how much we actually need to get by, even just for normal base-living costs such as the mortgage, insurances, utilities, food and gas.
I'm turning 30 this year, and as I look around me I feel like a lot has changed in the past 15 years in terms of what is a necessity, and in terms of cost of living. It does make me wonder though, is the cost of living high or is it just our particular lifestyle? I think it's a bit of both. I'm on a Canadian Issues Debate forum where I have the opportunity to converse with people from across the county. I put the cost-of-living question out to them, and I was surprised to find that Victoria isn't that much different than across the country. I mean, there are variations in food and gas prices. I think the biggest difference (at least to me) is daycare costs (not subsidized in BC) and housing costs. It is very expensive to rent in Victoria and it is also very expensive to buy, at least it can be depending on the area.
This morning, the hubby and I went for a walk with our little one in the stroller around a local trail. We got to enjoy the crisp clear air, the warm temperatures and the sun on our skin. It didn't cost us a dime. I think it's so easy to see spending as an activity, or as a necessary part of getting through the day. I'm trying my best to shift more towards enjoying myself without spending money, and making purchases that are worthwhile, and not just random. And also, most importantly even, taking the time to enjoy the things I've already invested in.