I've suggested in a number of posts that it's important to be diligent in both how we spend our money and our time as we pursue and live the good life. I thought it would only be appropriate to share with everyone what "stuff" my husband and I have in our lives that we are grateful for, day in and day out. To balance it out, I thought I would also reveal what it is that we don't have or no longer have that makes us equally happy.
Top 10 most valued "haves" in the F2P household:
1. Our family dog - We adopted our beautiful girl for over 2 years now and she is an amazing companion and a constant source of entertainment. A dog is a great pet to have. Belle reminds us that as long as we are loved, fed, get a little exercise & play, have a safe and comfy place to sleep, life is good.
2. Bikes - We use them, and walking, as our primary modes of transportation most of the week. They keep us active and help us avoid the frustrations of traffic when we head out to the library, grocery store, out on the town or to visit friends & family. Our poor car is parked most of the time. I sometimes think it gets lonely.
3. Computers and smartphones - We have a computer, laptop, iPad and a couple of smartphones, along with the peripherals required for taking pictures, printing and presenting information. They are essential to what we do every single day and I don't see us every paring down our use of these important tools. That said, we don't have much trouble ditching them for some fun in the great outdoors now and again.
4. A wood-burning stove - We have eliminated the TV on the main floor of the house and now the true focal point where we spend most of our daytime hours is either in front of the hearth or in the kitchen--which also has a great view of the fireplace. The ability to sit in front of a fire and chat, whether we are entertaining or not, is priceless. There is something about a fire that soothes the soul and slows down the mind. And, as an added bonus, our winter heating bill is much lower than without it.
5. The home gym - We started focusing on our health just over a decade ago and our growing collection of new and used exercise equipment is well used. We are in the gym 3-5 times a week. It keeps us happy and healthy.
6. Passports and travel rewards card - OK, so those are technically 2 items. The ability to travel is important to us and we would not want to give up the ability to take a trip when the opportunity presents itself. We've been on three trips in the last year, both alone and with friends and most of these were made possible thanks to heavily discounted travel.
7. Our plants (indoor and outdoor): We landscaped our property using mostly fruit-bearing trees and perennials years ago. We have no grass. Instead, we are able to harvest apples, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, cherries and more every year. No matter where we live, we value the ability to grow some of our own food. Spending time picking fruits, flowers and vegetables is much more fun to me than mowing grass. It's rewarding, beautiful and tasty!
8. Our wedding rings. My husband designed them and we had them custom made. That was the best gift he could give us for our wedding. Priceless.
9. Family heirlooms & pictures - We each have a few antiques and photo albums from our respective families that we cherish and/or use. They are constant reminders or our history and the nostalgia helps us appreciate life day to day. Nothing lasts forever and we want to remember to appreciate the here and now.
10. Our home. It is in a great neighbourhood, near good people. Our home is a reflection of what we value, our hard work in building and maintaining it, and a daily reminder of the financial security we have established for ourselves.
Top 10 "don't haves" in the F2P household:
1. Gaming systems/gaming apps and cable TV - We use our electronics to produce content far more than we use them to be entertained. The idea of using them mostly for passive consumption is a scary thought. This is not to say we don't like to watch the occasional TV series or movie, but we'd rather spend time living life as opposed to seeking escape.
2. A second vehicle - Getting rid of our second vehicle was one of the best things we've ever done. Vehicles are extremely expensive to own (purchase price, insurance, maintenance, parking and fuel). Now that we're down to one, we don't see ourselves going back.
3. Books & CDs/DVDs/VHS/cassette tapes and associated players - Given our move to electronic media and our heavy use of the local library, we have done away with most of the clutter this seldom-used stuff represents. It's has been a relief to free up the space these items used to occupy.
4. Numbers for fast food delivery services - We don't order in and only eat out about once or twice a month. Our preference is to prepare some pretty awesome food at home. Favourites include Mexican & Italian food, Thai, BBQ of any kind, and slow cooked meals. Yum.
5. Bills to pay - By consuming few material goods and avoiding subscriptions to various services, we have few bills and don't worry about going to the mailbox on a daily basis. For recurring bills that we can't avoid (utilities and reward cards paid off monthly), we automate whenever possible.
6. Extra storage space - Our home is an open-concept living space with minimal storage. This design has been a blessing, as there are few, places to store stuff we don't need. Despite this lack of storage, I've been astounded at how much we do have and we've been working hard on getting rid of stuff.
7. Trash & waste - Because we mostly cook from scratch and don't buy much in the way of material goods, our weekly waste is minimal (most of what we throw out goes into the recycling bin or the compost pile). We also use minimal lighting, heating and water, thanks to skylights, south-facing windows and lack of grass. That makes us feel we're at least doing our small part to help our environment and our pocketbook. It's corny, but we can't deny the "warm fuzzies" it gives us on a daily basis. Maybe it helps us feel better about our propensity to travel...Hey, everyone has their vices.
8. New furniture. Most of the furniture in the house -- other than our dining room set and our 2 bedroom sets purchased over 10 years ago -- are "hand me downs", for which we were, and continue to be, grateful. In fact, the leather couches in our living room are over 25 years old and, if they continue to hold up the way they have, may last another 25! Please don't tell anyone. It's satisfying to be able to use furniture for so many years without having to even think of replacing anything, especially given that furniture loses most of its value the minute you take it home from the store.
9. A new car. I used to think that buying a new car every 3-5 years was a necessity. That is no longer the case as we are the proud owners of a 2009 Toyota purchased in 2011. By buying a used car, you let the previous owner pay the lion's share of the up front depreciation. We negotiated hard for it and I appreciate how little of a drag it is on us financially while being reliable and a pleasure to drive.
10. Life insurance. Life insurance is expensive, especially when you think about the premiums you have to pay throughout your life. Being FI means we have created our very own safety net. Of course, nothing is guaranteed, but I am pretty sure we feel more secure than 95% of the population, including those who have life insurance. If you can self-insure, you are ahead of the game and you can invest the money you would have paid in premiums to increase your FI cushion*.
You may wrinkle your nose at this list, or not. Everyone is different and what matters is that your own "Top 10s" properly reflect your personal values. As long as that's the case, it's difficult not to be satisfied with what we have and what we do in life.
What do you think of what made our list(s)--and what didn't? Did I miss anything*? What about yours? What would make the cut?
*I did not include having a healthy investment portfolio in our list of "must haves". I focused instead on what enables us to save and be content at the same time. Obviously, having savings can have a significant positive impact on quality of life by reducing potential financial stress and worry...but that discussion is best saved for another post.