We often tell our kids, that you can spend your money on anything, but (and this is a big but!) you can only spend it once. Once your money is gone, it’s gone. Growing up, my parents often used to talk to us about their choices in how they spent their money, and we do the same in the hope that our kids learn wisdom in how they manage their finances.
When we moved to a farm after living in the city, there were (and still are) lots of things to spend your money on. Equipment for the garden and farm cost lots of money, as well as the expenses of moving and setting up a new house. With all these expenses, it can be hard to decide what things are worth spending money on, and what things aren’t. Today I’m sharing how we made (and still make) choices about where we spend and save our money.
Save money on items that are not going to be used for a long time
When we moved, the house needed some redecoration and work. We knew that it would eventually need a large renovation, so we didn’t want to spend a lot of money on things like soft furnishings. We bought second hand curtains from a charity shop. They only cost about $10 a window, and while I don’t love them, they have done the job for the past few years. We also put in a second hand kitchen bench which we found, and bought our slow combustion fireplace from a classified advertisement. We have plans to renovate and extend the house, so we didn’t want to spend money on items that were only relatively temporary.
Avoid spending big money on quick fixes and temporary solutions. Try finding ways to borrow, or hire what you might need, or find an inexpensive alternative.
Save money by reusing items
When we were extending our garden, we needed to move the chicken shed. It would have been a lot easier to buy a brand new shed, but it would also have cost a lot of money. Country Boy, together with my brother-in-law pulled apart the original shed, and relocated it’s current location. While it took some time, it saved a lot of money, as well as resources. The chooks don’t seem to mind their shabby chic recycled interior look.
We save a lot of money by using hand me down clothing for the kids, and buying in op shops. We have found a couple of good op shops relatively near by, and we head there a couple of times each year to get any clothes they need for the coming season.
Save money by re-purposing items you already own, or by sourcing items you need second hand.
Spend money on quality items that are necessary for your life now.
When we first decided to move back here, we knew that an internet connection would be important. Out here, we don’t have adsl broadband, so we had to look into how we could get an adequate service. We had to spend a bit of money to set it up. Internet is crucial these days and I can get quite worked up about the inequity of internet access in rural areas. Even now we spend close to $150 a month for a limited amount of data (27GB for those who are interested). Aside from my blogging, we need the internet for business and personal reasons, so we spend the money.
When the garden first began to produce vegetables, we put the vegetables in boxes on the veranda. Unfortunately once the garden really got going, the whole veranda could be covered in vegetables, which made coming into the house difficult (and occasionally dangerous). We bought a set of shelves which we set up on the veranda to store the vegetables on, and keep the veranda clear. It was a simple solution, and totally worth the money we spent.
Choose to spend your money first on items that you need. Consider your needs carefully and aim to meet them first.
Spend money on things that are going to improve your life in the long term
One of the first things we spent money on after moving here was the garden. Once we had it planned, we spent some money buying drip irrigation piping, and setting up the garden. We knew that initial outlay would soon come back to us in time saved not having to water the garden and in money saved not having to purchase vegetables. In the same way we spent money to set up the orchard; buying trees as well as fencing and netting. While we are not getting lots of fruit yet, we know that the investment now will pay off in terms of our lifestyle in the longer term.
Each year Country Boy plants lots of trees around the farm. While he mostly grows the trees from cuttings or seeds, we still need to buy star pickets, and weld mesh to make tree guards so that the sheep don’t eat the trees while they are little. We happily spend the money because we know that it is an investment in the health of our land into the future, and that if our land is healthy, then the sheep are healthy, and that in turn means that we will have a better quality product in the long term.
About 12 months after we moved to the farm, it became clear to me that the extension we wanted to do immediately was really going to take a few years. I had been making do with one small closet for all three kids clothes, and it was becoming an absolute nightmare to fit in and manage their clothing. We made the decision to buy a large flatpack wardrobe to remedy the situation. Yes, I guess we could have waited until the extension was done, but the stress and annoyance that the lack of storage was causing was getting bigger. Buying that large wardrobe has made life infinitely easier as we now have enough room for all their clothing, and a lot of other things as well. Two and a half years later, I still smile when I open that wardrobe because it I know it has made life better. When we do get around to doing the extension, we will have to pull the wardrobe apart to get it out of the house, but the couple of hours spent doing that will be an easy pay off for the convenience of the last few years. Once the extension is done, we can use the wardrobe in one of the bedrooms again.
Set yourself some goals for what your future to look like, and then spend your money on things that will help you reach this goal.
Spend money on quality things that you love, and add value and joy to your life.
Now I’m never going to suggest going out and buying a whole lot of random cheap crap, but if you have a hobby or something you love doing, spend a little money to enhance that. Both Country Boy and I enjoy photography, so we have spent money to buy a quality DSLR that we love and use most days. I spend a little bit of money on my blog, going to the Problogger conference, and doing online courses, and Country Boy spends a little money on his hobbies as well.
We both enjoy doing things with the kids so we prioritise spending our money on family activities – even if that means buying a 100 meters of builders plastic.
Choose a few things that give you relaxation, enjoyment, and fun to you and your family, and give yourself permission to spend some of your money on them.
So there you have it; a round up of the principles which help us decide what we spend our money on, and what we try to save on. The other guiding principle we try to follow is to choose quality over quantity.
What things do you choose to spend your money on? Do you have a plan? What things are important to you?