Still surviving and thriving
My finances improved, but I'm still frugal at heart.
When I wrote "Surviving (and thriving) on $12,000 a year" in January, I promised to check in at the end of 2007 to let readers know how I was doing.
I could never have imagined how that article would change my life. It led to additional assignments for MSN Money, and eventually to hosting this blog, for which I earn a part-time salary.
My life changed. My lifestyle didn't.
Frugality, finances and a little fun
I'm still living the same way: managing an apartment building to get cheaper rent, cooking most meals from scratch, riding the bus to university classes, clipping coupons, buying from yard sales and thrift shops.
However, the additional income has allowed me to clear the last of my debts, help a few relatives who are in financial straits, create an emergency fund, open an ING Direct account, start a Roth IRA and contribute to my daughter's wedding expenses.
I wrote a few small checks to charities, increased my monthly church pledge and contributed to the food bank that helped me. And right now, I'm having lots of fun shopping for a family that my sister and I adopted for Christmas.
The part-time salary is funding some R&R, too. I spent a week in Alaska -- fairly cheap since I stayed with a friend, and other friends kept treating me to meals. I'll be visiting my dad soon, another bargain since he's providing the spare room and use of his truck.
I've also been taking my daughter out to lunch once a week. We use two-for-one coupons when we can get them, naturally.
Living with intention
After a year, how am I doing? Better than I ever have, thanks, despite grammar nightmares caused by the Spanish subjunctive in adverbial clauses of interdependence. (¡Hola, Prof. Gonzalez!) I never knew life could be this busy, this overscheduled -- or this rewarding.
If I ever came into some real money, I'm not sure how much I'd change. As I wrote in my second article, "Living 'poor' and loving it," I already have everything I need and some of what I want.
Some people call that "voluntary simplicity." I think of it as living mindfully, i.e. deciding what's really important and working toward it. For me that means finishing the degree, saving for a home and helping the people I love.
Well, and possibly budgeting for a Spanish tutor to help me through the subjunctive.
Published Dec. 7, 2007
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ABOUT SMART SPENDING
Editor Bev O'Shea lives and works in the foothills of the Appalachians. A former copy editor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Orlando Sentinel, she joined MSN Money in 2007. She's a fan of sunsets, college football and free shipping, among other things.
Having worked as a writer, reporter and editor for more than 25 years, Editor Julie Tilsner is the sort of person who can't help but correct grammar in Facebook postings and on billboards. She's written for BusinessWeek, the Los Angeles Times, Parenting, Redbook, AOL and others. She lives in Los Angeles County with her family and loves to drink wine and practice yoga, although not generally at the same time.
A writer for MSN Money since January 2007, Donna Freedman won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. She also writes about smart money tactics for magazines and on her own site, Surviving and Thriving.
Mitch Lipka has been warning people about scams and shining light on questionable business practices for more than 20 years. Mitch, the consumer columnist for The Boston Globe, has also been a reporter and editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Consumer Reports, South Florida Sun-Sentinel and AOL. He won the 2010 New York Press Club award for best consumer reporting online and was honored in 2011 for his reporting on child product safety.
Marilyn Lewis is an award-winning writer with a passion for getting readers clear, straight information that helps them stay out of financial trouble. A former reporter for The San Jose Mercury News, she works from her home in Port Townsend, Wash. Contact her at MarilynLewis@Outlook.com.
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