Friday, October 3, 2014

On Money, Living Simply and Clutter

Yes, cats have running costs, but I think they are worth the investment in terms of humour, entertainment and company.  Here is Jessica enjoying a special 'for cats' Youtube video on birds feeding.  I have to limit her screen-time or she'd become totally addicted.

Most posts on my blog do not involve spending money.  I am a big believer in living a low-cost lifestyle as much as possible.  For me, it means that I do not have to force myself to work long hours in a business or a job that I hate simply to pay the bills.  Or worse, go into debt to fund a high-maintenance lifestyle.

Yes, life is still a balancing act between income and outgoings and even more so now we have our business.  Before my husband and I opened a shoe store together, we only had to worry about our own finances, but now we have our finances and the shop’s finances to keep straight.

In spite of not knowing who is going to walk in the door next or if someone is going to place an order on our website, I can honestly say I don’t lie awake at night worrying about that.  We had a really ‘interesting’ time during the 2008/09 crash but we came out of it eventually and our business survived.

Warren Buffett says of peoples’ finances that ‘you see who has been swimming naked when the tide goes out’.  Isn’t that a great saying?  Thankfully my husband and I are on the same page regarding living a low-cost lifestyle, living in a home that is just the right size for us and enjoying simple and free activities.

The 2008/09 crash was hard enough at the time and taught us a lot, but we would have found it many times harder if we had an expensive lifestyle that required maintenance.  And if we’d have had a lot of debt that’s where you can come unstuck, real quick.

I don’t find it fun keeping up with the Joneses.  Yes, I’ve spent more than I probably needed to on certain items over the years, but these things have been the exception rather than the norm, and in each case I can think of, aside from our house, we paid with saved cash from our bank account, so we weren’t going into debt for them.

I’ve often thought it would be a great thing if financial literacy was taught in school.  Apart from maths and economics, which both do not touch on day-to-day finances, running a household and living within your means, there is nothing really to help young people out when they move into the real world.

It’s young people who often get into trouble with money, because they don’t have any financial education.  You will pick up how your parents did things, but because people don’t really talk about money, you will more than likely figure out yourself what works – if you’re lucky!

When I think back to my economics classes at high school, the kind of information we learnt was so far removed from my own wallet which is where your own experience with money begins.  It has to start from how you earn, spend, save and invest money and then can move on to how economies function and all those kinds of things.

These days the feeling I get from not buying something is the same kind of feeling I used to get from shopping (but even better, because it lasts).  I feel really happy when I go for a walk around a shopping area or into the city and come back without having bought anything, not even a coffee. I've had a lovely walk and enjoyed a spot of window shopping.  And if I'm lucky, a chic sighting to inspire me.

I also love going to buy something if I actually need it, and only buying that one thing.  I don’t feel deprived at all but feel content that I am living in a light way.  It’s just as much about the clutter as it is about spending the money.  In fact I’d say it’s more about the clutter.

The more I give away, the better I feel, and the less likely I am to want to buy new things.  It’s a wonderful feeling and I know as we pay more of our mortgage off, the more secure we are financially too.  Just the thought of having a free-hold home one day makes me feel very happy and content.

I am interested to know, what were the main influences that shaped your money views?  How have those views changed over the years?  And are you a high-maintenance or a low-maintenance person?  Because even though I am a low-maintenance person, there is no right answer.  If you have the income and investments and love being a high-maintenance person, go for it!

That’s what it comes down to, what is right for you.  Some say ‘there is no cap on what you can earn’ (which is true), so think big, dream big, spend big.  For me personally, I like to live in my own relaxed and simple way, which is a little bit smaller than that.  I talk more about living a small life here, too.


  1. I am definitely a low maintenance girl. Since I've moved towards a minimalist lifestyle (I still have a long ways to go!), I have less desire to buy and spend. And I tend to be very picky about what I do buy. I want it to be something I love and something that will be used often - otherwise it's just clutter! We are working to become 100% debt-free in 7-8 years and, like you, I can think of nothing greater to own our home free & clear. :)

  2. I think a lot of my money managing instincts have been passed to me from my father. He never talked about money as I grew up, but after I had managed my own finances for a while we did talk, and I realized I was the same way with money. I like having money in the bank and not spending it. My mother on the other hand...:P well, I got her eyes;)

  3. Love the Buffett quote. I live in a spendy town and it's hard to not keep up but I've seen wealth come and go and ultimately treasure stability and choice. Possessions can own you: better to travel light.

  4. Dear Fiona, Have you ever thought about advertising your shoe store here on your blog (or at least giving us the name or website of your shoe store?) I bet you would find a lot of business here :)

  5. I am a low-maintenance girl with high-maintenance tastes--so I often land in the middle more than I should. Just yesterday I purged the kitchen again--striving for less clutter. Yet, I bought a new handbag and 3 clothes items in the past 2 weeks (working towards the goal of a minimalist closet believe it or not). I still live by the rule, something comes in, something (or things) goes out.

    My home economics class consisted of sewing and cooking. Nothing about budgeting or money. But remember the series I did a few years ago that was based on that 1948 Home Economics text book? Budgeting and money was discussed IN DETAIL. It was fascinating reading and contained a syllabus that should be taught today in schools. I need to get back to reposting those on my current blog. (sigh).

    1. That book sounds so interesting! Can I find your series online somewhere?

  6. The older I get, the less I want. Less 'stuff' means less stress and more money in the bank. Once in awhile I give in and buy something as simple as a magazine, and am reminded a few weeks later as I throw it out what a waste it was to buy it in the first place!

    After taking a year and half to clear out the home my parents lived in for nearly 50 before they passed, my goal is to simplify my life and home enough that when I go, my kids can take care of that task in just one weekend.

    I am continually working on getting rid of more and more of what I already have, and look forward to the day when my place is as simple as it was when I was in my 20s and just starting out.

  7. I learned about money when I was a teenager as my parents gave me a monthly allowance to buy all my clothes. I babysat a lot and had my own bank account.
    I have spent quite a substantial amount of money on Hermes scarves and I do love buying shoes! I would love to see a link to your shoe shop here on the blog!
    Now that I have retired I find most of my clothes in thrift and consignment shops and am madly saving for a trip to Paris!
    Our cats like to watch TV.

  8. My parents lived beyond their means all of their married life. We never talked about money as it was considered "rude". As I am retired and travel is my priority, I have become wiser but I always need to be aware of the tendency to buy the "perfect whatever".
    Too many belongings causes a burden and a responsibility that I am unwilling to assume in my 60's.

  9. I learned basic money management in my home economics class in high school. I learned more in that one class than in any economics class about real life day to day money issues. I agree, the subject should be taught in school. I love the Buffet quote.

    After my grandparents passed away, I found their household ledger and it was was so detailed and minimal. Every penny was tracked and they lived so simply. It really influenced me from that point on to use them as an example instead of my own parents who spent quite freely and lived a much more extravagant life.

  10. My mom was diagnosed with a devastating disease when i was 12. I wash the oldest of 5 children and my father, while a very successful stockbroker, was petrified tat her illness would tap out the insurance coverage. Unfortunately, i was made to never feel important ebough to spend money on and its a feeling that i can get rid of.

  11. This was an interesting article. I think I fall somewhere in the middle, though we certainly don't live an extravagant life and strive for a simple one with only beautiful and useful possessions. In my business I see a lot of people being weighed down and feeling like they are drowning from an overabundance of possessions.
    Our 15 year old son is currently looking for his 1st part time job and we have been talking to him and being very open about budgeting, finances and living within your means. It is such important information to share with your children.
    Thanks for sharing the Buffet quote, I haven't seen that before.

  12. Lovely post Fiona, and I like your former post too about customizing a simple life for yourself as well. Kudos to you for knowing yourself so well! I agree with you about the kitties being a wonderful expense. I had two Scottish Folds for 15 years that we adored as our fur kids and they were worth every penny and were also more entertainment than anything else we did!

  13. what a great post! I feel very similar to you. I love living below my means. It creates so much peace in my household. I'm always looking to de clutter. I find the less I have the freer I feel.

  14. It definitely helped that you are a wise spender. That’s probably the reason why you are quite cool when it comes to money matters. Anyway, one doesn’t have to buy everything in one go. As you said, buy only those stuff that you need the most, and everything else can follow. That way, there would be no regrets and confusion as to where the money have gone. Thanks for sharing!

    Darcy Grubaugh @ Quantum Buyers


Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

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