The best things in life…

*Day two of my work trip and I have Alice from Don’t Debt posting for you today.  FYI, Alice is awesome because she’s doing the same student loan rehabilitation that I am so I really enjoyed reading about that!*


Hello, this is Alice from over at Don’t Debt. I’m pretty new to the blogosphere of personal finance. I’m working my way out of my own mire of debt and enjoy reading bogofdebt.


The best things in life…

When I think of that sentence, usually one of two different things come to mind.


The best things in life are free, or the best things in life aren’t things.


My husband and I recently spent a Friday night sitting out on our back porch talking the evening away. He made the statement, “It doesn’t get much better than this, does it?” I agreed with him and thought about how differently I think about things now than I did for most of my adult life.


At what point in our history (America, people in general)was it decided that we had to spend tons of money to be happy? Why do we think wehave to buy lots of things to make us happy?


I look at the things that people (well, I’ll even make this more personal)… all the things that I spent money on that were unnecessary,it really makes me sick to my stomach.


At one point, my first husband and I had a car that wasn’t the best looking (or sounding, for that matter) but it did work. It was small and we had two kids in car seats. We thought we needed a newer car. That meant a loan. Itwas a lovely car, four doors, stick shift and the best gas mileage of any car I’ve ever owned. But for some reason, as soon as we got that paid off, we started thinking we needed a bigger car. Yes, the kids had grown. But again, it worked,ran well and got great gas mileage. Did those things matter? Apparently not enough. Why do people think they need a new car every time their last one is paid off? We were stuck in a vicious, self-inflicted cycle of wanting more. We should have saved the car payment money for a long time after the first one was paid. Paid cash for the next one and then started saving again.

Another thing that comes to mind is eating out. I’m fairly certain we went years in a row of consistent weekly restaurant trips after Sunday church. I’m not sure what led us to believe that our food at home wasn’t as tasty on Sunday as it was the rest of the week, but out to eat we went just like clockwork. To think about the money that was spent on food – on the convenience of having someone else cook it and serve it to us – makes me wonder how much could have been paid down on debt instead. There was likely even a lotof those trips put on the credit card. So not only were we paying to eat out,but paying interest on it. Interest. On. Food. Not cool, not cool at all.


Going back to my original point of the best things. Both of those examples of sentences may be trite or cliché, but I think that if we focused more on enjoying what we do have instead of the things we think we need, we’d be much happier. Instead of thinking that we *need* to go out to eat and then to the movies or to the mall on Friday night, spend some time eating at home and sitting out on the porch and just talking. Having fun doesn’t have to cost a ton of money – or any money at all. Play a board game, play a game of cards. Look for a way to entertain yourself that doesn’t cause you to be in a bog of debt. And if given the choice to debt or not to debt: Don’tDebt.


What do you think about when you hear “the best things in life”?

Editors note: I tried to add up all the stuff I “bought” (read: paid a bunch of interest in order to obtain before I had the cash for it) and think about how less in debt I’d be.  I wasn’t really happy so I stopped about half way through.



16 Comments on “The best things in life…”

  1. Alice says:

    Going back and reading over this, I feel like it ties in very well with the list of things to do on a date for not a lot of money. 🙂 Glad it worked out that way.

  2. Daisy says:

    Ugh. This reminds me of how I need to scale back again. I am experiencing some lifestyle inflation right now.

    • Alice says:

      Daisy – lifestyle inflation is certainly an easy thing to fall victim to. I hope your efforts to scale back are successful. 🙂

  3. Michelle says:

    We eat out way too much! I need to stop being lazy.

  4. DebtsnTaxes says:

    I think one of the best things in life that we do, and it can be considered a couple of different things is hiking. It’s a free date(other than gas to get there) we can pack a lunch, it gives us (and the dog)some exercise, and is relaxing. Can’t get much better than that.

    • Alice says:

      Being able to enjoy yourself without spending any money is exactly what I consider one of the best things in life. Getting some exercise while doing it is definitely an added bonus.

  5. The biggest lesson for me was learning how much interest I was paying by using my credit card to buy “things.” Things I didn’t need and probably didn’t even really want. That’s how bad it was. I was putting things in my shopping cart (virtually) like a mad woman, and it got to the point where it became a habit. I had to break it but the only way was realizing that I was paying much more for these items and I was spending more than I made.

    • Alice says:

      It’s so easy to forget about that pesky interest, isn’t it? At least while you’re flashing that pretty plastic to buy whatever it is that you think you can’t live without at the moment. When the bill comes, so does the regret. Why then, is it so easy for us to forget all over again the next time we want something?

      Breaking that cycle is indeed hard. Glad you’re breaking free from it.

  6. krantcents says:

    I think of experiences or things we did with friends and family. I cherish those memories and try to repeat them as often as I can.

    • Alice says:

      Exactly. My husbands family is quite large and they always get together every holiday. We just had a big Memorial Day gathering and are already looking forward to July 4th.

  7. Interest on food! Goodness you are so right. Never pay interest on food. That’s a great one.

  8. You have some great insights in this post. I’m glad you are learning to enjoy the simpler things in life and it can definitely help your wallet as well.

    • Alice says:

      Thanks Lance. I’m glad of that, too. I really want to be thankful for everything and every moment that I have with family and friends. Those are the really important things.

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