A few weeks ago, two huge trees were removed from the property directly behind our house. The trees were massive oaks, 100+ years old. Unfortunately, both were diseased and had to come down.
After the trees were felled, I noticed something. Right next to both trees, “hidden” in plain sight, were four smaller trees – all ready to leaf-out for Spring.
We tend to focus on the “oaks” in our lives – our jobs, our paychecks, our rent payments – but it is important that we also learn to see the “other trees” that impact our personal finances. We need to open our eyes to the many opportunities to save money and improve our lives.
Take an honest evaluation of current financial situation. This one is huge. I can still remember the day, back in 2005, when I sat down and “got real” about my finances. Broke, with no savings, in debt, and frustrated, I decided to change my life. It was important that I not only take a look at balances and payments – but interest rates, opportunities to transfer balances, and debt reduction strategies. I was no longer satisfied with making minimum payments and “getting by”. I took of my blinders, saw what was really going on, and made some big time changes. We learned to save money and reduce our debt.
Walk around the house like a visitor. This really does work. Look at what you have – the stuff in your house – and see it like a visitor would see it. For my wife and I, if it doesn’t add value to our lives (value as determined by us) – it’s gone. We sell it, trash it, or give it away. We refuse to allow stuff to dominate our lives – financially or in terms of actual “comfort” in our homes. For us, less is MUCH more. It’s easy to “walk right around” the stuff in our lives, ignoring the obvious. If we don’t need it and don’t use it – we get rid of it.
Repair and maintain household items. Do not ignore small problems. Our shower has a hand-held shower hose. A few months ago, I noticed that the holder – the little hook that keeps the hand-held off of the shower floor – was pulling away from the shower wall. Rather than ignore it, I went to the store, spent less than $10, and replaced the holder. This took me less than 30 minutes. Take the time to repair and maintain the items you already own. Check filters, re-caulk, change the oil, replace batteries. All of these things make for a safer – and more financially sound – home.
Go outside and consider new ways to use the space you already have. We have a rather large flower-bed in our front yard. I have been considering adding some shrubs to the bed, to make it look nicer. A few days ago, however, instead of adding new shrubs (and spending the money to do so) – I removed the edging from around the bed – and decreased its size by about 50%. The net effect: I increased the usable space in the yard, saved money on landscaping, and actually made the bed look nicer. You may have space for a garden, a few chickens, some fruit trees, a nice spot for the kids to play, an area for an outdoor swing, or room for a picnic table. (I recently built a picnic table for our back-porch. It’s big, seats our whole family, and cost much less than patio furniture.) See the potential in what you already have.
It’s super easy to overlook the obvious. Those trees have been near our property line for years – but I am just now really seeing them. Take a fresh look at your finances and your stuff and see if you find several ways to save money – and improve your life.