As a newlywed, it is tempting to mirror the lifestyle modeled by your parents and in-laws. Having grown up expecting certain things, you may expect or believe that these things are essential to life. However, you are not at your parents’ stage in life. You haven’t had 20 years to save up, invest or purchase things.
For starters, you have less stuff. Your registry will fill your home with nice things and you’ll need to buy basic items like lamps and pillows. As the years pass, you’ll accumulate more things as your needs increase. For example, at some point, you’ll need glue sticks in addition to liquid glue.
You came into the marriage with things from your single days, such as clothing and accessories. Maybe a laptop and desktop computer. At some point, you will need to replace these items later in life on your own dime. Hopefully, you learned a few cooking skills along the way.
There will also be large costs associated with building a life and a nicer future, such as a car or a house, and, im yirtzeh Hashem, the costs associated with a baby.
Life gets expensive quickly, but you can live comfortably yet affordably by following three philosophies:
- If My Time Is Not Worth Hiring Someone Else to Do It, I Can Do It Myself.
– Clean your own home. Buy the necessary cleaning supplies and dedicate an hour a week to do a deep clean.
– Eating out is an event. Yes, even your Dunkin coffee adds up. Cooking pasta takes less time and money than buying a pizza.
– Buy machines to make your life easier but use them. How to know if you need them? Look at your typical day and work from there.
– Do your own yardwork.
– Babysit your own kids during the workday. You’ll save yourself from paying psychological and learning therapies down the road.
– Buy used when furnishing a house.
– A bucket of paint, a rolling brush and some time makes painting your living room much cheaper.
- Waste Is Not Only Baal Tashchis but Also Throwing Away Time.
– Buy a house. Renting is not a long-term investment strategy.
– Buy multiples of things you would already buy when there’s a sale. Ex: cleaning products, toilet paper etc.
– Base your menu on what’s on sale. If the price of a food item is more expensive because it’s not in season, don’t buy it.
– If there’s a sale on a perishable food item, freeze it or make it freezable by cooking it and then freezing it. You’ll save money and time down the road. And who doesn’t like summer peaches in the winter?
– Make Shabbos nice, but practical. Use your nice china, washable tablecloths and real utensils.
– Minimize food waste. Eat leftovers and/or freeze for the future.
– Buy off-brand when it doesn’t make a difference.
– Inventory your consumable and perishable products before you buy more.
– Shop with a list and stick to it where it counts.
– If you don’t buy junk food, you can’t eat it.
– Make your own Shabbos desserts in bulk and freeze.
- I’m Building a Future. Each Dollar Spent Will Help Me to Do So.
– You don’t have to eat like a starving college student, but you don’t need to eat like a modern king at this stage in life.
– Look to invest in things to make life better than just one-offs.
– Inventory your own closet before going clothing shopping. You may only need to buy one item to create a new outfit instead of splurging on a new wardrobe. Accessories can also do the trick.
– If you like a certain style of shirt, skirt or trousers, buy multiple.
– Buy the car with cash. No one cares if you have a brand-new car. When you drive it off the lot, it’s no longer new.
– The only debt you should take on is a mortgage.
– Consider your credit card as a debit card. Never owe yourself money. If you don’t have it at the moment, you don’t have it to spend. Even if payday is tomorrow.
– Build with your community rather than depend on your parents and in-laws. Give and take creates a community.
– Open retirement savings accounts and max them out. Consider that money untouchable.
– Find the places in your house that are drafty and fix them.
– There’s a lot of free things to do, including museums. Do those first before you start planning trips outside your two-hour driving radius.
Bonus: Move to a city with a lower cost of living.
By following these three philosophies, you will save money and maximize your time in the long run. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t times to spend money, but it will make you conscious of how you’re spending money and time. In this way, you will be able to live a comfortable lifestyle.
Sara Aliza Cox is passionate about education, Jewish culture and how it intersects with personal finance and responsibility. She grew up in Passaic and now resides in Indianapolis, Indiana with her husband and daughter. She can be reached at [email protected].