This is the second half of the challenge “Choosing Meaning Over More.” The last two items on the list are possibly the hardest, but also can be the most rewarding, and save the most money!
4. Expensive Getaways with Airbnb or Camping: When I was a teenager, I remember my parents sitting my sister and me down and asking what our favourite vacation was of all time. We had done a ton of camping and road trips as kids, but also had just gotten back from a two week trip to Hawaii, and a mission trip to Mexico that previous year.
Without even batting an eye, both of us said, “The lake!” My family had rented a small, turn-of-the-century cabin on a quiet lake in Northern Idaho for a week one summer; and to this day, that is the best memory of family vacation I have. It was so simple! We cooked easy foods, spent the days splashing around, the evenings around a campfire, the nights curled up on a screened in sleeping porch, and my sister and I even swam the two miles across the lake to the other side (an exercise I could not and would not repeat!). But it was quality family time at its best—without pretence. It wouldn’t have mattered much if we had been camping or renting a cabin, because we spent most of the week outside anyway. Besides, my sister and I slept on the screened in porch, instead of in the second bedroom.
My husband and I love to travel and so far our daughter has been a champ! We are not going to give up traveling completely to save money or because we now have a kid, because experiencing new things, new foods, new ways of life is all part of our way of living richly! I realize this is a significant privilege and one that comes with a price tag. And I am deeply grateful for these experiences.
Our first and only getaway this summer (other than the family cottage—which is our favourite place) was to Princeton, New Jersey where I was attending a writer’s conference.
This trip we decided to stay with airbnb instead of in a hotel room, and I am so glad we did! With an infant, we really wanted to have a space to ourselves, not just a room in someone else’s home. So I searched for just such a space. Instead of a normal double-bed room with typical shower/tub combo, overlooking the highway at a hotel; we stayed in a 200-year-old refurbished corn crib (the place where feed was stored on a farm). It was 700 square feet, with exposed, rustic barn board beams and original flooring, and featured a beautiful loft with windows all around to let in natural light. Click here to check out the place!
The experience alone was worth it. And we met the two most lovely hosts we have had yet! They lived on the property in the old farmhouse. The space was lovely, and we saved a ton of money off of staying in a hotel, but the thing I like best about vacation rentals of this sort is living like a local. When you stay in someone’s home and chat with them, getting to know the area, and getting to know them, it is a much richer experience than simply asking the concierge in the hotel lobby for a restaurant recommendation.
Not to mention, we saved 75% staying in an airbnb with a kitchenette instead of in a hotel room. If you are looking for a place to stay this year (anywhere in the world), you can use this link to get $45 CAD travel credit on your first trip, by referral.
5. Indoor Tech with Outdoor Engagement: Indoor technology (cell phones, data plans, cable or satellite, and paid streaming subscriptions like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu) can add up quickly! But the hours spent wasted can add up even faster: according to Deloitte’s Digital Media Trend Data for 2018, Americans spend 38 hours consuming video content per week. Yikes! That’s almost a full-time job.
It also takes a big chunk out of intentional time spent with loved ones. Plus the marketing messages received during a typical hour of television (including “without ads”) come at a substantial and often subliminal cost. Think about the zoom-in to the top-speed car on your favourite tv show as the cop catches the robber driving the outdated model; or the espresso machine sitting on the countertop of your favourite coffee aficionado character! The implicit and explicit costs cannot fully be calculated.
Not to mention, consumptive entertainment drains the creative impulse. There is no reason to be creative when we are consuming data. But putting down the remote and opting for an alternative requires great creativity.
Try putting a single subscription on hold for the summer. Not all companies allow you to do this, but you could even test decreasing the data plan on your phone or the amount of internet you receive for three months.
We do not have cable or satellite, but do have an apple tv and subscribe to Netflix. And based on my previous habits until the last month, I estimate I have cut my tech time down about 90%. The funny thing is, we didn’t do anything radical.
Honestly, my husband unplugged the apple tv a month ago to move it to a different room, and then we started going outside more and totally forgot about it. We hadn’t watched anything on our tv during that time, and only a few episodes of shows on other devices, simply because we forgot to, and we didn’t miss it! Being outside is more relaxing, rejuvenating, and spiritually invigorating. It seems to have allowed for extra time in the hurried life. Because we have been intentionally trying to spend at least some time outside everyday, we have just cut our television streaming time down naturally.
The highlight of the summer so far with this new habit was spending one evening outside eating dinner, while our dog, Thor, ran around the yard, and our three-month-old daughter babbled at the beast. Then he came and sat at her feet and they just stared at each other, Thor with a big goofy grin on his face, and Ana looking confused at what Thor was doing sitting at her feet.
The point is that living richly happens in the moments when you least expect it—in the unplanned, unhurried present. T.S. Eliot says,
“If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.”
Live in the present moment. The savings are just a bonus. The bottom line is that it isn’t about the bottom line! While saving money might be your only motive, I think these five things will help you live richly in ways that really increase well being, not only in your life, but in your family, in your friendships and relationships, in your community, world, and the environment. I hope you join me on this journey of living richly.