April 12, 2022
My wife grew up in some of the harshest climates in the Soviet Union.
I grew up on Long Island.
She would have to use an outhouse as a bathroom, braving zero degree frost in knee deep snow just to wash her face.
I had a shower that doubled as a bathtub.
Our poor children. When their mother said, “I used to walk three kilometers in snow to go to school,” she meant it. Feigning illness in January never worked out.
When we got married, she saw how much I spent on creature comforts.
She was polite. “David, you don’t have to start the day taking an Advil. Going out for dinner on weekdays is wasteful. Why don’t you eat any produce? It’s healthier and less expensive. We don’t throw away money.”
I knew I would be making changes.
Everything turned out a lot better than I thought. I discovered how she loved to cook. Suddenly, our weekly expenses went down. We had some spending money.
“Honey, how about a nice cruise in the Carribean?”
“How about a few nights camping?”
“I haven’t slept in a tent since I was in the army.”
Her next words hit me like a brick.
“You’re in the army now, baby.”
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After a few years of living in Queens, we moved to the Jezreel Valley in Northern Israel.
Shula reintroduced me to living lean. It was a lot less difficult than I thought. She was able to replace one form of enjoyment with another, albeit less expensive version.
Over time, she showed me 100 different ways to save money without compromising our quality of life. When we went out, we packed a thermos of coffee and a few pita sandwiches. She even showed me how to toast them. We went to a quiet hill and saw the sunset. We saved $40 a week on dinner and had the best time. Over three years, that’s $6,000 – real money.
Once we moved here, we stopped buying specialty coffee. Instead of a $6 spend at a Starbucks, we took a scoop out of the coffee jar. We would use around 1.5 jars per month. That saved us $125 on coffee alone.
What we spent together on a single trip at Starbucks paid for a month’s worth of coffee.
We saved $1,500 a year just on coffee.
Then, we got creative. We noticed that they sold 200 gram bags of coffee at the bulk Costco stores here. We stocked up. We purchased two final glass jars of coffee and kept refilling the jars with the bags.
Total coffee expenses were reduced to $11 per month.
Going out for designer coffee is considered a luxury. We do it from time to time, but once in a blue moon.
Let’s assume our yearly income is $80,000 a year. We take home $56,000. The average Starbucks spend is $16 per week. For the two of us, that’s $32, or $1,664 a year on coffee. Compare that to $11 a month. That’s $121 per year for a savings of $1,543.
The money we save on coffee is 2.8% of our take home yearly salary. Inflation in the U.S. for 2021 was 7%.
In one single choice, you can reduce the impact inflation has on you by 40% without taking any risk.
If a single choice can make such a difference, imagine what a series of choices can do.
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