Living on a tight budget can be hard. Maintaining optimism while doing so may seem impossible. But it can be done!
The most important thing to realise about being joyful on a shoestring budget is not to focus too closely on the shoestring’s length, or lack thereof. It is entirely possible to be comfortable and content on a small budget, but you need to not dwell on just how small that budget really is.
In our home, we have a lot of FUN. We laugh and play, and enjoy each other’s company whenever we can. We spend a lot of time facing away from each other, working on our various computers, and that’s not good. I wouldn’t advocate that. But the time we spend together is wonderful. The biggest part of my joy comes from my family and my friends.
The next thing is to make every part of life an adventure. Where we live is pretty far from most things, It’s off the beaten track and kinda remote and inaccessible. It means that getting anywhere (school, work etc.) is a little longer than it could be. It also means that having clients visit here is less than practical.
But it’s beautiful here.
We’re right on the edge of a nature reserve, so we see raptors soaring every day. We’ve had at least one mongoose in our garden – maybe more. We have night time visits from porcupines and owls. There are sometimes duikers outside, and we’ve even seen a few dassies (rock hyraxes), known for being extremely shy. There are humming birds in the reserve, a rare treat to see in action. And of course, we have monkeys.
We can go for long ambles in the reserve, trailing the crest of the hill and overlooking most of the main city, all the way to the sea.
How many people are lucky enough to say that?
So perhaps we’re a little remote, but it’s affordable and incredible to live here.
We can reframe our view of anything.
Our car is old and temperamental. But it’s cute and full of character. We’re blessed in that Papa Bear can fix it easily. And it doesn’t cost much in terms of fuel or repairs to keep it going. It’s true that you never know what to expect when you drive it, but that adds to the adventure and FUN of it all. We’re also not alone in being a single car family, nor in owning a jalopy. So we’re building a kind of a community around that fact, and there’s camaraderie and solidarity to be had in that, as well.
Noticing the world around us – mindfulness, in other words – is another brilliant way to develop and maintain joy. For instance, right now, the sun is struggling to make its appearance through the looming cloud banks. The landscape is black against a sky of lightening grey fluff. But there’s little about these clouds that looks soft or inviting. The sky behind those ominous volumes is the sickly yellow green of an old bruise, and it’s clear that Autumn has arrived.
Words are beautiful, and harnessing them to capture the moment, like a mental snap shot, engages all my senses and anchors me in the moment. I feel connected to where I am. I am not looking ahead, at the insurmountable mountains of work I have ahead of me. I am not looking behind, at the delicious slumber I left (and ache for) too early this morning. I am here, now. I am in the moment, and everything about this particular particle of day is mine. It is beautiful. I am rich.