...are free? Well that's a cliche, surely? Or is it....
It's hard to beat how alive you feel after a walk on a crisp, sunny, snowy morning. Every footstep crackling and crunching, your breath steaming, and everything around you looking bright, and sharp, and colourful agains the snow. when you're trying to keep your costs down, this sort of thing becomes a real part of your entertainment, but you know what, it's fun, too!
We always try to keep in mind that although we're trying to cut back, keep costs down, and be generally frugal, we're doing a lot of that through choice. We have enough to pay our mortgage, heat and light our house, and buy food, it is our choice to be paying off that mortgage sooner and that is why we're choosing to spend less in other areas. It's not all about paying down that biggest of all debts though (Yep, we DO still regard the mortgage as a debt - it's money we owe to someone else therefore we'd be kidding ourselves otherwise) - we fully intend to live our lives in the meantime as well - so if we want the occasional takeaway meal, or a day out to visit friends, or a fortnights holiday in the Hebrides once a year - we'll flipping well have them! Everything is budgeted for - so all those things CAN be done - of course we could put all that money into paying off the mortgage even earlier, but heck, we're already on target to get shot of it in 16 years rather than the 25 of the original term, nice as it would be to get it gone even sooner, we're not going to put our lives on hold to do it, and will still be having some fun along the way!
The challenge of keeping costs down has become almost a game, and is actually fun - we eat better now than we used to for example, as those takeaways are an occasional treat rather than a weekly habit. We waste almost nothing food-wise - I meal plan, and the plan varies around what we have to use up in the fridge. We search out bargains in charity shops and second hand stores, and re-cycle our unwanted goods to them as well. We play "Storage heater roulette" each night in the winter, and stray coins (and occasionally notes!) on the streets of London aren't safe from Ben's eagle eyes. I walk almost everywhere I can, and feel better for it, and really enjoy it - when I remember to pick up the camera and take with me, the blog benefits, too!
So there you go - it's not that we "Can't afford" this, or "Don't have the money" for that - it's that we have taken the decision to use our cash elsewhere. With the number of people in the world who genuinely are struggling to make ends meet, or pay off debts that are not their fault, it seems important to keep sight of that.