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Subject:  Re: Are Americans saving too much for retirement Date:  2/19/2007  10:38 AM
Author:  sissylue Number:  2379 of 116885

I estimated that $36,000 would meet my basic needs as well as my minimum 'luxury goals'. To meet ALL my luxury goals would require about $50,000/yr.

I too realized that I could live if I had to on a LOT LESS. $36,000 would meet my basic needs (no luxuries though) and that is with 2 kids to cloth and feed.I did an interesting thing starting at the first of the year - I have one of those large calendars with a nice big squarefor each day for writing in appointments - this year I started writing down every penny I spent each day and what it was for. I wanted to show the 9 year old where all our money goes. She has a very shaky grasp of what things cost and what is "expensive" and what is "cheap"; what is a "need" and what is a "want". At the end of January I think we were both a little shocked at the excessive amount of money we spent. But we added up all the restaurant meals and then added up all the grocery bills and compared the two. And she understood then that eating out was a "want"; groceries were a "need". And the eating out tab far exceeded the grocery tab. I remember as well how startled she was to realize how much gas for the car cost. It was nice too for her to realize that some things that we think of as "expensive" (such as our museum membership) is actully cheap when prorated out over the year given the number of times we utilize the Children's Museum and the Fine Arts Museum - plus as she excitedly pointed out to me "Mom! Remember all the receptions we go to for the artists - they always feed us really good party food and we don't have to eat our groceries that night!"

We have modified our habits a bit. The one big thing we do now is that we never hit the fast food drivethroughs - period. We eat out twice a month at a nice restaurant (the kids love it because the place is full of plants and fountains). I order off the senior citizen menu, the 9 year old orders off the kid's menu and we throw scraps to the baby. All are happy and the tab for twice a month is about half of what we were spending before at lousy restaurants. Plus the kids have a chance to put linen napkins in their laps and practice manners.

The other thing - I had to bite the bullet on was no more ordering every book I want automatically from - I haunt the Friends of the Library used book store and have never had a problem keeping myself well supplied. Plus since I volunteer at the store I get a further discount and am in a position to spot the good books as they come in.

I have de facto "retired" myself in the sense that I do not take as much work as is offered to me so that I can do the parenting thing and I will probably take in a little less than $50,000 this year.

Part of the probblem is emotional-mental - really getting through to yourself that it is a WANT not a NEED. I feel like I NEED books. But I wouldn't die if I didn't have books. And in any case with a little creative effort I don't have to forego books. If I ever decide that I can't afford Friends of the Library I will go to the public library.

Anyway I like the tradeoff - less money but a richer life.

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