Saturday, March 07, 2009

Staying Active in a Sedentary Economy

Last week my whole family (except me--I've already missed too much school) took a day off and went skiing. A friend asked how we can afford to do this. I had to think for a while, because we don't have a lot of expendable income but we do find the money for skiing, biking, and various sports. In the end, I think it comes down to priorities.

We don't buy movies, CD's, books, and other entertainment products. We haven't gone out to dinner for more months than I can count off the top of my head, and even our at-home meals tend to be simple, third world cuisine. My husband and I share a cell phone and truly have it for emergencies only, with few minutes and a monthly cost of under thirty dollars. I can't remember the last time I bought a cup of coffee.

We are very much a no frills family, which leaves us with income for some bigger endeavors, like skiing. We do everything we can to keep skiing affordable--buying season passes when they are on sale, passing down and refurbishing old equipment, carpooling to the nearest ski area, bringing our own lunches. I think we would give it up if if were truly a hardship, as well as other outdoorsy luxuries we currently indulge in, but it would be one of the last things to go.

The economy sucks, but it isn't slowing most people down when they hit the mall. Americans complain about credit card bills and unfair interest rates, but everyone keeps adding to their balance. All those little things add up to not being able to do the big things that really matter. Now more than ever, it's important to keep those little expenses under control.

Living simply isn't just good for the planet, it's good for your budget. It's good for your kids to consciously give up things that complicate their lives in exchange for things that enrich them. Every cart full of miscellanea at Target costs the same as a ski trip for my family. That's enough to take the fun out of impulse shopping for me.