When you live the simple life (read: cheap) small improvements make a huge difference.
We don’t have smart phones, nice clothes or super-fancy anything, but certain luxuries have greatly improved our quality of life.
First, it was a new stereo receiver to replace the one that had a horrible high-pitched hum. Then, a 32″ flat screen Hitachi LCD TV to replace the failing hand-me-down we were previously going blind trying to watch. (Bear with me on this. I am really working to justify this TV.) Truth is that he got it for less than half of what it is currently selling for today.
A reverse osmosis filter to get the salt, chlorine and other impurities out of our water.
AJ’s mom got us a fire ring for Christmas. We’ve already had a number of memorable nights sitting (and drinking) around the fire; including the one night where his mom (after a Chardonnay infusion) demonstrated her best Yoga moves on the concrete patio. That night has gone down in history as the “Up-dog, Down-dog night”.
One of our best purchases has been the RV. This fifth-wheel has served us well over the past six years; allowing us to live in affordable comfort as we worked through a difficult financial period in our history of marriage.
A quick note for those of you who don’t know AJ, personally. His purchasing habits border on the obsessive. When a buying opportunity breaches the horizon he goes into research mode. For days, weeks, even months, he wades through the internet, interviews anyone who may have knowledge of the product and explores various retail outlets offering said item.
This painstaking deliberation is both inspiring and agonizing to observe. By the time the money leaves our bank account, he is qualified to teach a college course on the item we are buying.
Smaller purchases, such as flip-flops or an oil filter, might only take a week of research. A larger purchase, like a car, can take up to a year (as was the case with our “new” car). The beauty of this is that he always manages to find the best value. Many of our belongings have actually appreciated since acquisition, and a good number more have held their value over time.
I can say, with confidence, that our 2008 Toyota Camry is right up there with the RV. The money spent on fuel and maintenance, due to our commutes to Orlando, was burning up our wallet. This car is modern, comfortable, looks and smells like it just drove off the showroom floor, and has a unique interior that is the envy of the members of the Camry forum (which has replaced the Mercedes forum as AJ’s most visited website). Oh, and it saves us so much money on fuel, that it almost pays for itself.
Not exactly sure how he did this, but the first few miles he drove on this particular trip, he got 56.7 mpg. The actual average is around 40 mpg.
That’s it for the new stuff that has recently improved our quality of life. I’ll be back very soon to talk about what we went through when we thought one of those lives was about to end prematurely.