In my previous post, I talked about expenses we avoid. Today, I’m talking about things that we’re happy to put our money toward!
You’ll note that these are expenses, which are different from charitable giving, savings, and investments (all of which are financial commitments that we highly prioritize). We don’t have to spend money on any of these items— but we choose to because they’re important to us.
1. High-quality eggs, dairy, and meat. We have ethical concerns with all three industries, so we’re trying to move away from conventional animal products as much as possible. We spend a good chunk of money buying humanely-raised eggs from the farmers’ market and our neighbor (although obviously we’re hoping to start collecting eggs from our chickens this spring!). We get a biweekly deliver of Oberweis’s whole milk and butter. (This is the best dairy option we’ve found so far, but if anyone knows a good source of local small-farm dairy in the St. Louis area, please let me know!) We buy almost no meat (we eat it probably once every three weeks, if that), but when we do, we try to invest in pastured meat and use up every scrap.
2. Local food. I go out of my way to visit the farmer’s market for fruits and veggies. This is more an expense of time and convenience than money, since in-season produce bought directly from a farmer is often comparable to what you can buy at Walmart. The problem is that farmers’ market season is almost over! I’m still trying to figure out how to buy local food in the winter— I’d appreciate any tips on this matter.
3. Quality athletic shoes. I don’t know if you know this, but Zach and I walk. A lot. As a result, we wear through shoes quicker than anyone else I know. We figured out a long time ago that buying $30 pairs of shoes every two months was not worth it. We now wear Asics and Solomon brand. Not cheap, but so worth it.
4. Bike accessories. Zach recently bought an electric bike trailer that gives him the extra speed boost he needed to bike the 20-miles round-trip to work. Although his fluctuating schedule makes it difficult to do this on a regular basis, we’re hoping this is part of a long-term plan to get off car transportation as much as possible.
5. Chickens. Getting everything set up for the chickens has been expensive! From the henhouse to the coop materials, we’ve been dishing out some cash. However, it’ll be worth it to grow eggs right in our own backyard. (If you’re wondering, feeding chickens and collecting their eggs is not cheaper than buying the battery-cage eggs at the grocery store. But eggs from happy chickens and eggs from chickens crammed into cages are two completely different things.)
6. Travel. Although we always try to travel as cheaply as possible (see my tips on this), it’s still a big expense— but one that we’re happy to invest in. From backpacking in Olympic National Forest to visiting family in Pennsylvania, I wouldn’t trade our travel experiences for any of the “normal” expenses that we’ve avoided.