On July 4th Michael and I didn’t do anything special. We hung around our house doing chores, took the dogs for a walk, and then sat outside having a beer for about 20 minutes before retiring to the A/C to watch a movie. I sent out a message on Instagram Stories wishing everyone a happy 4th and telling you that if you were having FOMO from everyone out having a blast for July 4th to know that I was having a lazy, uneventful holiday as well. A ton of you messaged me back! You let me know you were also just hanging around the house for the holiday.
With our constant access to social media and our little windows into everyone’s life, it can often feel like we’re the only ones in the entire world that aren’t doing something fun. If you had looked through my Instagram story or Snapchat feed on the 4th you would have assumed the entire universe was at the pool, on a boat, swimming in a lake, or at a fun BBQ.
I’ve noticed our generation, and even the generations before and after us, have a growing fear of missing out. We all love to go out, take day trips, constantly travel, and overall just be always busy all the time. Many people shudder at the thought of staying home for the weekend. A Saturday night without plans can literally send people into a minor anxiety attack.
Why is it that we all need to be busy all the time? When did “staying in” become the worst option for our free time?Why is it that we all need to be busy all the time? When did “staying in” become the worst option? Click To Tweet
I think the answer, very simply, is social media.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my social medias just as much as the next blogger. I love the power they have to connect us to others. It can make the world feel like a smaller place because you have access to so much. But, the problem arises when we grow the assumption that what we see on social media is real life. When we start to believe that someone’s Instagram Story is their 24/7 and not what it really is…a highlight reel.Remember that someone's Instagram story isn't their 24/7, it's their highlight reel. Click To Tweet
This bombardment of other’s lives and their constant travels, adventures, night outs, etc. makes us feel like our own life in inferior. It gives us the impression that we’re not living up to the most we could in our lives. This feeling drives us all to want to pack every minute of our day – living life to what we assume is “the fullest.” And, life is meant to be lived after all. You have exactly one life in which to do everything you’ll ever do. I understand where the rush to want to conquer it all comes from.
But, does that mean that enjoying simple moments means you’re lacking living life to its fullest? Does it mean opting to stay in on a Saturday night and play board games instead of trying out a swanky new restaurant means you’re missing out on life? Are you selling yourself short if you spend your Sunday home working on a DIY project instead of brunching with your girlfriends followed by a trip to the beach followed by Happy Hour?
As I shared in my post about Things I Cut From My Budget, Michael and I have been trying to cut back, save money, and look at where we spend the most. We quickly realized how much money we spent every month and every year on “being busy.” At first, it was hard to cut out our packed weekends -to give up our dinners out, our happy hours, our weekend trips away, our “we deserve it” splurges. But, once we got over the hump and are able to look back, we realize we’ve found a new joy in the simple aspects of our time. Instead of packing our weekends with plans, we have more free time. We spend a lot more time at home. And, this is what I’ve learned.
Through this process, we spend a lot more time at home. And, this is what I’ve learned from that:
The Less You Go Out, the Less You Need It
Let’s face it, people in 2017 are addicted to going out. We are. This post by USA Today shows that Millennials are literally EATING THROUGH their savings due to the fact that “the average Millennial eats out five times a week.” Forbes extends on this data sharing a study from the Food Institute’s analysis of the United States Department of Agriculture showing that Millennials spend 44% of their food dollars on eating out.
Why are Millennials eating out so much? Are we lazy? Older generations may like to blame that as the culprit but as a Millennial myself I say I don’t believe that’s the case. It’s a mixture of things driving us to spend so much money on eating out.
- First, Millennials are constantly busy. Between careers, a social life, and keeping up with our multiple hobbies, most Millennials think they lack the time to make dinner every night. (“Think” being the keyword here, more about that later.)
- The next thing working against us is the growing number of ordering service apps like Postmates, Uber Eats, and Grubhub, making ordering out easier than it has ever been.
- The last thing is something that I never seem to see mentioned in mainstream articles and that is the sheer growth in hip restaurants and their increasing markups on food. In the past 5 years at least 7-10 new “hip” restaurants have opened near my town. They all serve craft cocktails, farm-to-table meals, and local beers in a stylish, aesthetically pleasing environment. These restaurants add a rosemary simple syrup to their cocktail and then get away with charging you $14 for a small 6-ounce glass that’s mostly ice. Most studies show that restaurant prices are increasing annually between 2-5%. Since the majority of restaurant’s prices are dependent on covering their labor and rental costs, and many cities and states are increasing their minimum wage by as much as 25%, those costs trickle down to us, the consumer. You might not notice 2-5% year after year, but a few years later a meal that used to cost you $10 now costs $16.
The problem is, even with these growing prices many of us haven’t cut back on going out because it has become a habit. It’s what we do when we see friends, it how we celebrate the start of the weekend, it’s how we pass the time when family comes to visit. Going out is ingrained in us as a normal thing to do 3-5 times a week.
But, just like with any habit, you can easily replace the habit with something else. For going out, it is usually boredom that prompts us to go out. Then, we’re rewarded with good food, social interaction, and a relief from being bored. So, instead find other ways to fulfill that reward with something that doesn’t require a spending $25 for a mediocre burger and cocktail. Have your friends over for a BBQ, cook a new, exciting recipe at home, go out just for a single drink them head home to cook dinner.
The more you start to look at it, the easier it can be to cut back. Here’s a quick example: The other night Michael and I discussed going to a local restaurant to split their guacamole (they make good guac) and each getting a single drink each. We pulled up their menu online and added the cost of 2 cocktails, one order of guacamole, tax, and tip. It came out to $55. $55! For two drinks and an app! So instead we looked in our cabinet and saw we had all the ingredients for margaritas. We stopped at a local market and grabbed some guacamole and chips for $8. We sat out on the lawn with our homemade margaritas and guacamole and enjoyed our night just as much. Best of all, we saved $42 doing so.
The more Michael and I have evaluated the “is it worth it” factor to go out, and subsequently spent more time staying in…the less and less we feel the need to want to go out. It has allowed us to look back and realize we weren’t really getting satisfaction out of going out to eat as much.
More Time for Things Your “Don’t Have Time For”
I think everyone needs a hobby or a side hustle or both. I’ll never stop believing in the importance of this for people. And, I think most people want one but don’t know where to start or think they don’t have the time. Well, start spending more time at home and hobbies will emerge. Things you used to think you “didn’t have time for,” will suddenly become a lot easier to tackle.
I also think a hobby is an important step towards not feeling stressed or anxious about staying home more. If you don’t have something to do with your time when you’re home, then staying home can quickly feel BORING. There are only so many hours a person can watch Netflix. Find hobbies to keep you busy when you’re at home and you won’t miss going out. Start a garden. Try out a new DIY. Learn how to make homemade bread (it’s so delicious).Find hobbies to keep you busy when you're at home and you won't miss going out. Click To Tweet
This goes for simple chores and tasks around the house, too. Little “to do” lists that you used to let grow but never got around to can finally start to get checked off. Michael and I have had time to take care of so many around-the-home chores that used to get put off for months. And, when you give yourself the time to be home and take care of these things, you’ll actually find that you feel a lot more accomplished at the end of your weekend than you might have if you put off the chore and packed your weekend with going out and being busy.
Enjoy Your Home More
Since spending more time at home, I’ve realized I actually love my house more and more. I think a lot of this has to do with the above point that I don’t let to-do’s and tasks linger. I have time to keep the house tidy and don’t feel overwhelmed by the neverending around-the-home chores list.
We find things to do in our home we never really used to be able to make time to do. We play board games. We have movie nights. We eat our meals together at the dining room table and not in front of the TV. We hang out in our backyard. We planted a garden!
Enjoy The Little Things More
Another thing you’ll start to enjoy more is little moments. When you’re not always going it gives you a chance to slow down. It takes less to be impressed and you can find yourself appreciating little moments you used to take for granted (or didn’t even give yourself a chance to experience before!) Something Michael and I do a lot now is take the dogs for walks together. It’s free, gets us and the dogs outside, and kills a good hour of our day. We talk or remensicne about stories. We window shop in downtown or stop at a brook to let the dogs swim. Taking the dogs for a walk used to be something I’d try to squeeze in early in the morning before leaving for the day…now it’s an event I have the time to enjoy.
The picture above is a little park Michael and I found on one of these hikes. It has a babbling river surrounded by huge old evergreens and a gazebo where you can sit and have a snack. We drove and walked past it almost daily and NEVER knew it was there. When you take a moment to “stop and smell the roses” little hidden treasures seem to pop up all around!
Become More Aware of Your Money and What You Want to Spend it On
At the end of the day, all this came around for us because we wanted to start saving money. So, we started looking at how much we spend each week and each month. Then, we look at what that money was spent on. This process has made us more aware of how much everything costs. Before, going out and dropping $55 for two cocktails and guacamole (as explained in the above story) could have been a typical Thursday night. Now, that would never be worth $55 to us.
The entire process requires us to really look at the cost vs. worth of everything. If we want to take a one night trip into NYC is it worth the $50 in gas + $75 overnight parking + $250 hotel (+$80 taxes) + $10 morning coffee + $40 lunch + $30 in Ubers + $100 dinner….? Quickly we’re dropping $600 for less than 48 hours for two people.
You start to decide what’s truly worth your money and not, and then prioritize it. For Michael and I, we want to save to buy a house. So for us, $100 dinners 4x a month is $4,800/year we could have put towards our down payment. For other people, travel might be your priority or paying off college or saving up to start your own business. Whatever your goal is, you’ll become more aware of your spending when you’re not out doing it as much. And, that will make it easier to say no to things you used to spend on.
What do you guys think? Do you enjoy spending time at home? Do you have time to do it? Do you hate staying home and think I’m a crazy person?