Last night, I was writing a journal entry about the weekend trip that my family took this past weekend to visit some extended family members.
As I was writing, I realized that virtually every memory I wrote down was basically a good example of frugality while still having a wonderful family trip.
We stayed in an old farmhouse that’s owned by an extended family member, rather than staying at a hotel or something like that.
During the day, we mostly just walked around the farmstead for entertainment, talking to family members that we hadn’t seen in a long time.
Our meals were eaten around a pair of tables in the old farmhouse and they consisted of meals prepared mostly by the guests. Most of the meals were made in crock pots and eaten whenever guests arrived.
Our children spent most of the weekend playing marbles. The idea that you could play a game with a jar full of marbles amazed them, and on top of that, the host had an old wooden marble maze that they played with for countless hours. They also spent hours running around in a grassy field with the owner’s dog and playing hide-and-go-seek under an old willow tree.
All of us got a ton of brisk fall air and slept soundly in the old farmhouse.
The weekend cost us extremely little – the driving was far and away the most expensive part. Yet on the way home, we talked about eating apple pie made with fresh apples and about the fun of playing in a nearby park and visiting a quirky country store. We talked about how our children marveled over seeing their great uncle’s motorcycle and about how they turned the cellar door into a slide.
The things I remember from this past weekend are joyful memories, but none of them required much spending at all. We kept our wallets deep in our pockets and yet we still had a deeply fulfilling and fun weekend.
For me, I think the secret is people.
It’s incredibly easy to stumble into great memories when you’re seeing people you’ve long cared about. It’s very easy to have an enjoyable time with people who share similar interests and life goals.
You don’t need to travel or to spend money to have these great experiences. You just need good relationships with good people.
In the end, those relationships are at the core of the things you remember. You might remember a great meal or a wonderful vista, but it’s often the people you share those experiences with – before, during, and after – that put the icing on the cake.
It’s much easier to avoid spending money all the time if you have lots of good people to spend that time with, because the experiences you share with them will fill your time and your heart instead.
The best financial advice I can give to anyone is surprisingly simple: build strong friendships and relationships. The easiest way to start is to give of yourself. Open the door to others, both of your time and your heart, and you’ll find many relationships start to blossom, ones that fill your life with joy and opportunity without having to open your wallet to fulfill those things. Sure, some relationships won’t blossom, but it’s worth ten unfulfilled relationships to have one strong relationship that takes root.