One of the main aspects of this minimum wage challenge is for me to not only live on the salary, but to live well on it. I think that my image of “living well” may not be the same as a lot of people’s image out there, so I think it’s important for me to clarify. Living well to me is being able to do the things that I enjoy on a regular basis. For me, it has little to do with the amount of money I have. Yes, having enough to do the things I enjoy most is essential, but if I really like to do something, it’s amazing at how creative I can get to still do it even when I don’t have a lot of money. This challenge is a perfect example. Now, this doesn’t mean that I get to do everything that I want, but it does mean that on most days I try to do something that I truly enjoy doing.
The reason that I bring this up is that we really don’t know what is going to happen each day. On my drive back to the house after hiking, I came across a pretty bad accident (the photo below is actually the car that was in the best shape — it seemed to have swerved suddenly to avoid the tangled mess of the cars on the other side). There were plenty of emergency personal on hand and a number of ambulances. I don’t know if anyone died, but there is little doubt that there are some people in pretty bad shape tonight that will likely have a long recovery road ahead of them.
There are a lot of things that are outside our control, and that is why I feel it’s so important to do the best that I can everyday with those things that are within my control. I can drive carefully and defensively, but I can’t control what other drivers do and that means that every time I get into a car, there is a chance that I could get into an accident. I don’t let that fact freeze me in fear, but I try to use that as motivation to make sure that each day is the best that I can make it.
When most people think about personal finances, they assume that the most important thing to get their finances in order is understanding how to handle money. I don’t subscribe to this philosophy. To me, the most important thing is understanding yourself well, and especially having a clear idea of your goals and the things that you love to do. Once you begin to truly understand yourself, you are in a position to focus your attention and finances on the things that really matter. When your time does come, you want to know that you don’t have any of the regrets most people have. That is one of my top priorities.
Today was another early rise because I knew that I was going to have a long day visiting places. There were three that were fairly close together that I decided to go and visit in the Flagstaff area. It was a bit chilly and there was still plenty of snow on the ground from weather earlier in the week, but they were all fun places to visit. The first was Walnut Canyon national monument:
Luckily, the path down to the main ruins was open, although other hiking trails in the canyon were blocked off due to snow and ice. The next stop was at Sunset Crater Volcano national monument:
While most of the trails here were open, a lot of them were covered in snow and ice. I opted not to do these as I really didn’t have the proper footwear and clothing to do so, but I still was able to hike the main loop. The last stop of the day was at Wupatki national monument to visit some ancient pueblo ruins.
Wupatki was in the valley and almost entirely free from snow which allowed me to do a lot more exploring. I would definitely like to get back to all three of these places in months where there is a bit less snow so that I can explore them a little more thoroughly. I always enjoy stopping at these lesser known parks as they are usually full of surprises. Since I don’t hear too much about them (like the big national parks) before arriving, I’m never sure what to expect. More often than not, I’m pleasantly surprised and enjoy seeing and learning about what these parks have to offer.
I managed to make it through the day with little spending once again. Breakfast and dinner were eaten at the house and I once again took lunch and snacks with me to avoid spending money on food. My national parks pass allowed me to enter all three parks without having to pay any fees. While I needed to fill up the car again with gas for $25 today, it wasn’t a personal expense since all my driving has been to national parks.
I did make my first splurge purchase. I ended up stopping at McDonald’s and getting a drink with caffeine in it ($1.12). After seeing the wreck on the road and feeling a bit tired after a long day of hiking the parks, I needed a little pick-me-up. I certainly didn’t want to end up accidentally falling asleep behind the wheel. Could I have made it back to the house without the drink? Probably. But it just wasn’t worth the risk and since there is definitely a little wiggle room in the budget after the lack of spending these first few days, I didn’t even blink an eye buying it. In addition, I purchased another three postcards for the girls, this time 3 for $1.00. I still have plenty of stamps so there was no cost with sending them.
Next article: Day Five: The Grand Canyon