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Budget Blonde: How I decided to live more with less

Catherine Alford
by Catherine Alford , Dimespring 30 (@budgetblonde)

Before I moved to the Caribbean island of Grenada, my idea of a good time was renting a movie off of Netflix, going out to eat at a nice restaurant, or my favorite, shopping at a cute consignment shop. I know there’s absolutely nothing wrong with these activities, but I think the flaw in my thinking was that in order to be happy or to have a good time, I had to be doing one of the above.

After I found out I was moving I wrote blog post after blog post lamenting the fact that I was moving to a place that had no Michael’s craft store, no Target, and none of my favorite stores. To make matters worse, there aren’t any thrift stores or coupons or Black Friday sales in Grenada. How was I, someone who blogged about these topics for two straight years, going to be happy in a place like that?

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Now you might be wondering about the obvious. I should have been excited to move to a beautiful Caribbean island, and I was! The beauty here is truly unparalleled. I just knew by interacting with many people who had done it before me that there would be challenges, namely that you truly cannot go to be beach every day. Eventually, you’re going to get bored.

So, I knew I had to do something and change my outlook if I was going to enjoy my time here, stay within budget, and accept the differences between the USA and Grenada with grace and understanding.

At first, it was a slow adjustment. The first thing I did in my quest to live more was ask my landlords to take the TV out of my apartment. We were living on very small funds, and I didn’t want the unnecessary expense. Plus, I knew I had better things to do while living here.

Then, I started walking everywhere and taking the $1 local bus. I explored the downtown market, I bought fresh fruit at a stand, and I tried some of the most amazing smoothies. Seriously, you can’t wrap your mind around how awesome they are.

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I also started exploring all of the little beaches and coves on the island. The first time I walked to the beach closest to my apartment, I stumbled on the prettiest piece of seaglass, which is recycled glass that’s been tumbling in the ocean for decades. I felt that by finding that little piece of glass, it was Grenada’s way of welcoming me to the island.

It was a soft blue color with little ridges on it. I immediately took my treasure home and made a necklace out of it. As I sat there wrapping the wire around my new little piece of glass, I realized that I was, in that moment, truly happy.

I didn’t need the big box craft store or the red label sales. I just needed the peaceful solitude of a walk on the beach and the knowledge that no matter where I am, happiness is just around the corner. We just have to go looking for it.

Catherine Alford is a freelance personal finance writer who currently lives in the Caribbean with her husband and spoiled pup, Julep. She received a B.A. from The College of William and Mary and an M.A. from Virginia Tech. When she is not writing for other websites on all topics frugal and fabulous, she enjoys sharing her adventures on her personal finance blog, www.BudgetBlonde.com. Catherine is a member of the Dimespring 30, a community of bloggers sharing their thoughts, experiences and perspectives on personal finance.