Over the past several years I’ve tried to become more intentional with my choices. It’s challenging to stop and force myself to question what I’m doing, or why I’m doing it, but overtime its become more of a habit and is therefore much easier to do.
So when Mike and I really started talking seriously about getting a Tesla, I started asking why. Why did we want this vehicle, what did it do for us that another vehicle didn’t do? We would never spend that kind of money on any internal combustion engine vehicle. In fact if we didn’t buy a Tesla, we would probably have just kept driving our trusty old SUV until it no longer worked. So what was it about Tesla that grabbed our attention, so much so that we were willing to pay such a high price tag for essentially four wheels that got us from point A to point B.
In the end our decision came down to 5 key reasons, but I want to focus on one of those reasons in particular.
A couple of years ago we really started to think about what as a society we were doing to our planet, and what type of world and problems we would be leaving our future grand-kids to deal with.
Although electric vehicles may not be perfect in terms of the impact on the planet (IE: The process for making and disposing of Lithium Ion batteries has its negative impacts as well), it was still a step away from fossil fuels. And to us, that was a step in the right direction.
If we’ve learned anything in our pursuit of Financial Freedom, it’s that even baby steps in the right direction can ultimately culminate into some pretty amazing outcomes.
So making changes in our lives to be kinder to our environment, including moving to an electric vehicle, became really important to us. Then one day we found ourselves watching a series of documentaries relating to eating a plant based vegetarian diet.
We started to delve deeper into the topic, learning about the degree to which agricultural carbon emissions contribute to the total emissions worldwide. It made us ask, if we were willing to purchase a car to improve our individual carbon footprint, should we not be willing to make some simple changes to our diet?
Our curiousity on the subject ultimately led us to read a number of books and studies on the impact consuming animal products has on our individual health. Two books that I found particularly informative were, The China Study by Dr. Collin Campbell , and How Not to Die, by Dr. Michael Greger. (I’ve linked to these books, but you can easily access both for free at most public libraries.) My takeaway from these books, and many others, was that the consumption of animal products was directly linked to a significant number of the most prevalent diseases currently impacting society, and that by transitioning to a plant based diet people have not only halted the progression of those diseases, but actually reversed them as well.
The studies were compelling, and both Mike and I decided that we could definitely make some changes in our diets. We tried a vegan diet for about 4 months, and ultimately settled on a vegetarian diet as something that we could sustain long term.
What we didn’t anticipate in cutting out meat was just how much money we were going to save on our weekly grocery bill, (nor how we would have to learn to get creative in the kitchen and expand our own tastebuds along with our kids!)
When we started to do the math, we realized that we were saving between 20-30% on our grocery bill simply by cutting meat from our diet. Even after spending more money on a larger variety of quality fruits and vegetables! It was a lifestyle choice trifecta. We were actively making choices that were reducing our negative impact on our environment, while simultaneously improving our health and diet, AND saving money!
Once we started to recognize the savings, we turned around and put those savings directly into paying down our debt. Although $20-30 per grocery bill doesn’t seem like a lot on it’s own, when you start adding that up over the course of the year it’s hundreds of dollars. Find a few different areas in your life where you can save $20-30 regularly, and suddenly those hundreds of dollars start adding up to thousands.
Also think about the potential future costs that you could incur if your health declines. Medications and treatment for the top ten most prevalent diseases can be extremely pricey, particularly when you are on a fixed retirement income.
Taking care of your health and well-being now is the best way to mitigate the likelihood of significant medical expenses in the future. If something as simple as changing your diet can prevent some of those future costs, I’d say that’s an investment worth making.
While we went cold turkey on meat…..(yes, that was bad, I know), you certainly don’t have to eliminate meat entirely to begin to realize the financial (and health) benefits. But ask yourself, are there meals that you could do without adding the meat? Are there meals where you wouldn’t even miss it at all?
With January just around the corner, its a great time to start new habits, and this one simple resolution could improve your health, savings, AND your environment. Now that’s some serious ROI.
Meatless Mondays are a popular way for many people to start, or if you’re a little more ambitious, try eliminating meat from half your meals to really harness some savings. Eventually you might find yourself doing Meat Mondays, where every other day of the week becomes a meat free day!