We often get caught up in the idea of making more money. And while many of us wouldn’t mind having a little extra cash each month, the reality is that money isn’t everything. In fact, there might be some things worth valuing more than money.

I know for certain that I value freedom and flexibility more than I value money. I’m willing to make less money if I can improve my quality of life.

Freedom and Flexibility

Freedom and flexibility are the two most important items for me in my life. I like to be able to set my schedule, work on different days, and have the flexibility to engage in other pursuits that I find worthwhile. This includes being involved in my community and spending time with my son.

Since moving to Idaho, I’ve been able to cut back on work a little bit. Yes, I am building my investment portfolio and looking for other ways to build passive income, but at the same time, I’ve also cut back on the amount of paid work I do. Charging higher rates helped, but a lot of it has to do with moving to an area with a lower cost of living, and wanting to be involved in a number of different projects.

Being willing to work less, and get by with less money, allows me a little more freedom and flexibility. As long as I have enough to live comfortably and prepare for the future, I’m not too picky about making a huge fortune. In fact, there are plenty of other things I’d like to do with my time and energy, and just having more money doesn’t matter to me.

How about you? What do you value?
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bike to work
If you’re an American who lives outside of Manhattan… you probably drive. Driving is so common, many of us don’t even realize it’s actually not a mandatory part of life. We just do it. Day in. Day out.

Why am I challenging this idea?

Because driving is expensive! According to the latest numbers from AAA, driving a medium sedan costs 58.5 cents per mile to operate. For most people, that’s $8,780 per year! What could you do with that money if you weren’t driving?

I’ve been biking nearly everywhere in my city for three years. Not only does the habit save money but I actually really enjoy it. Come to think of it – I’ve never been happier, healthier or wealthier than I am now. Coincidence? I think not. This post explains how I got here (and how you can get here too).
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cell phone
Having a cell phone was a luxury years ago, but it’s now considered by many as a must-have. I bet most people would probably admit that they couldn’t live without their phones. The privilege doesn’t come cheap though. Aside from buying the phone itself (which can cost hundred of dollars), you’re also paying a monthly bill that’s far from cheap. At more than $100 each month, that cellphone bill could be a huge drag to your wallet.

Luckily, you don’t have to pay a lot to get what you need. Let’s take a look at four simple ways you can save on your cell phone bill:
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credit card breakup
Costco and American Express recently broke up, and Visa has seized the opportunity. This means that the Costco branded payment card is changing at the warehouse. After doing some research on the card, I’m excited for this new relationship which officially begins on June 20, 2016. Plenty of perks are “in store” (pun intended) for cardholders.

Better Cash Back!

The current Costco American Express TrueEarnings Card gives offers 3% cash back on gasoline purchases at Costco, 2% cash back on travel expenses and restaurants (in the U.S only), and 1% cash back on all other purchases. That was great and all, but check this out – the new Costco Anywhere Visa Card (offered by Citi) boasts a 4% cash back on Costco gasoline purchases, 3% cash back on travel and restaurants (worldwide) and the same 1% return on other purchases. You’ll still receive this cash as a voucher that arrives every February.

A Newer Cash Back Opportunity

The Visa card offers one more perk I’m particularly excited about. When you shop at Costco or, you’ll receive 2% cash back instead of the usual 1% offered by American Express. This new incentive will see your February voucher rise if you’re a big Costco shopper. Note: the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express offers 6% cash back on groceries. If you’re not a Costco subscriber, then it might be worthwhile to shop at Sam’s Club and use this card instead.

Everything Will Roll Over

In case you’re sweating about the transition, rest assured that Costco, Visa, and American Express are making this as easy as possible. You’ll be provided with new account information when your new card arrives in the mail, and your balance will automatically be rolled over. Also, your credit score will not be affected in any way. However, if you have any recurring payments, you’ll need to enter your new card information.

A Few More Incentives

Your new Visa card offers worldwide car rental insurance, travel accident insurance, and trip cancellation protection. You’ll also enjoy an extended warranty on your purchases (which means if the manufacturer fails on a product, you’ll have a longer time to return if you use the new Visa). If items purchased by your Visa card are stolen within 120 days, the new card offers refunds too. Same goes for damages, except this incentive will first try to cover repairs first.

The new relationship between Costco and Visa is an excited time in the credit world. Walmart has already countered with their new “3-2-1 Program”. Since Visa has raised the bar, we could see a credit card war emerge, which is great for the consumer.

When my then-husband and I first married, we lived paycheck to paycheck, creatively looking for ways to make ends meet. In those days, I could take the checkbook to the store and let it “float” for a couple of days (today even checks can be immediately verified).

Later, as we learned more about money management and as we began making more money, we stopped living paycheck to paycheck. It’s not an easy process, especially if you are already behind, but it can be done.

Confront the Realities of Your Situation

Right now I live in Idaho, one of the states where people are least likely to live paycheck to paycheck because of the low cost of living. I first stopped living paycheck to paycheck after my ex and I moved from New York (one of the states where living paycheck to paycheck is most likely) to Utah — another state where it’s easier to avoid running out of money before running out of month.

Look at your situation. What are some of the realities you are facing? We couldn’t really get a handle on the situation until we made the move to a state with a lower cost of living. We probably could have made it work in a more expensive state, but acknowledging that we weren’t in a position to get ahead until we reduced our expenses helped speed up the process.

Be real about what is holding you back. Whether it’s debt, high cost of living, your habits, or something else, you need to confront that. Figure out which things you can change going forward to help you get out of your paycheck to paycheck rut.
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