How Our Neighbors Save Us Thousands Every Year
You never know what kind of neighbors you’re going to get when you move to a new place. At our old house, we lived next to a sketchy rental and one of the tenants regularly asked my husband for money. (He never gave him any, so I’m not sure why he continued to ask.)
I also vividly remember some neighbors that my sister’s family lived next to for years that were hoarders who neither cared how their house looked nor smelled, and they seemed to welcome any and all vermin that came into their house. They were hardly the kind of neighbors you’d like to have.
What Are We Getting Ourselves Into?
So when my husband and I purchased our current house four years ago, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into when it came to neighbors. As we unloaded our boxes into the driveway, I vividly remember our neighbors watching us from lawn chairs across the street. I didn’t like being watched, and I remember worrying that they were unfriendly. Because my husband is afraid of no one, he bounded across the street with a spring in his step, eager to introduce himself. (I begrudgingly make the trek over there as well, but only after my mom forced me out the door.)
Luckily, my pleasant demeanor (I say that with sarcasm) combined with my husband’s ability to make conversation with a tree stump meant that we became fast friends with our new neighbors. What a relief! I had no idea it was about to get even better in the coming months.
Four years later, our life here in this utopian bubble has helped us grow our frugality, even though our neighbors aren’t exactly frugal themselves. I’m not sure we’ve ever discussed it, but collectively, we all help each other save so much time and money. Here is how our neighbors save us thousands every year.
Sharing Tools and Skills
My husband is a jack of all trades and can fix just about anything, but he doesn’t own every tool that he wishes he had. The same goes for our neighbor. Rather than continually buying tools they can simply borrow from each other, they’ve opted to share their tools, anything from gardening tools to car repair tools and I don’t even know what else, and this saves both of our families hundreds of dollars.
To sweeten the deal, often times if one neighbor is trying to trouble shoot and fix a problem on one of our cars or appliances, the other neighbor will come and lend a helping hand, which saves us money on expensive repair and maintenance costs.
Unfortunately, we don’t live around any of our family, so free babysitting by our family just isn’t happening for us. Fortunately, though, we’ve worked out an informal babysitting sharing service with our neighbors.
Because I work from home, I’m here when the school bus drops off my neighbors’ kids, so I make sure they get home safely every day. Then, whenever my husband and I want to have a date night, our neighbors are happy to watch our daughter in return, saving us from paying for an expensive babysitter.
Our favorite thing to do with our neighbors is to have a weekend game night where the kids can play together and the parents get to enjoy a glass of wine or two and a few board games. For New Years Eve last year, we gathered at our neighbors’ house for a kid-friendly and frugal celebration that didn’t involve an expensive babysitter, a crowded bar or worrying about drunk drivers on the road.
For the 4th of July, we always plan an after-dark celebration where we each chip in on a few fireworks to dazzle the kids. Rather than battle the crowds at our town’s fireworks show with overly-tired kids, at our celebration the men get to blow stuff up, the women get to snuggle up with the kids in the back of a pickup truck, and the kids get to go to bed on time. If you think that sounds a little redneck, you might be right, but it works for us and it’s frugal, so it’s a win for us.
Sometimes on those game nights, weekends, or holidays, we have a family style dinner where we each cook half the meal to share with each other. Meal sharing encourages us to eat healthy food at home, keeps us out of crowded, expensive restaurants on the weekends, takes the pressure off of planning an entire family meal, and saves us all money and time, time that we instead use to enjoy each other’s company and plan our next adventure (like the time we all went on vacation together to a huge beach house, which, after sharing the cost, became one of our most frugal vacations yet).
Living the Good Life on a Tiny Budget
In an age when most people have never even met their neighbors, I feel immensely grateful to have neighbors I can also call my friends. We feel like we are back in college again, surrounded by all of our friends in our little bubble, where we can eat together, help each other out, and have fun in our free time, while spending very little money to do it all.
It’s a nice, albeit surprising perk to living in a cul-de-sac in the country, where everyone around us is (for the most part) normal. (Okay, in full disclosure, there are a few nuts around us, but that’s a story for another day.)
Do you know your neighbors? Are you able to share things with them? Have you ever lived next to any horrendous neighbors? What fun outings, game nights or vacations have you enjoyed with neighbors?