Our journey started out by trying to save enough money after being on maternity to survive long term on one wage.
So over the last few years we have become kings at budgeting and saving money in every way possible.
We set up spreadsheet after spreadsheet, collected receipts, set up new saving accounts and money jars. Each new system would work marvelously for a few weeks, until eventually enthusiasm would dwindle. Usually because we had had a bad day at work, or the washing machine had broken and we were convinced that if we just had one last blow out on a fancy new washer dryer with all the settings of a leading brand (or spent a few sneaky pounds on an enormous Chinese takeaway feast for dinner!) All our woes would be re-set and we could start budgeting again fresh next payday.
We cut out many non-essential bills such as the Digital TV package, Mobile phone contracts and the Second Car. We saved a lot each month but eventually hit that budget wall where no matter what we did we couldn’t cut out the emotional impulse spending. Those moments when the overwhelming urge to throw money at a situation makes you feel like order will be restored and your life will get easier. When you’ve had a tough day and you blow the budget to book your next holiday, buy a bottle of wine, new t-shirt, kitchen gadget or two family packs of haribo on the way home from work in hope it will perk you up or solve the frustration that you are feeling.
Our winning moment came one day after reading an article about the behaviour of some of the big co-operations in the UK and feeling frustrated that we couldn’t do anything to prevent them from treating the average joe badly.
We suddenly realised that more often than not we were funding their antics with our everyday spending. The endless arrival of Amazon packages at our back door staring back at me when the penny dropped were a testament to this.
From that day on our mindset completly changed. Instead of feeling like we were drowning in our endless striving for the next best thing or quick fix for our life. We viewed each pound we handed over to a company as a loss. We broke down each purchase into the hours that we had worked away from our family in a job we didn’t enjoy. A trip to the car wash didn’t just cost us £20…it was 2 hours of our lives on a night shift that we would never get back.
It’s not that we stopped living or doing things, we just became happier to take the frugal option instead of feeling resentful about it.
All at once we felt in control of our spending, happy to go about our business washing the car at home as a much loved weekend activity with the whole family. Choosing to go to the park or the library or a picnic by the stream rather than wrestling urges to pay money to our local Odeon for watching the latest film or visit Bella Italia for a stress free family dinner.
Our mindset adapted and everything else just fell away. Every time we had tried to ‘budget’ before we used to feel crushed each time a polished person rolled up next to our clapped out old picasso in a beautiful range rover. Yet suddenly we were finding we felt an increased pang of sadness for them. We counted up all the hours they likely would have spent in their lives away from loved ones, working late nights at the office, trying to win favour in hope of the next promotion in order to be able to be driving that car around. Every designer handbag, shiny car or big pair of sunglasses we saw left us with that same feeling. We could only hope that they were one of the few lucky enough to work those hours in a job that they were excited and passionate about. So later at retirement age there would be zero regrets about how they spent their time or niggles about dreams and passions unexplored.
Needless to say from this point on everything changed for us. Liberated from the pull of advertisements and keeping up with the Jones’s we were able to make purchases detached from emotion. It became super easy to spend money on things that were only essential for survival. As a whole family we found new, much more fulfilling ways to enjoy ourselves. This shift in mindset has lead to us being outdoors for hours each day, learning new skills and knowledge about the world, feeling healthier in body and mind and amazingly for the first time EVER being in control of our budget! Don’t ever be afraid to look at where and why you are spending your money.