Two years ago we decided to jump off the conventional living merry-go-round and have a change of life. At that time what we wanted was more family time and endless travel. Travel had been a life-long passion for us and we saw it as a great way to educate our children and live a more interesting life. Our best option back then was to save like crazy, sell almost everything and set off from Australia into the world for a year or three of budget backpacking, as a family.
It’s what we did and we had a blast visiting 12 countries and 4 continents over the last year. Changing plans, wants and circumstance only gave us one year on the road before the money started to run out. We’re settling for a while, regrouping, reorganising and refinancing in London, a city that brings us enormous joy and one that we thought we could never afford to live in again.
Things have changed for us, we’re slowly starting to realise just how much as we slip into London living. We’re happier, more at peace and more connected as a family. We’ve changed.
We’re Free and We Love This New Lifestyle, 6 Ways to Start the Change.
Freedom in life involves greater financial stability and a lot of dis-attachment from material possessions. That dis-attachment inevitably leads to further financial freedom. Don’t we all want to spend more time with our kids, have more fun, live our dreams and spend more time enjoying our short and precious lives?
Here’s how we’ve made changes, you can too.
1. Stop With The Interior Design!
We’re told we should care about having a cool home, the sort of thing you might see in a magazine. We all have our own interpretations of that, some, like me, go for Asian inspired eclectic to suit the image we want to portray, some modern minimalist, some homely comfort, but I think most people, women in particular, have the interior designer gene. We buy expensive cook wear, furniture and decorations believing that only the best will do. What are we trying to prove? Who are we trying to impress? Our real friends take us as we are, our kids don’t care what furnishings we have and the marketers love us as we spend and spend.
A sub section of point 1 would be stop caring what people think of you. Fancy haircuts, new clothes, fashionable shoes, manicures and jewelery I used to love them, I was normal, probably just like you. Now, so long as I’m clean, warm enough, not naked and don’t look too much like a bag lady, I don’t care and my family still love me. We all have far too many clothes. I don’t even need all the clothes in my backpack, stop buying and start using, wear clothes ’till they wear out, mend rather than discard at the first hole. Charity shops have amazing bargains, often new, unworn designer labels, real people don’t care what’s on your back. Start your own fashion!
A long time ago I spent a fortune on the latest fancy nail fad, a guy friend said to me ” Do you think we really care about that?” His comment has stayed with me for 20 years.
2.You Don’t Need.
Shopping is not supposed to be recreation. You do not need the perfect thingum for every single task or occasion. Making do works well.
You do not need to buy all that stuff. What each person considers essential will obviously vary enormously but you can live without most things. Our essentials were our 4 backpacks and the people carrying them, now, in a domestic rather than hotel environment, we’ve had to buy a few things, but surprisingly little. As point 1 (above) is now firmly in my mind, it’s cost us next to nothing.
3. A Bigger Home Isn’t Necessarily a Better Home.
Cut your housing costs by downsizing dramatically. We’re living very happily in a one bedroom apartment, a big change from a 4 bedroom sprawling Queensland home, but we’re happy and we’re not missing the extra space at all. We have less stuff, less stuff needs less storage furniture, less furniture means more space.
Utility bills are much lighter on the wallet when you’re powering a smaller space. And need I mention how much less cleaning effort is required?
4. But You Need a Garden, Right?
Do you? I always thought I did, I love to grow things and producing our own food was one of the ways we saved money to get this ball rolling but now, do I miss it? No.
We have a beautiful park and the River Thames just footsteps away from our front door, we’re more than happy to get our nature fix running around on grass that somebody else mows.
I have a dear friend who sold up to live full time on a boat. She said growing things used to be “Her soul.” She’s never missed it since the day the sea became her back yard. Lyndy blogs at Homeschool Ahoy if you’d like to read more about her wonderful lifestyle.
4. Renting or Buying.
Owning your own home can be a great big fat millstone around your neck. We still own our home in Australia, we have that financial back-up but lodgers are paying the mortgage rather than us. Maybe it’s easy for us to say, having our feet well up the property ladder, but renting gives you more freedom. We can up-sticks and move on when the contract is up, we have no maintenance costs and no emotional investment in this property.
5. Cut Transport Costs and Your Carbon Footprint.
Do you really have to own a car? Maybe you could live somewhere where you don’t need a car instead. That’s our choice, London public transport has made us car free, fitter, happier, greener and better off. Buy a bike, walk more, run more. Shopping less will cut your transport needs immediately.
6. Work Towards Your Goals, Not Because You Have To.
Working hard to save money for a particular dream feels so much nicer than the month by month, year by year hamster wheel of working to pay for a lifestyle that constantly needs to be upgraded.
The drive for career progression has gone for us, instead we’re working for maximum financial return within the shortest possible time-frame to make us 100% free again. If that means working 7 days a week for a while, that’s fine. As my husband said, you can look at it two ways, that he’s worked almost solidly for the last month or that he’s worked only one month of the last 12. He prefers description 1.