When life gets in the way….

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There have been a couple of changes which explain my lack of posting lately, neither of them part of the original plan and both of them in the short term will complicate our lives rather than simplify it.

The first change is that Mr S has decided to start a micro business. I say a micro business as at the moment it is very small and in its early stages, however we are hoping and have plans for it to grow into something bigger in the long term.

The second bolt out of the blue has come in the shape of bricks and mortar. We had no intention what so ever of buying another house, however an opportunity presented itself which now means we are in the process of buying a second property.

The house in question was left to a family member and so we have had first refusal on it. It needs lots of hard work and a little money injected into it but will hopefully provide us with a rental income and an investment in the long term.

Our hope is that we can build on these multiple streams of income which would eventually provide us with enough income for Mr S to quit has job – this to us is our ultimate goal in self sufficiency.

So apologies if my posts are becoming a little sporadic! As Mr S is still in employment it will fall upon yours truly to organise and implement much of the above (besides running my own business!) Sometimes life just gets in the way of blogging 🙂

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Swan Song

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There are big changes coming in the Simplicity household. I’m not 100% sure what form they will take or even when they will happen, but the changes will happen, at the moment they are like shadows waiting to be thrown into focus.

For almost two years now we have been planning a trip to take our Son to Florida. One thing we know is that our time is limited when it comes to family holidays, in a few short years we will be redundant and his friends will take our place as his travelling companions.

So before he gets too old (and embarrassed!) to want to go on holiday with his folks we wanted to take a trip to give him lasting memories of family holidays and very soon we shall be embarking on our journey.

But the title of this post doesn’t refer to this as I’m sure there will still be many more chances for us to holiday together, albeit on a smaller scale, it refers to what comes next.

To us this holiday is symbolic of a lifestyle that we are leaving behind, it will be our own personal swan song.

Simplifying Finances

photo credit: Dplanet

The work to make our life simpler is no quick fix solution, we are in this for the long-term and recognise that whilst we have not exactly been completely committed to the end result over the last few years we have made great strides towards it by what we have done so far, the main thing so far being…

Simplifying Our Finances.

We have been quite lucky in that the both of us have a natural aversion to debt and have never run up huge credit card bills – if we want something we save for it and pay in cash.

The one exception to this though has been the necessity to purchase our house with the aid of a mortgage. We reduced this debt heavily by downsizing to the house where we now live. It has been hard at times, both with the amount of work and the conditions we have had to live in, however the pay off is that we have since managed to eliminate this debt completely through making overpayments and now own our home outright.

In paying the mortgage off it now gives us the knowledge that whatever happens to us employment and income wise we potentially have a roof over our heads and one less bill to pay at the end of the month.

Our other outgoings have room for improvement though! Utility bills, food and fuel can all be reduced and we plan to do so over the coming months by looking at what we use and what we can do to reduce the cost.

One of the biggest ways that we hope do this is by growing a large proportion of what we eat. We have been steadily increasing our productivity in the garden over the last few years and our aim is to improve on this from now on.

Tips to simplify your finances

Imagine how much simpler your financial life would be with no stress about debt. Becoming debt free is one of the most stress-relieving, life-simplifying things you can do. I know that everyone’s situation is different but here are a few ideas that we have found useful in simplifying our finances.

Plan For Upcoming Expenses – Plan and budget for large expenses such as Christmas and holidays. We find that putting away a set amount each month for upcoming purchases elevates the need for using credit cards to make major purchases.

 Buy A Smaller House – When you are looking to buy, consider buying smaller. One of the problems when buying a home is the temptation to buy more than you need. Just remember, the bigger the house, the higher the mortgage payments, insurance premiums, maintenance costs, utility bills, etc… Plus you’ll spend a ton of money buying more junk to fill the house.

Keep A Spending Diary – Each day, record everything you spend into a notebook. We have done this in the past and it has been really useful to pinpoint exactly where all of your cash goes. It also helps to keep you more mindful of what you are spending.

Get Organized – Keep things simple. Consolidate your bank accounts as it makes tracking your finances easier, set up direct debits for paying regular bills so you don’t miss deadlines and keep a note on a calendar when the ones that can’t be automated need to be paid.

Build An Emergency Fund – Few things give you peace of mind like having a stash of cash set aside for emergencies and unexpected expenses. Ours has saved us several times.

Simplifying Life – The Next Steps

At the moment I feel that our plans are in limbo. I know that it’s to do with the time of year as we take ourselves off at every opportunity to make the most of the Summer. It shouldn’t be a surprise really as this happens every year and we try not to plan any large projects throughout the Summer months but it does mean that we lose some of our momentum.

So this post will hopefully act as a reminder of all that I feel that we have achieved so far in simplifying our lives and hopefully inspire us to continue on our journey.

Things we have done so far….

  • Moved house and paid off our mortgage.
  • Made energy-saving measures and lowered our fuel bills.
  • Set up my own home based business.
  • Begun to grow and brew our own.
  • Decluttered our possessions.

Things that need work on……..

  • Lower our fuel bills even more to save money and the enviroment.
  • Declutter more and learn to live with less.
  • Grow more of our own fruit and vegetables.
  • Look at other streams of income which are not reliant on employment by others.
  • Streamline our finances to enable us to save for our future plans.

I’m sure that there are many more things that will be added to the to do list over time, how about you – what have you already done towards achieving a simpler life?

When Only a 4 x 4 Will Do

Ok, we’re the Simplicity Family and we drive a gas guzzling 4 x 4. Sounds like a confession doesn’t it?

Well it is and I have to confess that it doesn’t sit quite right with our ideals.

Whilst I sympathize with those who think that 4×4’s are the machines of the devil and I agree that in a lot of cases they are driven unnecessarily there are times when only a 4×4 will do…….

In our defence we have been running it for quite a few years now, have maintained it and run it for more than the all too common 3 year turnover. This is far better for the environment than changing every few years as the amount of energy required to produce a new car is massive. I guess what I am saying that it isn’t black and white and let’s face it is driving any car enviromently friendly?

A Happy Accident

When we moved here the front garden was neglected and overgrown. Our plans regarding the garden at this point were a little vague as our main commitment was to get the house habitable.  We knew that we would need to create a graveled area of hard standing at the front to store our caravan but other than that the rest of the garden has evolved by accident rather than by design.

The clearing begins

We were lucky to have two established cherry trees and a rhododendron hedge as a backdrop but other than that the rest of the planting has been accidental to some extent.

As this was the only part of the garden that was plantable the few plants that came with us from our last house went in here, as did plants that were kindly donated by friends and family. Plants that were bought as gifts and even a potted Christmas tree have all ended up in here. What started life as a holding area for the plants that were to be planted elsewhere in the garden has somehow ended up looking like this……

Just a few years later!

A very happy accident indeed!

Why The Simple Life?

I was recently asked why were we looking to simplify our lives? I think that the person asking the question was looking for a succinct answer – concise and easy to understand – unfortunately all they got was me rambling on.

Which is probably how this post will come across for which I apologise in advance. You see I don’t really think that there is an easy way to explain what we are doing mainly because we are doing it for various reasons.

So why are we doing it?

One of the reasons we are doing it is that by reducing our consumption it allows us to free up our income for other things. By not subscribing to keeping up with the Jones’ we are able to spend our income on the things that matter to us and eventually we hope that this will enable us to reduce the time we spend earning money.

At the moment our short term goal is that it enables us to save for our Son’s higher education, should he wish to study further. With university course fees costing as much as £9,000 per year ( I hate to think how much this will have risen by the time he goes) we want to be able to help him by not having to start his adult life with thousands of pounds worth of debt (and of course if this isn’t the path he wishes to follow we will have a nice safety net for when we finally give up the day jobs).

The long term goal is that by living simply it will allow us to reduce the time we spend earning money. Looking at it at a basic level the more money that we spend equates to the more time we have to spend earning it which means that we spend less time doing the things that we want to.

Simple living is fast become a way of life to us. It isn’t just about getting rid of stuff, decluttering and getting organized, although this certainly helps with simplifying life.  It’s about focusing on our priorities in life and for me living a simple life really does help me recognize the important stuff.

In the past I spent money on stuff thinking that it would make me happy. It didn’t of course because most of what I bought had no real purpose, it was a want rather than a need, put into my head by some clever marketing ploy.

As we have simplified our lives alot of those wants have disappeared. Of course I still want things but those wants have altered, where as once a new handbag may have topped my list now it’s more likely to be something with a purpose such as a new spade or a packet of seeds.

So the next time someone asks us why we are doing all this the answer will be simple – I’ll just tell them to read this post.

Seven Years On…..

This weekend will be the 7th anniversary of our move here. It’s hard to believe that seven years have passed since we moved from this…….

Big house, small garden

……..to this

Small house, big garden

During this time we have gone from living in this……

……to this

and this……

…became this

Thankfully the seven year itch hasn’t set in yet and so hopefully we will be staying put for some time!

Plotting and Planning

The most pressing project to get done at the moment is to build the vegetable garden. We have a patch of land allocated which has been haphazardly used to grow our veggies over the past few years but this year we plan to grow much more and so a well laid out plot is needed.

Welcome to Steptoe’s Yard!

This is the piece of land that we have allocated it measures approx 7.5m x 30m and goes up to the far shed. Over the past few weeks we have cleared the logs and junk and between the frequent rain showers have erected a new fence between us and our neighbours. It now looks something like this,

A little better but still a long way to go

Looking back towards the house

A little better but such a long way to go! At least the fun part starts now – planning our plot and working out what and where everything needs to go.

My Bucket List

A few months ago I reached my 40th a significant birthday and as a result of this I’ve been thinking more and more about lifetime ambitions. Now I first became aware of the term ‘Bucket List’ when the film of the same name came out in 2007. It stars Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman as two terminally ill men who go on a road trip with a list of things to do before they kick the bucket.

So I’ve been thinking about what I would like to achieve and this week have compiled my “Bucket List”

1. Learn to ride a horse.

2. Climb a mountain

3. See my Son grow up to be happy and live the life he wants to.

4. Live by the sea.

5. Create a beautiful garden.

6. Grow old and happy by my Husbands side.

7. Live in a foreign country, even if its just for a few months.

8. Keep ducks.

9. Buy a campervan and tour around the British Isles.

10. Visit the Pyramids in Egypt.

I’m sure that there will be many, many more things added to this list as time goes by and hopefully I will be able to cross a few off. Now its your turn – what’s on your bucket list?

Image: Pinterest