Above the clouds in Dominical, Costa Rica
In October, 2008 , I had been on this journey of trying to be an adult for awhile. I thought I had finally gotten the hang of the inundating daily work of being a nurse, a parent, a wife and well… a responsible human being. Then the rug got pulled out from underneath me. My husband ( forever after on the blog to be referred to as, Mr Universe) and I both had good paying jobs , we had two beautiful, healthy children , 1.2 acres with a house in North Carolina and a fairly hefty amount of credit card debt.
Then the recession hit. All of the construction in our metropolitan city ground to a halt. The industry my husband works in depends on a robust construction and real estate market. By February of 2009, his employer had started letting people go. We had never even entertained the notion that his standing as an essential employee could suddenly change. Yet, when the boss has no work coming in, there is no work for his employees. With one of our breadwinners laid off ( receiving a small amount of unemployment benefits) we tightened our belt and I picked up extra shifts at the hospital. One day at work, I realized that among my nurse colleagues, fully 40% of them had husbands who were furloughed or laid off. It would be safe to say that at least another 10% had husbands who were put on part time, or were working two part time jobs to make ends meet.
That was when the fear set in. We had one income and a lifestyle that demanded two. The real estate market in our city had imploded and we were suddenly underwater on our mortgage. Groceries still cost the same and we still had four mouths to feed. We still had a mountain of credit debt that even when we were both working, we had not been able to get out from under or pay down substantially. We were trapped. Stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place. We couldn’t move or change jobs without risking financial ruination. It suddenly became very clear to me, for the first time in my life, that we had been on this merry go round of work, spend and pay bills with little, if anything, to show for it. The thing I felt down to depths of my soul, was that I wanted off that ride. I didn’t want much. I only wanted enough money to pay the bills and have some savings for an emergency. I wanted clean and healthy food to feed my children. I wanted a house that I could be proud of and a job that didn’t rob me of my health, my energy, and my sanity. I began reading all the books I could find for free ( library, Kindle free books) on saving money, paying down debt and learning new skills that would help us survive on less. I searched all the blogs and pinned all the pins I could find on frugal living, voluntary simplicity, financial independence and sustainable living . I never bought groceries without researching the best prices at four local stores. I signed up for all the customer loyalty plans and I studied my receipts. We enjoyed simple activities like walks or bike rides at the park, and I supplemented store bought Christmas gifts with homemade crafts. I gardened to put organic vegetables back on the table at a fraction of the price. I was suddenly repulsed by slick magazine spreads about new furniture that likely cost as much as one years College tuition. Buying new clothing seemed a rip-off and was only done when absolutely necessary. ( Although my son, Mr. Teen Universe, requires new clothing at regular intervals as he grows at an alarming rate and is thin as a rail.) The rest of us shopped almost exclusively at thrift stores for clothes.
Slowly but surely, we inched our way back to a place that felt a little less like a prison sentence and more like living. My husband got his job back, we got better health insurance, and the local real estate market incrementally started turning upwards. Yet, the skills I had learned had changed my perspective. I was no longer interested in shopping unless absolutely necessary. I was happier knitting a new hat than spending 100$ on a new pair of boots. I would rahter have an adventure with my kids at home, than spend thousands of dollars on a Disney Vacation. I wasn’t about to get back on that merry go round that had previously robbed us of our security. I wasn’t about to go back to working and then immediately spending with reckless abandon. It was like our family had been a ship drifting at sea and we had finally turned our rudder toward a safe harbor. What is the saying… Life is a journey, not a destination?
- If you are interested in stretching your dollars or paying off debt, you will find useful information here.
- If you have a small garden, always wanted to garden, or are a master gardener yourself, we want you here. Share your successes and your failures so we can all learn together.
- If you are disenchanted with consumerism, and are looking for another path…this is that less traveled path dear friend!
- If you daydream of a life, in the not too distant future, when you don’t have to punch a clock or give the precious hours of your day to a boss or a corporate machine, we will be exploring all the myriad ways that individuals just like you and me have attained some measure of financial independence and retired early .
Why did I start a blog? Mainly because I have quite a lot of information at this point. I believe that other people may benefit from this dearth of information and maybe we can both enjoy this process. Let me perfectly clear, though. I am NOT perfect. My house is always untidy, no matter how much I wish it to be perfect. I could always be better at something (saving, investing, gardening, parenting, being a good spouse etc, etc…ad nauseam). If you are looking for perfection, this is not the place. I don’t have all the answers. I don’t even have MOST of the answers. What I do have, are lots of questions and a desire explore the possibilities.
I am making a conscience decision to limit the advertising on this site because, honestly, all those banners and scrolling ads really bug the shit out of me. I will use an affiliate link, now and again. I may publish an ebook, or sponsor a course. In any case, my job is to try not to annoy you ( at least not overly so).
So welcome to my universe, friend. Buckle up, it may be a long strange trip…
Time is precious. We don’t have an infinite amount, and wanting it to move quicker seems like a waste of it.
– Author unknown