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The Slow Family Project

One family's journey to slow down.

Category Archives: Ups…and downs

It looks like its been about a week since I last wrote. At that time, it looks like I was in a bit of a tiff about something I completely forget now. Don’t you love it how time heals all the small stuff?

We’ve just returned from a Family gathering in Seattle. My Brother Graduated with his Doctorate in Naturopathy from Bastyr. An accomplishment 8 years in the making.

Since embarking on this chapter of my life “Chapter Slow”, I really have actually felt a shift in my sensory awareness. Today, as I left the Train as it docked at the Station, the smell of the Pulp Mill in the summer breeze with a slight hint of smoke-filled the air. It just really made me feel relaxed for some reason. So I just took deep breaths and took it all in. Something so everyday, turned extraordinary. So simple. But it calmed me down.

I`ve been tracking a bunch of new writers and really enjoying reading about other families living totally different lifestyles than I could ever imagine. I didn`t have any expectations for myself. I just decided one day that was it. And I threw in the towel and surrendered to needing stuff, money, business. But I am finding myself reading about other Moms who are Homeschooling, bookmarking the blogs with ideas of what to do at home (now that we have NO TV!) and taking stock of all the things that I WILL NOW HAVE TIME TO DO with my kid!

PS

Week 1 of No TV Update:

We cut the cable a week ago. Its been AMAZING. Instead of the cluttered noise in the background, I write. We sit on the couch and connect, we talk! Yes, we have conversation! I know, its sad, you`d think this was normal, but it really is amazing when you start to talk and converse more and you realize how little you did.

No more breakfast with TV. The little one is slowly asking for less of her recorded programs. I can tell she does not miss it. We`ve done a lot more in the last week than we have in the last month without it and its awesome.

Random post today. Journal style.

Happy Monday morning to you all. Hope that your weekend was relaxing and you feel rejuvenated!

We had a lovely dinner with family yesterday evening. My sister-in-law cooks the best Indian food you’ve ever tasted. Joining us were another couple, friends of the family (long story the relations). We were filling them in on our pending move and down size and it sparked them to share with us their hopes to do the same thing! Wow, and I thought we were probably going to be an anomaly, trying to justify everything – why we were giving up our salaries, the stuff, the house. But they are completely planning to do the same thing. It was so enlightening. But it was also interesting because they are where we were at a couple of years ago, still in the state of fear. Fear of giving up, well, let’s just be frank here, Income.

So how do you balance this? I don’t know yet. But what I do know is that it does take a lot of planning to down size – especially when you’ve been living beyond your means normally. Trimming the fat is especially hard. We have all become accustomed to living with more than we need; it just makes it harder when you make a conscious decision to get off of a treadmill.

So how do you afford to live a simpler life if this means you feel to do this you must leave work, the salary and the career status? Well, I suppose it’s not so much about how do I plan to do this, it’s more about how could I afford NOT to do this? And that is just it.

I suppose there are a couple of lessons I can share that I have learned that have helped me get here.

A simple, easy to read and use spreadsheet

For many years, I’ve used a very basic spreadsheet to track bi-weekly expenses. I can forecast for months in advance. It’s strange – I guess this just came second nature to me because of the nature of what I do. But its been enlightening to find out that most people do not cash flow or predict more than a month or two at a time.

This helps you with peace of mind, especially when you are planning a way out. If you have a reasonable prediction of incoming and for a reasonable amount of time into the future, you are able to predict everything.

I don’t have a template I can direct you to, but if you are interested and running Excel, I can send you the one I use.

Pre-paid my bills

The thought of dumping money onto my electricity bill in excess makes me cringe. But at least for one year, I don’t have that bill.

Savings for a year: Priceless

Yes, this may be temporary (one year or so) but at least it will help me transition and by that time, we will have had time to reduce and therefore, prepare for being able to pay monthly bills normally again.

Canceled subscriptions that aren’t aligned with our new life

The day I cancelled cable, I honestly felt a weight lifted.

Savings for a year: $1200.00

We don’t need this in our life anyway.

Delt with the Cell Phones

Called both our cell phone suppliers and down-graded our plans and helped get everything back into check. I discovered they had added a whole crap load of features we never authorized and the list goes on. Basically, they are scammers.

Savings for a year: $1200.00

Meal Planning

We’ve been doing this for a while, but have slipped out recently. It was much easier to do when I was on Maternity Leave and since I will have this time, I will be able to do this more. A great site is Wovenfare. Two SAHM who have done an awesome job. The shopping list is organized by dept. – it’s amazing.

Savings for a year (prediction): $10-15,000

Consciously not over committing

I specifically told the bank NOT to qualify us for more than a certain amount when we go to shop for a new home in the new city. So we might have a smaller place, but it will be smaller to take care of (less time vacuuming and more time for my family) and less out the door every month allowing us to put our income into other places that will benefit in the longer term. I have determined that a good portion of Mortgage Brokers are crooks. Over qualifying (even lying sometimes about income!! Can you believe it) just to make their commission check. Disaster.

~

So there we go. A few little experiences of mine along the journey to live a simpler life. Stepping stones, I suppose. I’m sure there will be many more along the way as I re-jig the budget month to month to allow for this transition.

How do you trim the fat?