Now to divulge a bit about what our actual plan is, and what we decided to work towards in that fateful caffeine fuelled car journey. If you have been following the story so far you will know that we are a family of four on a single income, currently experimenting with Austerity Month; a month of extreme saving whereby we try to save as much money as possible by spending as little money as possible. Simples. Having decided to follow our dreams instead of just talking about them, we needed to formulate a plan. Or more specifically, an end goal and some idea of how on earth we were going to get there (otherwise called a plan of action….).
In the weeks following our stay in Devon, we ruminated and cogitated and generally had a good old think about where we would like to be in the future. The plan was to change our lifestyle to solve all the problems we currently perceive in our day to day existence. Namely, Mr. B’s two-hour plus commute and him missing out on family time due to long working hours. His ideal is to be able to eat supper at home with all of us everyday and do his share of the school runs in the future. For me, my ultimate dream state is being at home but earning money at the same time. Easy. pfft. I know my time at home is limited, since once the youngest starts school, or even pre-school, my usefulness at home has come to its natural conclusion. My plan has always been to find a job once that happened, but since I seem to have a lazy streak and am definitely a home bird by nature, I don’t really want to. I will go back to work as I miss the money and it makes sense, but I have attached several conditions, such as; needs to be term time only and I must be able to do school drop off and pick up. So you see I have made it super easy to find something when the time comes…..I refuse to go into teaching, though.
Great, so it sounds like you plan to skive work for as long as possible? Yes! Although fortunately, I am not an idiot so I will work when the time comes. However, if I can find something that allows me to be at home while still earning an income – perfect! Which brings me back to the point. Our dream is to be running our own business on our own land. For example, we would have some land on which would be our house, two or three (or more, we are flexible!) holiday cottages, land for a glamping site and outbuildings for a cafe/farm shop/workshops/studios. Basically, we want to move into the tourist industry and live on site. This would eliminate any commute and achieve both mine and MRs ideal working conditions; making money at home. We are both outdoorsy and like being hands on, so the rural locations we’ve been looking at and nature of the work really appeals. This ‘End Goal’ would see us realising the whimsical farm-B&B type daydreams to which we keep returning at various points in our lives. That is primarily why we have chosen this sort of business to start. I know there are other ways of making money from home but, for us, this will bring about the change of lifestyle we hanker after.
I do feel like I need to make the point that we are not doing this for the money. We are aware that it is not going to make us millions and is likely to be hard graft, especially at the start. For us it’s all about the lifestyle change and readdressing the balance. Me earning (shock horror) and him being at home. We are also aware that in the short term Mr. B is probably going to need to continue to work in London. Hopefully, he will be able to work from home or only commute for three days a week until we are more established. Whatever, it’s all in the plan.
How On Earth We Are Going To Get There? (aka The Plan of Action)
Here we come to the crux of the matter. After the come down from the caffeine high and initial excitement surrounding the Nike-inspired epiphany (‘Just Do It’ in case you’re wondering what I’m going on about), we were brought back to reality with a bump. What’s stopping us doing it now? Hello Rightmove, let’s get on with it and go new house/business shopping! Oh right, I remember…..new stuff costs money. Ah. Mr. B did some number crunching and we saw the reality of what we didn’t have minus the cost of what we wanted, equaled the fact that we need more money.
Ok, let’s get more money then. Easy. I’ll just go back to work (yes I know I said I didn’t want to, but I also said I’m not an idiot, remember?). Mr. B crunches more numbers. No. Not financially viable when any income I may make would have to pay for childcare. Right. Let’s sell things! Well, as much as decluttering and putting things on gumtree or Facebook sites is good for the overall state of our home, we are unlikely to make the tens of thousands we need. Got it, we’ll win the Lottery!!!….Well alright, we’ll call that Plan B. Hang on. Mr. B has a good salary, we don’t live extravagantly, only have one car, the kids don’t cost much food wise yet, where is all the money? Ah yes Ok, this is probably a better place to start. Cue Mr. B crunching the hell out of all the numbers.
We cancelled all the random Direct Debits that were lurking in the background. Things like subscriptions to the Museum Association (me. All part of the Dream Job quest while I was doing my MA) and Playstation payments allowing Mr. B. to play FIFA online with Paedophile Pete and Stalker Steve (not their real names (hopefully), my own allocations for the people who are also online!). We made the decision to stop using the Credit Card even though we always paid it off each month, we realised it was lulling us into spending more than necessary since actually paying the money was delayed. Sneaky thing. Finally, we averaged all our weekly shops to get an idea of how much money we eat a month and I did a drastic re think of how I do our weekly food shop. I had thought I did pretty well at food shopping, but once I looked at it I actually managed to save us about £15 a week without skimping on the things we regularly get. I won’t go into to that now, although I’m sure I’ll bore you with it at some point in the future. Having recently switched energy suppliers that was one job we didn’t need to do (although we will be reviewing it again soon, it’s on the list.).
Essentially in the three months between April and August, we streamlined our finances and cut out anything we deemed unnecessary. Pretty good. Should have done it months ago, it’s so obvious. We realised we could actually start saving again despite only having one income – Fantastic! Then we discovered Frugalwoods. MR had been sending me random links to various articles and sites all related to saving and our grand plan. He had found this blog post about how they were trying to save 70% of their income that month. I read it, so did he, you should too. We both thought ‘well why not?’. Our situations are quite different so we sat down and pulverised those poor numbers again to see how it would work for us. We found that after paying all the necessary monies to ensure we don’t get kicked out of our house, still have electricity, can still wash (pffft who needs showers? That’s not normal? Oh. Moving on then…..) and get our bins collected, we had about 50% left each month. Well, what is there to lose? Surely any saving is better than none and we will learn a lot about what we are capable of by trying. Since we still needed to eat I radicalised the food shop and (reluctantly) decided to go to ASDA as opposed to Sainsburys for the month, nominally to see if it was worth the (major) sacrifice. We reckoned on trying to save as close to 50% as we could, topping any deficit up by finally selling a few things from the ‘should put on gumtree when we have time’ pile. Barring top ups of milk, bread and petrol (that is NOT a recipe) we planned not to spend any extra money. Thus Austerity Month was born.
Now I’m off to bed as that is FREE and I am TIRED.