Belt-tightening

Saturday, March 17, 2012 Permalink

A long-held desire is about to come to fruition. And no, there’s no wild fling with Richard Armitage on the cards (well, not that I’m aware of yet anyway… but I refuse to give up hope!).

Rather, I’m about to become a more balanced person… in a work/life kind of way, that is.

life you dreamedLike every other working person on the face of the earth, I’ve long dreamed of cutting back my work hours (not to mention the ‘not having to work at all’ dream).

And on many an occasion I’ve sat there with my trusty calculator, doing the sums and trying to work out if I can still pay my mortgage and live in the lifestyle that I’m pretty-much accustomed to, AND work less hours.

Sadly the answer is usually no…

In addition, I’ve never done anything about it as I’ve always been in jobs where I’ve been relied on to be ‘there’; in the office, five days a week.

However, I’ve recently changed roles (albeit, temporarily for one year) – giving me the opportunity to alter my working arrangements. And the timing is perfect as, at the beginning of this year, I set some goals for myself and one of those was to find things I enjoy doing… and bloody well do them. (I mean, life’s supposed to be FUN at some point, isn’t it?!)

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t work 20hr days or anything… but I’m the sort of person who’s all about their work. And this is exacerbated by the lack of other priorities at home (partner, kids etc) to take my focus away from it.

So after some soul searching over these past few months and the alignment of the stars and planets (and similar), I decided to approach my workplace to negotiate a 4-day/week trial. And… to my relief, my proposal was accepted.

I’m now starting to tell people and this is where it’s getting interesting. It seems that cutting back one’s hours when one is still on the right side of middle-age adulthood seems to be rarely done – unless you have children to look after, or study commitments.

I have neither of those excuses.

1:14:11In fact, I suspect if I’m really honest (and – it is YOUR good fortune that I mostly am in my blogs), one of the reasons I’ve never contemplated cutting back before was that I didn’t want to send the message that I wasn’t fully committed to my work or to furthering my career. And – frankly – this remains the only stumbling block with which I am faced.

However, the deed is done. Request submitted and granted.

And… although I am unbelievably excited about 4-day weeks and HOPEFULLY more time for blogging and writing (so I’m not up at the crack of dawn or after midnight); the concept of losing 20% of my salary is very scary. And… it’s gonna call for some belt-tightening.

If I was a more responsible person I’d have been ferreting away the soon-to-be-missing-20% over the past few months, to check I can live on the rest of my income. However, as you may recall, instead – I’ve bought a new car; AND have spent quite a bit of money updating and redesigning my websites. (As you do if you’re me and/or more irresponsible with money than you should be!)

So, I need to focus on other ways to tighten my financial belt.

Being the princess I am however, everything I come up with does not seem even remotely feasible.

Firstly there’s my fortnightly cleaner. Now one could argue that one person could clean up after themselves. This is true, and I do… however getting rid of my 2hr/fortnight cleaner would not do anything for my work/life balance (not to mention stress levels)  given my disdain for cleaning floors and bathrooms.

Straight to videoAnd then there’s my $255 hair cut and colour every 4-6 weeks. Although I could eke that out to 6-7 weeks (avoiding mirrors during the additional time), reducing that expense further doesn’t appear to be on the cards…UNLESS I can find a cheaper option which won’t end in tears.

I don’t skimp on my groceries – as a single gal – buy decent meat and the like, though perhaps I could eat more mince *cringe* (though only the 5-star stuff for health reasons. Obviously!). Less or no bottles of wine throughout the working week would also help, though my working week will be shorter *phew*.

Oh dear…

I start my 4-day working week in April. So I still have a couple of weeks to look at ways of cutting costs. In the meantime, I’d welcome any suggestions.

 

 

 

12 Comments
  • Helena Wright
    March 17, 2012

    No bought coffees, no in-town parking, no take-always…. I keep a record of all $ spent over a fortnight and see where I can cut back…

    • Debbish
      March 17, 2012

      Actually Helena, I’m pretty good with takeaways and the like. I only get takeaway once every month or two. And I take my lunch every day (more because of the coeliac and lack of food options or dieting thing!). Parking isn’t an issue either BUT I do tend to buy a bottle of diet coke each day – so need to cut that out.

      I like your idea of writing down where my money goes. That will be scary!

  • Kek
    March 17, 2012

    Oh, man…. I worked 3 days a week for about 3 years and LOVED it. I supplemented my income with personal training (doing what I love) and indulged my desire to compete on the figure stage (slightly insane). Honestly, it was all about giving me more time to do the stuff I like to do.

    Then we built a new (big) house and I reluctantly went back to full time work to pay for the blinds, the landscaping, the new furniture… and I HATE EVERY MINUTE OF IT. I resent the time spent travelling to and from the office, the time I don’t have to keep the housework up to date and especially the lack of time for training, blogging and all the stuff I enjoy doing.

    I’m madly plotting and scheming to cut my working hours again so I can regain some balance. Who cares if you have kids or not? Mine are pretty well self-sufficient, but I still deserve some time for ME. The second half of this year should see me claw back a day a fortnight and next year (hopefully) an extra day a week. Retirement cn’t come soon enough! I’m way too busy for this work caper…

    • Debbish
      March 17, 2012

      Kerryn… I guess it’s funny to admit that you want time just for ‘you’. That’s what I’m grappling with. I’ve long been envious of those who can go to ‘lunch’ on a weekday or take time to make appointments, have workmen visit (for innocent purposes – OBVIOUSLY!) and the like. I guess I hope I don’t ‘fritter’ away that time, so want to make the most of it. Am working on a plan…

  • Satu
    March 17, 2012

    I don’t have much extra money, so I think I should know how to tighten my belt. Nevertheless, I always seem to find a way to buy more books… 🙂

    What I do:
    I dye my hair myself (my hair is prematurely grey so I’m forced to do that unless I want to look like a granny – which I don’t)
    I cook for myself and rarely go out to eat
    I’m always on the lookout for new healthy affordable recipes
    I don’t subscribe for magazines
    I don’t buy new clothes often (I can actually sew a little but I don’t do that often enough)
    I don’t own a car either, but it’s not reaclly necessary for where I live

    • Debbish
      March 17, 2012

      I know what you mean about books Satu, though I have been a lot better with that over the last few years and rely on weekly (or twice weekly) visits to my local library. I haven’t bought any magazines for a while, but used to, so that’s probably something I can ensure I don’t do. I don’t eat out a lot and don’t buy a lot of clothes… but the clothes buying might change if I ever lose enough weight!

      Deb

  • Jess
    March 18, 2012

    For starters, congratulations on cutting back! I think that is awesome!

    As for money…I’m on three monthly hair cuts (and a month overdue ATM and can’t wait till my appointment next Saturday!) Magazines like someone said, coffees, or diet Coke in my situation. Don’t shop hungry, don’t shop when you’re bored, throw out catalogues, don’t go on eBay, and buy wine in bulk and develop a taste for the cheap stuff. Those are my tips.

    Oh and please don’t go below the 5star mince; that stuff looks terrible!

    • Debbish
      March 18, 2012

      Thanks Jess…. Yes, perhaps I need to grow my hair (it is very short and gets scary after 6 weeks!). And – I agree with you on the mince. Not a big mince lover anyway… but maybe one teensy belt-tightening option!

  • Sharmila
    March 24, 2012

    Would you consider a flatmate?

    • Debbish
      March 24, 2012

      No Sharmila… I’ve lived alone too long I think. I even get a bit antsy when I have a visitor for too long a time!

  • Sarah
    May 17, 2016

    How’s it going on part time hours? I’m considering it and it’s scary!

    • Debbish
      May 17, 2016

      This was actually a while ago Sarah and I coped quite well. I didn’t have to cut back a huge amount and things changed in June and I had to go back to a 9 day fortnight as my role changed a little again and I couldn’t be away from the office as much.

      I’m now working part-time again (and even less hours and pay) though post-seachange I don’t have any debt so just need to live and pay bills off what I earn.

      I think the hardest part was trying to find something part-time that was a good fit. Had I remained in the city I would have had a lot of choices – including temp work – but my move to a place with high unemployment rate and minimal growth (socio-economically) meant options were limited.

      It’s a good balance for me now however!

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