Living with less

Thursday, August 24, 2017 Permalink

In case you hadn’t noticed, I’ve been doing more than my usual share of navel-gazing recently. It started with my ‘not fulfilled’ post. I don’t usually talk about my professional life online (or publicly) as I’ve worked in the sort of jobs (and with the sort of people) where confidentiality is appreciated. And important.

However… one of the things I’ve really struggled with of late IS the work stuff. Or more specifically, this whole ‘needing to earn money to pay the bills’ malarkey.

I’ve talked before about having opposing key values. I very much value my freedom and am keen to live a more creative and fulfilled life, but equally value financial security.

Indeed, my seachange (five years ago) was the first step to living a different life. One in which I didn’t always need to keep looking for, or upgrading to, the next big thing.

And what happened?! When I eventually found a part-time job I sold my apartment and again took on a mortgage. Now in reality my move was about more than ‘upgrading’. I don’t regret doing it as I love my new house, but it means I again have a mortgage which of course means money is more of an issue.

This has come to a head because I’ve been recently considering my options. I have a huge list of stuff I want / need / want (and I don’t just mean shoes and furniture, rather I need to replace rotting patio boards and would like a screen door for my front door). And it’s stuff I currently cannot afford.

And last weekend as I pondered ways to earn more money, without selling or destroying my soul, this popped up on my Facebook feed:

Of course it makes sense. In some ways I like the minimalist way of life. Well, I like the cute #vanlife images on Instagram and the #TinyHouse concept. However…. I also seem to be someone who ALWAYS wants ‘more’?

I worked for 25 years to get what I currently have and (if I do say so myself) I bloody well earned it all. Me. Myself. And I.

However… it seems if I’m not prepared to work out how I can earn more money, then I need to take heed of the image above. I need less ‘ends’. Or – at least – I need to desire less and be satisfied with less.

I’m not sure if it’s a matter of cutting corners – not buying expensive Halo Top ice cream or decent wine. Or if it’s a bigger and more momentous decision (and I don’t necessarily mean living off the grid in a cabin in the woods!).

Is it possible to ‘want’ less? To ‘need’ less?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this? Do you think small changes / savings help or (it’s kinda like dieting) and there needs to be a complete lifestyle and mindset change?

the-lovin-life-linky I’ve joined Leanne from Deep Fried Fruit and some other bloggers to help promote “ageing positively” and the Lovin’ Life mindset across the world wide web. You can link up via any one of us!

The Lovin’ Life Team includes:

44 Comments
  • Jo
    August 24, 2017

    I’m not sure there is an answer to that, but the premise of the minimalist movement is an attractive one – & one I’m more aware of after a week or so in Sydney where the hustle means more is more.

    • Debbish
      August 25, 2017

      Yes, I think it takes something like that to remind us. I’m not yet sure how ‘small’ I could go in terms of my footprint and perhaps am not ready but – as you know – it’s something I’m thinking of longer term.

  • Lydia C. Lee
    August 24, 2017

    This is interesting. You can shave off the wants list – switch down the wine and treats. But if you own your own house (and get the financial security), there are some corners you can’t cut. You can not paint it a new colour but the rot will spread and there’s safety involved. So I don’t have an answer for you. (I still desperately hope to win lotto to not have a mortgage, so I’m fiscally mature…not)

    • Debbish
      August 25, 2017

      You will absolutely not win Lotto Lydia as I am going to win it. Though must start by buying tickets. It worries me that – if I did win – I’d decide I needed ‘more’ and upgrade again….

  • kathymarris
    August 24, 2017

    We have recently spent most of our super on purchasing a vacant block of land which we intend to build a home on and retire to a quieter place. However in the process of doing this we realise that we now have to trim the budget substantially for the next few years until we’re ready to have our seachange. So yes, we have to learn to live with less and really watch what we spend. My husband has said no more overseas holidays for a while and we have started to eat out less. I am also trying not to buy any new clothing or stuff for the house. So far I’m enjoying the challenge of making do with less. I think if you really want a good lifestyle you need to have fewer ends. #TeamLovinLife

    • Debbish
      August 25, 2017

      Not really working and having to be on unemployment benefits for a few months after taking my redundancy and getting my part time job (about a 3yr period in total) really helped me get better at living within my means and prioritising. I didn’t have a mortgage for a while, but had HUGE body corporate bills (about the size of my current mortgage!) so had to stop just spending without thinking. I’ve had a few times in my life I’ve lived from pay to pay so it took me back to those days… and if I’m really honest I’m a bit like that now. I’m asset rich, if that makes sense, but struggling to work on my savings at all. (And as I’ve got rates, home and contents insurance, electricity and health insurance due in the next two months that will not change for some time!) 🙂

  • Deborah
    August 24, 2017

    I also am torn. I yearn for a simpler life but i would also like a house by the beach with a dog or 2 a couple of chooks. How much does the simple life cost. We sold our huge house in the suburbs & rent an apartment. We are loving the freedom this gives us but the yearning is still there.

    • Debbish
      August 25, 2017

      I have a house by the beach, so am fortunate in that, but don’t quite earn enough to live comfortably at the moment. Well, I guess I live comfortably but it means few treats and there’s a lot of guilt when I do buy something that perhaps wasn’t entirely necessary! Perhaps the yearning never goes away but we get better at saying ‘no’ to it?

  • Denyse Whelan
    August 24, 2017

    Oh that is the big dilemma isn’t it? I hear you on wanting stuff but it’s the needing too that becomes an issue. I have learned (by necessity!) as we now live on much less that what I did before our big move, was to ‘buy stuff’ to help compensate for some of the unhappiness within me. In saying that, I am learning to live with a LOT less but I do not feel compromised. We have a goal of buying a house when my inheritance comes through (not for the foreseeable future) and still having some cash behind us for the unexpected…like medical bills. It’s an issue that I am glad you raised because I think you are not alone. I hope that your answers come for you too. Denyse x

    • Debbish
      August 25, 2017

      Thanks Denyse. I guess it’s playing on my mind as there are full-time jobs I could soon apply for and I’m worried I’ll be compromising the freedom I moved here to achieve. It would however ease the stress of bill-paying and so forth.

  • Jess
    August 24, 2017

    I struggle with this. I don’t know what the answer is. We have a very tight budget at the moment so I don’t get to indulge my wants much, but i still keep having them.

    • Debbish
      August 25, 2017

      Yes same. And my wants are usually expensive ones… I suspect it’s the same issue I wrote about recently – getting better at being appreciative about what I have and desiring less…. but that might take a while. (I’ve got the first bit down… I do realise I’m very fortunate!)

  • Ingrid Ingrid
    August 24, 2017

    This is something I am currently struggling with as well especially with the very real prospect of being made redundant in November this year (of course it would be just before Christmas wouldn’t it)! I think we do have a lot more than we necessarily need right now but with a family of five it will be tough trying to simplify life, possessions and especially wants! It’s going to be a process of small changes for us which I have already started.

    Now if only I could work out how to make more money though my blog – lol! At least it keeps me in beauty products!

    • Debbish
      August 25, 2017

      Ah yes, the likelihood of redundancy scared the bejesus out of me in 2012 – though it was just me…. but I had a hefty mortgage. After I calmed down and did the sums though I realised it might be exactly what I’d needed. I’d had a lot of crap happen and was looking down the barrel of another 25yrs where life was all about work – long hours and little else.

      I’d hoped to make money from writing but after a few years of half-heartedly trying to work on that I went back into government employment (albeit at a much lower level – that I’d not worked at since the mid 1990s!) which is where I am now. The part-time thing is ideal but unless I can work out how to supplement my income or cut back on spending I know I’ll continue to stress about money.

      But like you, my blogging – though it doesn’t pay – keeps me in books!!!

      I hope things work out for you! x

  • Vanessa
    August 24, 2017

    I think it’s all very social media friendly to say “just need less” but not very smart or realistic. Yes you wouldn’t have things to replace on your house if you live in a tent but then do you want to live in a tent?
    I’m sure we all have ways we could cut down, but also we all have the things we like to have to make our life, and I don’t believe in feeling bad about those things because want is the point of being an adult if you can’t choose the elements you want in your life, especially at home?
    Of course if the things you want are causing rapid unsustainable debt, then you need to change, but when it’s just the comfort things at home and you’re not risking bankruptcy… well… those at the things you like and I say keep them.

    • Debbish
      August 25, 2017

      Yes Vanessa… I think I’d be far more unhappy if I cut back on the things I like – nice cuts of steak / chicken breasts etc… I’ve always said that because I live alone I should just buy the sort of food I like and not stress too much about it. I don’t actually eat out much. Not even weekly usually and don’t get takeaway (cos of the coeliac thing as much as anything). But my temptation comes from house-y stuff at the moment. I really want some more plants and pots and keep reminding myself I don’t NEED them. It might only be $50 here or there, but I’d prefer to buy good meat and bottles of wine in reality. (Well, I’d prefer the plants AND the fillet steak and wine, but still….)

  • leannelc
    August 24, 2017

    We’ve always lived within our means – if we didn’t have the money to buy something outright (besides our house!) then we didn’t buy it. We have never had piles of money, but when I look around my home I’m satisfied with what I have and don’t feel the need to be constantly purchasing “stuff”. I guess it comes down to your mindset – some people like spending and others aren’t so engaged in society’s consumer mentality. I’m really content with what I have and if I needed less to make ends meet then I’m happy to downsize too. I love the No Sidebar FB page because it sees the true meaning of minimalism – not needing to clutter your life with stuff to feel fulfilled. I hope you find your happy medium Deb.

    • Debbish
      August 25, 2017

      I’ve really only ever ‘borrowed’ for big things as well. My house and my first proper car. I did however have an expensive designer clothes eBay habit for a year or two that I had to rein in. Interestingly when I then started saving a little more and earning more I’d decided I needed to upgrade my Brissy apartment for something ‘better’. I’m glad it didn’t sell and I didn’t in retrospect as the following year I sold it and downsized for my seachange. Upgrading would have given me a bigger mortgage and locked me into the rat race for much longer. (I guess I could only see that tunnel at that point.)

  • sizzlesue15
    August 24, 2017

    What a great quote Deb and I know now that I am 60 I really am happy to do with less. We spend most of our life trying to attain happiness through material things but in reality we don’t need them. I have found such joy in my grandson as we look at ants or lizards in the garden or play dinosaurs. This doesn’t cost money but makes my life so rich. Pity it took me so long to realise. I hope you are starting to find what you really want in life and enjoy it all.
    Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond

    • Debbish
      August 25, 2017

      In reality Sue I just enjoy being at home and not working. I don’t even really have any great desire to travel. If I could pay my mortgage and bills and afford treats without being too stressed (or had some savings) I think I’d be quite contented. I’m sadly not quite at that point at the moment – mortgage is fine but I worry about money more than I’d like to. It comes and goes of course and as I mentioned in another comment, I have a stack of bills coming my way in the next month or two, but then will have a couple of months to save for the inevitable Christmas costs (and car registration and so forth due in December!)

  • maxtheunicorn
    August 24, 2017

    I hadn’t thought about it like that before. But I agree the minimalist approach to life does seem appealing. But maybe that’s just because my home is so cluttered!

    Di from Max The Unicorn

    • Debbish
      August 25, 2017

      For me it’s probably about prioritising and working out what I’m prepared to live with and live without…. which is kinda harder than I expected it to be.

  • Jo Castro
    August 24, 2017

    Oh, I feel your pain. I think it also has something to do with FOMO. I fear missing out. If I don’t have this, that or the other I have a sort of niggling fear that I might really really need it and cannot do without it. The funny thing is once I have that thing, it doesn’t seem so important. In this respect I’m a great one for taking clothes back! Once I have the item I so badly lusted over hanging up in my wardrobe, I actually often don’t want it so much anymore!

    • Debbish
      August 25, 2017

      I’m a bit like that with o/s travel. In reality the only place I want to go is Italy. At some point. I don’t have ANY desire to do any other travel. I’m happy being at home and love my place. I think (between you and me) I’m a little frustrated at work so feeling kinda hemmed in as I’ve no choice but to hang in and pay the bills.

  • Retiring not Shy!
    August 24, 2017

    My advice is to take some time to understand where the real value is for you. When you spend on something how much value does that hold for you in the medium to long term. How will you ‘feel’ about it in a week, two weeks, a year. It isn’t easy to determine the value and nobody else can do that for you, but boy is it worth it because suddenly it is easier to figure out where to spend your money. Wants are real – I want to fly first class every trip – but they aren’t necessarily realistic; for us it’s either economy or not at all.
    I think Jo hits the nail on the head above too.

    • Debbish
      August 25, 2017

      Oh yes Jan, I think I’ve started doing that. I’ve realised clothes have minimal excitement. As long as I have enough to wear and don’t HAVE to wear the same 2-3 shirts all of the time I’m happy. Travel is not enticing, though I do talk about wanting a holiday. In reality I just want a break from everything and would probably be as happy at home as I’d be anywhere else. For me at the moment I’m mostly wanting to spend money on making my house as much of a nest / retreat / haven as possible. (Hence the screen door, and an airconditioner – on my ‘wants’ list!)

  • Janet Camilleri
    August 24, 2017

    Wow, that’s an awesome quote Deb. It really does make me want to stop and think …

    • Debbish
      August 25, 2017

      I know… I bookmarked it when I saw it as I was stressing about not having the money to cover upcoming bills although still fantasising about birthday plans and other frivolous stuff – like Adrift summer dresses!

  • Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit
    August 25, 2017

    Oooh. That’s a tough question. I want to say “yes” but it would be a flippant “yes” because I have no intention of living with less just yet. I’d like to eventually … a more minimalist simplistic life … it appeals to me … but not today.

    • Debbish
      August 25, 2017

      I sometimes feel as if I need so little – which is why I appreciate the #vanlife pics on Instagram. I can imagine only having / needing: 1 plate; 1 pot; 1 set of cutlery etc… Now that I don’t cook much so much of my stuff seems wasted so I like the idea of downsizing that…. but I also like my space and my living space in this house is HUGE!

  • Jenni@ Unclutter Your Universse
    August 25, 2017

    Once you work out what is really important to you, it will be easier to make the choices about to work more or to spend less.

    • Debbish
      August 28, 2017

      Yes, and I think I’m getting there Jenni. Once upon a time I spent more money than I should have on clothes etc… Now I don’t need many so am more conscious of spending money on things / places I spend the most time (if that makes sense…). Which mostly means my house at the moment.

  • Carol Cameleon
    August 26, 2017

    Yep i think living more minimalist sounds fab but we do always tend to want more dont we…

    • Debbish
      August 28, 2017

      Yes, it’s hard to move away from that materialism… even when we know we’re doing it!

  • Emma
    August 26, 2017

    This is a discussion we’ve been having in our house as I take the leap into self employment as we know there will be lean months whilst I retrain. I had an uncle who used to say before you spend a penny ask do I want it or do I need it and only buy what you need till you can afford what you want. It’s a great philosophy and I try to follow it but with two full time incomes we often get what we want. Now we won’t be able to and it’s a scary thought!

    • Debbish
      August 28, 2017

      Yes… I’ve had times before when I’ve lived from pay to pay but then got to the point that I was very comfortable and – though I had a hefty mortgage and the usual bills – my salary allowed me to have a pretty easy life. I didn’t go on o/s holidays but could have, had I budgeted for them etc… (and I was able to buy my last car without a loan etc). But… now things are very different. I know if I hadn’t ‘upgraded’ my house I’d have more free income but I really don’t regret the house decision. I think it’s just that I have a lot of bills at the moment and know it’ll be a few months until I can get my head above water again. I’m lucky though as I have so much more than most, it’s ridiculous to complain. It’s more about me learning to ‘settle’ with less and doing some prioritising.

  • Michelle W (@pinkypoinker)
    August 27, 2017

    Since moving I’ve noticed I need and spend a lot less. Perhaps it’s because I am more inwardly contented or perhaps it’s because my kids are grown and independent. Probably the latter!

    • Debbish
      August 28, 2017

      I spend a lot less on socialising than I did in the city Michelle. I don’t go out much for meals but I’m in that weird nesting mode where I want to do things around the house. I think that’s probably my biggest frustration – that I can’ just get a new screen door or replacement ceiling fan, or pay someone to replace the boards on my patio and so forth. (Damn this being a grown-up thing!)

  • seizetheday20
    August 27, 2017

    I think it depends on your priorities. I know I’m prepared to give up spending on clothes, shoes etc. if I’m saving for a particular goal which I really want more than those things… does that help? 🙂 #TeamLovinLife

    • Debbish
      August 28, 2017

      Oh yes Lyndall and I think I’m doing that. I have a few outfits for work (which is why any outfit photos I do are rare cos they’re so repetitive!) and that’s fine. My focus is very much on my place at the moment. Most of my priorities are maintenance like things – rotten planks and the balustrade on my veranda all seems to be rotting as well – am thinking it might need sanding and repainting with something to protect it from the elements). I think it also stresses me that I really can’t save so have no buffer which a heap of bills arrive all at once (like the next two months).

  • Life Images by Jill
    August 27, 2017

    I am sure one can want less, but I know I haven’t achieved it. Though I must say since my retirement a couple of years ago, and I am enjoying a much more simple existence without going short of my “real” wants. I am enjoying my creative space, and I don’t have the need to go out and “buy” as much. Perhaps I too am feeling more contentment now I don’t have to battle a workplace that I wasn’t enjoying. So a good thing for me! Have a fabulous week and thank you for stopping by my blog last week.

    • Debbish
      August 28, 2017

      I’m enjoying my creative space as well Jill. My old desktop computer and laptop were 8 anda 7yrs old recently and dying a slow painful death. A new computer was really not in my budget but I realised I spend so much time at my desk and writing that it was a no-brainer. I’d like to decorate my study a bit differently as it’s great but not as ‘welcoming’ / comfy as I’d hoped it would be… I suspect that’s less about $ and more about rearranging things though.

  • jjalki06
    August 28, 2017

    I’m definitely am at the stage that I want less… my priority is to travel with my family so I personally want less it convincing the kids that it is a good idea that sometimes can be hard!!

    • Debbish
      August 29, 2017

      That’s great… I’m much better than I used to be but think I still need to do some work on priorities etc… And some of it is just accepting the cold hard truth of adulthood that we can’t always have what we want. And sometimes what we need!

I'd love to hear your thoughts