A Return to Frugal Living

Return to Frugal Living
“Stock Photography — Canadian Coins” by KMR Photography on Flickr

It’s been a wild ride over the last few years, and I have neglected my blog very badly. I’m so glad it is still here where I left it! Life has taken me in many different directions, down some fascinating paths, and I’ve ended up in a really wonderful place, for which I am so grateful.

I’m currently working part-time at the library, my partner is working at a non-profit within walking distance, the kids are happy at their school, and we are surrounded by family, friends and nature. And boy, have we summered hard this year! The kids agreed it has been the best summer in a long time, filled with swimming, camping, cousins, and even a quick trip to the water park!

Besides our great summer, I am also happy at work–happier than I have ever been in any other job, period. I love my job so much! It combines my life-long love affair with books, with my gifts of welcoming and service. Being part-time, it allows me to continue to spend a lot of time with the kids, and since they are in school, it means (at least from September to June) I can keep my house clean! That is something I still have not managed to figure out when the kids are home.

The other side of part-time work is the salary that goes with it. Work less -> earn less!

But I would rather this situation than a year ago when I was managing the Farmer’s Market, and then I got a full-time contract at Public Health, and THEN I got my part-time library gig! For a little while I did have three jobs, and while we pulled through, the stress took a toll on my health.

My Return to Frugal Living

One of my most useful skills has got to be my ability to “Buckle Down” when times get tough. When I am motivated–and when the need is there–I can cut spending down like no one’s business. My family kinda hates me for it, but I keep the bank accounts in the black, and I love learning more tips–for free of course!–for keeping our hard-earned money safe from overspending.

Unfortunately, to my eleven-year-old, there is nothing more eye-rollingly un-cool than a spending freeze.

Unfortunately for her, I find frugal living utterly fascinating–at least while I have to keep it up. The minute the need goes away, I usually collapse from the strain of it. But luckily while going through it, I am usually able to stay motivated to get through the tough time.

How Blogging Helps

When I first started this blog back in May, 2009, we were an apartment-living two-income family of three in Ottawa, Ontario. This blog helped me transition to the lower salary during my Maternity leave that October, and then it helped us move to living on just my partner’s salary. A couple of years later, I was able to carry out my dream of homeschooling my kids, and continuing as a one-income family.

Many pieces of luck came together, and we were able to move back to Sudbury (our hometown), and buy a house of our own. Here we have survived one-income living, job losses, appliance breakdown, as well as other transitions. While I haven’t been around much over the last few years, the skills I tested and honed on these pages have helped us achieve our dreams, and get the family through many financial ups and downs.

The Next Adventure

Right now I am days away from a really exciting time: getting to be a home-maker, and having time to write! If you read between the lines, you may understand that I am facing reduced hours at work, which requires us to tighten our belts once again.

But to be honest for a moment, beyond my current need to revisit my frugal ways, I have truly missed this space: for sharing ideas, inspiring others, and pushing my own skills and thinking beyond where they were before.

This Fall, I am planning to check in here more often, sharing my newest experiments in frugal living–bigger and weirder than ever before!–plus my insights into green and healthy living, parenting and being a person in this challenging and incredible world of ours.

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Goals and dreams

sky-and-trees

Last night my husband said to me, “You know the expression, ‘You’ve never had a problem that x wouldn’t fix’? Well, for you, x is a new blog.”

Predictably, I started another new blog, this one with the goal of working towards a new career as a freelancer. Two days ago, that seemed like a completely realistic and marvelously perfect solution to my life. Yesterday–less than 24 hours later–I was already having doubts.

The truth is: I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up.

My instinct tells me this is one of the biggest myths of adulthood: that we’ve got it in the bag. From where I sit, I just don’t think we’ve got “it” at all, and we can’t seem to find the bag anyway.

Back in 2009 when I started this blog, I used it as a tool to work towards staying home with my kids. I planned my meals and cloth diapered and nursed two kids and made my own bread and laundry detergent, and lots and lots and lots more.

And we made it work. Somehow, between my domestic machinations and my husband’s career growth, we went from two incomes, to one income plus maternity leave pay, to one income plus a half-time income, minus childcare costs, to one plus a half-time maternity leave pay, to–finally–one income living.

On that one income, we went from car-free urban apartment renters with two little wee kids, to car-owning home-owners in a much smaller town, with two bigger kids. Until some big changes happened, bringing us to today: two incomes (though we both work less than 40 hours/week), and two kids in school. We are so fortunate that we made it through the transition of job loss so smoothly: our blessings are many!

Goals and Dreams

I guess you could say we’ve hit a bit of a stride by now, a year and a half after the big changes hit. I have been at my job now for over a year, and with experience, it gets easier. My husband is in a job that uses many of his skills. And the kids are happy every day when they burst out of the school doors into our waiting arms–and yes, we can *both* be at pick-up, almost every day. Plus, we get to walk to school and work, often all together as a family.

There are so many blessings. I mean, I have SO MUCH! A house, car, a beautiful family, both immediate and extended, a garden, and a cat. I walk to work, have enough healthy food to eat & feed my family, and I am healthy and able. I have kind friends and a wonderful church, and my freedom. Running water–both kinds! Safety and democracy! Shouldn’t I be happy?

But I am going to whisper my sinful, shameful secret:

still ache to be at home more, to do more of *my own* thing, and less of *someone else’s* thing.

Maybe it’s an INFP thing, or maybe it comes from a shameful lack of gratitude. In any case, there’s something about my life that itches like an ill-fitting sweater.

All I know is that in order to move forward, I need to have options. In order to increase our options:

We need to pay off our debts.

So, as of today I am re-harnessing the power of my blog! Not a new blog, but this good old blog that’s been with me through so many changes and challenges, losses and triumphs. This old blog that already has wonderful loyal followers, interesting SEO, and a lot of content that’ll be good for me to revisit!

Anyway, since 2009, I’ve never had a problem that *this blog* couldn’t fix!