We've never had buckets of money - we don't lie in bed throwing handfuls of cash in the air to watch it shower down on us (does anyone do that other than in the movies?) We've always run a tight ship financially and worked on the principle of not living on credit. If we didn't have it then we didn't spend it. We lived frugally and things were often a bit tight, but we managed fine and the bills were always paid.
Fast forward to midlife and things are really cruisy - all that care and frugality has paid off and we are doing fine. It makes life a lot easier when there's only two of you in the house - the electricity bills and the food bills are a LOT less when there are no teenagers around eating you out of house and home and leaving the lights on everywhere!
PAYING THE BILLS
All my married life I have worked to help pay the bills - quite often in jobs that haven't been thrilling to go to each morning, but I went none-the-less because we had gotten used to eating regularly and needed my income to balance things out when my husband decided to change professions, or stay at home and freelance, or stay at home to write the Great Australian Novel (I have a copy of it if you know any publishers....) Having an erratic breadwinner in the house meant that I needed to pull my weight jobwise to keep the wolf from the door.
One of the benefits of being a descendant of good Scottish stock is that I am amazing at stretching a dollar so that it goes a long way. The frugal Scots could teach us all a lesson in that department. One of my friends has Jewish heritage and she is convinced that's where her frugal-ness comes from. Wherever it originated, being careful with money over the years has meant that we are now in a place where we are basically debt free and we can afford to make career choices based on what we like to do rather than what we have to do to make ends meet.
|When you love what you do ~ Zen to Zany|
A year or so ago I decided that working in a soul sucking job where I wasn't appreciated wasn't bearable any longer. I'd stayed because I needed the assurance of a regular income, but when I looked at our situation, my happiness and my need for some peace of mind, far outweighed the lure of the dollar. Living within our means for so long meant that I could jump ship and take a risk. I figured I could always get a job as a checkout girl at our local shops if nothing else came along - I think it would be quite nice scanning groceries and chatting to people all day.
My husband had been studying for three years and had finally emerged from his ivory tower of academia and back into the workforce. With him bringing in enough to feed us, I could afford to take a bit of time to clear my head and look for something that would make the next 15 years of working life a lot more enjoyable. Taking the pressure off myself and allowing a bit of breathing room was such a blessing. I couldn't do that when we were raising our family, but midlife has brought with it a nice sized helping of financial freedom.
RIGHT SIZING FOR RETIREMENT
Needless to say, I haven't slipped gracefully into retirement (we haven't won the lottery) but I now work hours that suit me in a job I actually like. My husband works part-time from home and enjoys the flexibility of not being stuck in the 9-5 grind, but still earning enough to keep his nagging wife happy. I've worked out that we are actually now THINKS - Two Half Incomes No Kids - and that fits us perfectly.
My blogging buddy Kathy from smartliving365.com talks about "right sizing" which means we live in a way that frees us from having to work all the time to maintain a standard of living that we don't need. Basically we live within our means - it's so much easier to enjoy life when you don't have a mountain of debt. I love working part-time and having time left for other things - not being glued to the daily grind is a surprisingly pleasant gift I've been given in midlife. Retirement is still a long way off, but it's nice to slide into it gracefully rather than hanging on for grim death and hoping we won't end up living under a bridge!