It’s been over a year since we bought our small home. Since then we’ve simplified our lives in many ways. So to mark the anniversary I thought I’d make a list of the big and small changes we’ve made to steer our lives in a different direction.
- We bought a small house in the city. Sure, we gave up the second living room and extra bathroom, but we gained so much more in return. We can walk everywhere and we are part of a great community. And we have a small mortgage— Our pay-off date is not far away! The interest we have saved by forgoing the Great Australian Dream must be in the hundreds of thousands.
- We sold our second car. My husband now catches the bus to work. We sold it for $5000 and saved $50 a month on insurance. Plus there’s the servicing and registration costs of at least $1000 per year. Public transport is expensive in our city, so we probably break even on fuel costs, but my husband loves not having to sit in traffic. He puts his headphones on and turns the music up loud and decompresses from his working day.
- We donated lots of furniture. The guy who drives the Salvos truck got to know me well! Having more clear space at home has helped us live well in our small space.
- We gave away our TV. Previous to quitting TV, we cut off our pay-TV, saving about $70 per month. Perhaps we could have made a bit of money if we’d sold the TV instead, but the main thing we gained here was lots more free time. We don’t regret getting rid of our TV one bit.
- We joined a Toy Library. This has helped us save some money on toys, without feeling like our kids are missing out.
- We stopped going on family holidays after we realised it’s a lot of work for little gain with little kids. Instead, we go on weekends away to my parents’ house throughout the year. I was surprised when a friend told me how many thousands of dollars she’d spent on their family trip to the Gold Coast: I’m happy to visit a nearby beach instead.
- We cut off our landline and saved about $30 dollars a month. With two mobile phones, you can get away without a landline. You can still get broadband without a phone line too. Our internet service is a local company that employs Australian workers, and gives us unmetred access to ABC Online.
- We stopped hiring DVDs saving about $10 per month. With a good internet service you can watch most things online for free.
- We stopped having meals out and take-away food. A take-away meal usually costs us about $50 and a restaurant meal even more. Plus it’s really hard work to take the family out for a meal! If we eat too much take-away food I find it hard to get our children to eat home-cooked food. We still have Date Nights when we can get the babysitting, and sometimes my husband or I will stay home with the kids so the other can dash out for a coffee at a nearby café.
- I stopped ‘going shopping’ for fun, after I realised that I don’t really enjoy it that much. Most of the shops near me are chain stores, and the kind of things I like are much easier to find online. Plus, even if I tell myself I’m ‘just looking’ I always end up finding something I simply ‘must have!’ This has saved me lots of money but more importantly, I’ve gained more free time.
That’s hundreds of dollars per month and thousands of dollars per year that can be saved by living more simply! But it’s not just about the money…
Starting a family made us think deeply about the way we were living and the direction we were going. Dropping from two incomes to one forced us to think about how we could live well on less money. Now that I know a family can live well on one income, it makes me wonder what will be possible down the track, especially once our mortgage is gone. I’m so grateful we made the decision to downsize. Now we are in control of our lives and our lifestyle is not controlling us.
I’d love to hear from you. What big decisions have you made to change your lives?