Life has a cruel, yet wonderful way of bringing your priorities into stark focus. For me, it was more than just my career, more than my savings account or family, it was…well, everything. I was an impostor, and for that I’m here to say sorry. Up until recently, my husband and I took it all for granted. The weekend brunches, daily coffees and freedom to do whatever, whenever we felt like it. We were always really open about our money goals and honestly thought we were on the same page. In fact, if you ask any of our friends, they would tell you communication is definitely NOT one of our problems! One of our problems is that we talk too much about everything. That was until I decided to quit my job (which was not doing amazing things for my mental health), relocate to the other side of the country AND throw in a complete 180 career change. Because, why not. Easy, right? Well…
I had always imagined my life going a different way, not necessarily a ‘better’ way, just different. You know? So when we arrived in Perth with stars in our eyes, we could never have imagined what would ensue over the next 8 months – me, unemployed and facing another move across the country, my husband dealing with a different set back each week, and just a general shit storm which we needed to weather. Looking back on it, I’m not quite sure how we managed to get through, but somehow, we did [Insert husband appreciation – he’s a patient one]. Financially and personally, we put one proverbial foot in front of the other and tried not too look too far ahead.
Financially, we started the year on top. We had no bad debt, no wedding money-hangover, no credit cards, nothing. We had $70K+ in savings, found tenants for our investment property and were planning on purchasing our next property whilst also adding to our little share portfolio. Sounds like a dream, and to be honest, it was. I would spend my days networking in Perth, meeting as many industry leaders as I could, making sure I left no stone uncovered and knew that a dream job would come along soon enough. I was working too hard for it not to. I was grabbing $5 coffees each morning, lunch in the city, a spot of shopping in the afternoon – I know, it’s ludacris – and life was pretty damn peachy.
3 months in, there’s still no job but now there was a new debilitating pang of fear which set up house in my throat. Had I bitten off more than I could chew, was I not good enough or smart enough, was the job market crap (YES it was!) or was it a combination of everything? As my confidence fell through the floor so did my independence. Here I was at 30, with no job, living in a city which has the highest unemployment rate and relying on my savings and husband for money. Who am I?! Obviously not the FFT-maiden who spruiked the opposite of the life I was living. I was an impostor.
F*$K! Ben’s career took a turn of its own and before we knew it, we were in the black hole of ambiguity with no idea how the hell we’d get out of it. Our panic stations were fully occupied and without rational thought or consideration, there were restrictions on everything. We started hoarding money as though we would never make money EVER again. We were dramatic, emotional and so bloody sensitive. No coffees, no brunches, lunches or dinners, food planning to within an inch of its life and definitely no shopping. We found ourselves going from one extreme to the other and arguing a lot, which took a toll that I can’t even describe. Can I just say again, it sucks being an adult! We were used to this great life on two incomes, we made goals around two incomes, planned life around two incomes. Talked about two incomes, and thought we would always have two incomes. BUT, we also had the mindset that we would never actually have to use our savings, so burning through these was heartbreaking. And I mean, burning.
It was so damn obvious and yet the emotion of life was clouding everything. “How could I be so stupid?”, I thought. We could live off one income, we just had to make some adjustments, we could still enjoy our life, we just had to financially downsize. We weren’t sick, we weren’t on the poverty line and we certainly weren’t at risk of losing our house. So why the drama, why the extreme measures? The answer is simple, we didn’t plan for life with one income. We honestly didn’t believe we would ever be on one income. And no, for the nosey parkers, we don’t want kids. I guess that’s why I took a break from FFT – I didn’t feel as though I had anything to write about, I was an impostor. Here I was, preaching about preparing for a rainy day and I hadn’t even done it…or not to the extent that I probably should have.
Despite all of the setbacks of this year, it gave us one beautiful thing – honesty around money and with myelf. For the first time in our relationship, we were honest about our goals, about what we really think of money and spent time and effort in being grateful for a life that wasn’t dictated by it. We spent more time finding things to do together which were money-friendly, read books, communicated more (if that’s even possible), enjoyed cooking together and relished in the moments we were safe and healthy. We also realized that we could survive off one income – Hello! Key message! YOU CAN SURVIVE OFF ONE INCOME!
Money can be fickle but worse, it can be incredibly destructive. 2017 made me realise a few things and I wanted to take this chance, back in the blogging sphere, a little bruised, a little frazzled, a little older, to share them with you:
- Money has a powerful way of luring you into a false sense of reality, believing that your life today is what you will have forever. It’s called a state of “permanence” and it’s bullshit. Nothing lasts forever and my lady Sheryl Sandberg talks about permanence all the time. Ask yourself honestly, if you lost your job, would you be able to pay your bills the next month? If you had to take time off for any other reason, would you be happy to financially downsize? If your life changed – divorce, kids etc – would you actually be ok? Like, actually?
- Live as though you’re earning 20% less, could you do it (or in our case 50% less)? As we earn more, we all tend to spend more. Instead, try and live as though you never got that last promotion.
- Coffee is bloody expensive. Cut it out. You’ll be amazed at how much you save. Truly!
- Like any lifestyle change, don’t think of it as a diet, or a restriction. You’re doomed to fail if you do.
- Find things that give you joy, without handing money over. Pick up that book, go for that walk, disconnect and be grateful.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate. And I don’t mean surface stuff, get down and dirty with the bad stuff like, who manages the money? What is your one non-negotiable if you were downsizing? Do you trust your partner? It’ll sting, but worth the difficult conversation. Trust me!
- Side note, FFT tip (from personal experience): Be kind to yourself! If you don’t have your dream job, or haven’t yet figured out what it is that will truly make you happy between the hours of 9-5, that is ok. I used to hate it when people would say this to me, but, everything happens for a reason, you just need to be patient.
Whilst the above sounds easy, I appreciate that it’s not. I did end up getting a job and a bloody good one, but on the other side of the country. It’s perfect in every way and although we are having to sacrifice our time together as a couple, we can finally see some light. It’s only a little bit, but as someone used to say, a win is a win no matter how small.
I’m back in FFT land, and with an honesty that I hope you feel you can all relate to. It’s no mummy blog, or hashtag fitspo, but we’ll have just as much fun. Promise.
Your new and refreshed,