March 16, 2015

Life Re-Invented

I turned 56 years old on March 8th.  For the past 6 months I have been working on looking at what I want to do beyond homemaking with my life.  I am determined not to work a paid full time job, preferring to live on my husband’s income and I am determined to not cloister myself in these walls of my home either. Finding a balance is the hard part.  Why?  Because I tend to make big plans and then I lose interest or a motivation to keep going. 

One day I sat down and brainstormed what I like to do.  I like to be busy, but I don’t want to be busy for the sake of being busy.  I do tend to get more done in every area of my life when I am busy because I am more apt to write things down on a calendar and make a plan .  When I have a lot of time on my hands, I waste it because I feel like I have all the time in the world to get things done.

I made a decision last fall to leave the church I had been attending for 7 years due to the fact that that church had become a “Country Club” church only wanting to minister to its members and not wanting to reach out to people in need in our community.  The church membership (and many leaders) is made up of several individuals who would rather come to church on Sunday morning, have coffee with the same people they had coffee with over many decades and leave feeling good about themselves.  A pastor that tried to get them to direct themselves to community outreach was pushed out as key vocal members only wanted to take care of their own people. 

My husband and I had been heavily involved in that church working with the
pastor to make changes such as having a coffee café, directing the lunch program to feed hungry kids at our church during the summer, reaching out to newcomers and becoming a hospitality individual for the small contemporary service that had been attracting a different “set” of people than what some of the old timers would accept.  Hence, we left.

It is a warning sign that it is time to leave when a church does not want to reach out to the poor.   Since then we have found a church in a town 15 minutes away that is awesome.  It is a true church in every sense of the word.  I have vowed that I will never become so involved in a church again and would prefer to be a worshiper only.  The sermons at this church are awesome and I take what the Pastor has said home with me for the week.  I am being challenged and stretched. 
All the hours that I had spent in service to my old church (close to 10 hours a week) were now open.  I made a decision that those hours would be better spent in service to non-profits in my community.  I was already volunteering many hours.

So in January I designated three non-profits as ones that I wanted to donate my time to.  I had already been involved with these organizations but not at the level I am now.  These non profits are the local animal shelter of which I am a Board member, the Summer Lunch Program that I direct and a non-profit dedicated to serving victims of domestic violence. 

Being “happy” busy is good for me.  Being “over the top crazy busy” is not.  I am finding a balance in my life and I have re-invented myself as a Professional Volunteer and Homemaker.    I am committed to volunteerism and making a difference in my community.  I am committed to my home and family.  I have tailored made a “work” and a “home” life for me.  My volunteer work can be done for the most part on my own time and schedule.  I can fit it in just as I fit in my homemaking activities.  I am the master of my schedule. 

When I worked a full time job that I had loved, I had to do the work in an office setting away from my home and during office hours.  Now I can work things into my schedule where I want them.  Yes, I have board meetings to attend and for the most part they are scheduled according to everyone’s schedule. 

To stay healthy mentally and to keep depression at bay, I find that especially during the winter months being busy is the best thing for me.  I can work at home or take my work to the library.  This past winter has been the best winter I have had in over 5 years and it is due to finding the right balance for me. 

I can honestly say that I have found a life that works for me.  I am giving back to my community with my volunteer roles, I am able to have time with my family when I want and I can still be a home keeper. 

My new “career” is definitely tailor made to me, and gives me gratification.  I am very happy and I know it is because I am using my gifts and talents and not trying to fit myself into a mould that isn’t meant for me. 

Upcoming Posts:  My Volunteer Jobs defined.  Being busy and keeping the Budget in check.  Evaluating How I Spend my Time.  

March 12, 2015

Frugality Born out of Desperation – Now a Choice

Life for me has changed dramatically from when I started this blog back in 2009.  So much so, that I have pondered whether I wanted to continue this blog or start a new blog.  Since I haven’t posted in months due to busyness, I thought it would be time to bring the blog to a close.  After all our circumstances have changed a lot and perhaps blogging about a “Path to Frugality” when we no longer have to live so frugally isn’t relevant for me. 

We no longer struggle with day to day finances because we have paid off debt.  Our income has increased due to a few raises along the way and extra jobs here and there. When you have more income and less expenses there is the tendency on my part to reward myself with some purchases and yes I did that.  Then, one month ago my husband told me that if we “watch our money” he could retire at age 65.  He is now 57. 

My husband had been talking about wanting to retire at 65 instead of 67 ½ but we didn’t think it was possible.  Then he “ran the numbers” and realized that if we were to live a frugal lifestyle that we lived 6 years ago when I lost my job, he could retire early.  Honestly I didn’t think I could go back to living like that because money was so tight.  I worried so much about paying the bills back then but then I realized that this would be different.  Living a frugal lifestyle is easier when you don’t feel desperate to save every single penny.  Frugality because more of a hobby than a necessity.  That is where I am at right now.

My husband doesn’t hate his job.  He enjoys his job but he wants to be free to do other things that he loves.  He coached cross country for years and is now a certified official for cross country and track and he earns around $100 per meet that he officiates at.  This is extra income and we don’t count on it and we wouldn’t count on it during retirement either.  He loves doing this and wants to do it more, hence the talk about retirement.  My husband has been a runner for 46 years and he loves running 10K’s, half marathons and even marathons.  He wants to spend more time running and training.

I love him and I want him to be able to retire at 65 – just 8 short years away.  We are best friends and when he is on vacation, I enjoy him being at home. 

There are a few changes I am going to make on this different Path to Frugality.  I won’t be making my own laundry soap, except when necessary.  While it cleaned okay, I like a name brand detergent that I can afford now as it does a better job.  BUT – if there isn’t a coupon or if it isn’t on sale, the homemade will work for that week.  We are trying to eat as healthy as possible which can be a challenge with the cost of fresh fruit and some fresh veggies.  BUT – we have cut out junk food and when the Farmer’s Market is open in the late spring and summer, I save a lot of money.  I buy country fresh eggs for only $2 a dozen and when the freezer gets low I will be locating and purchasing chicken, beef and pork from local farmers.  This is something I couldn’t afford to do back in 2009 as I didn’t have the money up front to do it.

AND Yes – I will be posting a few times a week as I now have a new take on frugality – not from a point of stress and desperation, but as a choice in order to fulfill a dream of early retirement.