Over the last 10 years, it feels like I have done more with my life than I had done in the previous thirty. That might seem harsh, and it’s probably not true. What is true, is that the last 10 years of my marriage were a trap. A tight steel trap where the only activities included some form of arguing, yelling or crying – or a combination of all three!
Now that I have released myself from the trap, I have been busy making up for lost time travelling like a demon, enrolling in all sorts of courses and generally spending money like a drunken sailor. I wrote a list of 60 things to do before my 60th birthday, which would cost me squillions to achieve. I wrote another less expensive set of 60 things which will still require a considerable outlay.
In the back of my mind, the left shoulder guy was getting noisier and noisier.
“Hey sister you aren’t getting any younger, and you’ll have to retire soon. Then what are you going to do for money? Huh? then what??”
Last month, I saw a financial adviser. Sigh…He spoilt all my fun! It’s not that I had not been aware that I would need to slow down my spending but willful ignorance has its place. I was having fun!
The salient message from the encounter with Sean, the killjoy, was:
If I continued to pay my mortgage at the current rate and contributing the current amount to my superannuation (retirement funding) I would need to work for another 12 years (i.e. until I’m 70!!!!!) to pay off my loan and my retirement funds would run out by the time I was 75.
(sound of a record being scratched!)
That gives me a 5-year window to be both retired and not living in relative poverty!
Don’t get me wrong, I realise I am lucky, and I am grateful that I can make light of this situation. I am fortunate that I have a choice, unlike many others in my situation. Did you know divorced women over 55 are the fastest-growing sector of homeless persons? I don’t want to join their ranks. I have a home, but I don’t own all of it – yet. I aim to keep working until it’s paid off. (The aforementioned 12 years!) I want to do it quicker. Much quicker; like in 5 years max!
There are, of course, three options:
- Spend less
- Earn more
- Win several million in the lottery
A combination of the three is the most desirable.
A fourth option: “Kissing a frog” or finding a partner to share expenses with, is not on my agenda. I want to do this independently.
A fifth option would be to sell up and move somewhere cheaper, but I like where I am now.
Since the visit to the killjoy*, I have been feverishly creating spreadsheets, writing lists and generally thinking deeply about my finances.
The spreadsheets totted up all my expenditure for the previous 12 months so I could get a good handle on what I was actually spending my money on and how much of it was discretionary. [Most of it it would seem!]
Another list included items and activities that I was prepared to do without and those I wanted to maintain.
True to my form of setting myself themed challenges, next year has been re-badged as
“2020 – The Year of Zero”!
I am going to DO zero and SAVE plenty of zeros!
I have already had a year of buying nothing new in 2017/8 when I saved enough to pay off my car outright. The challenge for 2020 will be to save as much as possible to make a good dent in the mortgage and contribute more to my Super. I will only look at one year ahead at this time to avoid goal burn out.
How I’ll save money.
My Year of Zero will look like this
- No overseas travel – my biggest expense! (Damn you Sean!)
- No extended travel within Australia – my next biggest expense. A weekend here or there will be OK.
- No new stuff – the rules for which I already set out in a previous post.
- Cut down on my grocery bill by 40% by reducing food waste and shopping/cooking more frugally. I aim to make more of my own food from scratch and grow some veggies. I must admit I am a spendthrift when it comes to food!
- Be serious about getting a side hustle happening
- Only enrol in free courses. I have access to plenty of these via my local library and my employer, through Linkedin Learning so I’ll use those.
- Sell some of my stuff. I have already had one garage sale and I am planning another.
- Concentrate on free activities.
- Rewrite my 60 for 60, so it includes only low/no-cost activities. (Thank goodness writing is free!)
- I intend to bundle all this up with a zero-waste, living minimalist, anti-consumer vibe so it will make me feel more like an eco-warrior and less like a tight-wad.
My concerns include
- What will I photograph? Solution: Concentrate on local views and people.
- Won’t I get bored? Won’t I get boring? LOL, I probably already am.
- Going back on my word, as I already have a couple of things I have committed to for next year.
So, to my friends IRL who read this blog, be prepared for me to regale you with my ninja hacks to save a dollar here and $10 there.
Honestly, I’m looking forward to the challenge! I’ve got a goal amount in mind – I hope I can exceed it!
The left shoulder guy pipes up: I wonder if it’s ethical to crowdfund your mortgage? 🙂
Cheap outings in Sydney.
Here’s an example of a cheap day out! Public transport in Sydney on Sundays has a $2:50 cap. If you take your own snacks and drinks you could have the whole day out for less than a cup of coffee. There are plenty of great places to go around Sydney! I’ll be doing more of this!
*Seriously, Sean was lovely and very helpful Not even a teen-sy bit judgmental, although I am sure he would have been secretly rolling his eyes at my lack of forethought for the previous 20 years!