2020 – the Year of Zero

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!

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This series of photos cost me nothing!

 

There are, of course, three options:

  1. Spend less
  2. Earn more
  3. 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

  1. No overseas travel – my biggest expense! (Damn you Sean!)
  2. No extended travel within Australia  – my next biggest expense. A weekend here or there will be OK.
  3. No new stuff – the rules for which I already set out in a previous post.
  4. 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!
  5. Be serious about getting a side hustle happening
  6. 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.
  7. Sell some of my stuff.  I have already had one garage sale and I am planning another.
  8. Concentrate on free activities.
  9. Rewrite my 60 for 60, so it includes only low/no-cost activities. (Thank goodness writing is free!)
  10. 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

  1. What will I photograph? Solution: Concentrate on local views and people.
  2. Won’t I get bored? Won’t I get boring? LOL, I probably already am.
  3. 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 $2:80 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!

 

Divorce – Ten years on.

I don’t remember what I was dreaming about, but I was in one of those stages of sleep where my mind was buzzing, and even though I was sure I was awake, in reality, I was still unconscious. One of my dream-characters reminded me that this month marked the 10th anniversary of me leaving the marital home. Me walking out and into my own little bedsit, so we could “have some space to think things through”.

I took an independent step. I was proactive.

Another dream-character piped up with the idea that it must be getting close to 10 years since I raised my voice in anger. Ten years since I have screamed with murderous rage and ill intent… At anyone.

I am not saying I haven’t been angry or upset since that time – of course, I have, but since then I have never been in a frame of mind that was so filled with venom and hate.

So much has happened in those ten years. So many good things! I still lament the 10 years I wasted before that,  in trying to stitch together something that was shredded and beyond repair. Why did we do that to ourselves? It’s not only me who wasted time. It wasn’t just me who lost good years in the technical “prime” of our lives.

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That is all inconsequential now. Now is what counts, and where my head is NOW. If you have been reading this blog, you will know I have been rejoicing in the discovery of a new found creativity that has been hidden below the surface. It took a while for it to bubble to the top and make its way through the cracks, but it’s here – NOW.

I am happier although I am still restless. Something else is out there waiting to be discovered. And before all my friends get excited, it’s not another partner!

One thing I have learned is that I don’t need to be in a partnership. I have good friends, a loving family and an intentionally busy life filled with interesting pursuits and being coupled won’t add to this.  Not NOW.

If you are in a broken relationship, it probably won’t get better. Leave! Don’t stay for the children’s sake. The kids will do better in a settled home. They don’t need to feel or hear the hate that seethes out of your skin. If there is violence, they don’t need that either.

Leave!

Don’t waste 10 years. Don’t waste five!

Take the plunge.

It might be cold when you first get in, but you’ll warm up!

 

Sing out loud!

I don’t miss much about my marriage, but the one thing I really do miss is singing! My ex was a musician. He played guitar and drums. While never achieving any fame and spending way more than he ever earned, it was a very satisfying hobby for him and by default, for me as well. Sitting around the kitchen or on the lounge after work and on weekends he would play his Maton acoustic and sing. Most times I would join in with him. I am no virtuoso, but I could hold a tune and used to really enjoy these times.

I guess if we were singing, we weren’t fighting!

 

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High School Teachers Band! (photo by David Croft)

The repertoire was fairly broad but consisted of mostly “middle of the road” rock and folk music. There was plenty of Paul Kelly, Cold Chisel, Dire Straits as well as Bob Dylan (which incidentally I didn’t join in on).

I especially enjoyed the family singalongs with his brothers and sisters. These were always happy nights that went into the wee hours.

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Once upon a time, I had the guts to get up and sing in front of people!

Since I have been on my own, my opportunity to sing ad hoc has completely vanished, and now when I try and sing along in the car or in my kitchen, my voice is weak and becomes hoarse very quickly. I begin to splutter and cough. I  guess it’s like anything, it takes practise and training.  My “singing” muscles are no longer in good condition. Sadly, I can’t remember the last time I actually sang with other people!

Singing is good for you! It’s a positive, life-affirming thing and when you’re with a group of people making music it’s so much darn fun! This article talks about the benefits of singing for your health and wellbeing   but I  don’t need any convincing!

Singing is something I will have to find a way to bring back into my life. I didn’t include it as one of my 60 for 60 items. That was an oversight and something I will need to remedy.

I am not sure I have the level of commitment needed for a choir while I am still trapped in the day job, so I’ll be on the lookout for a Grannies’ garage band! 😆

I wrote about other aspects of music in my life in a post last year. You can read it here.