I’ve had a varied year in 2016.
I decided to break free from reality and then got signed off from work with depression.
I went back to work and then took redundancy.
I built an extension having taken some time off work.
Fuelled by the need to try something different and a need to earn some money I got a job at a major supermarket. I hated it and quit.
I then got another job at a national Logistics provider, and I’m still here, but I quickly began to feel like I was back in the circle that I’ve been trying so hard to break free from. How on Earth did that happen?
However, the past year has taught me a number of things.
- I can achieve a hell of a lot more than I thought I could. Having some time off to build my extension was a real eye opener. Without the pressure of having to be up at a certain time, and drive to work to complete a full day, I found that I was still able to motivate myself to get up early, do a full days work, and enjoy it. I’ve often thought of myself as lazy but I now know I’m not, I’m just not motivated by sitting behind a desk all day. Manual labour and hard physical work can be enjoyable.
- Working in an office, dealing with the politics and sitting behind a computer all day are not for me. My previous job, which I held for 11 years had slowly wore me down. I didn’t realize this until I left with depression. As I’ve blogged before, depression changed me, but alas it was all I knew (office work) so when the need arose for me to return to paid employment I ended up doing the same kind of work in an office. It’s amazing how hard wired we are to stick to the status quo rather than trying new things. However I now look at my work as a means to an end.
- I’m happiest when I’m not spending money, when I’m with my family and we’re doing things together. This is probably true for most of us but think about it. I don’t need to buy things, spend money, upgrade technology anywhere near as much as I thought I did. Birthdays and Christmas have become challenges as everyone wants to get you “things” but I have no desire for “things”. My happiest times these days are at home, sat in our den, with my wife, daughters and dog, just talking about our days, sharing stories. TV off, Radio off, no laptops or mobiles.
- The World is in free fall and nobody seems able to stop it. Respect is something I was brought up to have, especially for teachers, elders, Policemen and women, anybody in a position of authority, people you meet, the next door neighbour, the guys and girls who come and collect my rubbish each week. Basically everyone. It seems the current generation struggle with this and it’s not difficult to see why when you read about celebrities, sports stars and politicians who appear to show little or no respect to one another. My wife is a teacher of 9 year olds. When asking them to carry out a task or to do something she is regularly told to “f” off. This are by 9 year olds.
- The Earth needs protecting and the number of people who are prepared to do it on a national or international stage appears to be reducing. Just look at what s happening in the US of A. 8 years of environmentally sound struggles from the current administration appears to be getting prepared to be unraveled on January 20th when Trump takes power. In the UK, the government reduces subsidies for “green energy” and then signs off the most expensive man made structure in the World to create nuclear technology (a cost incidentally that if it was pushed into solar, wind and tidal technologies could potentially provide the UK with all of the power it needs).
So with this, the wife and I have decided that in 2018 we will relocate to our first small holding either in the North of Scotland or, more likely, in the South West of Wales. The reason for the delay is two fold. Firstly the list of things I want to do beforehand is long (and listed below). Secondly our current mortgage has us tied in until Spring 2018 so it makes sense to wait until that comes to an end rather than paying a get out early fee.
We want to find our sanctuary. A piece of Earth that is ours that we can choose to live on how we choose. The plan is to purchase between 10 and 15 acres of land and then to use that land to sustain ourselves. We don’t want to be rich with money. We want to earn enough to get by. The kids are aware, the families are aware and we face a year of preparation.
So what do we want to achieve in 2017
- Clear all of our debt (excluding our mortgage). We have made great strides towards being debt free in 2016 and we go into 2017 with a total debt of around £7,500. Half of this will definitely clear as it is the remnants of a loan we took out some years ago for house improvements and a car. The remainder are credit cards and overdraft, all of which are managed well enough but should be able to be cleared within 12 months.
- Reduce our outgoings. In order to facilitate our debt clearance and to prepare ourselves for a more frugal lifestyle (and to hopefully allow us to build up some savings to assist us post move) I am on a mission to reduce our monthly financial commitments to the bare minimum (without affecting our lifestyle). This will mean things such as SKY TV going, mobile phone contracts being cancelled / reduced. Food shopping and eating habits changing. Insurances being reviewed and reduced. Basically we will be doing everything we can to reduce our fixed and necessary monthly commitments. I will share the details monthly to provide an update on progress but at the moment out outgoings are approximately £3,000 per month (mortgage, loans, credit cars, taxes, utilities, food, fuel, insurances, media and telecommunications to name a few). I aim to half this by next December.
- Finish the house. As I have blogged about previously, we extended our home during 2016 and most of the big work is finished but now we need to finish those little jobs that can easily get left behind; plus the garden still looks like a builders yard. Fortunately most of the materials I need for these jobs I already have, it’s just a matter of finding time to complete them.
- Work out where we are going to live. Our instinct is to go to South West Wales. It’s a part of the UK we have visited many times and we all love it “down there”. We intend on taking trips down there as regularly as we can so we can to get to know specific areas better and hopefully narrow our search area to a more manageable size prior to January 2018.
- Learn more skills. The intention is for us to work from home in our new life and hopefully turn our hand to something completely different. There are a number of reasonably priced council run adult course nearby which we intend to attend over weekends to see if we either have a natural talent at something or if there is something we discover we really enjoy. Hopefully we can find something that brings the 2 things together and we can then identify if there is a market and any possibility of us using that to earn a small living. Permaculture is important to us and the permaculture ideal of having multiple inputs rather than relying on one can also work with income. We intend on having multiple ways of providing ourselves with an income to remove the inherent risk of only having one.
In a nutshell, that’s the plan. I will use this blog (regardless of whether it is read by others or not) to help me to keep a track of progress. I’ll update it at the beginning of each month and will outline progress to date (debt, outgoings, courses, locations, house) and share what the next month will hopefully bring.
Then in 12 months time I will hopefully be able to say
“We have no debt, our outgoings are as low as they can be, we have new skills that we enjoy, are good at and can be used to provide an income, the house is finished and we know where we want to live”.
Now there’s a New Years Resolution for you. Hope you have a wonderful 2017.