“Contentment comes not so much from great wealth as from few wants.”
Mis amigos, if you are new to this journey of mine, you might not have heard me talk too much about this past year and the HUGE transformation that has happened in my daily life. If you have been following me for a while, you are like yeah, yeah- heard this story before! No matter if this is brand new, or old news, I'm going to share with you the F I V E biggest changes we've made to our monthly spending that have enabled us to make such a big shift (and take such a huge leap of faith).
Okay, what's this big change I'm talking about? I quit my job. I have never been the type of person to leave a job without having another one already lined up, but I was so depressed working full time as a teacher and leaving my kiddos, and my marriage was in such a desperate state, that I did it. I just quit one sunny day in January. I still finished out the year with distance learning but and have felt nothing but immense gratitude for making this decision BEFORE the clusterf*** of Covid19.
So, I quit my job. This part is important though. My husband is an artist (an amazing jeweler @noyesdesigns) whose income is unpredictable. We have two toddlers at home. We have bills and debt and all that good stressful adult stuff. Now what? I had zero plan. I spent months dreaming and crafting new ways I could make a business that would help support us and finally came up with Niños & Nature and my Con mi Familia course. During this time of reflection and, let's be honest, panic, I kept coming back to the idea of needing less. I still remember a moment in November, when one of my besties told me that she was shifting her whole thought process about what success looked like to her. She said something like "now I will gauge my family's success based on how little money we NEED each month instead of how much we make"...mic drop. How little we need. It forced my husband and I to look around and really think about just how little money we could live on if we made some changes.
So here we are friends. Doing just fine, with less. Working for ourselves. Making less. Needing less. Here's the thing. Did making these 5 changes just instantly allow us to study butterflies all day and sharpen pencils for a living? Nope. We still have worry, we still need to work a ridiculous amount (for ourselves) to try to make enough money to make it through each month and we are still finding ways to cut monthly costs. Nevertheless, these five changes have really helped and they have reduced our monthly expenses a good amount to where we can save a little here and there and panic less.
Okay, okay, okay. Get to the good stuff already. Here are the biggest five changes we've made, and the biggest ways we have cut unnecessary expenses.
1) Do not buy toys.
I know. I know. Mom guilt anyone? Nope. I don't buy my kids toys (with a FEW EXCEPTIONS) and it has made a huge difference with our finances. Instead- we make everything. Before you go thinking I am some fancy crafty woman, watch my tutorials on instagram and see that I make all this shit up and I use old socks and t-shirts and sticks. It doesn't need to be fancy to be meaningful. First tip, stop buying toys, it adds up.
2) Free books.
Y'all. This is not a plug for Usborne just because I am a consultant. (I am actually overworked so I don't want to throw you a party...shhh don't get mad at me, I can help you find someone who will!) Seriously though, I have gotten hundreds of dollars worth of free books JUST by throwing a fricken facebook party online. Hundreds. I put some away, take some out each month and save some for holidays. Free. books.
I am not an affiliate just a big fan. I don't buy new clothes anymore. In fact, I don't buy clothes unless I sell something on Poshmark. I sell my old clothes, my kid's old clothes, my old husband's clothes. Then whatever balance I have, I use THAT money to buy things for myself or my family. I am not that mama who says she never buys herself anything. I LOVE online shopping. This lets me do it without spending any "new" money. Plus, fast fashion sucks.
4) MEAL PLANNING
Shouting this from the roof tops. This saves us hundreds of dollars every month. I literally spend about 45 minutes and sit down and plan all of our meals for TWO WEEKS. I'm not so into it that I say Monday we will eat this and Tuesday we will eat this- I am way too indecisive for that. I just list all the meals, then write my grocery list from that- and we only buy what will get used. We never throw out old food anymore and we don't waste money on stuff we don't need.
5) Live simply.
Okay this one is generic but it's important. What can you live without? We bought a small house. Think 4 people in 1,000 sqft small but it works for us! We don't have fancy cars. We don't go on lavish vacations (heck, who does these days) and we don't fill our time or our voids with THINGS. We go hiking (free), we do nature crafts (free), we read books (free) and we resist the world that is constantly telling us that we need more when we don't. It is actually really hard when we are surrounded by beautiful people showing us their beautiful things all day long. We see them, we want them, we work so we have money to buy them. Remember, focus on what you have and you will realize you don't actually need that much month to month.
This is a long post. I don't want it to be too much longer. So I'll leave you with these last few thoughts. I know that this life isn't for everyone. Period. I know not everyone wants to stop spending money on stuff, I know not everyone wants to cram into a little house and I know some people LOVE the work they are doing. That is awesome! I also know there are some super depressed, miserable people out there (hello, I was one of them) that just need to believe in themselves and make a few changes to their finances so they can work less and have more time for their family. I also know lots of people are working an insane amount of hours for almost no money and they are already living minimally because they have no choice. I hope that no matter where you are in life, these suggestions help make life a little easier (and finances a little better)- it definitely has for us.
At the end of the day, quitting my job was terrifying but I knew that I would never, ever, regret choosing my children over my work. I knew I would never look back on their fleeting childhood and miss being in the classroom over being with them. So we cut costs, realized the things we can't live without (hint, they aren't things), and have never looked back.
You are a huge part of why I am able to do what I do and why I find so much joy in my days. Thank you for your support, for laughing with (at) me, and for believing in the importance of outdoor play and learning right alongside your kiddos.