My wildest dream involves travelling around the world with merely one backpack and a pair of sunglasses, being amazed by all of Nature’s wonders and floating freely in the air. In this dream, I’ve been liberated from the nine-to-five work schedule, and I work independently from home so I never have to report to someone again.
Does it sound familiar to you? My guess is that you actually do not jump out of bed every morning, all excited to be stuck in traffic for 30 minutes (maybe more) on your way to work! But even if you love your job (which by the way, I certainly do), there are other dreams worth pursuing, like having more time and energy for your kids and family, your hobby, or the freedom to learn new skills.
So how do we tackle this issue?
How can you shoot for the stars and reach your lifelong dreams in order to live a more fulfilling life? How can you achieve more freedom?
The answer lies in a very simple realisation: the more money we spend on things that are superfluous, the more we burden ourselves with things that aren’t relevant and that are keeping us from achieving exactly what we want: more freedom.
I want more freedom, both mentally and financially, so I don’t have to wake up to an alarm clock every morning, and still be tired.
Why I’m grateful for my burn-out
This blog started out as a remediation against my burn-out. During the year of 2016, I had the misfortune of getting burnt out by an overwhelmingly stressful job. You can read the full story in my blog post Reflections on 2016.
But I’m also truly, deeply grateful for having had to go through it. “WHY?!“, you might ask. Because of two reasons:
- It happened fairly early in my career (I was 25 à 26 years old). And so I had plenty of time and room to adjust and to look for a job that was a better fit for me.
- I realised I had almost no back-up, no financial reserve, and thus, no room for error. And I felt like I never wanted to be back in that situation again.
When you get burnt out, you should take a few weeks or a few months off and rest, heal. However, I couldn’t do that, because I resigned from my job and therefore I couldn’t take advantage of the health insurance linked to it. I also did not have enough cash reserve to cover for a few months of time-out and so I took on a job as a customer service employee.
The lesson that I learned was that you should always, always keep enough cash aside to cover for these kind of incidents. If you live from paycheck to paycheck, there is very little room for making mistakes, and ultimately, it’s more stressful to work in a job where you can’t afford to resign, or where you can’t afford to get fired – which I truly hope never happens to you.
Living frugally will not only free you from this kind of stress, it will also help you to live your life to the fullest. And that’s the first step towards freedom.
How saving money can liberate you from your job
Saving a good portion of your income will enable you to pursue your passions. If you have enough money in the bank to cover, let’s say, a year of monthly expenses, you could take the time off to reinvent yourself and to think about what you really want out of life. Perhaps you would like to start your own bakery, but you’ve always thought it wouldn’t work out, that it would involve too many new things to learn and so you keep your current job thinking ‘It’s not going to work for me, I’ll never achieve my goal‘. But if you had the time to really think things through, wouldn’t that be awesome?
Maybe you don’t even know what your life goal is. Right now, I don’t know what my life goal is. Should I pursue a goldsmithing career? Should I try to become a researcher in Art History? Should I live off my blog? I don’t know. But, I do have this overwhelming feeling that if I save month after month, year after year, I can take some time off in the nearby future and figure out what it is that I want to do with my life. And that is empowering.
Making the right choices for yourself.
Since I started saving money in service of this goal (having the opportunity to figure out what I want in life), everything has become less stressful. I prefer not buying take-out sushi for 40 euros a meal, or an expensive Latte, or new clothes, or new jewelry, or the latest trendy home accessory. Honestly, it is such a relief to see my savings grow every month, instead of buying more junk and filling the house with crap that will be out of style in three years anyways.
My boyfriend and I even cleaned out the basement and some closets in the apartment and we threw out a whole bunch of things that we hadn’t used in ages. I felt like I could breathe again.
So I want to encourage you to achieve your life goals through careful saving. You deserve a fulfilling, meaningful life where you can rejoice in your own talents and pursue your dreams.
How to take control over your finances
These are a few steps you could take to get a better grasp on your current lifestyle:
- Start by thinking about your own situation: what dream would you like to pursue? What is it that you are passionate about? How can you achieve it?
- Next, take a look at your finances. How much is your monthly income and what are your monthly expenses? Make a detailed report of everything that is coming in, and of everything that is going out. There is no point in trying to save money if you don’t know what is happening with your bank account.
- Once you’ve got this down, you can start thinking about places to save some cash on a regular basis. Are there any areas where you could cut back and save more money?
- If you are carrying any debt, examine how quickly you could pay it of to free yourself from this burden
- All in all, it’s quite simple: track what you earn, track what you spend. Try to save as much as possible by spending as little as possible. Once you know just how much you could save every month, try to stick to it.
If you get overwhelmed by all of this, fear not, it’s going to be ok! Even if at first, you can only save 50€ a month, that is still better than not saving any money at all. I started off in a situation where I was spending more money than I earned, and now I can easily safe 40% of my income every month.
You deserve a life that is not super stressful, where everything is related to your job, and where there’s no room for error. As you train yourself in saving more and more money, and getting more efficient with your finances, you’ll see everything clearer, and it will become easier to save more and spend less.
This blog investigates the possibilities of pursuing your life goals by strategic personal finance. In that same purpose, DIY-projects will be posted as a way to embellish your home without breaking the bank. I have one purpose: to live frugally and creatively!
How about you? What are your dreams? What do you hope to achieve? Do you think you can cut back and invest in yourself?
I sure think you can!
If you’d like to get more articles from Happy DIY, subscribe to the mailing list.