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  • Writer's pictureSharon Bryce

How to Manage Money and Enjoy Life - the slow and simple way.

Updated: Oct 29, 2019

This week my husband shares a bit about our adventures in slowing down and simplifying our are things we have found helpful:

We don’t believe money management is about living a boring uncomfortable life - depriving ourselves of fun. For us it is about freeing up time and money for things that are meaningful and enriching.

My wife and I lived for many years in a remote area. There was one small store and for much of the time only one tv channel. On returning to the city, we felt overwhelmed by a tsunami of choice in a sea of advertising all wrapped in a mountain of plastic.

There is a growing sense that we are all over-consuming. As we find ways to build a more sustainable future, “frugal-rich” lives are going to be part of these sustainable solutions. Can “Money Minimalism” - ie a more financially frugal life be achievable, fun, good for the environment, good for the hip pocket and good for relationships? 

Financial management can be a touchy subject. Every family and individual  has their own unique path, different circumstances and priorities. I share some of the things we have done as a family to create a slower, simpler financial life that is kinder to the planet. Next week I follow up on this theme with advice from authors and other bloggers who have a special interest in this area.

My wife and I share the one small economical car (saves thousands!). We have set up life so that I can walk to work (better than traffic gridlock). I find the walk gets me into a “good space” by the time I start my work day.

We shop mostly at markets rather than shopping centres. This has translated into less impulse buys, less exposure to advertising and MUCH less packaging. Market shopping helps us choose our produce carefully and plan our weekly meals. We notice it has resulted in us buying less processed foods and meat which has had health benefits, and saves us a lot of money. Even though organic produce is more expensive our weekly grocery bills are much better than the average Australian family of our size. Check out my wife’s last blog to find out more.

We transitioned to cheaper, but just as satisfying forms of entertainment. Living in Brisbane, we are surrounded by beautiful hiking trails - all free and fun to enjoy with a picnic lunch. We meet friends for a cuppa on our market shops. Make up a thermos and find a pretty local spot to watch the sun set.

Go salsa dancing in the Main Street of our city Friday nights for free. We have no TV...eradicates advertisements. We enjoy reading together and when we do want to watch a show or movie, we snuggle up together on the couch with the ipad.

We batch clothes that need to be sourced rather than window shop and make an enjoyable day of second hand shopping. Brisbane's West End has a number of secondhand shops in close proximity (beach-side towns like Caloundra are great too) as well as cheap but tasty vegetarian joints. So we’ll wander from store to store with a list then treat ourselves to a leisurely meal. Deciding beforehand what item, colour and cut you are after makes the whole venture a lot less exhausting. If an item can’t be sourced in this way we let our fingers do the walking locating the item online and going for eco fabrics that have been well made and will last. I think there is some truth to the motto: Buy less, pay more and buy stuff with meaning.

Because we have simplified our lives, we have saved money and I have been able to drop down to 4 days a week work. I hear many men of my age (early 50s) regret that they missed much of their children’s early life. A slower, simpler life makes more space for family time. 

We pay bills online and have set up automatic payments for recurrent bills. Setting up a separate dedicated, education fund early for our kids in a high-interest account with automatic contributions meant we have been able to pay for our kids schooling and university fees without straining our finances. Financial advisers say that you need between $600 000 to a million, plus own a home to have a modest to comfortable retirement if you stop working at about 67. So we have set up automatic retirement fund contributions based on these figures.

We have local rather than overseas holidays and love camping. My wife’s family buy Christmas presents for kids only. We try to make it an experience rather than stuff. Teenagers love money. We do a secret Santa for all adults so that each adult gets one thoughtful gift. For my smaller family I don’t buy birthday or Christmas presents. Instead we pay for the family to share a restaurant Christmas meal.

We are by no means financial gurus but we have found by choosing a slower, simpler life we have paid off our home 15 years early and are now debt free.

Do you have any hints for slow and simple money management?

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