Working for a living

12 February 2018

February, week 2 in The Simple Home

While I knew from a young age that I would work when I was older, it didn’t occur to me until much later how vital work is. Work builds character, families, neighbourhoods and nations. I can say without a doubt that I am the person I am because of the work I’ve done – both in the work force and at home. The daily effort of earning a living and keeping a home operating builds layer upon layer of experience, skill, confidence, trust, character, responsibility, understanding and common sense.


There are several distinct stages we go through in life, each has it's own rewards and challenges and going through one stage often helps prepare you for the next.  I've written about this in The Simple Home but I'll highlight how each stage is slightly different and the financial aspects that can make a real difference as you grow older.


1. Starting out 
Moving from school/university into the work force will enable you to develop a whole new set of skills that will help you live well throughout life. Try to develop the habit of saving straight away. To do that you'll need to know exactly what you earn and spend, and how your money is used. Try to develop thrifty habits early, budget, save, do your fair share and work for what you get. You'll start acquiring assets now but don't overdo it because spending every cent you earn will see you working hard just to keep up with your bills.



Find a spending ratio that works for you, using this is a guide: spend about 60 per cent of what you earn on essentials – rent, food, transport and so on – about 20 per cent on things you want, and about 20 per cent on savings. The savings component might be divided between a few different accounts: emergency fund, house deposit and travel fund, for example.

See if you can get a better deal with your electricity, gas, internet, phone and insurance providers. This should be one of the things you routinely work on every year.

If you can go through your twenties without incurring major debt, you’ll be well ahead in your thirties. That includes credit card debt, which sometimes starts off innocently but can spiral out of control. Always remember the transient nature of fashion and holidays because you won’t like having to pay for them long after they’ve lost their shine.


2. Single life 
Single life includes young singles, single parents and divorced singles whose children have left home. In this stage, there will be differing levels of assets, but no matter what your age or financial status, a budget will be beneficial and you should be saving.

If you form a relationship with someone, make sure their values are similar to yours. It’s very difficult living a simple life if your partner is intent on the opposite. It will be almost impossible to live simply and frugally if the person you love has no issue with living beyond their means. Have those talks early. Hopefully you’ll discover both of you want the same kind of future and then you’ll be able to share the enjoyment of planning a life together.



The focus on this stage is to establish or re-establish good long-term budgeting and savings habits.  You need a realistic budget you can live with.

All through your working life, have only one superannuation (retirement) fund. Give the details of it to your new employer when you start work. This will maximise the potential of your investments and save on fees.

See if you can get a better deal with your electricity, gas, internet, phone and insurance providers. This should be one of the things you routinely work on every year.

3. Living on one income and stay-at-home-parent families
Being a homemaker gives you a practical way of contributing to the family's financial security. You and you partner should discuss what your saving priorities are and come to an understanding about cutting back on spending.  The partner who goes out to work and the children who go to school, should help with the savings effort by taking lunch and drinks so there is no added expense.  Then it's up to you to make the most of the assets and money your family has.


If you're the partner who is working at home, make sure you’re named as co-owner of your family assets. Check it this month and fill in the paper work if you need to add yourself.

See if you can get a better deal with your electricity, gas, internet, phone and insurance providers. This should be one of the things you routinely work on every year.

Teach your children to shop for food and cook, not only because they’re skills they should have but it will teach them about local produce, nutrition and the cost of food.



If you haven't started a budget yet, do so this month. Work out a shopping strategy so you'll consistently get the best value for money. This may mean giving up your favourite brands or supermarkets and discovering new ways to save money. Take on these new challenges with enthusiasm and be open to changes that may help you manage your family's budget. There are hundreds of ways of doing that, just read through my blog or books if you need ideas and make sure you read the comments here too. They hold a lot of treasures.

4. Working couple with children
When both partners are working, there is a lot less time available for home-based, money-saving tasks. That’s where organisation, routines and working as a team come into play. Menu planning, permanent shopping lists, family calendars, slow cooking and batch cooking will all help you live simply even when you have less time at home. There will be a lot more information next month about food, grocery shopping, local produce, cooking from scratch and how to introduce them into your busy life. In the meantime, see if you can get a better deal with your electricity, gas, internet, phone and insurance providers. This should be one of the things you routinely work on every year.


Work out who will do what housework, and expect your children to help. Even small children are able to assist if you give them tasks they can manage. Make sure you allocate family time too. It doesn’t have to be expensive: plan a movie night, a swim at the beach, a hike, or a bike ride. Don’t get into the habit of giving your children expensive clothes, gifts or holidays, but everyone should have a small amount of pocket money. All your children want when they’re growing up is to be loved and to spend time with parents who enjoy being with them. There will be a happy balance between work and family somewhere; you have to find it.


A lot of balancing goes on in this stage of your life. You want to save or pay off your mortgage while finding joy and happiness in your everyday life. There will be highs and low but through it all, remember you’re not alone, and you don’t have to give your children "the best" for them to be their best. Value this time because there will come a day when the kids fly the coop and it’s just you and your partner again. And maybe then you can spread your wings again.

5. Retirement
The best way to prepare for your retirement and older age is to have a home you can live in; be debt-free or close to it, know, or be ready to learn, the things you want to do after you leave work; and have family, friends and hobbies to fill your days. When you get to this point, you will hopefully have paid off the mortgage or be ready to downsize to pay it off. Nothing you can do or plan for will help you in later life more than owning your own home. If you’re renting and know that you’ll be renting in the future, try to find a stable rental, close to family and friends. If you can get a long lease, that will be a bonus.


Up until now, you'll have been working on saving and paying off debt, now your focus will move more towards management of your savings and whatever income you will have in the form of pensions or payments from superannuation/retirement plans/401k.

Make a new budget for your retirement years taking into account any government concessions you'll receive.  In Australia, these will include government help with phone, electricity, health, medications and public transport, and make sure you apply for a Seniors Card.

See if you can get a better deal with your electricity, gas, internet, phone and insurance providers. This should be one of the things you routinely work on every year.

Here is a link to a post I wrote about retirement that I hope will help you settle into this stage.

This is quite a long post so I'll include The Gender Gap in next week's post.




49 comments

  1. These posts, while wonderful general information, always make me smile. I was married and fell pregnant while at university and I never finished that first degree. My only superannuation is from a few months of paid work and with compulsory fees it is almost gone. My husband has been in and out of full time work due to the variable nature of his job and medical conditions. While we choose for me to stay at home and have always managed well, our path was not the neatly laid out one expected. Our friends mostly did variations on the above but our path followed one more like our grandparents with marriage and children at a very young age. This would have been fine years ago, but although food and clothing is cheaper today (when you convert into today’s money) housing is many times more expensive, even in cheaper areas well away from the cities. I guess my point is that we all follow our own paths and sometimes we find ourselves very far from the current norm. I would suggest that while this could make life a little more difficult, it also makes it far more interesting. I know you never prescribe a one size life Rhonda, but I wish to encourage readers who might feel that none of these stages really apply to where they find themselves that it is perfectly fine to write your own rules. Noni from Adelaide.

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    1. How right you are Noni. It's a terrible shame I think, that in the western world, a family unit really is underpinned by a need for two incomes - the government depends, and enforces a dependency on, it. We too followed a different path although were married for quite some years before becoming parents. I became a full time mum at 29, then a full time home schooling mum, so we have been on a single income for twenty years. I'm now in my last year of a bachelor degree to try to squeeze myself back into the work force for a couple of decades. Undoubtedly we are behind the standard financial eightball for our ages but we are paying off our house and live simply with joy. There have been many years of varying financial stresses but if we can pay the bills and rear a happy family who learn perspective and gratitude, call me old fashioned, but that is what life is all about. Good luck - and it is never too late to get that degree!

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  2. Rhonda, I wish I had this info when I was just starting out. It might have save a few of those "lows" you spoke of. With much appreciation ~

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  3. Great advice! I wish I had had enough sense to begin saving in my twenties (or even younger!), I'd be so much more ahead.~ TJ @ TJ's Sweet Home

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  4. If only the younger generation would listen to advice about saving 20% of their income as soon as they start working, even if it is an after school job - we've discussed and discussed this with the two still at home - I think it has fallen on deaf ears. This year my husband and I are doing the $5 challenge - if you get a $5 note - don't spend it, put it away somewhere safe and at the end of the year - a Christmas bonus. Cheers Lyndie

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  5. I wish i had this info in my 20s. unfortunatley i grew up with a single parent household who relied on creditcards and encouaged me to get one as soon as i tuned 18. I dont blame her but i really wish i had never got it. Now in my 30's im paying for it and have more debt than we can manage. Thankfully i wised up and am now working on simplifying my life and paying down that debt. I have to give things up to do it but im trying to be strict until we are in a comfortable place.

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  6. I love this post so much! I'm turning 40 this year and I've managed to live up to this point thinking I'll always be as energetic and able to work long hours as when I was younger. But age creeps up, and I've got to give a lot of thought to the issues you've described here - the mortgage, the savings, the tendency to spend more as soon as the income grows... Thank you so much for this. (And I was amusingly pleased seeing that you cut out words from packaging (such as "flour") and put directly into the jars. I do it too! I used to tape them on the jars, but that didn't work out as well since it made it harder to wash the jars.)
    And I am really surprised at your heaps of tea towels (are they called tea towels in English? We call them "dish towels" in Latvian). How do they stay so white? Mine get yellow or brown very quickly...

    And I'm sorry for such a stupid question, but what is that vegetable (I suppose it's a vegetable) that's white on the outside and purple on the inside? I don't recognize that.

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    1. Hello Diana. I always dry my washing in the sun so tea towels tend to stay whitish. I also soak them in hot water with added oxy-bleach about every 4-6 weeks. That whitens the whites and brightens the colours.
      I don't think there are any stupid questions - a good friend of mine says the only stupid question is the one you don't ask. 😊 They're purple sweet potatoes.

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  7. Hi Rhonda, I have just completed my first ever proper budget and have been amazed at how helpful it has been , I cut up my credit card and by the time it comes due for replacement I plan on having that debt paid off then I will only purchase on it what I can pay before they put interest on it. I am just over 60 now and I am wondering where do you apply to for a Seniors Card? I sure do wish I had started saving while I had a good job but I thought like most folk that I would work for ever and got laid off, it was quite a shock to the system and put me in a financial bind, now I am much more frugal and live within my means but it is very hard when there is little money. We seem to be a more expensive country to live in going by the way I have seen other quote with their budgeting what do you think would be a good average amount to allow for food for one person for a week? thanks from Judi 1944

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  8. Great post, I am lucky to own my home and only have a small debt that I’m working hard to pay off. I talked with them and got a reduced interest rate that will help me pay them off in a short time. I pay the bills for each month at the start of the month then divide up the rest in pouches for food, fuel for cars, pet food, etc. If a pouch has extra at the end of the month the money goes into an emergency fund. Which was a life saver when 2 of our pets had to be taken to the vet last month a week apart. Each with a several hundred dollar bill. I will hold off on buying any extra supplies, just what we need and maintain what we have until I get the emergency fund back up to a comfortable level. I do have savings but hate to get into them unless I have to.
    We had snow yesterday, today it’s sunny but cold. I have lettuce in the greenhouse that will be ready to pick next week and sugar peas up that I need to make something for them to climb on today. Your posts encourage me to learn new things to develop my skills. I made a French apple pie yesterday, first pie I’ve ever made at age 60. I’ve always been afraid of making pie crust so have always made other things. The crust didn’t look the best but the pie tasted great. Thank you for all your encouraging words each week.

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  9. Like many others who've commented, I wish I had saved more when I was younger. I don't think it's ever too late to start though. We have recently gotten better deals on both our electricity, phones and also our internet (thanks to the NBN ... so far our experience has been a good one).

    We are also encouraging our youngish boy to save. He has a little neighbourhood job now and he saves most of what he earns. We encourage him and he like seeing his savings growing. He is also having to pay for a few little things himself now, a book he might like and can't get at the library, a patch he wanted for his school bag etc. so he understands that we won't always be covering the costs of things for him. I'm glad he tends towards saving because there's a lot in the world that tries to push everyone towards spending! Meg:)

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  10. I too wish that I had learnt how to budget and save more when I was younger as I know I have fritted away a lot of money over the years.

    I can highly recommend the Track My Spend app which is from the government's ASIC website. The app is downloaded onto your smart phone and on it you are able to keep track of all of your spending. I have been using it for 3 years and now will almost always remember to log all of my spending and then use it to see where I spend too much and where I can cut back.

    Another thing I do is to use the envelope method of saving extra money that has been mentioned in other posts, and I also save any $5 notes in one of those envelopes.

    Great topic. Thank you Rhonda.

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  11. Fantastic post, Rhonda. I have followed your advice, and things have worked out very well for me. I love my little cottage. It is paid off, and is inexpensive to heat and keep cool. I think it also helps to have inexpensive hobbies. I love knitting, and have enough ysrn in my stash to knit for years and years! Most of it was given to me. I buy what's on sale at the grocery store, and cook all meals at home. All the things that you teach us on your blog really work. Thank you again.

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  12. Thanks for this info, Rhonda! My husband and I are 32/33 and have learned that living on one income means sacrificing some of those lovely luxuries of life, but given that it means I can stay home with our daughter, it is just so worth it. I only wish more of my Mummy friends felt able to take the same step!

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    1. We started living on one income in my early 30's, about 10 years ago, I agree with you that you gain so much despite the few luxuries you have to give up.

      It didn't take us all that long to see the real gains, financial and otherwise, of having someone at home much of the time, it's really helped with the stress levels. I know it's not an arrangement that would work for lots of people, but it's been great for us.

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  13. Rhonda - love this post and like many other commenters, wish I had had this information when I was starting out. My husband and I have always been frugal and savers but now that we are older, I see we could have done better. We have no debt and use the credit card occasionally and always pay it off at the end of the month when due. The one problem is husband's health issues, which often leaves me to pick up a great deal of the slack. It is frustrating at times to look around and see so many home and garden projects that need to be done but are falling by the wayside. Keep posting and giving us all the wonderful information to live our lives simply.

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  14. Alessandra from BrisbaneFebruary 14, 2018 8:13 am

    I am in the one income stay-at-home parent category. I am finding this stage to be the most challenging yet. I dread grocery shopping now. Thank you though, for reminding me to find joy in everyday life. I have decided to say “we can’t afford it” a little less often to my children but rather show them practically that this is our budget and this is what we can afford. We ran out of bread last week and our food budget was spent, so my boys and I made our own bread. (this didn’t seem to last very long, it was all eaten that day, but a good example to my children about making do) Thanks Rhonda for a great post on life stages.

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  15. Thank you Rhonda for the brilliant post. I also wish I had saved more when I was younger. I am in my forties and my partner and I have recently been saving up to buy a house. Due to relocating I am not in a job anymore and now can't save, so we are stuck. I wish I had set up an emergency fund. When I get a job it will be one of the first things I do! I am budgeting what little money I get for the children and living as frugally as possible. I try not to get stressed, as you so rightly said, children just want to be loved and I am really enjoying being here for them. Also an added benefit is that they are learning about money and seeing that we don't need much to be happy. Nia

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  16. As always, excellent post.
    I too wish I could turn back time and be much more frugal than I was. All I can hope is we teach our young child to appreciate the value of saving and being able to do some things for himself.

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  17. Not related to the post, which is great as always, but I love that photo of Gracie staring at the chook poo in tip toes :)

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  18. Thankyou Rhonda for your insipiring posts. We have recently moved from the city with our daughter to a regional town in qld for my husbands job, hoping for a simpler life. As I have been very sick with morning sickness as well as having given up my job and missing all the friends we left behind I have been finding things quite challenging. However reading your blog always makes me feel calmer and reminds me what our goals were in moving here, and helps me to rationalise that it is ok to live off one income and to have a slower less frantic life!

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    1. You're in the middle of big changes in your life but remember that you can do quite a few things now that will help when they baby arrives. In the meantime, take care of yourself while you're feeling so sick and know it won't last. When you're feeling better, make a plan to work towards the kind of life you want for your family. Sending love and hugs to you. xx

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  19. Thank you Rhonda for your down to earth advice. I have always been frugal and saved, maybe to extreme sometimes..... with only three years to go until retirement we are counting down the months until our mortgage is paid off. we plan to continue to pay that same amount (we overpay) and put it into a savings account so that we can use that to do things to our home that will make it easier as we age. Such as change from a bath to a shower in the bathroom. That way hopefully the big ticket items will be taken care of while I still have a salary coming in. One thing we find hard is to watch some of our children struggling with money issues. Wish I could get them to read your book!

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  20. My husband worried how we would cope financially when he retired so, armed with his pension forecast, for three years before his retirement date, we managed on his proposed pension income (with no difficulty). Of course, when he retired, he had less out-goings relating to travel and clothes and other work-related expenses so it worked out better than he hoped. Small things made him happy, bless him, but planning ahead is always a good idea.

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  21. My husband would love to retire, he is about to turn 59,after many years of shiftwork.I feel very nervous as our 2 young adult sons haven't been able to find work and we still support them. After reading Rhonda's posts and readers comments I think I need to support my husband and need to come up with a plan.I work 1 day a week and do holiday relief, I'm very happy in my job so will keep working. We are close to owning our home, have started planning the necessary renovations and have an appointment with our financial planner next week. With all that in mind I think setting a date, even if it's 2 years away, would help us achieve that dream.

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    1. If I were in your shoes, I'd take advantage of having those strong men on hand and plan out a vegetable garden. If your husband is going to retire in the next few years, it would be good to have vegetable gardens dug, compost heaps operating and plans to save water and plant fruit trees. Maybe chickens too. It's certainly an idea you could all discuss and it would be a very good way for your sons to repay your support and fill in the hours with productive work. This is a big project, it requires research, working out exactly what you'll grow and deciding the orientation of the garden and where the water is coming from. If you could do this, it would give your husband something to look forward to in his retirement, supply fresh veg, herbs, fruit and eggs to the kitchen and it would be the start of the new life you're seeking.

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  22. There is an old saying I keep in mind all the time, "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without". This is something that my mother lived and taught her children. So many times it is easy to fulfill your wants rather than focus on your needs. Wants and needs are very different and often become confused in one's eyes. It is never to late in life to be frugal and reap the rewards of self reliance. Mending, repairing, cooking from scratch, gardening and crafting are all ways to stretch a dollar. Also being mindful of making a trip to a store for a reason not just to window shop. Although many of us have had to work outside the home to help make a living, a job is not a life and money is not so wonderful when you have to give up your time and family for the all mighty dollar. I hope that all people choose to do just one thing (you suggest so many) to start their path of self sufficiency because everything is one step at a time. Each time you do something that will save you money you will reap a wonderful reward of feeling good about yourself and giving this gift to your family. I wish all well in their journey through life and finding that simplicity is a way to a less stressful life. Barbara of Wyoming USA - bp@uwyo.edu

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  23. Speaking of the single life, one important aspect of staying afloat financially- that is often overlooked by the older generations, is housemates. Like many young (ish!) people, I live frugally and ethically and have savings, but just don't have the job security to consider buying a house. It's not a viable option when you may need to move states or countries to follow the work. Therefore, I'll probably be renting for the foreseeable future.

    Being female, and a scientist, my wages are low, but I can rent a three-bedroom townhouse and then sublet the other bedrooms to uni students or other full-time workers, decreasing my rent and bills to a quarter of what they were. Besides, if you don't have the privilege of family or close relationships, it's nice to have some people around you, rather than being in the house alone every night!

    I love reading your blog, even though I rarely comment!
    Genevieve (of Western Australia)

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    1. Great comment Genevieve and it reminds us all of different ways to cut costs. When Sunny lived on the Gold Coast and again when she was with Kerry, there were always students in their flats renting the spare rooms. It's a fabulous way of saving on the cost of living.

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  24. Hi
    In our 20's, I would have loved to travel some but my husband always said that we can do that in our 50's. Guess what? It doesn't happen as you think it might. We were always savers and had a plan. I never had a budget but our money was always allocated- bills, daily living, long term investments (house), short term(car replacement and shares)& superannuation (always min. of 15%). We hoped to retire by 55. My husband did at 56 and I worked to 57. I have our spending history on computer back to 1999. The paper version is binned now. I didn't return to work until our youngest was 9, other 12. I am guilty of wasting money when I started work. Very frugal until when. Working full time, homework, ferrying children about saw me waste money on convenience foods and endless activities for the girls. Still no holidays away but we had a good lifestyle. Husband worked 6 day week, 10 hour days for most of the time, so daily life fell on my shoulders.
    Now retired for 2 years, I have no great desire for travel. I now devote time to ME. I exercise, craft, meet new people and love living in my home. Husband has his shed, boats, tractors, acreage to keep him busy.
    I think what I am saying is not to stress over the daily problems, make the big picture achievable but not too specific because sometimes life is not in your control- illness, job loss. Try to live each day according to your own plan, not your neighbours, look to beauty in the small things, respect and love your partner, they are not the same person you met 40 years ago but neither am I. Although self funded, we are not rich and will likely access the pension at some stage. But for me, it' like my 20's again, back to being frugal with my resources, being kinder to the environment and thankful for our good health. I wish everyone peace and happiness in the path they are on. Erin

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  25. We had trouble saving early in our marriage. Then I came up with a plan to bank half of every increase in income that we received. That has served us well over the years. We also banked tax returns, rebates, virtually every "windfall". Our life in retirement is simple. We travel a little bit, but other than that our expenses are just what we need to live. I'm enjoying these posts.

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    1. We did something similar, Debi. Our windfalls went on the mortgage and we paid it off 17 years early. It's a good strategy.

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  26. I’m a bit late to comment, sorry Rhonda. We’ve had a really big week ��.
    My family is at a point where my husband and I both work (though I only work 2days/week) as our youngest is at school. We are still figuring out the best way with meals, though we’ve found cooking a few meals on a Sunday to use through the week can be helpful, as can having meals in the freezer.
    Another thing I do that’s really helpful is a cooking day with friends. There’s 4 of us in total and we all cook a snack, a lunch item and a main meal. We divide it up to serve each of our families and freeze. It’s so helpful for lunch boxes and days when I’m caught not knowing what to have for dinner.
    Melissa, Wollongong.

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  27. Rhonda, you are such an inspiration to me. My life is changing in the past few years, due to your blog and your books. I know now, at 57, that I am ready to be home and live frugally and simple. Several of your dear readers have encouraged me today by saying "you are never too old to start". I had feared that I was too old to even begin thinking of being frugal and living the life that I now want. We were not good savers in the past years (except for the automatic retirement deduction), but I now have my $1000 emergency fund and $2500 in accessible savings. After you started your current series I decided to try a no buy month for February. I made my list in January for what we would need from the grocers and miscellaneous, took our cash out of the bank for the month, for the first time (always used a credit card in the past and didn't always pay it off in one month), am still carrying cash (which means I haven't over spent), and couldn't be happier and excited for the future!

    I still work full time, but am eligible to retire. However, because we didn't save in our younger years, I need to work until I'm 62. You have inspired me to gather up our debt (not our mortgage yet, but our credit cards, home equity loan, vehicles), total them up ($58,000) and over the last 18 months have them paid down to $18,000! All of this is because we have a goal of retiring. Our biggest lesson here when you are young, is that if you don't have a tangible goal, your money can run through your fingertips and not know where it goes.

    When I was young, I never wanted to stay home, because my mom did, and to me it meant doing without what the Jones's had, and let's be honest, sometimes we want the same crayons that Susie has to use in school. Now I can look back on the memories of my mother and her taking such immaculate care of our home and cooking all of our meals from scratch as her love made real for us.

    My hobbies are expensive, I'm finally being honest with myself. Quilting, knitting, stitching reproduction samplers with silk, etc. When I started my no buy month, that went for hobbies too. I almost went into a panic when I recognized what I have in supplies, with no possible way of using it all up before I die. There is no way that I will ever go back to spending thousands of dollars on my hobby. It's time to shop my supply. It will last me until doomsday.

    I am excited for the future. A small garden is going to be started this summer; it won't feed us extensively, but it will reconnect us with our land and give us something to look forward to in the spring. My old cookbooks are back out and I am planning at least 3 meals a week, the left overs tide us over, with a few unplanned meals like a frittata. I am planning on putting up a retractable indoor clothes line for the winter, to save on the electricity cost of the dryer. I am not an extensive traveler, preferring to stay near home, plenty to entertain me. We live 17 miles out of town, so it is truly satisfying surroundings.

    All of this said, so that people who think they can never change, will see that there is the possibility to live differently. But you have too make the changes, it won't be done for you. Who knows, if we keep this up, I may be retired before 62, living the dream.

    Robin (Montana, USA)

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    1. Woohoo Robin, you're paying off that debt! I'm so impressed knowing what you've done in 18 months. I was in my 50s when I started and like you, I felt such a feeling of empowerment when I stopped spending and took control. So yes, you're never too old or too young to start this. Keep up the good work, it will make the most incredible difference to your life.

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  28. Thank you for this post. We have been through most of those life stages and are now about two years from retirement. My husband is going part time later this year and we will adjust to a reduced income before we both retire and live on an even more reduced income. This seems like sensible preparation to us. We have spent the last few years having the expensive maintenance and improvements done on our house and are still working through some projects while we have our current income.
    One of the things I am working on but not finding easy is gently letting our adult daughters know that we will not be able to provide such a financial safety net for them as before and gifts to them will have to downsize a bit in future. Don't get me wrong - our daughters are sensible and work for their own livings and don't expect anything from us but it is my attitude that needs to change really - we have always been generous providers and I need to allow them to be independent adults.We have always been generous with our time and love too and that will continue.
    I am excited about moving to the next stage and have a list of skills I want to develop for use in later, more home based life.
    Reading your books and blog is a great place to start.

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    1. Hi Penny. That maintenance and preparation you're doing now is absolutely the best thing. It will pay off tenfold in future years. It is difficult sometimes to change our behaviours. I'm sure your daughters have had a sensible upbringing and know the value of a dollar but now is the time to step back and allow their individuality and independence to blossom. xx

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  29. I am in the phase of a working couple with a toddler. We married late (I was 30 and husband was 40) so we both came in with savings and sensible ideas about money (I think we both appreciated how stable the other was). I am now 36 and I feel very good about our little family. One of the strengths of our marriage is that we are both deeply committed to living on half our wages, in a modest home with a 15 year mortgage, we save aggressively for our retirement and our daughter’s education. But we still
    Manage to live a full and, in my opinion, luxurious life with delicious food made at home, lots of family time outdoors or at the library on the weekends, and a well loved home. However we don’t do things like take expansive vacations (we visit our parents on holiday), we don’t eat out very often, we don’t have gym memberships (we walk or run at a home treadmill or outside), and we don’t own new fancy cars or the latest tech toy. We have a low stress life and we both feel confident that should the worse happen and one of us fall ill or even die, that the other can maintain a great standard of life for our daughter alone. My husband lost his father as a teenager and this is a concern that weighs on him. Our sensible money ways provide great reassurance, stability, and a sense of mutual love for each other.

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    1. I love your story! We too, love the outdoors and library. Thank you for sharing. You have a great plan in place for the future!

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  30. Hi Rhonda and readers
    I work from home with my husband in a small business that we’ve been running for about 4 years. we have an 18year old and 11 year old and in our early 40’s. We do want to pay off our quite large mortgage and save for retirement. But it’s always hard to figure out what our weekly drawings from the business should be. I have a strict budget and make it as low as we can manage in case things go wrong and business has a downturn. But still have buffer money in the business account to draw a wage for a few months. But this doesn’t give us any extra into the mortgage or save for retirement. The business does well but it really only pays one average full time salary. It does however provide a fabulous lifestyle for the family. I guess the idea is that when the kids become independent that is when we redirect the expenses we had from their schooling etc into extra mortgage and retirement savings. Perhaps this a floored plan that we will regret later in life... we don’t have any other debt and have a modest lifestyle that fits in our budget. Oh to have a crystal ball!

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  31. Twelve months ago I went from working a 32 hour week to a 40 hour week. The changes have been gradual in what I have given up doing in my 'free' time. Trying to live a frugal life takes time, like cooking from scratch and making my own laundry detergent. I still cook from scratch but have been using a menu plaaning app to help me not waste food. I cook bigger meals on the weekends and freeze multiple leftovers tomuse on the night I am too tired to cook. A few things I have stopped doing are making my own laundry liquid, trying to clean the whole house every week and my tight budget. I still take my lunch to work everyday (leftovers from previous night or from the freezer or tinned tuna and a homemade salad). I still have a savings account with my emergency fund and I am still paying extra off my mortgage. It is a struggle some weeks to do,it all, but being a divorced mum (one adult child, with health issues still at home)I have no choice. Picking what works for you and being super organised are how I try to keep my frugal life moving forward and setting myself up for retirement 😊

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  32. I’ve found that having an anti-consumer mindset has helped me with savings. Another resource I have found useful is a graph and table showing how many years it will take you to retire based on the percentage of take home income that you pay! At present I lead a fairly frugal lifestyle, working 6 months of the year, and saving 35% of my take-home pay. I do this by living in accommodation that is not surplus to my needs, not making shopping a hobby, eating mainly vegetarian food, growing what I can in a tiny space and making all kinds of things like washing detergent, soap, sourdough, yoghurt, sauerkraut and kombucha.

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  33. I have followed your blog for several years and I enjoy it immensely! I was fortunate enough to work weekends when my oldest girls were younger which allowed me to work two nights and get paid for three (the sacrifice was giving up my Friday and Saturday nights and sleep half the day Sunday). It also allowed me to be home with my children and homeschool during the week. Your blog was what kept me going at times during a difficult divorce and transition to having to work a job that no longer allowed me to be at home with my two younger children.

    While I homeschooled, we used your blog extensively to work on budgeting, homemaking, sewing, crafting, writing and I believe one of my daughters, who is now married with two children of her own, continues to read it today. You have been a wonderful inspiration to myself and my family. It's like setting down to tea with a good friend, each and every time I open the page. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and experiences!!

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    1. Hello Karen. It's good to read such wonderful feedback. I'm pleased to have been part of your family life and I send you all the best. xx

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  34. I started working at the age of 16 & my mother took one third of my wage as board. I then joined the RAAF at 17 & was earning an adult wage. After leaving the RAAF I worked for various banks and one privilege was low interest rate housing loans. The added bonus was my father was a real estate agent so I bought my first half share in a house at 21. 25yo saw me buy my home for the next 28 years. So financially I was doing much better than my peers from a very early age.
    The fiscal savings and my tight rein on my spending over many years (whilst still enjoying some overseas travel and plenty of dining out) saw me at one stage owning my own home before the age of 40 plus a couple of investment properties. At one point finances were a bit strained so that I did sell up but capital gains tax took a fair whack.
    Still some money got reinvested into superannuation as did an insurance payout & enabled me to work part time rather than full time (albeit at more than my friends were earning at full time rates).
    Now aged 58 & very recently retired I am mortgage free, cash in bank, 10 times more superannuation than most women my age and fairly cheerful.
    I see it as a combination of luck (& some bad luck), hard work and connections (my dad's job!). I don't really budget and never have had the discipline to stick to one but have always had frugal tendencies ( is the Scottish mother a hint?).
    I now will be working casually to provide some pocket money and social interaction. I am very pleased to not be doing weekend end work any more.
    Claire in Melbourne

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  35. Thanks so much for this post Rhonda!
    Unfortunately, for me it comes too late. I only wish I had known all of this in my younger days, as life could be easier now.
    But I can sure refer other younger people to your blog if need be.
    Thanks again.
    ~Sue M.

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  36. This is a timely post for me as I am about to have a child graduate from college and I have been thinking of all the things I want to tell him and of all the things I wished I had taught him while he was at home. This is a good starting place for me to start making my list and going over things with him.

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  37. In my experience, having a budget also helps immensely to navigate changes between life stages and to face them with a more confident and prepared attitude. I have recently separated from my partner and, since I knew this was coming, adjusted my budget last year to see whether I could support our family of three just on my salary; any contributions from him went in as "extra", and were actually set aside in savings. This meant that I was quite confident that, once he was out of the house, we would have enough.
    At a time of such emotional and practical upheaval, it helps to have the certainty that at least the financial aspect of the situation is accounted for.

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  38. Rhonda, thanks for this series. I've been following along even though I haven't commented often. You are providing people such a service with your books (I have them!), and your advice about simple living. I've always been sort of frugal, but of course I wouldn't have wanted to go too far with that. LOL. I'm an American and have lived in several states. We are within about 2-3 years of retirement and are preparing as best we can.

    For 10 years in my 30s, we lived in Alaska, which threw me off my frugal mindset -- there was always plenty of money up there and we spent like drunken sailors. But being in my 60s now, I'm so glad we have had so many wonderful experiences. When you link to the bear cams on McNeil River, I giggle to myself, I've been there. We had a fishing boat and spent lots of time in on the ocean fishing for salmon and halibut and saw humpback whales, orcas, belugas, seals and otters. I'm so happy for those experiences. But all that time, we did manage to put 10% away. Looking back it should have been much more.

    So to all you younger people, yes, it is important to begin saving. Just get into the habit of putting some money away. When we moved back to the Lower 48, it was a shock to my system. But we figured it out again, and I was even able to stay home with our son while my husband worked in his chosen career. I worked part-time jobs that paid for extras that the main salary didn't cover (like camps and sports gear for our son). We paid off all debt (except the mortgage -- could never quite manage that because houses are very expensive here on our East Coast). But with the debt paid, we were able to save more for our retirement. We won't be rich, but hopefully we'll be comfortable. I've been following your advice for years and have learned to make whatever I can at home. We'll move to a less expensive area and sell our house here, but that's fine. We are more than ready to be out of the rat race.

    There are so many good ideas in Rhonda's columns, books, etc., and in all the comments. Pick what works for your family and give it time to sink in and work. Then add another habit. I never minded second-hand stuff, cars, clothes, furniture, etc. That saved quite a bit. Kids don't always need the newest and best and it's good for them to learn that they can't have everything the minute it comes out. Develop a resilient mindset.

    My final advice would be not to skimp on experiences. Spend what you can on your passions (we loved to travel). Skimp where you comfortably can. Spend as much time with your kids as possible. They grow up fast and you want to build up a storehouse of memories and give them the best moral structure you can. Live the best life you can, as simply as you can, be as kind as you can, and you'll probably enter your older years feeling pretty satisfied that not only have you had a pretty good life, but you'll be OK in your later years.

    Sorry to be so wordy!

    Mary


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