I can’t believe it – Shoestring Alley is 2 years old today! Where did that go? It’s so odd, thinking back to when I started this blog – like looking back on a different life, almost. The passing of time can be like that though, some events simultaneously feeling like yesterday and ten years ago all at once.
Two years ago I was ticking along in the same job I’d been doing for several years, increasingly alarmed by the reports of economic meltdown, redundancies, plummeting house prices and my own lack of savings (not to mention my spending which I knew I was going to have to rein in). I wanted to get serious about my Future Family Fund so I could afford to take maternity leave with a reasonable amount of comfort and security. Not to mention I wanted the ‘Future’ part of the equation to hurry up and become ‘Present’.
Fast forward twelve months and, this time last year, I was six months pregnant, the scary economy had indeed plucked me from the job I had held though, luckily, presented me with a another one, albeit on a lower wage. But still, I had saved my targeted £s for my maternity leave and I had conquered my spending well enough to know I could live well on a lot less.
And here I am, two years on. I have a beautiful baby girl, I’ve managed to scurry the funds together to take a full year of maternity leave and I’m just about hanging in there with my low, low budget. In a couple of months time I’ll be going back to work for which I’ve managed to negotiate part-time hours. The funds left over after I’ve ‘paid’ the joint account will be very small (I won’t know quite how much until I get my first wage slip) but enough to pay for everything – I hope! The year off has been incredibly good for me in so many ways. It has given me enough of a step back from the day to day grind to gain a slightly different perspective on a lot of things. I hope that I don’t lose this once I go back to work.
Over the last two years I’ve used this little corner of the internet to contemplate and experiment with a variety of approaches to personal finance, simplicity, frugality and wealth. In that time I haven’t exactly come up with any solid ‘answers’ about anything and I don’t think I’ve arrived at any one way of thinking about it all – it’s still a learning process and a set of evolving philosophies.
As I was bodding along the seafront the other day, I was thinking about some of the blogs that relate to downshifting and was startled to realise that, without exactly setting out to do it or think of it in that way, I have managed to achieve quite a massive downshift. Because I haven’t moved house or done anything more dramatic than have a baby (which, actually, is dramatic in my own little universe but you know what I mean) I guess I hadn’t noticed. But I’ve gone from working full time, being stressed a lot and spending a lot to saving money, living on less and working part-time. I could probably make more money but I couldn’t earn enough an hour to make up for what I’d be missing. I’ve always wanted more time. I’ve always lived for weekends and holidays and I’d rather have more free time and less money rather than the other way around, at least while I can afford it.
I started this blog to keep myself accountable, a job which no notepad or journal could possibly have done so well. While I, like many other bloggers, write primarily for myself, it has often been the comments and the inspiration provided by other bloggers (check out my blogroll) that has kept me going. So a big thank you to everyone who stops by to say hello, share a bit of experience or advice and to my favourite bloggers for being inspiring, amusing and generally brilliant. Since I’m soon going to be on my tightest budget ever I’ll still be here, trying to figure out how to make it all work and blogging about it along the way!