Sunday, 23 July 2017

Engineering where you want to be

Hello and Good Morning. 
I had a thought provoking and inspiring email from a reader which I thought I would share with you here, with her permission of course. There must be many people in the same position who are thinking and worrying how they will cope if they change full time work into part time, or retire altogether.  

Hello Ilona,
My name is Elaine. I also started work full time at 16yrs. By the time I was 56yrs, I felt that I could no longer keep it up. I had no life, divorced with one grown up daughter, why was I putting myself through this daily grind?
I tell you why FEAR, work was all I had ever known. Also scared how would I cope financially?
I was able to take early retirement, some thought I was an idiot as it was less money than taking it later in life. But I was totally burnt out. I looked on websites for how to cope, and it was always American's who had the big advice. Then by chance I came across your blog. Somebody British who I could relate to. You were living a great life with little money, and there was me sad not knowing what to do age 58 trying all sorts and ending up lost.
I am 59 next month and in a much better place. Although I was shocked that my state pension was now available to me at 66 and not 62 as the government had me believe, thankful to the WASPI women fighting this.
I do still work part time but when I want to, and even this is now getting too much, but I realise I have to keep going till 66 drat!
I have a car, paid off my mortgage and am taking your great advice off the blogs.
Thank you for helping me, why should I feel guilty about wanting a nice life?
Best wishes,
Elaine.


My story is that I started winding down when I was in my mid fifties, I cut my working hours which resulted in a drop of income. I wanted to get off the treadmill, wanted a better work-life balance, so the answer was clear to me, if I didn't spend anything I didn't have to earn it. I watched the bank balance go down and down, to almost rock bottom. When it got dangerously low I knew I had to do a couple of days work so I could pay my mortgage. 

A strange thing happened, I didn't worry, I didn't panic. I saw my situation more as a game, a game I had to win, and winning for me was yes, I had less money, but I had a lot less stress. It was fun jiggling with small numbers. Imagine someone with big numbers in big savings, big investments, big bank accounts, and big commitments. How do they cope with that? 

Money doesn't buy you happiness, as it has been proved millions of times. It is big news when a relationship breaks up and the acrimonious splitting up of the assets begins. Money makes people bitter, when they lose it they become even more bitter. It brings out the nasty streak in people. Far better to have very little and build a life around what you have, and be content in your own bubble. 

Elaine, you are in a good place, you have made the changes you needed to. A nice life doesn't have to cost a lot of money. Over the next five years do an audit of your situation, an annual review. List your needs and wants, move some of the needs over to the wants side. As you get older you may find that you need less, so you will spend less. Ask yourself the question, 'do I need it', before you open your purse. You may find you can chip away at your working hours, cutting them down bit by bit. Perhaps look for another part time job that you enjoy more, rather than just working for the money. 

Your nice life is taking shape, it will be what you want it to be. Keep on tweaking it, manipulating it, changing things. Life can only get better if you make it better. 

Have a nice Sunday everyone. Thanks for popping in, we'll catch up soon.
Toodle pip 

30 comments:

  1. Money can make us momentarily happy, but the real happiness that I sometimes see in people is in a mindset. I haven't worked since I had my first baby 18 years ago. I always wanted to be a homemaker and full time mother. When my children started school my spare time went on educating myself (degree and now masters). I don't regret a thing. My second son was diagnosed at 2 as having profound learning difficulties. My husband reduced his hours to part-time which meant we were living on a significantly reduced income. Some thought we were doing the right thing, others thought we were crazy. Reality is, we are very happy. I have always been here to help my children through the difficulties of life, we have spent time together as a family, my husband is never stressed or tired and actually LOVES his job rather than resenting it. But the downside is we don't have the stuff everyone else has. It's not for everyone. We all make our choices.

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  2. I stopped working in the NHS on my 50th birthday - colleagues questioned my plans - how would we manage/would I be bored, blah blah blah! I receive a miniscule monthly NHS pension - which is actually much appreciated and the small lump sum I received I used to pay off our mortgage. Everything is do-able if people are willing to tweak/cut back/enjoy the simpler things. I do a bit of self employed work from home now, as and when I want and I am 100% happier than I was when at work even though our household income has dropped a lot.

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  3. Far more important to me than money is the fantastic crafting community. There is so much support to be found at your fingertips, many of us practice economies both by choice and out of need.

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  4. I so agree with all this Ilona.Since i have been reading your blog,my life has changed so much.But although i have less money,i seem to be able to manage it better.I think before i open my purse.Ive never been one to throw money around...but now,the small amount i have seems to go alot further because of careful planing.I can even manage to save a bit which i was never able to do before.And its fun!!Life is how you make it.We all go this way once,so make the very best of what you have got.You know,at one time when i got up in the mornings,i used to switch my laptop on and read the papers on line......Now the first thing i google,is Mean Queen!!,You always seem to set me up for the day so thanks for that!!!,Best wishes,Debi,Leic,x

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  5. As I have gotten older I don't seem to care about outward stuff.I care about how I feel inside about things and what makes me happy.Where I live people seem to have outwardly lots of fancy stuff,it is lovely but most of them rush around to pay for it all.I don't want that -my time is more precious to me than appearances to enjoy feeling free that is priceless x

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  6. I worked full-time for 35 years, the never-ending 9-5 and 4 weeks holiday, and then, I just decided 'why am I doing this?' I was so tired by Friday evening that the weekends were catch-up-on-sleep and household chores etc. The light bulb moment. I cut back to part-time and enjoy my job - the real challenge has of course been to manage on less money. My aim is to retire early in another 7 years, even though the UK government has put my state pension age up to 67 (at present, it could change). My luck changed when I stumbled across this site and have been following it every day since; all the helpful tips and advice about not wasting money. I now feel less stressed and have learnt that TIME is important to me and not MONEY. I and other friends have found free things to do instead of expensive meals and evenings out (a treat is ok once in awhile!). My thinking is that I am preparing to live on a smaller income NOW so that when I do stop working I can manage without it being such a shock. Amanda

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  7. You are a very kind person, Ilona.

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  8. i am at the stage where we need the money to do what we want to do, ie move house, so I'm on the verge of going from part time to full time, do I stay part time, that's where I seem the happiest to be honest, I'm coming up for 50 do I want the relentless grind or can we manage on less hours, I'm only on 16 hrs at present and its not enough as hubby trying to find another job too, I'm in a mid terraced so desperate to move to something better more rural with more privacy, but need something secure to get a mortgage. what if I make a mistake when we move, what if its worse than where we are, feel a little bit in a circle going round and round at present and unfortunately definitely not content on where I am at present. So yes definitely need to tweek, do stuff to change it to how we want. I am in declutter mode though and getting rid of lots of stuff and don't really feel the need to buy more.

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    1. Hi Julie,I was in the same position,25 years ago.Wanting to move to a more rural area.About 12 miles from the town.We had alot of time wasters so it didnt happen.I wanted to move for the same reasons....Its isnt the house...its the people that live in the area.Those that try to make life hard for everyone.Music blaring out at all hours of the day was our problem.Couldnt watch telly or have windows open when we came home from work.You could hear the ..Bang bang of music as i drove into where i live!,I did deal with it in my own way....but thats another story,lol!!.What im trying to say,is dont let others drive you out.My hubby is disabled now so to live in the sticks would be a no no for us,so im so glad we didnt move.I dont know your story of wanting to move,but im just trying to say,think of the coming years.Im so glad i did.Best Wishes to you ,Debi,x

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    2. Thanks Debi, have two valuers coming in this afternoon :) knowledge is power and all that. Yes its the people,but also house is too small for us, people either side have moved three times and we are still here, dog either howls or I'm waiting for it to howl, my stomach sinks when I wake up or when I come home, they are a young couple with a young footbally kid, have bought a 6 foot pool for garden with an ongoing filtration system which is constant. They come out and talk on their phones at full blast when your trying to have five mins, they have a large trampoline and lots of parties, its like a car park at the front, I hear dog and them in the middle and everything above in the garden, I'm really not very happy at all. partner has agreed to move, although I think he would stay if he could. I just want something different, 25 yrs in a property is so long and I need a change, some privacy, peace I think, I'm glad it turned out well for you, not sure how you dealt with the music but I have ear plugs nearly 24 seven :(

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    3. I wondered how Debi dealt with it too Julie.I thought about moving because of bad neighbours,but decided against it as I was concerned that there would be more of the same elsewhere-I'm in a semi,but I also know someone in a detached property living next to problem people x

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  9. A year ago my husband came home from work, sat on the sofa and put his head in his hands, he had never done this! I got him to talk to me and he admitted he was struggling, management had changed, a lot of pressure was put on him and his job involved a lot of driving, the hours were creeping up but not the pay. He had worked for 47 years so after taking stock of finances and priorities, I said pack it in, he had done enough, the relief on his face said it all! We had to downsize, move out of the area and take pension credit for a year until he is 65 in November and he gets state and private pensions.We feel blessed that downsizing has left us with some savings, no mortgage and a more stress free life, We have now got an allotment for him to play with and he can go fishing when he wants to ( he is cheap to run ), we don't eat out or have holidays but life is now one big holiday, we live 6 miles from the coast, can walk to the supermarket and have peace of mind which is the most important thing.Pleasure comes in the form of coffee in a flask and a couple of butties and a cheap veggie stew bubbling away in the slow cooker! Life still throws us the odd curved ball but we just throw it back. Thank you for your inspirational posts, Chrissie.

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    1. Chrissie, absolutely fabulous story, well done. Before your husband became too tired or driven over the edge you worked out a plan, I applaud you both. Good luck with your new freedom. As you say, who cares about posh restaurant meals and holidays; your health and happiness is more important. I was invited for a drink at a local pub last week, whilst there I perused the menu (we weren't eating) and - gulp, faint, recover - spotted a starter of scallops and some tiddly-widdly side salad for £9.95. Hmm, no thanks, that's nearly my week's shopping. I have to admit after reading this site I am now a fan of veggie stew too - cheap, filling and cheerful. Amanda

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    2. I love your comment, Chrissie. So glad you and husband have worked things out and are happy. Happy is not found in 'things' but in having a peaceful, contented life. The older I get, the less I want, and I am finding such freedom in that mindset. Lovely comments from all of you-- Joy in the U.S.

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    3. Well done Chrissie, you are a team and it works for you.

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    4. What a lovely story Chrissie, it made my day, thank you.

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    5. Hi,
      I have been for a while now scaling back on what i have and what I use. There have been some mistakes along the way (some costly) but I am not sorry for what has come from them. I water down my shampoo take a 1 third shampoo to 2 thirds water I save my slithers of soap and all manner of things. My Husband used to long for sky T,V but with the property we live in and some stipulations we cannot put up a dish. I finally heard him mutter there other week how much re they wanting for T.V no chance there's enough crud to watch. Inside I did a jiggy dance! lol but like a lot of you I am blessed with a library close and a very good community hub so much goes on down there either free or at a VERY low cost. I am a member of time bank which allows you to skills share and there is no charge other than the materials needed for the task. I had the opportunity a while back for some free t shirts etc and didn't refuse sorted some for now and stored the rest for when the others are worn. I craft watch telly play scrabble exchange all sorts of things with some wonderful people and I am hard pushed to spend anything anymore, I knew I had finally made it when I was in the town and thought oh Barnardos (99p) charity shops near and just didn't want to go! I rarely go to town for anything now and when I do I try and do it all in one hit. As I grow older I want less and less. A mobile that sends and receives calls and messages is enough. I may live in a city but I live a much slower pace of life and im not for going back roll on older age I meet you when I get there!
      . I love this blog and all I gleen best to all

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  10. yorkshire lass23 July 2017 at 16:05

    I too retired early from nhs on a much reduced pension and work part time for an agency. I am about to reduce my hours by half again so income will drop again but I know I can manage. I practise all the time. My advice is keep looking at this blog and others like it, search frugal living or living on £1 a day, stuff like that. It's like a brilliant alternative community. Ask yourself if there is anything you need to do, can you do it free or cheaper and if you can't think of it ask someone else who knows.I like the way my train of thought makes me question lifes values, commercialisation, commodities, waste and profit. It gets political but that doesn't mean you get involved with them in their pinstripe suits, I mean you question why you need to keep buying more stuff. Enjoy this liberating lifestyle.

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  11. Not entirely on topic but this is a story about food waste which I think will fascinate Ilona and her readers:

    https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/jul/22/food-waste-wedding-feast

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  12. The truth is everybody, no matter their age, needs to figure out the work/life balance. And everyone, no matter their age, needs to figure out wants versus real needs. A lot of the debt/wage-slave situations would go away; we would be a healthier world both mentally and physically if we did that.

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  13. Inspirational comments.
    People are realising that quality is better than quantity, well we are! Buy only what you need. Use what you buy. Waste not want not. Then what you have and buy you will really appreciate. Do everything economically. Enjoy a simpler life.

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  14. I took early retirement at 56 when a job I'd loved for years had changed beyond all recognition. I think working up to and beyond retirement age is brilliant if you are happy, fulfilled and well paid, but sadly this is not the reality for many people. I was always a bit of a spender and I'll be honest I do find it hard not being able to buy this and that, but it's a price worth paying to have my freedom. This year I have only bought clothes in charity shops, but it's fun and a lot of them are much nicer than the rubbish the normal shops are trying to sell us this summer! Life is short, and I agree with your correspondent Ilona, why shouldn't we all strive to have a nice life? For me that is being in control of my time and having the chance to pursue hobbies and interests that I'd mothballed for years. I have friends who just cannot afford to retire early and I feel for them, as most of them have family responsibilities and health issues that make their lives very difficult. I support the WASPI women and the whole situation makes me angry.

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  15. I am 57(58 in six weeks) and I am on half the income I was on due to redundancy.I now work 30 hours a week I have not dropped my standard and have a better quality of life due to advice here and other blogs. I am more happy with myself and funny at the end of the month have more money left than friends who have 3 times my salary. Ilona you have no idea what good work you are doing with your blog. Your an inspiration. Xx

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  16. I see the world differently thanks to Ilona. This is only one example - This morning I hung out my washing using plastic pegs that had been left on a washing line dumped on the pavement. I took these off, washed them and now use them which always make my smile for some reason. I think it is the thought of people looking at me wondering what I am up to but it gives me happiness which cannot be bought as per the comments above. Thanks you Ilona for your inspiration. Sharon

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  17. Some brilliant comments on this post, some inspirational stories, it's so nice to see that many of you are making the changes for a better life. I'm chuffed to little mint balls.

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  18. I am now in the position that I don't really have to watch the pennies being only myself at home. I have a very modest home furniture I have had for over 50 years in some cases and can not see the point in buying New when the old things still do the job they were meant to do. Old habits are very hard to break, I still look out for yellow stickers, bargains in the shops and will not pay over the odds for things I don't think are worth it. I gain lots of pleasure in saving a few pennies so I can treat the grandchildren now and again and have the occasional cup of coffee when out with friends. I only have my pension plus a very small pension from my late husband but enjoy life and I think we are so lucky in having the free bus pass which enables me to have lots of little outings. Thanks for all your good advice Ilona.
    Hazel c uk

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  19. I can have as much enjoyment doing an activity that costs nothing , or next to nothing, as I can if I spend a months worth of wages. A picnic is as good as a lunch out at a restaurant, a long walk through the forest more thrilling than shopping at the grandest shopping centre, and a weeks camping on the beach just as relaxing as a 4 star hotel. The only difference is that picnics, walks and camping just don't have the same brag factor, if you are into that sort of thing.

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  20. I would really like to cut my expenses like you do. Simple life is a better life. But I couldn't possibly let myself watch my bank account go down and down, and not feel stressed. I also like having my coffee when I feel like it. I guess it's not the time for me to cut everything... But I took some steps. I make my own cleaning products, I stopped entirely eating outside, and I made one month rule before I actually buy something expensive. That way I can ensure myself that I actually need what I want.

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  21. Hello Ilona,
    Could I, through your page, please respond to Elaine? The information may be useful to other readers too.
    Women born in the 1950s and were not given the requisite ten years notice of a change in the state retirement date, and need to make complaint to the DWP. The complaints process is very straightforward. The website where you can access letter pro-formas is detailed below.
    If the legal challenge of maladministration is upheld, it could be that ONLY those who have complained will be compensated. Waspi have said:
    "Our legal team recommends that all affected women should make their own complaint, because at this stage we simply do not know if the Parliamentary Ombudsman will make a ruling that will apply to all women or will apply only to those who have complained. If you do not make your own personal complaint, you run the risk of being excluded from any potential future compensation that the Parliamentary Ombudsman may award.
    If you haven’t started your maladministration complaint yet, please do so now. If you have started your complaint, then please continue to pursue it. Full details of how to do this are in the Guide to Complaints on our web page, www.waspi.co.uk/action and your local WASPI group will also be able to help you with this; again their details are on our web page".

    Many thanks, Eloise

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