July Progress to Goals

Our money saving focus for July was on canning and preserving foods. Our CSA basket has been great this summer. Between it and the little bit we got from our garden and our Farmer’s Market finds, we were able to put away:

  • 12 quarts of squash & zucchini (mixed bags)
  • 5 quarts & 2 pints of tomatoes
  • 2 quarts of okra
  • 5 quarts of blueberries
  • 3 quarts of blackberries
  • 4 quarts of strawberries
  • 2 quarts of apples
  • 18 ears of corn
  • 4 whole (cored) bell peppers & 1 pint of pepper pieces
  • 12 jalapeno peppers

We still have about 2 months to go in the growing season here in Tennessee, which should add more corn, tomatoes, apples, and pears to our inventory. Not only will we get to enjoy homegrown goodies during the off-season but we should continue to save on our grocery bill as well.

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Aside from stocking away food, we did a few other things in July. We took a trip to Jekyll Island, GA where we began brainstorming ways to add more fun into our everyday life. We started a new blog, Going Sightseeing, as a result of that brainstorming. Going Sightseeing is more of an experience journal than a true travel blog; kind of a place to showcase the fun stuff we do outside the topic of minimalism. We’re hoping it will re-inspire us (and others) to get out and do things again.

On the financial front, we continue to work toward our main goal to live on 50% of our income. We came in at 61% this month. Our electric bill went up nearly 40% (it was either that or live in a sauna). Transportation costs were up $25. That’s one of the consequences of venturing out more in a sprawling suburban town that lacks public transportation. I’m okay with that trade. We saved 16% again and reduced our Flex Expenses by 14%. Yay!!

JulyExpenses

We have also started thinking about how our budget will be impacted next month when we move to an apartment with a higher rent. I plan to talk more about this in a different post later this week but for now, we’re looking into ways to cut some of our remaining expenses, increase our side-hustle income, or get a better grip on tracking where our money goes. My Excel spreadsheet serves us well but it’s a manual process and sometimes I accidentally leave things out, so we’re considering an app like YNAB or Mint.

I haven’t shelved the idea of semi-retirement. Owning more of my own time is on my mind almost all the time. To get to a place where I feel comfortable leaving my full-time job though, we need to first accomplish two things: 1) pay off my student loan and 2) fully fund our “escape” account. The escape account is something we set up a few years ago. The original purpose was to fund a gap year. Now we’re thinking that we would use the funds to facilitate a move to semi-retirement. Knowing that all of our bills would be paid for a year gives us plenty of time to secure a new revenue stream, whether that’s a part-time job, starting our own business, or something else altogether. We have lots of ideas! Stay tuned for updates 🙂

Separation of Work and State (of Mind)

We came back from our quick trip to Golden Isles, GA on Sunday night. We had a blast, by the way. See…

Yesterday when I returned to work, I found very few emails to answer and even fewer answers to my emails. If it weren’t for our weekly team meetings and the paycheck that arrives in the mail twice a month, I might begin to wonder if my workplace actually exists. Is it just a figment of my imagination? Am I really that certifiably insane??

To lighten my mood, I decided to post a humorous poll on Facebook asking my friends for their advice on my work situation. After a brief explanation of the poor communication that I’ve been experiencing, I asked them to vote for one of the following solutions:

a) Suck it up and enjoy getting paid by someone who obviously doesn’t care what I do with my time.

b) Look for another job where I can miscommunicate with different people.

c) Retire early and see how long I can live off frugality.

d) Hide in the corner and cry.

e) Take suggestions from my FB friends.

100% of the votes were for “C”. Angie’s mom even voted for early retirement and one of our friends made the comment, “You are the only person I know who could retire at your age and make it for another 90 years.” I love the votes of confidence!

Our dear friend Suzanne suggested semi-retirement. She’s headed in that direction herself and hopes to arrive by the end of this year. I can’t say that this is the first time that this thought has crossed my mind. In fact, it was one of the most discussed topics on our vacation, especially during the 18 hours we were riding in the car.

The question now becomes, can we pull it off? What does semi-retirement look like? This is something that I plan to give prayerful consideration to in the coming weeks (so expect to see a few posts on our semi-retirement schemes ideas).

In the meantime, the best way for me to survive work is to relegate it back it to its proper place in my life. It is the thing that I do for 7 hours each day to earn an income. It is not the thing that defines who I am. So rather than obsess over workplace politics or wonder what’s going on in an office 1,176 miles away, I’m choosing to focus instead on how I can make a better life for us with or without this job.

If you’d like to vote in my mock poll, I’d love to hear your thoughts too.