Celebrating a Year of Work-free Wednesdays

One year ago this month, I reduced my work schedule to part-time. For an entire year, I’ve had every weekend and every Wednesday off and I have to say, it has been great. Want to know the crazy part? We didn’t tell a soul (in our family, that is). We did tell all of you but as far as I know, none of you spilled the beans, did you??

A few times, I thought they might have gotten wise to my work-free Wednesday routine but since nothing else in our lives changed, I think they dismissed the idea as quickly as it came. By nothing else, I mean, we didn’t change our spending habits, our travel actual increased, we pretty much paid cash for a car, and we saved money like mad – all of which might indicate we worked more, not less this year.

By cutting back to part time, we reduced our income by close to $8,000 this year. So you’re probably thinking that we side-hustled to make up the difference, right? Nope. There have been times throughout the year that we’ve hustled our way to a bit of extra income but in comparison to years past, even that was less this year. Thankfully, we didn’t need to compensate for the reduction. Our 2016 experiment of living on 50% of our income was great training and it put us in the perfect position to employ those same frugal principles going forward.

Aside from practice at living incognito, our year of part-time employment brought a few other notable changes. We were able to enjoy:

More walks in the park.

More picnic lunches (and breakfasts).

More impromptu adventures.

More family time.

More homegrown food!

There were also more books read. More freebies found in the dumpster. More experiments in the kitchen. More practice at cutting our own hair. More documentaries watched. More visits to the library. More time to help others. More creativity. More movie nights at home. More pictures taken. And more money saved. I think I could go on all day!

In other words, what seemed like it might be a difficult endeavor a year ago has turned into one of the best decisions we ever made. Though, I should probably point out that living successfully on one part-time income is not always fun and games. It requires a whole lot of budgeting and planning and there are some sacrifices to be made along the way. Simply put, you have to have your mind set to simple, otherwise it just won’t work.

If you’re wondering why we didn’t tell anyone outside of this blog that I was going part-time, here’s the unashamedly selfish answer – we wanted a day for ourselves. When you live a life of less, sometimes other people tend to see your free time as their opportunity to plan something for you to do. “Oh you’re just hanging out at home today? Reading a book? In that case, can you go to the grocery store for me, take these curtains to the dry cleaner, pick up my package at UPS, drop off the little one at day care, and if you have time, I’ve really been craving your homemade spaghetti sauce. Let’s have that for dinner. Say 6 PM?” You probably already know all too well how often that really does happen.

Throughout the year there were many Wednesdays that we spent in service to others – taking my Mom to a doctor’s appointment, babysitting for my niece, or doing yard chores – but the choice to do those things was ours. And that, I believe, really was the best part of having Wednesdays off; knowing that we could get up and choose for ourselves just how to spend our day.

#5TF: Family Week

Five Thought Friday Challenge:  Week 6 – July 29 – August 4, 2017

Big Hug!

Angie said that the theme for this week should be “family”. I’m pretty sure Sunday was the only day this week that we didn’t spend with one or more members of our family, either in person, online, or on the phone. We visited with my mom on Saturday, had my niece over for dinner on Tuesday, spent the day with little Ticky on Wednesday, and worked in my mom’s yard yesterday. I also talked to my sister several times and Angie connected with her aunt and grandma to arrange a dinner meet-up during our trip to Niagara Falls in October. She also talked to her mom and swapped old photos with her aunt via Facebook. So yes…I suppose this was Family Week.

One thing I really enjoyed this week was having my niece and the baby over for dinner on Tuesday. It’s been a while since she’s been here. In fact, I think February was probably the last time we shared a meal together. The evening was quite unplanned. They had been swimming all day at the new City water park and their ride back home never showed up so we picked them up. Instead of being upset by the interruption, we took the opportunity to make sure they had a good meal (with lots of veggies and fruits) before sending them back home. We even took a few minutes to walk to the park after dinner, where Ticky entertained us for a good while going up and down the slides. These impromptu moments of lighthearted conversation and laughter are always a welcome in my book.

Going for a ride-along with the neighbor boys. Looks like Ticky is calling for back-up!

I am grateful that Angie and I were both raised to be confident in my own ability to do things. DIY skills come in very handy when you are trying to be frugal. Last year, my mom spent more than $200 fixing an $800 lawnmower. This year, we decided that was nonsense and we would deal with maintenance and repairs on our own (when possible). While mowing last week, we noticed the cut was uneven. One side was barely topping the grass while the other was scalping it. I fixed it temporarily by adjusting the tire pressure but decided to try realigning the deck for a permanent solution. Thank goodness my mom keeps every manual for everything she ever buys. The adjustment was not too difficult and it made a huge difference in mowing this week. Plus it made me feel good to know that I’d done it on my own. [We’re also grateful for the free Panera bagels again this month.]

I need to let go of measuring our day by the clock. Every day I seem to get stuck at 5 PM. It’s like this position on the clock somehow represents the finish line for the day and I think everything – both necessary and fun – has to be accomplished by that time. For some reason, I think work/play should end by 5 PM and dinner prep should begin, followed by the wind down to bedtime. The only problem with this scenario is that we don’t go to bed until 11 PM so that’s 6 hours of our day in wind down mode. Relaxing is definitely necessary but perhaps it wouldn’t be so necessary if we didn’t try to cram everything we want or need to do into banker’s hours. It’s okay to go to the grocery store at night. It’s okay to take a walk at sunset. It’s okay to take a nap during the day and write in the evening instead. The clock is arbitrary (she says, mostly to remind herself) and it’s okay to simply ignore it from time to time.

The new freezer is almost full!

We made progress on our winter food stash, adding 2 quarts of tomatoes, 4 ears of corn, 4 pints of okra, and 2 quart bags of bell peppers and snack peppers to our freezer. We also took a short 2 mile hike on Sunday and spent the rest of the day scheming up ways to cheapen our fall vacation. So far we’ve decided to camp for the first week and use the free bus passes provided by the campground to get around to all of the attractions in Niagara Falls. The following week, we’re catching a cruise out of NY so if anyone has suggestions on cheap parking in or near the Manhattan cruise port, we’re all ears.

Enjoying her “stolen” ice cream bar.

The funniest thing that happened this week was when Ticky stole Angie’s ice cream bar. Up until that time, we had no idea she even liked ice cream. On the other occasions where we’ve tried to share some with her, she’s turned her head or said no. This time, Angie tried to give her a bite and she took off with the whole bar. She wouldn’t even let go of it to go down the slide! Poor Angie lost her snack. On the upside, Ticky didn’t waste a bit of ice cream. She ate the whole thing with little mess, while somehow managing to simultaneously slide and avoid Nanny’s attempts to chase her around the yard with a wet washcloth.