I do think it's important, however, to document this journey because it seems like so many others are struggling with the same things I am. I was tired of the corporate world, tired of customer service and asshole customers, sick of my commute, and sick of feeling like the weekend was just too short.
I would keep telling myself to look around and be grateful for the things I had - that I should appreciate every moment. I tried taking yoga classes. I tried working out. I tried doing the things I loved, like cooking, and hanging out with friends, and going to concerts. But in the end, all I really wanted was more time - more time to do the things I loved and more time for yoga and working out and all sorts of other things, like learning a new language or crocheting, or even just watching TV and hanging out with our pets.
But money! We needed money to pay bills, and feed our pets, and feed ourselves, and damn, I loved nice restaurants and good food, and my cute work outfits and decorating our home. But somewhere, somehow, I had to find a compromise. I spent eight years in an office, getting more and more miserable, until finally, I just said, let's try it. Let's try to cut back, live on less, and have more time.
The process really took a few years. First thing we did was, we got rid of cable TV. Just like quitting any habit, the first few weeks were devastating and really hard. I felt out of the loop, couldn't contribute any longer to TV show discussions at work, and even though we could watch the shows online, we were weeks behind everyone since they don't post shows right away. But you know what? We got over it. We filled our days with other things and other shows (we still watch TV online, for free). And now it's been 6 years without cable.
The next major things we cut out were vacations and eating out. Now, everyone still needs vacations, but we stopped planning huge trips to far flung destinations. We started going to local spots, hiking, and checking out national parks, cute cities like Santa Barbara and Morro Bay, and going camping.
Not going out to eat was another major way to cut back on costs, but it was a big sacrifice. Luckily, I love to cook, so I just started cooking more and prepping weekly meals on Sundays. We eat a lot less meat, since it's expensive. We go to the farmer's market for veggies and fruit, and buy in season. I've discovered the wonderful world of whole grains and legumes - cheap and nutritious! It's amazing what you can do when you have some extra time. Mike cooks on other days or we just eat sandwiches.
We stopped buying clothes and furniture on a whim, and stopped purchasing toys for the pets. It turns out I actually have a lot of clothes in my closet. And since I was working less, I didn't really need as many clothes as I had. Furniture? Sure, we want a new couch. But it's been a couple years and we're still using the hand me down couch, which no one holds against us. And the cats seem to prefer free toys, like boxes or a shoelace. They're actually just glad to see us 2 extra days a week, and anyone who has cats knows they just sleep most of the time, anyway.
It's been a long slow road, but now we enjoy a life that is, more than half the time, composed of doing what we love and what we want. We work less than half the week, and we're not suffering. We still eat organic, watch TV, and take vacations. We just do it differently. And I can't help thinking, isn't this how it's supposed to be? At this point, we can't imagine going back to a traditional 9-5 (or 8-6, as it is in most cases).
So welcome to our life - our new life - and our adventures. We hope you are inspired to find what type of life *you* want to live, as others have inspired us!