You are asking me and Renata how caravan has changed us. If it really works the way we write. Of course! Our life has improved in many other areas. All tricks, we have found, are in this article.
The totally completely very best thing is, that we stopped hunting after money, success, better car than our neighbor and after all expectations of western culture. I am not afraid to ride into town in ragged trousers or burn wood and at the same pay for a cleaning lady. Everything has its place. I form my life as a journey to a balanced state of being – zero stress, happy family, enough time for long-term goals, time to read, financial awareness and good coffee.
I managed to reduce working time and add quality. I manage less and better, which has brought stellar results and happier clients. In fact I base everything around basic things such as keeping deadlines, agreed prices and expected quality.
All tricks we discovered during last years, are listed lower. I hope, that they can improve your life as well from the state: “This I could never…” into state. ‘Wow, it works!” You do not need to hurry. Take it step by step and you will see, that in a year time, when you look back, you will be surprised how small changes at the beginning can produce big results. In financial world it is called compound interest or interest on interest.
Areas we have changed
Work – driving force of the whole system
In last years I have fine-tuned the workflow process. I don’t try to have dull days, instead I am searching for ways how to keep fun in the work forever. Discipline is helping me with that. If I had made rules, but not keeping them, then everything would have collapsed like house of cards.
- Calendar and Gmail – tools, that are my universal notebook, planning tool and directory. And without them my work would have to cost at least twice as much. What I put into the calendar, I don't have to keep in mind and still don't forget it.
- b – one of the main things that is plaguing many projects and companies, is insufficient communication. I try disclose my work and state reasons for my decisions. I ask a lot. It costs extra time, but guarantees premium result.
- I work from 9 AM to 3 PM – many time I work more, but if I planned for 8 hours and an unexpected lunch or phone call would come, I would not make it and family would have paid for that. I plan the hardest tasks for mornings and for afternoon those, that have not necessarily need to do.
- 4Hour working week— finally I managed to read a book, that changes prejudices into advantages. For me it showed one key thing: Don’t be afraid to delegate.
- Offline Fridays— I still have not come that far, but Friday is a day when I can make up for being behind the whole week.
- Toggl— I measure my time at the computer on different projects, then it is easy to backtrack how long I did what and how much time I wasted.
- Trello— I don’t know about anything better for projects, where coordination of more persons is necessary.
I often listen to a rhythmic music (Drum'n'Base, BreakBeat, Techno, DubStep) and drink tea (Puerh, Matcha) or coffee (Nespresso, AeroPress). I still have not got to the level of Martin Varsavsky, but I find inspiration in his attitude. I don’t watch TV or sports.
Food – to convince your brain
My friend, restaurant owner, had a nice remark: “People always care, what clothes to put on, because it can be seen. But no one sees, what they eat. So they spend three thousand for trainers, but much less for food.” Unfortunately the fact is, that junk food kills us slowly so we don't care about it. (See movies: Food Inc a Fast Food Nation or lecture by Jamie Oliver). We all choose our way the moment when we take our wallet out of our pockets. But it is possible to optimize spending for food and its quality.
- During the week we don’t cook – we bring food from kindergarten, where it is healthy and two lunches cost 5 EUR + 10 minutes of our time. And we don’t throw away 30% of unused food, that would otherwise expire. And most of all, we spend almost no time in a shop. Other thing is, if you have shop close to your place and you like cooking, then it is your leisure, and this can’t be expressed in money.
- Smoked meat and white bread was replaced by salads and fruit juices using Hurom jucie maker.
- We search for inspiration on Internet— i.e. doctor Michael Greger in How Not to Die does it by his heart.
- We order crates with vegetables— one again we are saving time, we get quality vegetables and we don’t to hunt in between store shelves.
- We are searching for local farms— Apart from visiting farm fairs we are searching for companies themselves. It is a source of great stuff and support of local enterprises.
- We are building permacultural garden— according to well known guidebooks.
- We drink good coffee, loose tea and other good stuff without additives.
Healthy body is just one step away from healthy diet. Renata started to exercise (five Tibetans, yoga) and run and wants buy me into it as well. But this is a thing that I still have not got over. On the other hand I don’t mind cutting wood for burning it. It is a workout I don't have to pay for and I don’t have to go anywhere.
Money – limited source of fuel
In last years I try to minimize the power of money to have power over our lives. In ideal world, money have no power and I try to direct to this state through several ways simultaneously. I minimize recurring expenditures for services – insurance, cable TV, mortgages, Internet connection, payment for electricity, fees for having an account in a bank and others. I am also throwing away activities that require time for overhead and maintenance – cleaning, commuting for work, shopping in person.
“Dollar you don’t spend has higher value than a dollar you make.”
— Benjamin Franklin
Have you ever accounted for commuting to work by car? Let’s say you are making 8 EUR an hour. If it takes 45 min to get to work and 45 min to get back and it is some 25 km, then if add fuel and car amortization, this comfort costs you 120 EUR a month at least. In other words you spend 45 min more working in order to earn for your metal precious, but your family sees 2.25 hours less every day. Just because your work is far from your place and you take a car.
You will not make a living out of that, but it is extra money from activities, you are doing anyway.
- I am using cashback systems — credit cards, that return 2% from every purchase, cashback portal, that is returning 3-12% from online purchases or you can find tips and tricks on Mr. Money Mustache. I always want the benefits not to interfere, so I play no games or competitions where you have to send something. Simply – only easy money. I will save roughly 400-500 EUR a year.
- I read American blogs on personal money — Money Mustache has a plethora of ideas as well as more aggressive and more specific blog J. Money
- I think about expenses — as about something that can be changed. And not about something that is fixed. I have several tables that help me to see opportunities.
- Sometimes I don’t have limits — we have a mechanical lawn mower, where we exercise, instead of a doorbell we have knocker and we are recycling waste: bio, paper, plastic, glass and metals.
- We burn timber— estimated savings are 400-500 EUR a year against electricity or gas.
- We have a cleaning lady— if I was cleaning myself, I would loose several tens of euros I don’t make sitting in front of my computer. And you can imagine quality of my cleaning.
- I fiddle with investments— I am trying stock markets, funds, P2P Lending by Mintos and other platforms and I think it is better to start early, so I would know when the right time comes.
You don’t know where to start tracking your expenditures? When I look back, biggest amounts of money, that I am saving in the long run, are negotiated lower payments for mortgages, lower interest on loans for living and energy payments. From time perspective the biggest savings are online ordering instead of shopping personally.
Joy – more than money
I have not made it to retire before hitting thirty, but now I am very well balanced with my family. We are doing what we like and feel happy, but as everybody else we are struggling with everyday worries. We are masters of our time and our own bosses. We have time for long-term plans, for visiting farmers, for arrangements in our garden, for traveling with out caravan and to help out friends and our family.
I am glad that from time to time I can work on projects that bring joy instead of money. Whether it is a web administration for a wheelchair club or website for a nonprofit organization for autistic kids. Answering to your emails or longterm financial support of chosen charities. Nothing of that would have been possible, if I was tired from my work and I “had enough of everything”. I lecture from time to time but as an introvert I still prefer written communication.
Even though tips and ideas I mention here may seem as an easy way to a great life, it is not like that. It is the same as with motivation books – the biggest burden is on you. And on your ability to start at yourself. Don’t be afraid to reflect on yourself. On the other hand, change yourself is much easier than to change your surroundings. It takes couple years to us and there still something to do.
Above all – all procedures mentioned above take as a sample procedure. It is thinking “out of the box”, so it does not take into account things that “are usual”. Some of them may make sense with higher or lower income. But if already own a private jet, you probably won’t be using timber for burning to save some 600 EUR a year. The key figure is the value of your time.