I'm queen of my home and here with my king, we grow, make, recycle, mend, bake, ferment, preserve, cook and do as much for ourselves as we can. Doing that helps us live a frugal life where we make the most of our assets and live according to our values and not those of multi-national corporations, advertising agencies or politicians who tell us to keep spending for the sake of the economy. I gave up full time paid work about ten years before the accepted retirement period and I have never regretted it for one moment. But this lifestyle is not only for retirees, it's here for anyone who is willing to do the work. Age is irrelevant. The best way forward is to pay off your mortgage while you're both still working. That will secure your home as your major asset and you won't have mortgage payments hanging over your head every month. Hanno and I paid off our 25 year mortgage in eight years by paying fortnightly instead of monthly, and extra payments when we had any spare cash. It's not easy but it's doable and all the hard work will pay off as you cruise into life without a mortgage.
If you've still got a way to go on your morttage, this post is for you too but it isn't for the faint hearted. It involves much more than wishing you could pay off the mortgage, it's about planning to do it then following through on that plan. Not everyone will want to do this, some won't have the will power or even the opportunity to do it but the payoff is magnificent if you succeed. If you've been thinking about this for a while and decide to go for it, you'll need to plan out your debt reduction, then work towards that magical day when you breathe out and say: We did it!
Then the fun starts.
It's a really good idea to organise yourself well and have a clear plan. In those early weeks the aim for both of you is to set a budget and continue to deliver the same standard of food and house work as you did in the past. You'll have to continue feeding the family and keeping your home clean so the areas you'll probably concentrate on first are finances, food shopping, food storage, and making your own cleaning products. In the following weeks, the person who is working at home can review all expenses, start a major home audit, then begin the life-long commitment to learning the skills needed to carry out the work you want to do. These new skills might include baking, cooking form scratch, food storage, fermenting, cheese making, and making the cleaning products you want to use. There is no doubt that if you master these more traditional skills - either one, two or many of them, you'll save money and increase your independence while moving further away from mainstream life. Hopefully, as you move through these stages, your sense of well being improves and a warm feeling of calm contentment will settle on you as you carry out your daily work.
When you first leave work and become a full time homemaker, you'll probably focus on setting your home up to support the family in a different way. You'll go from shopping weekly for most of your food and cleaning needs, to fewer trips to the supermarket. You'll probably stop buying convenience items and buy more ingredients to make what you need at home. These simple steps reduce the cost of living a lot but they also increase your self-reliance and resilience. This period of reskilling, or learning new skills from scratch is important and it never ends. You'll probably teach yourself how to do all the things your immediate future holds but as time goes on, there will always be more to learn as you go through different stages of your life.
In the next post, I'll continue on this theme and discuss life after that initial change.