I was in my early thirties with a successful career, fortunate to have climbed the corporate ladder at a fast pace but I found myself feeling unfulfilled. I loved my job but I felt my desire for working in the corporate world was dwindling. I was not sure whether my career had become too fast paced for me that I was beginning to crave a much slower paced lifestyle. My life was hectic, my job was hectic, and everything just seemed so HECTIC!
The good thing was I had a plan…
When my husband and I were newly married in 2005, we talked about our goals and dreams, where we wanted to be and what we wanted to achieve together as a family. At that time I wasn’t really into goal setting as it wasn’t something I saw as important, but on the other hand my husband was a planner and liked knowing the direction we were heading in. He finally convinced me to sit down and come up with plans for our future. After doing this exercise and after much discussion we came to the conclusion that one of our main goals was for me to be able to work from home and take care of the children when they arrived.
This was very important to me because as a child in my early years my mum who is a great mum had a successful career as a nurse but worked long hours. Fortunately by the time my little brother came along my mum could now stay at home and I realised what a massive difference that made to my life by having her at home. This is where my desire came to be able to work from home and spend quality time with my children in their early formative years.
We set our plans in place, wrote up our financial goals in line with these plans and started our journey to achieve them. One of our objectives was the ability to live off of one person’s salary while saving the other salary. In order for us to do this we recognised we needed to keep on top of our finances and be diligent with spending and saving. This was not always easy to do, sometimes it was downright hard but it did ensure we were saving for that possibility of me staying and working from home.
I must admit my husband was very diligent in the pursuit of these goals and we would have annual meetings to discuss where we were at and where we wanted to be and any adjustments in-between. Honestly in the first two to three years of doing this exercise I would say – ‘do we have to have these meetings’ ‘what is the point in all of this?’ and ‘is this even working?’ I was very negative about goal setting and planning and it showed.
Juggling my transition from the corporate sector
In between 2006 and 2007, a couple of years after writing up these plans, I attempted to transition from the corporate world to working from home. I actually had to try this transitioning a few times as I realised this was easier on paper than it was in reality.
I needed to spend more time trying to figure out what I truly wanted to transition into. My husband’s goal setting ways were finally penetrating my stubbornness and I was now starting to plan and organise my future with more thought and effort.
Together we wanted to open up an organic restaurant in the city but to our relief, this did not happen as the global financial crash of 2007/ 08 had only just begun. Can you imagine opening a business under those circumstances? Thank goodness we did not part with any major money. That was just one example of my transitioning phase where I had to re-think and re-adjust.
So back to the corporate world I went although if I am honest I failed a few times with the transitioning changeover. I know many of you may have tried to transition in careers or start your own business in the past and failed, believing it was the end for you. What I have learnt in this journey was that failure is part of the transitioning journey. I must add here though that by having these goals written years ago to work towards was definitely stirring me on in the challenge. More and more I was learning the importance of having a sound foundational financial plan. It was truly enabling us to move forward whatever that was going to look like in the future.
Written in our financial plan; here were some of the changes we implemented:
- Take short holiday breaks (bargain deals) rather than one major holiday which can be much more expensive
- Reduce the amount of times we had takeaway – once a forthnight preferably
- Drive an economical car, and use the bus when we can. We both had monthly bus passes so we took full advantage of this
- Haggle with our utility providers and make sure we were on the best deals
- Live in our one bedroom flat in Battersea until it was necessary to move out
- Monitor our food shopping and stay on top of costs
- Pick up certain items from the charity shops (I wasn’t keen on this at first, but my husband was able to turn my thinking around and now I really love visiting charity shops especially for children’s books)
- Researching best deals on any service or items we had to buy before purchasing them
- Enjoy our date-nights by having walks in the park or along the riverside, watch movies from home rather than the normal restaurant visits or cinema trips
We both worked diligently towards staying within budget and using these strategies. We knew in order to make this dream a reality some things would have to be sacrificed like the holidays, the expensive car, we even kept little things like electricity and gas bills as economical as possible. Our aim was to grow our savings to allow me to set up a business and be able to work from home. One thing I must stress here is that we enjoyed life and I was finally realising that life can be truly enjoyed without spending unnecessarily.
Most times it was easy, other times not but we had a vision and we knew what needed to be done to get there. I truly believe if we had not had this financial gameplan in place we would not have been able to transition with ease and at a steady pace. There is some kind of inner joy I believe a person feels when they work diligently and honourably towards attaining certain goals. We were seeing the reality of our hard work and sacrifices pay off and it was a satisfying feeling.
Eight years after us writing and working towards this plan, I handed in my resignation letter. Truthfully I was a little worried but I had comfort knowing we had the ‘Neala leaving her job savings fund’ to allow me to do this. I think anyone leaving a secure and stable job for the unknown is difficult. I think we in society are not wired to think like that. I was leaving my great job at the height of the global uncertainty in 2011 when the stock markets were beginning to be unstable again after recovering from 2008.
I must emphasize that if my husband and I had not had this plan in place and did not have the finances to help us transition as a family; I don’t think I would be here writing this article for you. I may have still been in the corporate world working the long hours. I loved the corporate world but I knew my time was up. I am truly glad I did leave when I did because it really has been a privilege to write good, wholesome personal finance books to help other people be able to transition in whatever they want to do.
With honesty, time, a few adjustments to your lifestyle and a bit of sacrifices, you too can create your own financial gameplan that is effective and achievable. I do know that having this plan made my transition much more peaceful and smooth. We were able to live comfortably for a good period of time and I have since been able to stay at home with my children, which was my desire. I work from home now and we have had challenges, it has not been easy but it was made easier by us having finances in place to allow for this to happen.
I hope my story have brought some illumination to you and maybe given you a few guidelines to allow for you to start your transition if this is what you so desire…