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  • Writer's pictureJosie Coco

Living simply enables you to navigate uncertain times

Day 87/366 days Towards Self-Mastery. Mood: hopeful

Simplifying, simplifying, simplifying. This is surely the time to simplify your life.

In times of crises as we are experiencing with this global virus pandemic, the wheels are in motion globally to simplify. Governments everywhere are making decisions about what's important and what's not.

Many industries have been told to close their doors. Those that aren't considered essential are asked to stay home. There's a balancing act between what's essential and keeping people employed.

The same discipline can be applied to your life, and especially to your finances, balancing the essentials and non-essentials, and continuing to make payments where necessary.

Today's inspiration is to simplify... your wardrobe.

Sarah is talking about clothes and wardrobes, and I'm writing during a pandemic crises. Priorities change!

Take the time to look into your life, your finances and simplify. Cull out any payments that are not a priority.

The very first step I took when all this started to show signs of being seriously challenging was to look at my finances and cull out anything that wasn't urgent. Food prices rose sharply and that in itself was going to stretch me.

Immediately I cancelled subscriptions, and emailed organisations that I am a member of to put my subscriptions with them on hold as well. That's really all I needed to do right now.

About 20 years ago the GFC showed me how dependent I was on loans and other credit facilities. At the same time I saw the global climate changing, increasing earthquake activity where I lived, interest rates were falling, and I was purchasing product from Japan at the time as well, so significantly affected by exchange rates.

I made the decision to cash up, paid down all bankcard debts, loans and mortgages, traded in my car and purchased my first second-hand car, and put all my essentials on fortnightly payments.

That meant I had to downsize my home. Long before tiny homes were a thing, I purchased an 86 sq. meter, 2 bedroom "butterbox" home in a hillside suburb. It truly was the worst home in a reasonably good street, situated on the south side so not a lot of sun, but it had good bones.

With the funds I had cashed up, that little home got a complete makeover turning it into a beautifully functional and lovely small home. We took out walls and opened up spaces, polished floors, installed heating, insulation and skylights, sectioned off an office area, combined the kitchen and living area, put a huge wall of glass sliding doors in to capture the magnificent forest view, painted and decorated and settled in. It used up every cent of my funds but I was debt free. My son was 6 years old and I could see that this home would work for us for the next 10 years, and would appreciate in value during that time as well.

The same treatment was implemented with my business. That business survived the GFC and is still going strong, now around 26 years old.

What that means is that I now have no mortgage or loans, I don't pay rent, and my utilities bills are all paid up in advance. That puts me in a strong position to weather this kind of storm financially.

There developed in me a growing uncertainty with just how sustainable our lifestyle was. At that time I made the decision to strengthen my position by simplifying my life. You can do the same.

This virus will all blow over in due course. Then we'll have time to reflect on how we want to live going forward. There's no doubt other events will come along. That's a given. How will you prepare?

If you find that you need to make some adjustments right now here are a few suggestions:

  • Speak to your bank about your mortgage and negotiate a payment holiday

  • Speak to your landlord and negotiate a rental holiday or reduction plan for the time being

  • Phone utility companies and tell them your circumstances and ask for assistance

  • Car loans, do the same as mortgage, or downgrade your car to one you can afford

  • Put your essentials on a fortnightly payment plan - phones, power, water, rates.

  • You're also being given the opportunity to use some of your super. Consider this carefully in light of what your current situation is, your present expectations and struggles, and what you think is going to happen for you, and to interest rates and the monetary system generally in the future. For some it won't be an easy decision and there will be lots of advice one way or the other to confuse you. So take some time to think about and feel into this decision for yourself.

The key with managing your finances in these times is communication, the biggest challenge is overcoming your fear and anxiety of being rejected.

Be reassured that financial institutions are expecting to hear from you, and are happier that you contact them than suddenly finding you are not making payments and they haven't heard from you.

Payment plans give people the message that you are responsible and willing to pay your bills. This will buy you are lot of leeway.

There may be other ways to simplify your life. Look for these as well. It's difficult for me to imagine what they might be as my life has been very simple for at least 2 decades and I've lost touch.

You will make decisions about the sort of in-home entertainment you can afford to maintain and those you can lose. I've made the decision to upgrade my subscription to Netflix as I expect my son to come home.

Purchasing more craft materials is on my wishlist to explore new projects. But in reality, I have my garden and my home and my work, and that's enough with reading, watching an occasional movie, and crafting in my spare time.

Simplify. You won't regret it.


366 days Towards Self-Mastery

When I considered my New Year's intentions for 2020 I had just one: To allow my heart to love what it loved...and let it lead me. (If not now, then when?)

I've spent months working on integrating my life. To live life more fully with my home life, my interests, my work, my responsibilities, all coming together, all connected. I want to give each the attention that they desire and need, and still have time and energy for the others. That means living and working from the heart.

As I was clearing out my bookshelf over the Christmas break I discovered Simple Abundance. I set it aside to explore it on New Year's Day as I lazed through another delicious day of nothingness. Sarah, the author, says this book is about living in grace. Living in grace I realised, is about Self-Mastery.

My thirst for understanding the human condition has driven me all my life, and hand-in-hand with self-mastery it has been a life-long goal. And seeing as I love to write, that living in grace is about self-mastery, and I love a bit of a challenge, then if I am truly going to let my heart lead, I really don't have any other choice. So scary as it feels, I'm starting out on a daily mission of leaning into the suggestions of this daybook and making a daily post to keep me accountable. If not now, then when?

I'm Josie. You can find out a little more about me here.

Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy: by Sarah Ban Breathnach.

This book is written for the Australian and NZ market because it refers to seasonal changes. It's available on Amazon here if you'd like to follow along.


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