It’s been a few months since I’ve checked in with a recap of how we’ve spent our resources.
Our little family gradually adjusted after our move in August and the many changes that came with it.
We definitely needed some time to settle in to our new life, but we’re starting to see a new normal. Normal enough, thankfully, that I can carve out some more time for this little hobby blog of mine.
Our 2016 Transition
Now that we’ve been in our new home and routine for a while, we are starting to get a better picture of what we can expect each month.
Before we moved, of course, Mountain Papa and I were both working full-time jobs. We both averaged around 50 hour work weeks (including transportation and other work-related tasks). Between these long working hours and adjusting to life with a baby, we were both feeling frazzled. It was as if we never got time together to relax as a family – there was always a chore or task to be done.
We had already been living a pretty frugal lifestyle, having gone through many iterations of budget trimming to make room for less income and a new baby. After many months of frugal living, we realized we weren’t feeling deprived of anything except time to enjoy watching our child grow.
Over the summer, an opportunity presented itself in which I could maintain our household income – the amount we were used to and happy living on – by myself. This would free up Mountain Papa’s time to spend with our daughter, pursue his hobbies, and pursue some non-traditional ways of making an income. But we had to move.
We jumped at the opportunity. Since our goal is to have more free time than money, we need to build up income streams in jobs where we can dictate the number of hours we work each week.
How We Spend Our Time – What’s Changed
Mountain Papa stayed on part-time at his job through the end of October, helping his replacement transition into his old position. Since then, he’s been helping around the house, running errands, and has invested his time in learning new skills.
I’ve got my home daycare business going in full swing, taking up anywhere between 50-60 hours of physical commitment a week, plus time spent preparing, cleaning, and shopping. It makes for a long week, but I’m really enjoying it.
Here’s an overview of how we’ve spent our time throughout the year. Before our move, we were both working around 50 hours of work each week.
I worked less in the summer, which explains the dip in July and August. If we had stayed in our old life, those fall working hours would have looked just like the spring.
Instead, there was a gradual drop in our working hours after our move. Between the two of us, we around 30 hours each week. Right now, I’m pulling most of the heavy lifting in that department, but it is at a (mostly) low-stress job I genuinely enjoy. And I get to spend the days with my kid to boot.
Life really has improved a lot. I love that both Mountain Papa and I can be with Baby Bear throughout the day. We can tag-team her child care and he can take her out for a change of scenery from time to time. Their relationship has really blossomed and it has been so fun to watch.
Where’d the Money Go?
It’s also taken a bit of time for us to settle into a new budget. After living at our last home for a few years, we got used to operating on autopilot with our bills each month. Moving to a new home with new rent, utilities, etc. has really shaken things up.
On top of that, we had a few big, unplanned expenses to account for since moving. We needed to buy a riding lawnmower as our new home has a nice big yard to play in. It also has a pellet stove, so we stocked up on pellets to fuel our home for the winter. And, we’ve had to put money towards a few unexpected repairs at our old home/rental property.
In the graph below, you can see how our income and expenses have changed throughout the year. We moved in August, so note the changes from before to after.
Before our move, we were making a pretty consistent income, and our expenses were at a nice, comfortable level.
After our move, both our income and our expenses went up.
Pay close attention to the gap between income and expenses (the green area of the graph). This is the most important part of budgeting. To meet any financial goals, the space between your income and expenses needs to be as big as you can make it.
For us, some months were better than others. April was awesome – we got our tax refund the same month we were doing a no-spend challenge. Our gap was the biggest all year. But, then look at August – our income was down but our spending was high because we were moving.
Since our move, we’ve increased our income, but our expenses have increased, too. I’m hoping to cut our expenses again and grow that gap even further.
Goals for 2017
As you can see, we’ve made great strides towards reducing our total time spent working, which is how we choose to measure our success.
In 2017, I hope to:
- Increase our time spent pursuing other income streams.
- Maintain or decrease our time spent in a traditional 9 to 5 job (this will probably hold steady throughout 2017, as I plan to continue my daycare business through the next few years).
- Decrease our current monthly expenses back to what we were spending in our old home.
- Increase our monthly income – grow the gap.
- Pay off debt.
We still do have some debt to pay off, and we’d like to save up as much as we can before making another big life change (i.e., moving again). I plan to continue working “full-time” through the next few years. Mountain Papa and I hope to build up our side hustle this year and save our extra income for the future.