When planning to leave corporate life my husband gave me an ultimatum:
"I will support your decision only if you work out financially what it means to us."
This was very annoying and challenging to me as I used to feel a perverse sense of pride in saying "I'm not good at maths" or, even worse, "I don't do maths". It was a smart move on his part as years of receiving a generous salary and benefits package had effectively divorced my brain from understanding the actual cost of things and the value of money.
So, I did as I was told, developed best and worst case scenarios and so far, so good. However, what is interesting to me looking back is that my thought process was 'How much do I need to earn to keep the lifestyle that I enjoy?'
In the past 18 months that thinking has shifted to 'How can I have a lifestyle that I enjoy that isn't centred around earning money?'
A good example is my car. Bought on a finance plan when in possession of a car allowance I chose the most highly specced thing I could find. Forget servicing / tyres / tax - it all went on added extras like satnav and heated seats (as if my backside doesn't do a good enough job of keeping itself warm....). Then a couple of months ago as I did my year end accounts I thought it would be a good time to look at our overall financial health and calculated how much I would need to earn before tax just to cover the finance repayments. I nearly fell over. Finally the penny dropped that I was working my (very warm) backside off to pay for a car that was only being driven 2 or 3 days a week and hardly ever with more than 2 people in it....I gave myself a slap around the face and a 'D-minus' with a big red pen.
So the car is gone, swapped for a much cheaper, older model. It doesn't have satnav, parking sensors or leather seats but I can read a map (ok, I can't - I get the directions from the AA website and write them down on the back of an envelope that then gets stuck to the dash), park by using my mirrors and if I'm that desperate for the feel of leather then I'll have to make like a Hairy Biker and buy a nice pair of trousers.
The sense of freedom from having that financial weight lifted is fantastic - now my wages can go on the important things like the mortgage, the kids shoes, and (very importantly) wine!