I have been following Chris Gillebeau recently and was inspired to think about what I too, have learned during 2009.
So what forced it’s way into this thick skull of mine this year? Physically and practically loads, since I have been hitting the local library three times a week for the whole year!
But that’s not what I meant. I am thinking what have I learned, not just read somewhere and stored in my head.
I learned a LOT about money and where it all goes.
Because this has been our first year managing on a single salary and for the first time ever we have had to budget and really watch what we were spending. Now that makes it look like we used to have loads of cash and spent freely. Not quite. Fortunately we are quite level headed and practical and didn’t want toooo much stuff which does act as a natural spending brake.
What I mean is that, for the first time I wouldn’t buy stuff in the supermarket because it was ‘expensive’, deals and offers caught my eye, etc etc
We saved a whole lot of cash over the year. But it was necessary to survive on the one salary, we didn’t ‘save’ to pile it up in the bank, but rather to actually survive on that salary without going into debt.
I learned that half the stuff we used to spend money on was a waste.
Clothes last a lot longer than you think! Stopping at the coffee shop/cafe etc adds up over a year. One present instead of three. All branded goods. etc.
I learned that most of the stuff that we thought we wanted, we didn’t actually need.
Gadgets that you managed perfectly well without right up to this moment! Our old heap of a car has also been a relief; just chuck everything in and head for the beach! Sand on the leather seats? Scratched the car putting a Christmas tree on the top? No problem any more……!
I learned that most of the stuff that the kids enjoyed, was actually free.
Plain old playing with mum and dad for starters, then there is the beach, doing stuff in the garden, talking, reading and being more involved with day to day school stuff.
I learned that just because a place looks good on paper and lots of other people say is cool, doesn’t necessarily make it so. We learned that you really need to ‘connect’ with the place that you live.
So, many people raved about New Zealand before we came out here and although it has been fun and we have learned loads, it would not have suited us to live here forever. We intended to come for a couple of years to push our boundaries and careers but there is more to life than a nice environment and a good job.
I learned that although SKYPE has been brilliant; after a while it just doesn’t cut it!
And lastly, we learned that the old cliche of ‘to meet extra ordinary people you need to do extraordinary things’, is more true now than ever. We have met some people here who are not afraid to follow their dreams and break away from what is considered ‘normal’ or expected.
More kudos to them I reckon.
Now, I feel that we are better equipped to live a less wasteful life, which I am sure will come in handy since we are going to live in one of the most expensive countries in the world for a while!
What have you learned in this rapidly ending year?