taking steps every day to love our little life

How We Learned To Love Our Little Life

How We Learned To Love Our Little Life

After we were married, our everyday life slowly transformed into the stereotypical married lifestyle. We went from going on regular dates downtown to occasionally getting the chance to maybe go grocery shopping together. Our work consumed our lives, and even over time infected our attitudes and affected the way we would interact at home. The stress of our jobs was weighing heavily on our marriage, and by the summer of 2015, Matty and I had had enough it. We wanted to start loving our lives. 

One morning, when Matty was about to head out the door for the thousandth time for his 45 minute drive to work in Cleveland, he broke down. I was so alarmed, I just hugged him until he calmed down. That was the last straw for me, I knew we needed to make some changes.

I spent that day making lists (as I love to do) about what was important to us both as a couple, and what was important to me. When he got home, I made Matty make a list as well.

The theme of those lists was pretty apparent: we wanted to spend as much time together as possible. We spent some time brainstorming ways to spend more time together: going on more dates, working out together, and trying to do as many activities together instead of separately. But the fact of the matter was that our jobs were eating into a lot of the time that we could be spending together.

Our big decision had been made: we were going to get new jobs.

How Do You Quit Your Job To Find A Better Job?

The hesitation that comes with any big decision is understandable. So if you start to feel that knot in your tummy, or your thoughts are racing a mile a minute, you’re in good company. As Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has said, “If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.” This is important to remember, I think, and keep as a gentle reminder that it’s OK to dream big.

In our case, it was OK to make the decision to find new jobs. But those jobs needed to cover some criteria, and it was perfectly necessary to be picky with finding that new job.

For Matty, his criteria consisted of the following 4 things:

  1. More mental space
  2. Less stress
  3. Equal/better pay/benefits
  4. Less time at that job

After a couple months of searching (I won’t bore you with all the details), we found Matty the perfect fit. Starbucks. The location is closer to home than his previous job; ended up being the same amount of pay but with way better benefits (with the birth of our son, my hospital stay was 100% covered and our son’s 3 day stay in the NICU was covered at just over 50%); he enjoys the managerial position he is currently in so that is less stressful and gives him more mental space.

For me, my criteria for a new job was pretty simple: more money doing something I enjoy. I’ve always loved animals (of course), and I love interacting with people. Eventually, I found myself working at the veterinary hospital I took my animals to and have loved every day of working there since October 2015.

Ultimately, you need to make that list for yourself, of what is important to you and to your spouse (if you have one). Find what is important to you, and search for a job that fits into that passion. What you need to understand, though, is that you’re still finding a job: you are going to be working. After all, it’s incredibly important to participate in your community and give back. But once you find a job that you are passionate about and gives you time outside of work to do and be what you’re passionate about doing and being, don’t stop until you have it. Chase that dream. “If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.”

How Can You Live With A Budget Cut?

When we were transitioning with our jobs, we had to be aware of the timing of starting and ending our jobs. At the time, we were also facing a considerable pay cut from where Matty had been working. And although money is important, and allows you to live comfortably in this world, it’s not the most important thing. The most important thing to us was that we not only spent time together, but that we were comfortable and not bringing stress home from work. If taking a hit to our budget meant that Matty would be a happier person, I was completely on board with that.

So we set to rearranging our budget. Like I stated above, we made a point to find jobs that at least matched what we were previously making. Although Matty took a pay cut to work at Starbucks, I found a job that made more hourly than I was making before.

Here’s how you can fine tune your budget:

  • List all of your expenses out
  • Highlight the expenses you can’t change
    • Car payments
    • Insurances
    • Recurring bills
  • Pay off any debts that you can
  • Look at what is leftover
    • Here lies where you will need to make some cuts

After we did these steps, we were left with the grocery budget, gas budget, rent for the apartment we were living in, and date night or other activity spending.

Once you have those things listed out, be realistic about what you can cut. To fine tune our grocery budget, we decided to start shopping at Costco more often. We would make a big shopping list and buy for a month in advance and only go to Wal-Mart or Target weekly for things that we needed. This helped out exponentially. Next, gas money. If you can carpool or rearrange your work schedule to fit with your partners, try to do this to save on money. If there’s another way to work that doesn’t sit in traffic for as long, do that!

Then there is rent. This is where some (or most) people won’t have the luxury that we had. Matty’s dad lives in a house that has a mother-in-law suite that he kindly opened up to us to live in. For a third of what we were paying at our apartment, we could decorate and move into that part of the house and save money. I know this is not doable for everyone, but it sure worked for us and we are beyond grateful.

How To Live Your Life Fully

At the time in 2015, Matty and I had this dream to open up our own dog daycare. And oh my goodness, would I still love to do that one day. But times have changed – considering we now have a son who is half a year old!

As with most people, our dreams and goals in life have shifted, so the dog daycare dream has been halted. Matty and I were left to think of what we wanted to do with our time and lives now, especially given that we want to raise our son in the best way possible.

After applying the criteria format we used back in 2015 to our current life, we knew we still wanted the same things, but more. How could we get more? Living in an RV and having remote jobs.

I have to admit, right now we are in the middle of the job search stage. Because we had specific criteria for those jobs (100% remote, flexible hours, etc.), we are having some trouble landing the perfect job. As I’ve said before (and I’ll continue to say it), it’s hard to wait and be patient for things to happen. Sometimes, when we see the perfect RV online or a job responds back to us with either an offer for a follow-up interview or even the moment we got the truck, I get overwhelmed and think “There is no way we are actually going to do this.”

But we need to. Why? Because I don’t want to live my life with regret. I love my family, I worked hard to get us to where we are today. Mason lights up with Matty and I are home together, and I want to give him all the opportunities in the world. So even though this is scary, and it’s unconventional, and people may think we are crazy… it’s my crazy. It’s my unconventional life, and I want to share my experiences with you all.

You Can Do It, Too!

I realize that not everyone has the desire to live out of a motor home and have remote jobs and live out in the wild (not that we’re living in the wild, haha). Some people do truly enjoy the “normalcies” of life: having a mortgage on a beautiful home, having four perfect children who go to private schools, and working 9-5 jobs.

And that’s absolutely amazing for them. It just was not the right fit for either Matty or I. And that’s absolutely amazing for us, too. But to those people who feel in their hearts that there’s more for them than the stereotypical, 9-5, “boring” lifestyle, I want to give you hope and inspiration, because it is doable! You can do it! But you might need to make some sacrifices and have incredible patience for it.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask me! We are still learning and beginning our journey – I’d love to hear from anyone who is already on the journey or struggling to make that first step. Thanks for reading!

2 thoughts on “How We Learned To Love Our Little Life”

  • Grace, this post (and all the other posts) is so well written! I have thoroughly enjoyed reading you blog and look forward to all that you have in store! Also, I have enjoyed it as a way to stay connected a bit with something from my hometown. You and Matty are inspirations for the rest of us and I can’t wait to see what happens in the future!

    • She does such a excellent job! Thanks for keeping in touch with us through here, we always enjoy seeing Spain in the list of countries that have viewed our blog 🙂

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