Last February my boss was kind enough to offer me the opportunity to work a 4-day work week, and because I commute so far from home to work into Washington, D.C. each day (60 miles each way), this makes for a very long day. In fact, I usually don't pull up in my driveway until almost 7:30. As you can imagine, this doesn't allow for a lot of quality time with my husband who has to be in bed with lights out by about 9:00PM (his alarm goes off at 3:30 AM), or the animals either for that matter. The reduced work schedule sounded great, but the only hitch was getting paid for 4 days instead of 5. This was a significant decrease in my salary, but when Tony and I talked it over he said go for it, we'll manage, and you'll be so much happier with one less day of commuting and more time at home with the animals. Needless to say, however, our lifestyle would change a little because of the decrease in cashflow. As a result, I've had not only just to cut down on, but almost completely cut out the luxuries we used to enjoy. One of the first things to go was eating out. Don't need to tell you how expensive that can be, and I think I was getting a little too used to it. Next was online and catalog shopping. I've always for the most part been a bargain shopper and enjoyed thrift and consignment stores, but I'd say we were previously on an acquaintance basis; now we're BFFs. We also cut out our super duper cable package with every channel imagineable and down sized to basic cable and that was a pretty significant savings, too. Personally I'm not much of a TV watcher, but where we live you pretty much have to have some form of cable in order to get any kind of reception at all, and God knows now that Fall is here my husband would not survive one Sunday without his NFL football! We did manage a little weekend getaway to the mountains a couple of weeks ago as you read in my earlier post, but our annual July beach trip to Ocean City, MD went bye-bye, too. Hotel prices in peak season, as well as all the other costs associated with vacation (kenneling the dogs and paying a petsitter to come in and feed chickens and lock them in their house at night, as well as feeding the cat, have to be factored in as expenses as well) was more than we could handle. Hopefully next year we can swing it.
I have to admit, in the beginning the adjustment was hard for me. In fact, after I got the first paycheck reflecting the difference in salary, I wondered if I'd made the right decision. One day a week doesn't sound so awful, but you'd be surprised how you get used to it. There is a bright side though. It's now been 7 months into the new schedule and I realize how much "stuff" I didn't need. I really do stop now and think long and hard before I impulsively buy something that isn't a necessity. I've also used my day off during the week to volunteer for a couple hours, which is something I said I'd always do "when I had more time." But mainly, I get to spend more time with my wonderful menagerie of animals that I love so much, and to sit down for a home-cooked dinner, together, with Tony (imagine that!). It's great because we never get to do that when I'm working the rest of the week. Even made a peach pie from scratch(!) for the first time a couple of weeks ago and was really happy with the way it turned out. Yum!
Today is such a beautiful day here in Maryland. It's sunny with a light breeze, and the temperatures are hovering in the high 70's. I was outside earlier this morning hanging up clothes on the line while the birds serenaded me and chickens pecked, scratched and dusted all around me. I looked up at the clear blue sky and thought about how blessed I am, and all the reasons I have to be thankful. How good God is! I may have lost a little bit of income as a result of my reduced work schedule, but the result wasn't catastrophic by any means. I gained time to spend with the ones I love and it deepened my appreciation for what really matters most to me in this life.