My family has this awesome cottage on one of the finger lakes in central New York. My dad tried selling real estate for a while and he sold one piece of property… to himself. It has been in my family since I was around 11 years old. The house is cozy, the view is spectacular and the lake is one of the cleanest in the country.
I spent most of my adult life living almost 7 hours away from the lake and only visiting for a few long weekends each year. My Little Blue Kayak and I love the lake! A few years ago I started longing for the lake and for my family and spent countless hours figuring out how to spend more time there each summer. In 2013 I took a family medical leave to help my mom out after surgery; this allowed me to spend 2 months at the lake. My mom and I got to spend lots of time together and I got to hike, bike, kayak and swim. I had plenty of time to think and reflect and take quiet time to clear my head. And on 8/8/13 with only a few short weeks left of my summer it happened.
MY AHA Moment: “I can’t move the lake but I can move toward the lake.” I remember I was sitting on my little twin bed at the cottage and I knew without a doubt that I would be moving back to the lake come spring of 2014.
From September to April I drastically altered my relationship to money. I have always been a saver but during this time period I took it to the next level! I stopped spending money on anything other than the basics. I cancelled cable, banned myself from recreational shopping, and drastically reduced my grocery bill. I started declining offers to go out for dinner and even reduced money spent on beer and wine! It is amazing what one can do when motivated by something so powerful as a summer on the lake! I paid off my car, paid my school loan 7 months ahead, set aside a few thousand dollars for summer expenses and sold my belongings. I got a t-shirt for my birthday in May of that year that said “The Lake is Calling and I Must Go”! I got to spend 6 months at the lake with my mom and sister; 6 months to play in My Little Blue Kayak.
I have never resumed my old spending habits and I have never been happier. I now structure my life around spending as little as possible in order to be free. My freedom is more important to me than my ability to buy stuff! I am free to work per diem instead of full time. Free to play ping pong on a Tuesday afternoon. Free to explore the beauty of the Finger Lakes where I live with my honey. Free to grocery shop on a Thursday morning when most people are at work. Free to have plenty of quiet time which is when I have my best AHA moments and to be relaxed enough to recognize the AHA moment as something that must be paid attention to. I gained this freedom by recognizing how important it was to me and then by cutting out the things that were not important. This is not a life of sacrifice but a life teeming with flexibility. This is my life and I could not be happier!