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Who would ever thought a short lunch break would change a person’s life? Until recently, she was in debt, and now she have millions.
Throughout her 20s, Sarah Miller lived a conventional struggling life.
She went to college, got married, saved up for a house and bought her first home with her husband when they were 28. She worked a 9 to 5 job in a cubicle for a non-profit organisation. She and her husband lived in cities including Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Hamilton. They didn’t have any debt and they dutifully put part of their monthly pay-checks into savings.
But one birthday, Thames had an epiphany.
“When I turned 30 in 2014, I just had this realisation that I was not living a life that I was passionate about and that I was not doing what I should be doing with my life,” Thames, now 34, told INSIDER.
Her husband, Nate, had the same feeling, she said.
“We realised at that point, if we don’t change something about the way that we live, principally about the way that we use our money and the way that we use our time, we’re going to wake up and be 40, 50, 60 and never have really done what we want to do with our lives,” she said.
“That realisation was the origin point of our decision to start saving at a very high rate and work toward financial independence and ultimately moving to a homestead in rural Vermont.”
They transformed their shopping and household habits.
Thames and her husband stopped buying anything from the grocery store that was pre-made or pre-packaged. They bought only raw ingredients, mostly in bulk.
“For example, instead of buying bread, we made our own bread,” she said. “Instead of buying pre-made hummus, we made our own hummus. We stopped eating out. We made all of our own food at home.”
They stopped spending money on non-essential items, like new clothes and dry cleaning.
“We found ways to make do with the clothes that we had and we stopped buying really anything discretionary,” Thames said. “We didn’t buy any furniture. We didn’t buy anything for our home.”
To live a frugal lifestyle, you have to ask yourself the tough questions.
Thames writes about personal finance because she is passionate about money management and helping people better understand their finances in a country that she says lacks financial education.
“Certainly moving to a homestead does not have to be your goal, but you can still take away the basics of where to start with just getting a better handle on your money,” Thames said.
She said people should ask themselves the questions she asks herself.
“Is each dollar I’m spending every month really in alignment with my priorities? Am I spending on what matters the most to me? And where are some opportunities for me to save?”
The first step is for people to track their spending, she said.
“You don’t have to wait for your next pay-check,” Thames said. “You don’t have to wait to get a different job. You can start seeing where your money is going today.”