Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Having a plan

Firstly, thank you for all the kind comments on yesterday's birthday post. It's been great to become part of a gang!
As this is the first post of a new year, it seems only appropriate that this (and tomorrow's) look at my plan for the years ahead. They're a bit wordy I'm afraid, but there was no other way!

As you know, I have a clear idea of where I want to be headed and when I want to get there. Recently however, I have had my doubts as to whether Mr D was quite in tune with my plan, so I decided we needed to convene a summit meeting to thrash out what we thought would work. I drew up a list of questions and whilst we were in Devon with fewer distractions, we sat in the sunporch with a cuppa and went through the topics. Initially Mr D was rather bemused as it seemed far too much like an appraisal meeting, but he went along with it. Overall, I think it has helped to raise a few issues that we perhaps hadn't realised needed raising and to iron out some of the sticking points.
This was the set of questions I used (after trawling through the Internet). The plan is subdivided into 8 sub headings, but they do overlap a lot  :-

1) Home -
Where, geographically, do you envisage this home being?
In what sort of area do you see your home? Eg. near a village, out in the sticks etc?
What do you think the house will look like on the inside and outside?
What is important for you to have in the home?
What do you think we should spend to achieve this home?
How we will we achieve this budget?

2) Career and work -
What do you want to do in terms of work?
How many hours do you want to work?
How much miminum income do we need?

3) Relationships and family -
How do we view our future together?
What to do we both want?
What will we do as individuals?
What will we do as a family?

4) Friends -
How will we maintain our present friendships?
How will we make new friends?
How important is this to you?

5) Health -
What will we do to improve/maintain our mental, physical and emotional wellbeing?

6) Character -
What strengths do we have as individuals and as a couple?
Where might our weaknesses lie?
What skills do we need to develop?

7) Hobbies and Activities -
What hobbies do we want to have both individually and as a couple?
How will we fit these into our lives?
What special event (s) would we want to put money aside for?

8) Finances -
How will we earn our money?
How will we save?
How should we invest any spare money?

Now you can see why he thought he was in an appraisal meeting! At least I didn't 'traffic light' last year's performance and set him targets for next year's :)

I have yet to type up the plan but two very interesting moments were when we were talking about how it would be when the children had all left home and also when we talked about our strengths and weaknesses. I'll write about those in the next post when I  type up our potential life plan to share with you. It was an interesting exercise actually and certainly showed up where we were very much together but also where the potential crisis points might lie - none insurmountable but good to know in advance nevertheless. I know it might seem excessively formal and probably too 'management' for some, but it gave us a framework for our discussions. Perhaps all couples should do one of these before setting up home together?
I bet you're intrigued as to what the plan is now! .....


  1. I'm looking forward to see what decisions you came to. May I ask how many years it will possibly be before all your children have left home?

    1. Two have already pretty much left, although one may come back for a while next autumn; my son is in his final year of uni, so will move off next summer and the youngest is 13 next Birthday so will have to come with us (kicking and screaming possibly!)

  2. Onwards and upwards, the only way to go!

  3. Great post. These are the questions we probably all ask ourselves internally but fail to voice them to others. Hubby and I had a meeting of minds last year so that we were both singing from the same hymn sheet. He is definitely more of a spendthrift than me but he has really come on board with this 'experimental' year. The penny has finally dropped and he realises with some tweaking we can live well on less.

    1. I think Mr D is struggling to visualise how we can survive if he is earning a lot less which I can understand. It's a risk, but hopefully a calculated one!

  4. I think you are being very sensible having these discussions with your husband. We moved from a largish town 11 years ago. I don't drive but I always had my independence in town and a good social life. We also had a lot more free time as I was able to get lots of practical things sorted out on my own during the week. My husband works long hours and cannot imagine retiring young as he would be bored. We now live in a village 15 miles from the nearest town with poor public transport. When we first moved here, lots of stuff was going on and I had a good social life. However, the village is now basically a rapidly expanding dormitory village, with most people heading into the city during the day to work, and we have lost lots of shops, facilities and community gatherings and I'm beginning to really wish that we could move back into a town. However, we wouldn't be able to afford a lovely house like the one we are currently in! I love our weekends when the family is at home and we can enjoy the countryside. This being said, we spend a lot of time at weekends running into town to sort out practical issues eg DIY stores, grocery shopping, optician etc.

    Just thought that I'd point my situation out and obviously your situation is likely to be very different from ours. Not sure what our future holds either and once our son leaves home, we will need to have similar discussions to yours about our future. Very best of luck xx

    1. You'll read in tomorrow's post, how we have changed our minds about the position of our next home for exactly the reasons you mention. It really struck me the other week when I was at my mums house and we had popped into the local town. It felt good to be able to do a wide range of shopping, meet with friends, have a coffee etc within walking distance of the house. It made me realise how isolated I would be if we had to go down to one car and Mr D was at work during the week. Thanks for sharing your thoughts - that's what I need to make me really think though these next decisions! :)

    2. This scenario is familiar to me too. My mum & dad decided to up sticks and move from a town in the Midlands to a tiny village in Devon, over 300 miles away. I was 15 at the time and half way through O levels (the old 4th year). After almost a year they couldn't stand it any longer for a variety of reasons so put the cottage up for sale (made a loss at auction ) and relocated back to where they came from. The only good thing to come out of it was me meeting my husband at my new school. We've been married 26 years so all's well that ends well!! I suppose I believe in fate as well!

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  5. It's good and sensible to have plans to aim for
    to ensure you're both working from the same hymn sheet, but as John Lennon said in a song "life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans". Sorry, a cliche I know!!

    1. That's what worries me - that I'll be trundling along imagining 'the future' and something drastic will happen which makes it impossible. I guess I want to crack on now whilst we are able. Life has a nasty habit of throwing curve balls!

  6. Great idea, well done for getting it done. Some things that seem small can fester away and attain nightmare proportions.

    1. I definitely think I was mithering about the small stuff because we hadn't had a proper, open and frank discussion. It felt good to draw up a joint plan of attack.

  7. Its good to talk and weigh up all the pro's and cons.

    1. It certainly needed to be done as the situation was becoming tense for me at least!

  8. You are so wise to do this otherwise you could have a few surprises. As you know I have dreams of our future home and my partner has always said as long as he has an office and a workshop he doesn't care where or what it is. However this is not strictly true as we are finding out. We spot properties and email them to each other and don't like each others choices! I fell in love with a property with an amazing view and had visions of making it into a fabulous home and he couldn't see it at all. He wants something already done up, I want a to do a place up. I guess we will have to compromise and find something 'in the middle'. Perhaps we should do a SWOT analysis :) I look forward to hearing about your plans.

  9. Wow, that is such a good idea. I don't think you are being too managing about it, it would be awful for you all if you made a major decision that then turned into your worst nightmare. It is important to mull these things over and even better to do it with your family as they will probably see things differently to you and most importantly everyone is on board rather than being dragged along.

  10. Talks like this one can seem 'business like' but are so essential. Me and LH had lots of very similar ones prior to our change of lifestyle, and that's what made us make the decision to go for it when we did, rather than waiting until we retired.

    True, not all our forecasts and plans have come to fruition and in my opinion I have not been listened to as much as I thought I was initially, but we sort things out and continue to have regular meetings. It helps of course that while we have them we can eat out and put the bill through our company accounts as we really have had a 'business meeting'.