Leaving London and our relatively well paid jobs was planned.
Moving to a quieter location was planned.
Slowing our lives down and living more simply was planned.
Illness, heart attacks, strokes, no savings and being caught up in the benefit system was definitely not planned.
In retrospect we didn't plan things anywhere near as well as we thought we had although who, in all honesty, plans for sudden declines in health when you feel fine? We should have done, I suppose. My husband's health has thrown us curve balls in the past, but we always came through it and carried on, always kept our heads above water.
I don't think our heads have been above water for about four and a half years now, although we do come up for air occasionally ;)
We live in a small coastal town that attracts many tourists each summer. We know that despite everything we are very lucky. Life may not be the way we planned it but we have much to be grateful for.
We exist (I refuse to say 'live') on my husband's small pension, topped up with ESA. It's only a tiny amount of ESA benefit we get, but it's a benefit all the same and the damage that has done to his pride is enormous. Hence his plan (still in its infancy) to start a small business selling things he can make. The thought of it is keeping him sane, and it means he can work only on the days he's well enough (what employer would put up with that?). We know it's our only option but we'll be doing it on a shoestring -less than a shoe string- with no start up money, no contingency fund.
What could possibly go wrong?
Don't answer that!
We fumble from one week to the next, often robbing Peter to pay Paul. A cold snap forcing us to put more credit on our pre-pay gas and electric metres means not paying the water bill or cutting back the food shop to the bare minimum. A birthday, or worse still Christmas, means eeking out the gas and not putting the heating on. A family crisis, a wedding, or a funeral we need to travel for (our family live hundreds of miles away), means throwing caution to the wind and spending months catching up with payments and fighting to keep the wolves from the door.
It's not a nice way to live and hopefully 2013 will be the year that changes. We don't want much, just to pay our own way, keep a roof over our heads and put food on the table. We are simple people with simple needs and simple pleasures.
We want to be as self suficiant as we can, we want to provide for ourselves and make the most of everything. We want to enjoy life and that starts here, at home, with us.