We’ve been on a bit of a journey recently, family-wise.
You see, like many others in our generation we found ourselves several years ago very, very normal. So normal in fact that we had racked up tens of thousands in consumer debt, and were ‘affording’ it only by our ability to make the payments each month, rather than our ability to plan, wait, and save for what we needed…hang on let’s be real here…what we wanted.
More recently (let’s call it roughly five years later after some job changes, the start of a home business, and some serious procrastination), we’ve found ourselves on the cusp of making our final debt payments, and thus deciding which direction we should channel our efforts towards next. So naturally we started glancing around us, trying to figure out what to buy next. Because isn’t that what most of us tend to do? About to be free of all monthly payments other than our small mortgage (we’ll get to that shortly), the financial possibilities suddenly seemed endless, and we felt compelled to start making some choices and altering our lifestyle according to our new found ‘freedom.’
The first thing we embarked on was house hunting. Naturally.
So here’s our situation in a nutshell: we are a family of five. My husband and I, and our three boys all under the age of five. We live in a two bedroom, one bathroom, approximately 980 sq. ft. home on a quiet cul-de-sac, in a friendly neighborhood, with some pretty decent yard space. I realize that to many that may sound like the stuff nightmares are made of; rambunctious boy energy and small spaces (and one shared bathroom!) could well be a convincing start to a true crime novel. However, the truth is that outside of all of those voices that tell us it’s time to seek more square footage, it works for us. Really, it does.
It’s not perfect, obviously, and there are times when I crave a place to escape to that doesn’t take some explaining and even more intentionality, but when it really comes down to it, our house hunt this time around has ultimately been fueled more by a superficial expectation that we’ve laid upon ourselves, rather than an actual need that must be met.
We didn’t stumble upon the end of this debt free journey by accident.
We made choices and we assessed our needs against our wants almost daily, in an effort to make a permanent difference to our family dynamic. We’ve never ceased talking about the dreams we harbor for our family life, and oddly enough not many of those involve things so much as feelings and shared experiences.
The reality of living with less (be it small home living, minimalism, or financial freedom) is that the choices become real rather than just perceived.
Sure we could pick any house within our pre-approval limit, and sure we could have whatever belonging we’ve deemed beautiful, life changing, or joy evoking at this period of our lives. The thing is though, what these years of change have taught us is that the only thing for our family that is timeless right now, is the choice to say yes and no at will.
Yes, we will take that last-minute trip. Yes, we will give freely and spontaneously because it’s not going to drain our bank account. Yes, we will put new tires on the family vehicle before they are on the edge of being useless, because that expense no longer frightens or stretches us (where once it certainly did). No, we won’t stress, or fear, or lay awake at night over the possibility of a job loss or a major medical situation, because currently we live an existence that, while simple and perhaps even undesirable to others, means that we can cover our mortgage, lights and necessities during a life-changing event.
This is not a bragging post. No way. I do not pretend to think that my way is the best way and everyone with a “mortgage over 25% of their take home pay” is living like a fool. I’m simply sharing that for us, by simplifying some everyday luxuries, we can live a life that to us, is luxurious in choice and peace.