Saturday, July 20, 2013

For richer, for poorer...

I don't know where exactly the rumor started, but before we embarked upon the journey, people believed we were...nearly rich. At work the whispers went something like, "rich husband - that's why she travels so much." My own parents and sisters were under the impression that I had "money in the bank." The kids didn't hesitate when asking for help with  car insurance bills and shopping money either. 
Everything changed this year, beginning when Emmie found out she was getting $0 in college financial aid grants (in addition to a $2,500 loan for her and a $10,000 loan for me). Jarrod (My stepson) found out when he made the decided to return to college without financial assistance from Jim. Thank goodness Daniel, my other stepson, financially supports himself. Immediately upon returning "home" after our long-term RV trip, a crisis arose in my extended family, and all involved were stunned when I could not "help them out." 

In order to obtain the lifestyle we desired, we made sacrifices and lived frugally. We didn't buy or lease "new" vehicles; instead, we saved money and bought used ones. I won't bore you with details, but we went without the things many people take for granted. Our stationary home is an old trailer - we weren't sure if it would still be standing when we returned.

When you want something badly, you must work really hard for it, and at times you must "go without," and put your money in a savings account. Emmie knows - she finished almost 2 years of college while in high school so she can afford the degree. Jarrod and Daniel know too - both took a longer route while learning to succeed in the "manual labor" workplace. These are lessons most of us learn the hard way, though they need not be. 

What kept each of us going? The adventures ahead of us; allowing ourselves a week in Virginia Beach, VA or Myrtle Beach, SC every 2-3 years, and taking weekend trips in between. We also found joy in spending time together, as well as in the daily events of life. We looked at everything inside our little world with humor.

My words of encouragement to help readers reach their "dreams" are simple:

  • forgo instant gratification, work to save money, and do something EVERY MONTH that brings you closer to your goal. 
  • think about the brevity of your dream - will it sustain your happiness over the "long-haul?" 
  • material items decay, but a way of life is irreplaceable.