Do you ever look back and think about what life would have been like if you had made a different decision? I do. I think it’s human nature to imagine where other paths might have taken you. Sometimes I think about the summer we downsized, and I can’t help but wonder if we even had a choice to move.
At the time it didn’t seem like we had an option. Financially, the numbers just wouldn’t add up on paper for us to stay in the house and have me only work part-time. At the time I felt trapped, pushed into a move I didn’t want to make. But now, I see our options differently. Life often seems much more black-and-white in hindsight, doesn’t it?
Did we have alternatives that would have allowed us to stay put in our comfortable home? Sure! We certainly had a choice. We had a couple, in fact. Downsizing simply seemed the most reasonable way to achieve the family lifestyle we desired—me being primarily a homemaker.
Option #1: We could have reevaluated our income.
We wouldn’t have had to move to the Shoebox if we had put our energy into making more money. But first of all, that decision would have clashed with our hopeful lifestyle — I wanted to stay home. (And Caveman was looking for a new job, however nothing panned out at the time.) Secondly, I loved the organization for which I worked. (I’ll tell you more about it sometime!) I loved the job, and I loved the people so I was unwilling to leave. Sometimes quality of workplace makes up for what a paycheck might not provide. In short, we didn’t want to fall prey to the lie that if we work harder to make more money, we’ll be happier. Because it doesn’t work that way.
Option #2: We could have faked it.
We wouldn’t have had to move to the Shoebox if we had simply kept our current jobs, applied for more credit cards and dug into debt in order to sustain our comfortable lifestyle. (Not that we lived extravagantly by any means; it was just what we were used to.) Honestly this idea was never really on the table, but hey, we could have done it! Sadly, I think that the pattern of relying on credit to live is most common these days in the good ‘ol US of A, especially among my generation.
We are children of entitlement. So when our lives at 25 don’t match the affluence of our parents at 55, we forget about all the life they’ve lived and all the work they’ve done to achieve that level. We whine that our counters aren’t granite and that we won’t be traveling to Maui this summer, and then we pull out the plastic to prove to the world (and ourselves) that we can afford all that and more. And that’s why many young families are drowning in debt and still working themselves ragged to keep up with the Joneses (or their parents).
My rant on entitlement is over, but let me clarify this: I say “we” in the above paragraph because I know the personal struggle of wanting more and desiring to appear richer than we might in fact be. It turns out that Caveman and I chose the opposite of Option #2. We cut up all our credit cards and decided to live without the invisible life-lines of ongoing loans. We are slowly but surely chiseling away at a little bit of school debt, but once that is gone we will be debt-free and credit card-free. And that’s a choice I’m glad we made.
So in that second when I doubt our decision and wonder what I’m doing here (usually those moments come after I kick the rusted metal cover off the ancient baseboard heater for the hundredth time), I can rest easy knowing that we chose this. It was the best decision for us at the time, and even now I don’t regret it. The Shoebox was then—and is now—a blessing to us.
Oh yes. This was our choice. And now, almost three years after moving in, I’d make the same decision to Shoebox again.
What about you? Is there a decision that you see differently now that time has passed? Would you change your choice?