For some reason, I don’t feel like posting today.
Maybe it’s because of the holiday weekend, or because this is a Monday or because I’m only one coffee-cup deep into the day. Whatever it is, it’s giving me writer’s block. The best approach to the writer’s curse, I’ve read, is to just keep writing, so that’s what I’m doing today.
This weekend was a great little mental vacation. I barely touched the computer, didn’t look at my spreadsheets and didn’t even touch Mint. It felt very free. I did, however, spend some time (using my phone) reading over some posts from Steve Pavlina on his Passive Income Series. Who knows whether I’ll actually use any of that information, but it’s generally entertaining to read his stuff. I’m not much for “personal development,” but I also appreciate the way some things make me think.
I made some headway this weekend with my wife. I didn’t really post about it because I prefer to keep my personal problems personal, but we’ve been hashing out the approach we’re taking toward finances as a family. This happened because one day I mentioned how I thought a particular Groupon deal she was interested in was a waste of money. Keep in mind, I have been drinking some of the Kool-aid from the folks who are frugal, and sometimes I get carried away with ideas.
So this became an issue.
All of a sudden, I’m a penny-pinching miser who isn’t the man she married. And I’m not that guy, but she had a point. I was just reacting to things with negativity because I’m trying to maximize our savings. It’s easy to forget that we’re all people and we’re all in this together. Plus, I hadn’t really discussed where I’ve been lately. Sure, I tell her about every bloody thing I read whether she’s interested or not, but that’s not discussing things. It’s not making sure we’re on the same page.
So finally, I apologized for getting ahead of myself and explained where I was coming from. It’s not that I don’t want to spend money on things that are important to us, it’s that I don’t want to spend money frivolously. More succinctly, I want to spend money on things we love, but cut way back on things we don’t. So it’s not that I’m turning into Mr. Cheapskate, it’s that my intention is to turn into Mr. Mindful.
And some of you may think me stupid for carrying this mindset, but I don’t mind, because each of us is on a different path. For my life, I want to save money but I also want to be able to have things I like along the way. While I don’t want to save life enjoyment for typical retirement age, I also don’t want to live a life of scarcity leading up to early retirement. There has to be a balance.
So that eased the tension and we were back to normal. I even worked in some ideas for some slow travel in there, because a significant portion of our monthly income goes to paying a mortgage on one fat house. The false dilemma a lot of people fall into is that you either need to rent an apartment or buy a house, but as I read and learn, there are a variety of other options. For example, we could sell this house, buy a couple houses (duplexes maybe) in different locations and then maintain a home base (which is important to people apparently) while renting out the unused (by us) units. This way, we could still travel all over. We wouldn’t be homeless nomads — a very important mental safety net for my wife and children — just wandering the earth.
The success there wasn’t that she readily agreed, but that she didn’t put up an offense to it. Honestly, there are some great reasons to get out of the main stream and venture into the wild unknown. For one, life shouldn’t be the same thing on repeat. Maybe I’m crazy, but I also think it would be far more interesting for my kids if they could experience different cultures both inside and outside their native country. I don’t know if there are published statistics on mental health for those who have traveled and those who haven’t, but I would hope it would have a generally positive impact.
I’ll have to look that up after I finish writing this post. Er, wait. Hold on. My inner critic is reminding me of kids that get moved from state to state, school to school, causing them to leave their friends behind each time. This could probably cause some damage in terms of an ability to form long-term relationships.
On the other hand, I drove far, far away from home when I graduated high school and basically left all my friends behind. I still keep in touch with some, but we all live some distance apart. Still, there’s something to be said for getting through school with the same set of friends. I was definitely able to do that, so I don’t know that I’d want to deprive my children of that experience.
Of course, recently I met a well-traveled young lady who was wise beyond her years. Her father being a diplomat, she was moved from place to place while he was stationed for a few years in each location. Talking to her, I wanted the same thing for my children. I’m aware that there are no guarantees in life and that my wife and I are completely different parents in different situations to hers, but still, there is something alluring to that kind of life story.
I mean, if you could choose your sort of childhood experience, and you were given two choices, either — A, relating to most people by sharing in most of the same experiences or B, having unique and interesting stories to tell people — which would you choose? That’s not such an easy answer, and it might differ from person to person. It’s almost unfair to force it on children, one way or the other, but we do it anyway.
I’ll have to look into this a bit more.