Updated: Jun 6, 2021
Over the last year and a half, and especially since changing to my new day job in March, I have been dwelling on an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for our current financial state. I have often said, "You know you are rich when you can afford to go to the dentist for regular cleanings." Guess what, by that standard, we are rich! Here are just a few of the many things for which I am grateful:
*Note: If you aren't here yet, and the average American isn't, don't lose hope. Please reach out even if you just want to share your grief about your financial state. I've been there too and leaned on friends and family to hear me out and help during that time.
AND yes, I know these are truly first world privileges.
When I forget my lunch I can pick something up. WHAAAT??!!!
I can buy local and organic produce.
Our kids get to participate in pizza Wednesday lunch ($5 per kid, per week).
I drive a car that, although it's not fancy (2011 Subaru Outback with 145,000 miles), I never have "pre-crank" anxiety. I trust that unless there is an extenuating circumstance, it's going to start and get me and the kids where we need to go.
The other day we had an outdoor get-together scheduled and it was pouring rain. We were able to adjust our budget and go get two pop ups. TWO. I thought only fancy people had pop ups???
Since March, I have been in a unique kind of chiropractic care called Network Spinal, which is helping me in many ways, not least of which is chronic rib and back pain. I am so lucky that I can get the help I need when I need it.
We can make room for fun. We have always tried to give ourselves a little room for fun, but most of the time that has been very minimal, which certainly pushed us to be creative with our time (which ultimately isn't a bad thing). Now we are able to budget more for trips, festivals, and so forth.
I was able to start dancing in a studio again! No more high chair-supporting, wall-kicking, floor-sloping, attempts at ballet.
There were lots and lots of years where my Christmas and birthday gift requests were things like "a vacuum" or "cash" (that I knew I would be using to balance our budget for groceries etc) or even one year I asked my mom for an optometrist appointment so that I could get my glasses. She generously paid for the appointment, my contacts, and my glasses. Just a month or two ago I was able to straight up make an appointment and get everything I needed. No more stretching out two week contacts to six months (gross, I know).
And last, but not least, my absolute FAVORITE part of this corner of financial freedom. I get to give more. When I see a new business that opens in town, I can show my support by going and purchasing something. When I know a friend or family member is struggling, I can send a little money to help (I have been the recipient of that many times from others and I know what a difference it can make). When I see a fundraiser or donation drive, I can often contribute. I can participate!!
Of course this doesn't mean we have unlimited resources. We still have to say no a lot so that we can keep our credit cards at -0-, continue to save, continue to invest, and meet other financial goals. I know it just takes a few poor choices (or camp deposits in addition to regular school tuition...cough cough lol) to get off track again. However, it's important to me to take the time to be grateful.
People say money doesn't make you happy, and I understand what they mean. However, having more breathing room to get what you need, when you need it, certainly relieves buckets of stress, which gives you more capacity for your family, your work, and your contributions to the world. It pulls you out of survival mode so that you can look ahead.
I also want to recognize the privilege that I have had throughout my life. I have never truly felt option-less in an existential way. We have family and friends we could ask for help (even though asking for help is hard and the last thing most people want, and Drew and I avoided asking 99.89% of the time) and I know that billions of other people on our planet aren't so lucky to even have that option.
Thank you to our friends who hosted when we couldn't, who understood when our contributions were not proportionate, who paid for babysitting so we could all go out and have fun, who joined us over and over for staying-in fun instead of going-out fun. Thank you to our families for slipping us cash when you could, for acquiescing to our weird gift requests, and so much more.
What about you? Are there little things, or big things, that you want to join me in being grateful for?