Tuesday, February 28, 2017

OK to be Unlike Others

This post is a mind meander, where I get thinking about things, how the world is, how different people make different choices, and where I fit in with that. Spending hours upon hours with other families, singles coworkers, and a variety of friends and neighbors sure makes me realize life is not one size fits all. I have a thirtyish coworker who in the last 12 1/2 months has been to Bali and Indonesia, Arizona and Colorado, Japan and Korea, and is currently in Hawaii. She and her partner have no children and other than their jobs, no specific commitments. Another coworker has taken off an equivalent amount of vacation time, though from what she has shared, she ventured only as far as North Dakota to visit one of her daughter's family, and the rest have been stay-cation time off. She's stated she has no interest in traveling, having been born in poverty in another country, and feeling like she has all she wants to see relatively close to her home. What we all choose to spend money on for our children and families varies widely as well. I received an audibly loud gasp talking with a parent Saturday when she learned that DD2 not only is going to Costa Rica, but went to Spain last year, and that we as a family have been to Alaska and Washington DC in the last years. This was  part of a conversation in which she had shared her family was planning to attend an RV show on Sunday and look at upsizing their current camping trailer, already a luxurious model, fully equipped for home away from home living. I have no interest in owning another thing that will require maintenance, but give me the opportunity to travel, or send my kids on opportunities, and I am there.

Investing in travel or investing in recharging your batteries within your own spaces, two very different ways to think about where to spend leisure time and money. Ones not right, or more right than the other, and is and should be personal to each of us. Likewise, the family that chooses to keep one adult at home, at the expense of vacations or leisure equipment of any kind, has equally made choices that fit their life the best. I make regular trade offs, some might call sacrifices, so that we can do even what I feel is the modest amount of traveling we do. It didn't escape me that the other mom was much more stylishly pulled together, with manicured nails and trendy leather boots, while I was in five year old, stretched out boots, bargain leggings and an extra long sweater from Target. 

We'll eat our bargain pantry meals this week. I'll carefully wash, dry, and hang up our eon's old clothing and hope to stretch them through the remainder of the cooler weeks. We have a few items that need to be bought. DH needs new work shoes and DD2 needs a new swim suit before her trip, but that is likely the only spring/summer items we will purchase until required. I'm still hunting, though not robustly due to our illness weeks, something that we can repurpose into a T.V. stand. It would be so easy to head to a few furniture stores and find the right size and look, but I know I can find something I like more, for a lot less, with some patience. The difference might be worth a weekend get away. 

I wonder if my coworker has experienced the questioning eye that a thirty-something would choose travel over home ownership? Does the other parent feel judgement over not sending her children on any of the school travel events, as I felt a twinge of perceived judgement about being  over indulgent? It's irrelevant, and I need to keep telling myself that. We have enough of what we need, and if we want more, or sooner, we will need to keep making choices that are best for just our family. I don't need to feel guilty about indulging our daughter's love for travel,nor guilty that she is wearing the same three pars of blue jeans form last year, still a perfect fit and in fine wear. Our family is unique to others. How we spend our money, our priorities, is unique. It's OK to not be like others, or want to be like other families. We just need to keep making our money work for our life.

11 comments:

  1. It's totally okay to be unlike others & prioritize what works for you & your family. I do admit frustration when I see people who say they want to do X (insert whatever you'd like into X - travel, sports leagues, etc), but don't evaluate how to make that happen. Obviously, it's not always possible on every budget, but my number lesson is to prioritize your spending ruthlessly, and have goals that inspire you. You may not have the same as us, but as long as you are thoughtfully considering all of your expenses & making the tradeoffs, it's so inspiring to see.

    I will also admit that it's really hard once you are in the day to day & step back. Particularly if the spending is ingrained. My mom shops as a hobby. I did as well, until the boys were several years old. When I look back & think about what I mindlessly spent, and how much better off we would be financially, I shudder. It's also just bad for the environment, but, at least I made an adjustment for the better? :-)

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    1. Obviously a person can't save what was never there but we can make choices when deciding between options.

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  2. If you can afford to send your kids go for it, nothing is as valuable in life as experiences and not "stuff". I agree, I don't want one more thing that needs maintenance, would rather rent a cabin for the weekend than own one and have to insure and maintain it and tie my assets up

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    1. By default we have enough work on family cabin, plus MIL is in too much house, but experiences matter more to us.

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  3. Your life, your choices, your story to tell. It has taken me many years to really take on board what people "think" is their opinion not fact. They're welcome to it but it really is not any business of mine. I'm not here to seek their approval nor vice versa. Good post Sam. Arilxx

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    1. So true. I wish more people understood fact vs opinion.

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  4. My family sees travel as education. We don't keep up with the Joneses materialistically, but have sent our daughter to Paris, Belgium, Netherlands, and this May for her high school graduation gift, we are sending her to Japan and Korea. Because we raised her to appreciate different cultures, she has decided to major in Linguistics in college, and become a translator. She speaks 3 languages fluently besides English, all self-taught. No one should feel guilty for being well-traveled. It's good for society, it's good for human beings as a whole.

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    1. It is a one of a kind way to learn. DD is starting French next year with Spanish.

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  5. Fortunately it has been years and years since I have worried what anyone thought of my choices. We do spend money traveling but we pretty much go where our kids live and do without those luxurious vacations at resorts. For us a weekend at the lake place is our "spa". Yeah thats right, the spa that we get to paint and cut the grass and all that other junk that goes along with it!

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    1. While I don't eorry, I do think about it.

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  6. They way how you save and how you spend is your choice. I don't want to do a lot of travelling. An afternoon nap on Sunday is better than going out to the mall. But, it is my way of fun. I also like reading more than watching a video or listening podcast. Love to read your blog.

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