Midlife can bring on the nostalgia. There’s something about the whole life cycle thing that causes one to ponder and look back. For me, I believe this whole process is amplified by my own attempts to prepare my kids to make there own way in this big ‘ol world.
When I look back at my childhood, we didn’t have the newest or shiniest material possessions, but we were rich with living. I learned that life is about a lot more than money, but then that’s because my dad made such sound decisions with his. When it comes to financial matters, my daddy taught me a few things about money that have helped me live a lot more and worry a lot less.
My dad was a school teacher and my mom was a teacher’s aide. Even though the budget was obviously tight on a teacher’s salary, my dad managed to take us on vacations every summer. We traveled all over the US and experienced a lot of the country.
Now, our lodging usually consisted of camping broken up by occasional house stays at the homes of various relatives dotted across the country, but I have seen a lot more than many people I know.
We’ve all heard it said a million times…live within your means. But, I think a better phrase is, “Adjust Your Expectations To Your Budget.” Yes, luxury hotels would have been great, but we couldn’t afford them on a teacher’s salary. So instead, our family did trips in a fashion that we could afford.
When you try to adjust your budget to meet high expectations, you often end up spending more than you have. Yes, it’s compelling to desire the best, but can you afford it?
Growing up, we lived in a variety of houses. For many years, we lived in mobile homes situated on land my dad purchased. When I was in middle school, we moved into a small apartment over the garage of the house my dad was building. We finally moved into that spacious home during my senior year. My dad worked to construct that house over the course of 6 years and every extra penny my parents made went into it. But, when it was finished, they owned it free and clear.
So, I really didn’t get to spend much time in that dream house. And, I can honestly say that my life was not adversely affected in any way. I hear it said, “I want my kids to have a better life than I did.” And often, this phrase proceeds an explanation of why someone worked too hard or sacrificed way too much.
Here’s the thing…tomorrow will come and financially, it will be built on the choices you make today. Does nicer stuff make for a nicer life? Definitely not if you have to sacrifice emotionally to pay for it. Don’t sacrifice your peace of mind for short-term rewards.
Make sure you’re not living today on tomorrow’s peace of mind. Are the decisions you are making today setting you up for the life you want to live tomorrow?
My dad originally studied architecture in college, but somewhere along the way he realized he didn’t want to be sitting at a desk for his whole career. So, he changed his major to education. He ended up becoming a special education teacher.
He pioneered the Special Olympics program in our county and took kids to compete all over the state. My dad invested his life in those kids and their families. Many of them experienced things they never could have if my dad hadn’t worked to make it happen.
Money can’t buy integrity. He prioritized life, not high living and he invested in people instead of things. Of course, I am not suggesting that an architect can’t positively impact others’ lives…just make sure that there is something waiting at the end of your rainbow besides a pot of gold. Money is a great tool and it sure makes life easier, but problems creep in when money becomes your sole motivation for living.
Don’t live on any one else’s money but your own.
Never pay full price for clothes.
Research before you buy big ticket items.
We give our kids ample amounts of our time and attention, but not tons of money.
Make charitable giving a lifestyle.
Live like tomorrow will come.
Money does not bring fulfillment, but poor financial decisions do take a huge toll emotionally. The good news is you can still turn things around at midlife. Consider ways to simplify your life and make some financial planning decisions now so your life will reflects the lessons you’ve learned along the way.
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