Friday, August 19, 2016

Top Ten Reasons I Wish I Was Rich

Every day, as part of my job, I see people make generous donations to a very worthy cause.  I marvel when I see a four-digit (or more!) gift pop up on my screen, and I wonder what it would be like to just drop thousands of dollars because I thought something was a good cause.  I admire big, beautiful houses and see pictures of people's amazing vacations.  I hear stories about random things people buy, and in every case I'm left wondering what it would be like to be very well off financially.  To be fair, we're not in a terrible position.  We have a decent chunk of savings, though after this summer of a new van and new HVAC system, that has been significantly reduced.  We have decent jobs and we have supportive families in the event we ever got stuck.  In general we're pretty financially responsible and there are plenty of people who would no doubt be thrilled to be in our position.  Yet I often find myself wondering if the free spenders are all way in debt, or just lucky.  I can't quite imagine what it's like to not have to worry about money.  These thoughts really infiltrated my brain while we were on vacation (as you'll see below), and I came up with ten less obvious, yet reasonable, responsible, and slightly virtuous reasons why I'd like to be rich. 

1) Give generously - As I said, I see generosity in action every day, and I would love to be able to give large sums of money to great causes.  To make a huge difference in the life of a student, or to be instrumental in building a hospital, or to give people opportunities they couldn't otherwise have...well, it would be an honor. 

2) Better schooling opportunities - I would love to not think twice about sending the kids to private school  We live in an iffy district, and while things have been okay so far and there's nothing wrong with exposing Jacob to a variety of kids, it would be great to send him to a private school without having to consider how the cost might impact our budget.  Elementary school is less of an issue, as it's still far cheaper than daycare, but when we're looking at a high school that's more than a state college, that's a little overwhelming.  I don't want to sound like money is more important than a good spiritual foundation, but it is a huge decision because shifting that money can impact so many other aspects of life.  The same scenario exists for daycare right now, too.  Would I love to go to the fancy daycare with the cool playroom, amazing playground, and internet video system?  Sure, but is it worth an extra grand per year?  Probably not.  We'd also relish the opportunity to move to a better district, but that inevitably involves a more expensive house.  It always comes back to the money.

3) Travel better - When we were on our Toronto trip, I found myself wishing we could have upgraded our trip a bit.  I liked what we did, though pretty much anything would have been ruined by the issues we had with the kids.  But I would have loved to stay in a nicer hotel.  Ours was fine, but if I was the picky type it could have been bad.  I really wished we could have stayed in the city and taken the subway around, but with rates twice what we paid PLUS $30+ per day in parking, it just didn't make sense.  I'd just like to pick better places to go and more comfortable places to stay, and do cooler things without having to worry about how much things cost. 

4) Travel longer - One of our major challenges on our trip was cramming so much into four days.  We had paid for the passes to all of those places, and even though it was a significant discount overall, it seemed a shame to leave any stone unturned.  But I also didn't want to spend an absurd amount on a hotel by staying more nights, so we crammed.  But it would be nice to make it more leisurely, maybe one thing per day with time to lounge by a pool or do something a little lower key.  For example, there were lakeside parks near our hotel, and we never got to see them.  If we had more time, maybe that would have been a nice late day thing to run around and relax there.  We wouldn't have been as stressed or as cranky, I think.  We actually had that experience once, when we went to Disney and had a couple non-park days, and it was nice.  Not entirely without challenges, but nice.

5) More experiences - This is sort of an elaboration on part of #3, but it goes beyond just vacations.  I'd just like to expose the kids to as many things as possible without worrying about how it would break the bank.  Homeschoolers insist the world can be the best teacher, and it would be nice to be able to offer kids any opportunity (as opposed to stuff) that they wanted, be it travel, sports, or activities.  We try not to hold back too much when it will build character and feed their passions, but I always choke a little when I hear how much each season costs for Jacob's sports.  And while we're at it, I'd like to add to my own experiences, as it seems like they generally lag behind my peers when everyone is in storytelling mode!  There are so many places I'd like to see and things I'd like to do, and money always gets in the way.  My parents didn't take their first cruise until their 25th anniversary, so we still have time, but I suppose I've seen too much in life to assume that there will always be a tomorrow.

6) Freedom to live life - Obviously we both have to work for a living, and I do like my job.  But some days it is hard.  Particularly since I lost my job and experienced a few months as a homemaker, it's often extra hard to drop the kids off and go into work.  While I know I wouldn't be a great full-time stay-at-home mom, I really appreciated the chance to get chores done during the day so my evenings and weekends could be a bit more relaxed and enjoyable.  In addition, I feel guilty missing work to take the kids to appointments, and I would love to have the flexibility to go to moms' groups during the day or volunteer at school.  But because I have to work, that flexibility is seriously limited.  Ultimately most days are spent trying to fit in quality time, errands, and home duties into a couple hours in the evening.  Not enough hours in the day, literally.

7) Less stress in general - Lately our house seems like it has started to fall apart.  A shutter fell off over the winter, a piece of siding fell off this spring, the A/C went this summer, we had a bee infestation, and now we have a minor leak in our garage roof.  The house has treated us rather well until now, but it's been a rather rough stretch.  And with each issue comes a new level of stress.  It's not just the money--it's picking a vendor, coordinating the appointment, and bracing for any complications that may arise.  It would just be nice to pick the best vendor, not worry about price (or waste time obsessively getting quotes just to find a more reasonable one), and get it done.  All of these things have also pushed back the house stuff we'd like to do, like a minor bathroom upgrade or revamped landscaping.  It always seems like there's some extreme purchase--be it Jacob's sports, new tires, the elliptical--that comes up or is waiting in the wings.  They seem like a one-off, but suddenly you have one every month and it starts to wear you (and your bank account) down.  I'd love to not worry about timing or cost and just get stuff done and take that stress off the table immediately.  I'd love for those tasks to be just a minor inconvenience, rather than a monkey on our backs.  We're still super blessed and I know there are tons of people who wish they had our problems, but it's still something that nags in the back of your mind.   

8) Health - There are a significant number of doctors I should be visiting but haven't.  Mostly I'm just too busy taking care of the kids' issues and I haven't done much for myself...although I am checking the GI doctor off my list next week for my reflux!  But I should be going to the skin doctor, eye doctor, allergist (for shots), and any number of other doctors for my lack of smell and taste.  While time is always a concern, so is money.  The thought of countless co-pays on top of everything we already have going on is extremely demotivating.  It would be nice to have the freedom to pursue everything, but one thing at a time, I guess.

9) Eating options - We don't have a lot of options on the eating out front as it is, but it would be nice to not worry about how much we're spending to do so.  Sometimes it is exhausting to think about making dinner, as we have a pretty limited menu and no one gives me any ideas.  But every time we do, I worry about how much more we're spending than we would if we ate at home.  When it comes to eating at home, it's expensive to do that either gluten-free or generally healthy.  Fruits and vegetables are crazy sometimes, and gluten-free everything is way more expensive than the normal version.  Our grocery bills are so much higher than they used to be, and I can only imagine what will happen when we have two boys eating us out of house and home!

10) That third kid - I've talked on here multiple times about my internal debate about a third child.  While I don't really have the bandwidth for a third kid, sometimes I've felt like it would be worth it to push through the tough years because the long-term rewards--including a larger circle of family in our old age--sound wonderful.  I've always liked the dynamics of three siblings--having someone else to talk to if you're mad at one, or having different common interests with each, etc.  But even if I found the fortitude to push through, the money thing is still an issue.  Another round of daycare and diapers, another opportunity for expensive formula and random health issues, bigger vehicles and living spaces, another possible tuition payment or even a wedding way down the road.  It still may not have happened due to energy levels and practicality, but it would have been nice to cut the financial burden out of the picture during that decision-making process and focus more on our hearts' desire.

I know being rich doesn't solve problems.  A co-worker told me yesterday that she heard a quote from someone famous that basically says that money may not buy happiness, but it makes the hard times just a little bit easier.  And I think that's the point of this post.  Life is full of enough complications and frustrations, and it seems like it would be so much easier to focus on the issues that need focusing on if you already know that the financial side is covered.  I know that frugality makes you more thankful, more creative, and more aware of what you do have, and for that I am grateful.  But sometimes it would be nice to be on the other side and fearlessly make the most of every moment when the opportunity arises.

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