Finding Freedom – Thriving as a One Income Family
I have talked in the past about Why We Choose to Live on One Income and 10 Steps to Take in Becoming a One Income Family, but I wanted to dive a little deeper into the topic. I shared the philosophical reasons behind our decision, as well as some of the sacrifices we make and why we think they’re worth it. But I feel like it’s important to know that we don’t just survive on one income, we’re thriving.
We don’t feel deprived or lacking. Sure, we might feel a tinge of jealousy when our all friends go see a $200 per ticket concert that there’s no way would fit in our budget, but you know what? That feeling lasts for about 5 minutes, then we snuggle on the couch with some popcorn and a Netflix movie and forget about the whole thing.
But do you know what we do have in exchange? Freedom.
We have freedom from debt. Freedom from the need to ‘keep up with the Joneses’. Freedom to say no to things that don’t fit in our budget. Freedom from the guilt of overspending on unnecessary purchases. Most importantly, we have freedom to be generous because we choose to live within our means.
And honestly, it feels good to be free.
Within our one income, we are able to purchase more than enough food to feed our family. We go on date nights. We put money in savings every single month.
We may not have Apple Watches or designer shoes. I think I walked into Nordstrom once by mistake – you certainly won’t find me shopping their semi-annual sale (because I don’t have $400 to spend on jeans covered in mud or even $100 to spend on clear knee mom jeans). But we also don’t have student loans hanging over our head or credit card debt holding us back.
The key for us is finding contentment. I wish I could give you a 10 step guide to finding contentment, but it’s definitely an ongoing process and I don’t have it all figured out.
For example, one thing I struggle with is the size of our yard. We live in the middle of a big city, so our yard is basically the size of a postage stamp. My husband and I have been talking about owning a house on several acres of property for our entire married lives, so this 4,000 square foot plot of land has been an adjustment. Can I be transparent and tell you what makes this struggle so much worse?
I LOVE watching home improvement shows, especially a certain show that happens to film just about an hour and a half south of us.
But every time I watch one of those shows where homeowners are looking at three houses surrounded by land full of creeks and large trees, I immediately pull out my phone and start searching real estate websites.
One season, when we were watching HGTV shows every night after the kids went to bed, I actually started to get irritable and anxious about finding a new house. My sudden need to pick up and move yesterday baffled my husband. After that night, I spent weeks arguing over money and nitpicking every little thing that was wrong with our house.
I finally realized it was because I was watching an hour of people finding their dream homes every night while my house wasn’t living up to this fantasy I have in my head. I immediately decided to pay more attention to how much home improvement TV I watched so that I wouldn’t slide into that place of discontentment.
That can really be true of anything – if I’m feeling like I need a bigger family or more exciting adventures, I’ve probably been spending too much time on Facebook browsing through other people’s highlight reels. If I’m feeling like I need a bigger kitchen or better appliances, chances are I’ve been binging on The Great British Baking Show.
It’s those times that I have to step back and choose instead to play Duplos with my kids, read a great book, or go on a walk around our neighborhood. I have to remember what we do have and why we choose to have it.
Because if I step back, I realize that we have a beautiful family. We have a lovely home. We have the ability to do what we love. And we have dreams. Big dreams. And we know that one day those dreams might become our reality because of the choices that we make.
We have freedom.