I’ve made two major decisions in my life which made no financial sense whatsoever. Too often, I hear my friends/family/co-shadowrunners lament over pulling the trigger on some decision because “It doesn’t make financial sense right now.”
Well – this post is for you! 🙂
Now, I’m not out to ruin anyone’s bank accounts or promote unhealthy spending habits. I’m a Dave Ramsey graduate and I am on that plan… slowly on that plan. Instead, I’m trying to convey the message that it’s okay to make awful financial decisions if they lead to supreme happiness. The best way I can explain this is through example.
Example 1: There and back again, a Vietnam tale
My daughter was a miracle. We had our own share of difficulties with pregnancy and such, but we truly wanted our daughter to grow-up with a sibling close to her age. When it became clear that attempting pregnancy again wasn’t medically safe, we made another decision.
The events leading to our choice to adopt are outside the scope of this post, but this part is important: we had no clue how in hell we were going to afford the colossal expense.
Like true Americans, we closed our eyes and started a home equity line of credit. We did this without a plan to pay it back. All we had between us was dumb hope and phantom bravado. I wasn’t making enough to pay the debt off when it came due. We really had no clue what we were going to do.
But we knew what we wanted for our family.
If I had analyzed the decision to adopt with a financial or calculated lens, I would have decided against it. Every logical brain cell left in my skull (population: 3.5) demanded I reconsider. Yet something within my heart (as corny as that sounds) kept me believing in our decision and our ability to come through the other end stronger and better.
3-ish years later, things have “worked out,” but not because of external fates aligning for my family. Instead, we navigated the rough waters and gritted our teeth against the new life we knew we needed to lead. Friends and family assisted and I’ll never forget the love and support we received throughout our troubled times. I became somewhat of a hermit for a while there, but those days are over. Our “portfolio” isn’t as impressive (read: nonexistent) as our peers, but our family is as strong as ever.
Example 2: Moving when the market ain’t right
We just moved from a big house to a small house… in a shitty real estate market.
Yeah, I know how percentages work and I realize the bath we took in the sale of our home. Yet I also knew that a simpler life was the path to happiness I wanted to pursue.
Why does it make no sense to downsize in a bad market? Well, here’s some math (all hypothetical numbers, of course):
Let’s say my home is worth $1,000,000 and I want to move into a $500,000 home. Assume the market dips 20% and my million dollar home is now worth $800,000. Well, the $500k home is now worth $400k. So, I’m losing $100k in moving to a smaller place (if the market recovers). Yikes!
But we didn’t downsize to save money, we did it to lead that simpler life. Less house. Less yard. Less STUFF. I knew in my gut that this move would make for a happier life, and so far so good! Like the cylons, I have a plan.
Wrap it all up
If Money and Happiness become inputs for our calculator, then spending money in a conservative fashion is expected to raise happiness by a fitting amount. And as long as we are careful, we can trudge along until our safe, planned retirement.
Well, I’m off that track for sure and I’m here to report nothing but awesome returns. I cannot imagine where I’d be if I didn’t take these two major financial free jumps.
Now, at some point, I realize the future needs to be planned for. I get it. But if I let the years ahead dominate my years I’m living, I may have decided against adoption and against moving when we so desperately needed the change. No, I’m a firm believer in living for today, rather than tomorrow. If that plan ends up costing me, ask me tomorrow what I think of this advice. 🙂 I may decide to build a time machine and bitch-slap young(er) Matt.