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Monday, June 27, 2011

My Money Tree

Maybe as long ago as 15 years back, I was striving for a solid bank account so that my hard-working husband and I could one day retire and live a comfortable life. That life would have been pretty much on the road in a motor home about 9 months of the year and here in mid-Michigan the other three.  We planned to sell our house and live in that motor home and go where the wind blew us.  I never gave a thought to the old saying about life being what happens while you're busy making plans.  I was too busy working, saving and planning our future.  It was what drove us to work the overtime and not spend more than we had available and maybe miss out on some of the more exotic vacations we might have enjoyed, but it was important to be ready for 'tomorrow' and so we sacrificed some things.

We did go to Hawaii 4 times and took a few cruises and took our kids to Key West for a wonderful week long vacation one time.  We didn't sacrifice all of our 'todays' by any means, but we were always cognizant of the fact that our future needed to be financed.  

I am not sorry we did that.  It was the right thing for us, at that time.  We didn't know the stock market was going to crash and erase a gigantic amount of our savings. We didn't know that my Mom was going to move closer to us and need us to help with things she can't do.  We didn't know that the housing market was going to reduce our home investment to nearly half what we could have sold it for 5 years ago.  Life happened.

There is nothing on that list that upsets me, really.  The money disappearing taught me not to invest in other people, only myself. The relocation of Mom from an hour away and totally independent living to 2 miles away and needing me, has taught me that every single minute I have with her is priceless. Not being able to recoup our investment in this house has taught me that this is my home and I am so fortunate to have one when so many others have lost theirs. It is a beautiful house and I am happy here.  The life that happened to change my plans has been a blessing.

We don't have a money tree and I do wish I had one.  I am not ashamed to say that I am one of those people who has been without enough money and also I have been fairly well set financially and being well set is preferable.  We are not all that well set now.  We are still living comfortably, but my husband has not retired and his paycheck is still being used.  He wants to call it quits this winter and I am on board with that, but I know that sans money tree, it won't be life as usual.  It will be life tucked in.  It will be a much more careful life. It will be okay and it will work, but  it won't be quite so comfortable.  A money tree would mean more time for us together.  It would mean more traveling and less stress.  

Not having a money tree will NOT mean we won't be happier.  It will NOT mean that we will struggle.  It will just mean that we will NOT be spending freely on things that we don't need and we will not be jumping into our motor home and escaping the winter in Michigan as we had hoped.  Then again, we will NOT need to shovel the driveway in order to get to work!

In my fantasy, however, I would use that money tree to finance our winter home in Arizona and one next door for Mom.  I would maintain a home here for the summers and one for her as well.  I would, however, also make sure that I fertilized that tree and kept it trimmed just perfectly so it would continue to 'bloom' for all our the kids to wisely pluck from it for anything they felt they would have to work overtime to achieve.  Time away from your family is NOT a small sacrifice.  I would relieve them of that burden and that regret.



  1. Loved this post. I could totally relate to it. I've been home with my kids for seven years since my layoff in 2004. I made a decision to not rush back to full time work. It's been really tight at times but the tradeoff has been totally worth it. My kids love having me home and more involved in their lives. I'm less stressed out and exhausted, and have energy to do volunteer work and belong to three musical groups.

    I also do much more writing now that I have the time. Not sure I could do that and work, too.

    Good luck with your bills in the future paying back that loan. Not easy but somehow it always works out. All the best to you!

  2. Lovely post. Honest and real writing... I've been affected too with all this crazy economy. Thanks for sharing.

  3. @Cathy...Thanks! There is no loan to payback, just living expenses. It'll work out, just not as planned! :)

    @Vanessa...Hasn't everyone, in one way or another? Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Great Post! You have a lovely outlook on things! I enjoyed reading this :)

  5. What a lovely post! Life has a way of twisting and turning our best laid plans doesn't it?


  6. Great post and glad to see you and your family with your feet solidly on the ground, looking after your MOM too and getting on with life. Times have been tough all round the western world, and way down here in NZ too. When you do find that money tree, keep a couple of leaves for me. LOL


  7. The only financial experience I've had is poverty and barely above the poverty level, so I can't relate to being financially secure. I do believe that everything happens for a reason though, and I also haven't lost hope that one day I will live my life without money worries.

  8. Great post! I've walked in your moccasins and can relate to what you said. It's a sad state of affairs when ten individuals hold more wealth than 50% of the population COMBINED, yet pay a pittance when it comes to taxes. That's the problem for everyone!


  9. That is awesome. I keep thinking if I had money, I would buy back my grandma's house she sold 6 years ago.

    That is cool you got to go on those trips. I'm going to Key West for two days in July myself. I've never been there and I lived in Florida for 16 years.

    --Diana Jillian

  10. Reading your post was so easy, it had an inner flow and I was able to follow your thoughts! A wonderful and very mature approach on life!

  11. 'life happened'...well aint THAT THE TRUTH : )
    YOU...are a joy :to be love love spending time here with you!! Keep on JUMPiNG!! Yup it keeps you young

  12. Accepting what life offers you is far better than always wishing for something different. Sounds like you have a very philosophical appraoch to life, Jo. I enjoyed your post.

  13. I totally get this! As a teacher it's been very hard for me to put money away for retirement as I barely have enough just to get by on, but I do own my home and hopefully when I've reached retirement age this will help...

    I do believe that when one door closes another opens and that life is a journey... We'll get by and we'll be fine!

  14. One day at a journey at a time. I love your honest outlook...and living with no regrets. Great post :) Cheers, Jenn

  15. @Jenni...Thank you for stopping by and sharing, I love to know what people feel when they read my blog. Also know that I sometimes fall off the happy train, but rarely!

    @Kathy...Ain't that the truth! :)

    @Peter...Will do buddy! Not really looking for it though.

    @Theresa...Money is only a worry when there isn't enough. It's more a matter of living to your means, I think.

    @Joyce...When I rule the world....

    @D Ana...I wouldn't change a thing, if I could. I am grateful for every opportunity we have had and even grateful that we put ourselves out there financially a few times to cease the moment. Ya only get to live once and it isn't about the money, it's about the TIME.

    @Claudia...Mature is one thing I have gained! lol If one lives without learning, one has not lived. Thank you so much.

    @Brenda...That is so funny, I always think the same when I visit you! I love having you stop by n always look forward to your words of wisdom!

    @Paula...I am sure you have seen the saying, "Life isn't always the party we hoped for, but since we're here, we might as well dance." That is pretty much how I live. Thanks for stopping by! Please come again!!!!

    @Jenn...Exactly right! I may have some small regrets and one big one...but we were all young once and young ones do make mistakes. Those mistakes, hopefully, guide us into adulthood and maturity with some common sense. I appreciate my life today because it has not always been so pleasant. Thank God for the trials, they taught me strength was within me.

  16. Loved your post, Jo!! I totally relate to this. I left a high-paying, high-stress job for good in 2010, and while it left a pretty big dent in our disposable income, the payoff of not dreading every day I couldn't put a price on. I don't need any more stuff - like you said, I want time.

  17. I love this post! This is a beautiful outlook: The life that happened to change my plans has been a blessing.

  18. "...that I fertilized that tree and kept it trimmed just perfectly so it would continue to 'bloom' for all our the kids to wisely pluck from it ...."
    Life Happened....Life Happens...You have a beautiful outlook on it !!

  19. This economy sure has been an equalizer. Most all of us have taken a step backward, yet financial setbacks, as much of a kick in the gut as they can be, are nowhere near the top of the bad-things-that-can-happen list.

    Great outlook, Jo!

  20. @Lorie...That is exactly right. Retirement for most of us is all about trading 'things' and lifestyle for time. I have not looked back, so far, at my choice.

    @Spark...Yep, life happens and I always say, "It is what it is" and now I'm dealing with what IS.

    @Langley...Thank you. I haven't always had this outlook, but now, time is my treasure.

    @Beth...I couldn't agree more. As much as I love money and what it can do for us, I love everything else in my life more.


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