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.