137 – May 17
“It is surprising how many improvements can come out of things that go wrong.”—Anonymous
In the end, financial stress reduction is simply this:
- Earn more
- Spend less
- Find another way to have what you want
When we’re doing all we can to satisfy the first two requirements and yet when we see things we want that cost money, what can we do to stay within our budgets and still get what we want?
This is where you earn your graduate degree from M.S.U. (Make Stuff Up).
In the habit of spending a lot of money on clothes? Learn to sew, or trade services with a friend who sews. Buy too many books? Go to the library or create a circle of like-minded friends with whom you can trade books. Is enjoying nature your priority? Instead of feeling bad that you can’t afford to buy a house with acres of land, live somewhere that is close to a park or wildlife refuge and take a walk there every day. Or rent the guesthouse from someone whose main house is on lots of land.
In my financial darkest days, I lost my home to foreclosure. I had bought when the real estate market (and my business) was high. When the recession hit and the market and my business plummeted, I found I couldn’t sell it and I couldn’t meet the monthly payments of $1,650. Eventually, I had to give it back to the bank. It was a humiliating personal disaster.
One Friday night, I was playing cards with some girlfriends. They knew I was going through hard times, and one of the girls turned to me and said, “So where are you going to live now?” I said, “I don’t know.” She said, “Why don’t you move in here with Shelley?” And Shelley looked up from her cards and said, “Sure. You can move in with me.”
So I did. I moved into a gorgeous two-story, three-bedroom, three-bath, 3,000 square foot home in a beautiful hillside setting in a gorgeous neighborhood. The furniture was exquisite, the art to my taste and the Autumn color scheme looked made for me. It was the most beautiful—and most expensive—home I had ever lived in. Shelley and I got along great and it was fun having a roommate after years of living alone.
The rent? $200 per month. The value of the house does not appear on my balance sheet. But when I’m walking around in it, I can’t tell I don’t own it.
This particular scenario might not fit your lifestyle. Find one that does. Manage an apartment building in exchange for free rent. Be a professional house sitter. Don’t follow the “American Dream” of home ownership if it’s not your dream. If it is, and you do own a home, in an economic downturn you could find a roommate or two to share expenses. What else could you do? Think outside the box. Make something up.
You don’t have to be rich to live rich.
“I am a money magnet!”
Wonderful things happen if you just open up your mind to new opportunities and other ways of being. We get so wrapped up in what’s “normal” that we think there’s something wrong with us if we want to do things differently. But that just may be your Higher Self calling, whispering in the night that you might like life better if you lived it a little broader or deeper or more laughingly.
My fortunes rose again better than ever after the 199os housing debacle, but I still live in this house with Shelley. It’s been 24 years now. We’re great friends and companions and we both think it’s wonderful to share space.
A networking friend of mine saw me at a meeting and said, “You’re doing so well now you can buy your own house!”
I looked at her like she was crazy. “Why would I want to do that?” I asked. “I go buy another house and then Shelley and I both have to live alone or go search for another congenial roommate?”
“But it’s a good investment,” she insisted.
“There are plenty of other good investments,” I said, “but a great roommate is hard to find!”
A couple of women friends who took my class together decided they loved our idea. They bought a duplex together – one lives upstairs and the other downstairs. Terrific!
Some people are unhappy because they aren’t living the American Dream. A lot more are unhappy because they’re living it and it doesn’t suit them. I’m living my own version of the American Dream, outside the usual box.
How do you create your version of the Dream? Just put everything in it that makes you happy, and leave everything out that makes you nuts. What does your dream look like?