It was with interest that I read Ryan’s recent post about joining the Air National Guard. One of the things that struck me is that he has the freedom to create a lifestyle that he enjoys, and that fits with his finances. He’s structured his finances in a way that provides him with the ability to take opportunities, and flexibility to change things up every once in a while. He’s also considered the other resources—time and energy—he needs in order to make his lifestyle choices work.
As I’ve started figuring out what I want my new lifestyle to look like now that I’ve moved across the country, I’m considering what I can do. I’ve moved to an area with a higher cost of living than my old locale. (My housing expenses have doubled just by moving here.) However, there are also other changes coming with the new location, including the fact that my son is starting middle school, and that my husband’s commute is longer. These changes take other resources, like time and energy.
Take Stock of Your Finances
Thankfully, my husband’s new job — which is the reason we moved — is more than enough to cover any higher expenses. To tell the truth, our income before moving is probably enough to cover the new cost of living. We are fortunate in that my home business, plus my husband’s work as a college professor, allow us to live almost anywhere without too much trouble.
Our living arrangements still require us to think about whether or not we have the available financial resources to make this work. Additionally, with my son starting middle school this year, we need to consider the cost of the activities he wants to participate in. Is it important that he continues with piano lessons? Should he join the band? Should we let him start learning karate?
All of these things take money, and time. We need to figure out whether or not our financial resources are sufficient to meet these lifestyle preferences. Additionally, it’s important to figure out whether or not spending money on these things will still allow us to enjoy other activities, such as travel and action figure collecting.
Assessing Time and Energy
We also need to decide what’s more important to us. Living in this area requires a little more travel time, even though we are close to my son’s school and to other amenities. Do we invest the extra time it takes to shuttle our son around, or do we use our time in other ways?
We are still working through these questions, gathering information about what’s available in this area. We want to know whether or not there are teachers close to us. If not, we might decide it’s not worth the time it takes to drive a longer distance (on narrower roads with higher traffic!) just for one more activity. After looking at the options, we may have to require our son to decide what is most important to him, and make some of these tough choices.
There are a lot of considerations, beyond money, that come with tweaking our lifestyle. Resources like time and energy should also be taken into account. We need to make sure that we have the emotional and mental energy, as a family, to take on the changes in our lifestyle. Once we have that figured out, we can begin planning the financial aspects of our lifestyle.
How do you decide on what’s worth it in your lifestyle? What are your considerations when assigning resources to support your lifestyle arrangements?