I ran into an old friend the other day. We hadn’t seen each other for several years so we took a few moments to catch up. My friend announced proudly that he had recently purchased a house, showed me his car, and bragged about his high-paying job. He was a little worried about making the new house payment but his wife had just started her own business selling cosmetics for a popular company. Could I attend her party in a couple of weeks?
I must confess that the conversation left me feeling somewhat small. While he regaled me with the size of his paycheck, the square footage of his new home, and other things, all I had to share was that I had written a few books, lived in a small rented home, and earned minimum wage at a grocery store. The little trips I take to help animals achieve a better life couldn’t hold a candle to his latest vacation overseas so I didn’t even bother to mention them.
I went to bed that night with a heavy heart. Over the past few months even my daughter had told me that she looked down on my simple life; while she was thankful that I had sacrificed higher paying jobs in order to spend more time with her as she grew up she bluntly announced that she might have been better off if I had ignored her wishes and spent more time making money. She would have had fancier things that way.
Was I really such a failure that my own child looked down her nose at my simple lifestyle? The look on my friend’s face when he discovered that I didn’t even own a car spoke volumes.
I’ve done a lot of soul searching since that fateful encounter. I’ve examined my life thoroughly as I asked myself did I make the right decisions? If not, should I start making changes? Should I apply for a job at a local factory where a friend of mine earns almost a thousand dollars a week with overtime? I wouldn’t have the time to write anymore but I would make a lot more money. I could buy a car, save up for a house, buy some nicer clothes….
I was still tormented by these thoughts when the first of the month rolled around. As I calculated my monthly budget and paid my bills I realized something: I could pay all of my bills before they came due. I didn’t have to struggle. I don’t toss and turn at night wondering where the money is going to come from to pay my electric bill. I don’t have to hide a car to avoid repossession until I could make the payment. I’m not driving around on expired tags because I can’t afford to put insurance on my vehicle as some of my friends are doing. I don’t cringe when the phone rings and I’m certainly not in danger of losing my home because I failed to pay the back taxes.
I’m operating in the black. Each and every year my writing business pays to support itself. It has done this from the beginning. For a few years there it also brought in enough money to support my simple lifestyle without the need for a public job. While it may not be able to support me currently it is still earning a small profit.
While far from rich I have enough in the bank to pay my bills without struggle every month. I can afford the things that I need without having to rob Peter to pay Paul. I’m able to splurge on some extras and save up for more expensive items. I even have a small savings account that I contribute to.
And unlike my friend who looked at me askance when he discovered what neighborhood I called home, it doesn’t take multiple jobs to support my lifestyle. I am able to live on minimum wage at my part-time job, which allows me time to pursue my passion of writing. I have even been able to take time off from working entirely over the years and savor the experience of being a stay-at-home single mom without having to sacrifice my morals to do so.
Even better, my simple lifestyle granted me the ability to recover from an injury that would have bankrupted many that I know. It enabled me to quickly regain my financial footing when I was able to start working again.
I may not have a fancy car or a luxurious house. I may not be able to take fancy trips or turn my friends green with envy but the truth is I have something far more valuable.
I have peace of mind. I can go to bed at night without worrying over unpaid bills. I can take time off work to help save the lives of unwanted animals. I have the time to make the world a better place by sharing my knowledge and experience with others.
I can afford to pursue my passions.
Do you live in the black? Please share your stories in the comments below.
15 thoughts on “Is Your Life in the Black?”
In my opinion you are much richer than that friend.
Aww thank you Linda!
What I wouldn’t give for peace of mind right now! I admire you & your lifestyle. It’s what we are trying to achieve now.
Hi Tracy! It takes some work, but in the end I believe that it is worth it. Good luck on your transition to the frugal lifestyle!
Hi Annie, That was quite a post… a few things stand out that need to be shouted aloud. Your “friend” may say that he is “rich”, but he has already confided in you that he is worried about making the mortgage payments.How sad, since he just recently got the house. If he is relying on his wife’s income from selling cosmetics from home, in order to help make the house payments, he is already in trouble. Do you realize that in inviting you to his wife’s “makeup” party, that he is asking for some of YOUR money?
Someone who lives modestly and as debt free as possible, can sleep well. From the sounds of things, your “friend” is already in over his head.Too many folks make that precise same mistake as he is making…. as soon as they get a high paying job, they max out their “debt load” and put a brand new car on financing and buy a big home with a big fat mortgage on it. They forget about saving for a rainy day…and they have no emergency funds or investments. They may appear to be “wealthier” than others, but they may be closer to poverty than they think. If your “friend” ever loses his job for any reason, he may lose his car, his house, and his lifestyle in disgrace.
I don’t see you as bound, Annie. I see you as free and talented and courageous. You have chosen, not been forced, not to have a car at this time. You are an empowered Author who can choose when and if you choose to have a vehicle again. And I’ll bet you’ll pay a miraculously low price for one if you ever choose to have a car again.
One never knows how the twists of fate will turn. I could see that your books could be picked up a big publishing house some day, that will propel you to greater fortune. Writing is your gift, your craft, your passion. You have taught many humans how to “fish”…instead of giving us a fish. How kind and wise of you.
Some day your kiddo will apologize for those words she uttered carelessly in your direction. I know I was quite the mouthy teen myself so many moons ago… But I know that you love your kiddo, and always will, no matter what. God bless ya, Annie. May He empower you to take your next step…… forward march 🙂
Thank you so much Carla. Sometimes it is a challenge to watch others brag, especially when you are made to feel less in the process.
Annie, You are an inspiration to so many of us and we admire your ingenuity and drive. Your friend is only “rich” in outward apperance. He is already worried about making the payments and that is a problem you don’t have to deal with. Your daughter will know before long that you made the right choice. Don’t doubt yourself.
The world reaches out to the frugal and kind at heart.
We all face this kind of encounter sometimes or other, don’t we? Encounters that give us sleepless nights. We toss and turn on bed questioning our decisions and actions in life. Now, for many size of house, a car or dozens of pairs of shoes matter more than peace of mind. Or perhaps they think peace of mind will increase with the size of your salary. Let them live with their beliefs. And let us live with ours. I feel, moments like this are small tests to do self-introspection, which you did wonderfully.
Thank you so much, Ajita. Your words mean a lot to me. I really appreciate them.
OW, honey….. if only I’d read this post sooner.
What an odd way of living: bragging about posessions (that you don’t actually posses, but borrowed). Quite bizar really.
You’re doing great Luv, and in due time, Katie will feel the same way.
Big hug fron The Netherlands luvvie,
Thank you very much Carolina! I have read the fairytale about the Emperor’s new clothes. It’s one of my favorites, especially as I see it play out in the real world these days.
Have you ever read the fairytale about the emperors new clothes?;)
Ever think about taking a job like that factory work you mentioned, just for a year or so, living just as you do now, and socking away just about everything you earn above expenses?
You might even need a car for that amount of time but you could buy one used and only use it to go to work. But maybe not, if you could carpool to work.
If you’re just making enough to get by then what happens when you can’t earn? What are you putting away toward your future?
It takes time to get on disability and you’re usually turned down the first time you apply. Once you get old enough for Social Security you still have to wait two years longer to get it, age 67 instead of 65. And the payments will still be meager.
It sounds like you have a lot of discipline. If I were in your shoes and knew I could get in at the factory I think I’d chance it, if I knew I had the self-control to ignore my savings and leave them for a rainy day.
This is just a thought and I’m not judging you.
I have considered doing exactly that, Dana. For now, my largest concern is the fact that this is the last year I will have with my daughter. Do I want to spend the time making money (there is a lot of overtime involved at the one factory I have in mind), or enjoy my last year with her?
I’ve seriously thought about getting a job, working as much overtime as my body could handle. Saving up for an inexpensive vehicle to maximize what free time I would have, splurging a little bit but saving up for one of two things: a house, or an apartment building in need of mostly cosmetic repair. Either would meet my primary goal of eliminating my rent expense but the apartment building would provide an income stream apart from my books. I have basic construction skills, since I once worked on a construction crew and have even done some repairs here, but I would have to be careful to look for hidden, high-cost repairs and avoid those properties.
The thought is extremely tempting. I would be able to provide reasonably-priced housing, simple yet sufficient, while allowing myself to scale back the hours of physical labor I put in every week. There are a couple here for under $100,000 that make me itch every time I walk past them since I’ve seen them listed on sale sites.
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