This summer, when my husband crashed his car (really my little Toyota Corolla that I got after graduating college), we decided to become a one car family. More than that, we decided to downgrade in a sense, buying a car outright with the insurance money we got, and getting rid of our newer car and car payments. We researched what we wanted, and found a sweet little Mazda 5, with enough space for at least three car seats, and the dog, and bought it through a private sale. It needed a little work, which we quickly had done, using up some of our savings, and now we are in the process of selling our Subaru.
The main question everyone has asked us in this process is, “are you sure you want to only have one car? Won’t that make life so much harder?” My answer to them is yes, and no.
We have been a one car family before. When E was just three months old, I was rear ended and my car was totaled. I wasn’t working at the time, and we took it as an opportunity to save some money. We shared our Coralla, with me mostly having it during the day. My husband would either ride his bike to work (the benefit of a short commute) or on bad weather days I would drive him in. We had to communicate, negotiate, and plan more, but we continued on for about a year. When he got a better job, I decided it would be ok for us to buy another car.
Life isn’t harder when you have less stuff.
This summer, we also decided to have a homebirth. For E’s birth we decided to deliver in the hospital for two reasons, money, and the unknown. At the time, homebirth seemed more expensive, with a lower income AND a lack of affordable midwifery care. It was something I wanted, but we did our best to create the next best birth, hiring a doula, birthing at a hospital with a midwife practice, and staying home as long as possible. This time, with a little more knowledge and a wonderful midwife, we have decided to stay home.
My midwife came to see me yesterday. She mentioned towards the end of our time together that she had had a few calls about births but everyone’s first question is always about price. I found this to also be the case when I was practicing massage, and in my doula practice as well. The cost of something is important to people. Money can be a limiting factor. But in the past few years, as I have been working on my own relationship with money, I have found that it doesn’t always have to be.
Knowing, owning, forgiving, and writing your own money story is deep work. I grew up in a middle class family, basically living paycheck to paycheck, but always having enough to do the things we wanted to do. My mom is a master budgeter, having worked the last 30 years in accounts payable for a non-profit organization, and my dad is savvy with money as well, having been a consumer credit counselor for most of my childhood. Around the dinner table I listened to stories of people climbing their way out of debt, and setting goals to change their future. I had an allowance as a kid and was encouraged to save my money when I wanted to buy something big. But somehow, in all of this learning about money, I also learned to have a deep mistrust that there would always be enough.
Becoming an adult is no easy task. Chasing the American Dream, as we are all raised to do, means navigating college loans, home loans, joint bank accounts, credit cards, and all the rest. I had to do some serious work to become comfortable with managing all of this, despite growing up in a family where money was a main topic of conversation a lot of the time. Everyone has a money story, a combination of childhood feelings and experience, learning, and sense of worth. This last one is important.
I have always struggled with my sense of worth.
Here’s what I have come to know about money. There is a difference between dollars, and value. Will life be harder with just one car? Maybe… Logistics can be tough when two people want to go somewhere at the same time. Is having a homebirth worth the expense? Yes, in my eyes it is, because it’s in keeping with what we value about birth. Is living on one income so that I can stay home with our kids practical? When you factor in the cost of daycare, and compare it’s value to the value of my kids growing up with their parent home and sane because she’s not trying to “do it all”, yes it is. Will we continue to make sacrifices in order to stay afloat financially? Probably, but it’s all in how you frame it. They’re not sacrifices, they’re choices. We are choosing to live according to what we value, not the number of dollars we make.
Every family is different, and everyone has to make the best decisions for them. More and more I see families struggling to get by, and others unhappy because of long work days and not enough together time. Our consumerist culture can be a bit crazy, and overwhelming. But to me, it’s all what you make of it. Gratitude and the ability to get creative help, as does really looking at and talking about these life lessons. So thanks for listening, and leave a comment below if you’d like to continue the conversation. To end, here’s a segment from my journal entry the day I drove home our new to us Mazda.
It hasn’t been an easy choice, and it’s certainly not always an easy ride, but all the hard work and sacrifice, financially, emotionally, mentally, even physically…all of it is so worth it. I may have a college degree I’m not using, clothing from Walmart, and a used car from Craigslist, but I feel like the luckiest, and richest woman in the world. <3 me