Ok, that title is a bit dramatic but in all actuality it is true. Let me start at the beginning……..
From the very first night that I met Gene in 1990 (yes – 25 years ago!!) we shared our goals and dreams in life and his main goal has always been to own real estate as an investment. Gene and I bought our first home together back in 2000 and after 8 years of apartment living moving into a 1,641sq ft. house was like a palace!! We went into buying our first home knowing one day we would “move up” and rent it out and then have a nice cash flow once it was paid off.
Now we move forward to 2009 when I just could not take not having my roots settled – always knowing that it was not our permanent home meant I just never felt settled. I wanted our “permanent” home and in 2003 I had found the “perfect” neighborhood and had been dreaming of a move since then – I was picky though, I didn’t just want to move to another temporary home, I had moved 21 times by the time I was 20 and I wanted to feel like I could finally settle down and hopefully have the family we had been dreaming of for many years.
In 2009 we found a house that was the epitome of a fantastic investment deal in our dream neighborhood. Gene just kept seeing investment and I kept seeing 3,141 sq ft (ok he saw the media room as well and I saw the gigantic island in the kitchen – not like I cook but it’s a great place for the party buffet)! I did battle with the thought that it was for investment but thought maybe I could finally put my roots down in this house if we wanted to, it was brand new and amazing – had even more than what we were looking for.
We took the plunge and it felt like a dream for quite a while. We both grew up pretty poor and to live in such a gorgeous brand new house was feeling like quite the accomplishment. I was finally proud to invite people over and host parties. I took pride in our house and was happy that our child would not be embarrassed like I was so many times growing up living in an apartment or using food stamps at the grocery store.
So this brings you up to date on the history of our living situation. Now for when God stepped in……..
This past August I had enough of two old cars that were always needing maintenance and needing to rent a car to go on weekend trips out of fear of getting stuck somewhere, don’t get me wrong, it was so nice to not have car payments!!!! But with a small child there was no way I was going to take the chance of getting stuck somewhere and Gene agreed it was finally time to buy a new vehicle (he was also tired of all the trips to the shop). I had fun hunting and researching what we needed. I was convinced we needed an SUV for all the baby gear we lug around but Gene reminded me that what we really needed was a car for our day to day commute to work (50 miles) and NOT a gas hog. So my focused changed and I quickly realized that our budget would allow for a very nice luxury vehicle, a Mercedes to be exact. I was quite excited at the thought of driving Camden to school in style and knowing he wouldn’t ever be embarrassed. When I told Gene I found the “one” he asked what it was and when I told him a Mercedes I thought he would too feel the same way I did. I was wrong. The first thing out of his mouth was, “that is so NOT you, why would you pick that car?” Hmmm…… I thought I had a great answer by saying, “well we deserve it, we have worked so hard for so long and Camden will never be embarrassed”. He was quick to point out that my reasoning was all wrong.
He asked one very important question, “What made you happy as a child?” I told him it was spending time laughing with my family – the crazy water fights and games of Monopoly. He then stated, “well don’t you think it is more important that we give Camden better life experiences and quality time together than fancy THINGS?” BAM – it was like all the “things” I felt were important for Camden just went out the window. I went on a two week very spiritual journey of WHAT is the most important “life” we can give to our son and WHY did I think a nice house and a luxury vehicle were the answer (I have always been quite opposed to such things but not when it came to our son – I was so focused on ensuring he would never be embarrased). I had always wanted the simple basic life and enjoyed sharing our wealth with the less fortunate than I did spending it on us, so why was I thinking this way??? I was in very deep thought and constant prayer for those two weeks asking God to guide me.
Here was my thought process:
Q. Why did I feel Camden needed a nice house and fancy cars?
A. That was all from my experience as a child being so embarrassed and not wanting him to ever feel that way.
Q. Why did I feel we needed to live in a nice house and have a fancy vehicles?
A. I felt we deserved it after working so hard for soooo many years – but really, what DO we deserve??? It is NOT things!
Q. What is the most important thing I want Camden to experience in life?
A. Love, quality family time, traveling to other places to understand how fortunate we are and how others need our help. So why was I focused on a nice house and fancy cars when that had nothing to do with what I TRULY felt was important?
After really talking to God about this and giving myself a good spiritual shake down I realized I was totally on the wrong path. I was on MY path where I was trying to keep Camden from experiencing all the sadness and embarrassment that I had when I was young. I was totally projecting all of that on him. So not fair!
Then it was as if a lightning bolt hit me. God put this plan into my brain (totally had to be Him because I cranked out this Excel spreadsheet in about 5 minutes with “the plan”) and when we got off work I had this whole presentation ready for Gene and I bombarded him on the way home with this CRAZY plan! After knowing where we are in life and having all the things we worked so hard for my plan meant giving it all away in a sense…… totally crazy! But not to God!
Here is what He told me to do:
- Sell our current home – I know – moving out of this great neighborhood after wanting to be there for the past 12 years was an insane idea. Especially since there was really NO reason to move, or so we thought…………
- Remodel our first home we have been renting out for the past 6 years.
- Move back into that house!!!!!!
- Live mortgage free!
- Save, save, save, save……… travel, travel, travel (quality time and fun experiences).
- Have a 2-5 year savings plan where in that time we can purchase a larger home with cash, continue to rent out our 1st house out, and have a weekend place (for quality family time).
- Purchase a few more investment condominiums for even more future retirement income.
- We could retire at any time meaning the last half of our lives could be concentrating on our family and not working so hard or stressing about our jobs.
- We can travel and give Camden amazing life experiences (mission trips, seeing how so many need our help in other countries and doing our best to help, etc……).
Now for the real kicker……. after I bombarded Gene with this plan (yes he thought I was crazy but the spreadsheet convinced him it was a no brainer) I started having some serious memory issues, then one day my speech was slurred and I couldn’t complete sentences as I was leading an exam at work. I was quite worried and I had an MRI done on the ol’ brain. I was told that I have had 14 mini-strokes. WHAT???? I am only 43 and no one in my family has had a stroke – that has never crossed my mind. Then they figured it was from a hole they discovered in my heart. It just kept getting crazier. They said I was basically a ticking time bomb and they need to close the hole in my heart so I don’t have a major stroke. I had that closed on May 28th and after several weeks of “issues” I am now feeling FANTASTIC!
So then it all started to make PERFECT sense. God had started us on this crazy path of being mortgage free and stress free 6 months ago (kind of important to stay stress free when the ol’ brain is a ticking time bomb!). I truly feel that HE has been preparing us for this new medical issue and that it has been a wonderful wake up call to show us what is truly important in our lives, not stressing at work and working so darn hard (I’ve been working since I was 14 years old)!
So now you see…… the process of buying a car totally started me on a very spiritual journey that is completely changing our lifestyle and lives. I couldn’t be more excited for this next phase of our lives (don’t get me wrong – I still totally panic sometimes about this and tell Gene I cannot do it and then I look at that spreadsheet and all the panic washes away)!!
Some think we are completely crazy – why give up a nice house, nice neighborhood, etc…… but life is NOT about those “things”. Our 1st home is in a great neighborhood with exemplary schools, the homes are just a bit older (granted our house shall be remodeled to bring it out of the 1990’s – I’m excited to blog the before/afters). But at the end of our lives when we look back and see we made this drastic move to enable us to have a ton of quality time together and to do amazing things with all the extra money we will save while we are here it will ALL be worth it!
So it all comes down to squashing the ego (and understand that I don’t need to make Camden “feel rich” monetarily to be happy). Hey if I want to buy 20 goats for a village in Uganda I CAN! All those that know me well know I am passionate for helping those less fortunate and I cannot wait to save that $9,000 annual tax payment on this house to DO GOOD THINGS instead of feeding it to our government (what a waste of dollars that has been – no we can actually do GOOD things for others with it – YAY)!!! I can finally start up the non-profit I have had on the back burner for 4 years!!!
I feel incredibly blessed to have this opportunity to step out in Faith!
** oh and we ended up buying a 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid and it is AWESOME (avg 41mpg).