Photo: Cheryl Dawn
I remember that moment so vividly. My husband and I were newly engaged. I was dealing with a whirlwind of emotions from congratulations, shocked friends, and medical tests. I stood there crying trying to understand it all. Earlier that week, one of our friends said we should have waited to get engaged so I “could have got a much bigger ring.” My husband wanted to get me a much larger triple stone ring. The problem, I thought it looked like a cow girl bling belt buckle. I wanted simple, 1 carat. The rest looked to big on my finger. They also overwhelmed me just knowing the amount of money that could be saved. I wanted the simple Halo and I begged for nothing more. I stood there crying because the very thing I wanted was not good enough for this friend. I cried to my husband with the exact words, “all I want is a white picket fence life, but I’m living in a world where nothing less than a mansion is ok.”
My husband fell in love with me, partly because how much I love to save money. I thrift, buy on the clearance racks, and use coupons. I don’t have to, but I choose to so we can have more financial freedom. I remember the exact words “cheap is not attractive.” Or “We only buy the best.” I was in no competition. I just wanted my simple life. My husband and I splurge where we deem necessary. We bought our son the Chicco nextfit car seat. Google it, THAT WAS A SPLURGE. I did wait and find it on sale, with a coupon, and gift card making it more then half price. Why? Because saving money is important to me but so is quality. We bought ourselves a new bed right after our son was born. Sleep was a priority. Other things, like flashy cars, big rings, and expensive clothes hold no taste to me.
I cried that day because all I wanted was a white picket fence life and these people made me feel like I should aspire for more. I want the house and the yard. I want to watch my children run through the sprinklers. I want our house small enough that I can hear laughter from the other room or smell the coffee brewing. I don’t want TV’s in so many places that we scatter the minute we get home. We bought a large 4 bedroom house this year and right now it is too big. With hopes of a growing family, and no desire to move anytime soon, we think it will be perfect someday. I grew up in a 7,000+ square foot home. There were hallways I was scared of and lights were always on. It was quiet. It was a beautiful home, don’t get me wrong. Personally though, I just want simple. I drive less than 12,000 miles a year on my car. They lose their value and are no investment. I don’t need the money trap, I would much rather take a weekend get away instead or be allowed the flexibility to stay home with my son.
We live in an age where you are a slacker if you don’t aspire to be “Rich”. Why? In the end it all gets left anyways. I would much rather have a life full of memories then a life full of things to tell my story.
The day after we had that conversation my husband stopped by Home Depot and picked up a mini white picket fence. He told me how much he loved that side of me and promised to live that life with me. What a relief to know I can be truly myself without all the objects in my relationship. I want to teach my son the same values my parents taught me. All the money in the world cannot buy happiness. Also, that the exact same shirt is much better when it is 20$ less.
There are days I get wrapped in the dreams of a million dollar mansion or endless amounts of money. One thing comes to mind, loneliness. Someone is gone to work many hours for that to be possible. Hours of a life that will never be returned. I would much rather be with my family then planning an extravagant weekend to makeup for the time lost. What truly is rich? I’m not aspiring to throw away all my nice things or live at bare minimum. It’s the fact that I fell in love with the white picket fence life many years ago. Something changed in me when I realized money is no mark for what true wealth is. Sure a million dollars would be nice, but I’d much rather have a million memories instead. Maybe, A stroll along our white picket fence.