The following post is from Melissa Batai
“It’s always sobering to know someone you went to high school with has died.”
So began my friend’s Facebook update. That was how I discovered another one of our classmates had died. Now that I’m in my 40s, this is happening more often than I had expected. When you graduate from high school, you know that a few of your classmates will die in accidents or during military service. But lately, people we’ve gone to school with have been dying of natural causes—heart attacks, cancer, etc.
And every time I hear that someone else has died, I pause. I sometimes pause for days, thinking of how young they are, relatively speaking. Thinking of my own three young children that I hope to watch grow into adulthood. Thinking that the time I have my children under my roof is fleeting. My oldest is already 12. Just six more years, and he could conceivably be on his own. . .Six years!
My husband and I have been digging our way out of debt for a few years now. We had made excellent progress until our central air conditioning unit died this summer. Since we live in Arizona and need an air conditioner six to eight months out of the year, going without wasn’t an option.
Sometime soon we’ll need a second car. We’ve had just one car our entire fifteen years of marriage, but now my husband’s job is becoming more demanding, and our kids are involved in more activities so having two cars is more of a necessity than a want.
Our debt has grown again thanks to the air conditioner, and it likely will again thanks to the second car.
My natural inclination is to put my nose to the grindstone again and pay off debt as quickly as possible. But we’ve been doing that, and LIFE has been marching on.
We only have a few more years to do things with our kids as a family before they go on their merry way. We’ve missed out on taking family vacations because we were paying down student loans. Our kids rarely get to spend time with us together because my husband works during the week, and I work part-time during the weekend. We each watch the kids when the other is working.
Recently, my husband and I sat down and decided to prioritize family relationships. We decided we’ll try to take Sunday as a day for family, which means I had to reduce my work load a bit. We’ve also decided to save for a vacation for our family, which means we can’t hit our debt quite as heavily.
These changes are difficult. After so many years working all weekend, taking a day off feels strange. The first few weeks with Sunday off weren’t that successful because we’re not used to all being together. But we’re going to keep trying. Cutting our income and trying to save for a vacation seems financially self-defeating, but for now, we’re not letting finances alone guide our decisions any more.
My Question for You
Have you struggled with the desire to improve your financial situation at the cost of your family bonding time? What wins out for you? Time for family or finances?