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This morning, I woke up and decided to run some numbers. That’s what you do when you wake up at 5 a.m. Now, I’ve been running numbers on the Colorado life since January, calculating in BAH and BAS, and seeing what my new paychecks will be. There is good news and bad news. The good news is my income will still cover all the minimum bills. The bad news is it won’t cover food/gas/adventures. That is a big change compared to our St. Louis expenses.
My husband’s income will have to cover food, gas, fun, and extra debt payments. Mike hasn’t made it out to Colorado yet, but when he does, he will begin looking for a new job.
As I was crunching all these numbers, I started to go into major freakout mode. If Mike gets a job paying what he made in St. Louis, our extra debt payments are going to decrease by about $400 a month. That will push our debt-free date back by about 6-9 months. I don’t know why this impacted me so much, but it did. I have a tendency to get really uptight about money, especially when I start crunching numbers and see expenditures go through the roof (like right now with the moving costs/rental deposits).
The Privilege of Pretending
That’s when I remembered this post (The Privilege of Pretending) by my good online friend, Penny. If you haven’t checked out her blog, you are missing out on some excellent real-world insight. While she may have meant for her post to be taken differently (to each their own), I read it in this way:
When paying off debt, or trying to achieve this life of minimalism and frugality, we sometimes get so caught up in the idea that we are poor that we often forget that there are millions of people living in actual poverty. There are millions, in America alone, who do not know where their next meal is coming from. They would love to be in our shoes. They would love to be able to fuss about where to put extra money every month.
And that makes me feel like an awful person. Here I am, crunching our combined salaries, which is close to being middle-class level (since joining the Air Force), and I’m getting caught up in losing a few hundred dollars every month because I live in one of the most beautiful cities in the United States.
Not only that, but I realized after some intense reflection that Mike and I have upgraded our lifestyle considerably since the start of 2016. You all remember when I bought a new (used) car. Did I need a car? Yes. Did I need that nice of a car? No. We also decided that upon moving to Colorado, we would get a 2 bedroom apartment, rather than continuing to live in a 1 bedroom. In Aurora, a typical 2 bedroom/2 bath runs for about $1400-1500 a month. That’s a lot of money compared to our $705 rent in Missouri, but it’s the reality of the situation. We wanted a bigger apartment because we have family and friends who love Colorado. We want to be able to entertain and offer our hospitality when they visit.
Who am I to cry about losing $400 a month when I did it to myself? We made these choices. We will pay for them. We have the privilege of pretending to be poor when in reality, we are doing well. We both have retirement funds; we have a small emergency fund; and we have a beautiful apartment with nice vehicles. We don’t worry about food or shelter. We have nothing to cry about, and are very lucky for the opportunities we’ve been given.
I am a fool to act like this change of address is going to ruin our financial lives. In actuality, we couldn’t be happier. That is what I am thankful for. Life is good.
Yes, Colorado is expensive, but that’s okay. We have everything we could possibly need and more.
I challenge you to change your mindset with me. Count your blessings and be grateful for what you have.
And to Penny, thank you for offering up excellent insights about the real world, when so many of us are wrapped up in ourselves.