Colorado is Busting our Budget, and That’s Okay.

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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.

Colorado is expensive, and that's okay. | Rose Colored Water
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.

18 thoughts on “Colorado is Busting our Budget, and That’s Okay.

  1. Sometimes we get so caught up comparing apples to apples when really, we are comparing apples to oranges. It seems like you are enjoying life more with the lifestyle upgrade too – its the compromises in life that make life worth it!

    1. You’re right. The compromises are worth it. Every time I look at my huge new kitchen, I am grateful we made the choice to upgrade our apartment. We already have numerous weekends filled with family and friends coming to stay in our spare bedroom. We never would have been able to do that if we had kept living in a one bedroom, and the savings would not have been worth the decrease in square footage.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. On the plus side, if cost of living is higher, wages are probably slightly higher too – so even if your husband lands a comparable job, he’d probably be making a little more (hopefully, anyway!). And you’re right – it’s so easy to crunch numbers and get down about not making all our goals that it’s really easy to forget how fortunate we are to be in that position anyway! Thanks for the reminder!

    1. That’s what I’m hoping, but it seems like the jobs (I’ve looked at) average about $10/hr. That being said, even on that, we could survive, but that is the minimum. I am praying he can find something that pays well, at least until he goes college in the fall. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. “I don’t know why this impacted me so much, but it did.”

    If you’re anything like me, it was the unexpected change to your plans in a negative way that did the trick! If I have a plan for anything like financial or career freedom, anything that pushes that date back unexpectedly will get a pretty negative response from me. The great thing is that you came to the realization that it’s not that bad, and that part of living a good life is being present for and enjoying that life.

    1. You’re absolutely right. I hate when things don’t go my way, and seeing the reality of the numbers threw me off. But there is so much to do and see here, I know we’ll be happy. We are the outdoorsy type, so Colorado is a haven for us. I know it will all work out in the long run.

  4. I moved to Colorado a year and a half ago as well, from Alaska. We were so excited because we thought it’d be so much cheaper here, and it is for some things (food and heating), but not for others (housing). We can only afford a tiny 700 sq ft apartment ($970/month). We don’t even have enough room for a proper desk, and so I do my freelance writing/blogging from that weird ledge thing between the kitchen and the living room!

    1. Thanks for stopping by! I have been there, done that. There was absolutely no room for a desk in our last place, and this apartment has one built right in! Love it! But it has been tough. I’m fortunate that I have a lot of government support through the military, otherwise we’d never have been able to live out here.

  5. Great post! I’m always worrying about the amount of debt we have and how we’re not paying it off as quickly as I’d like too. But in reality, we can easily make the minimum payments (and more) every month and still have enough money to live comfortably. I just picked up a second job too so we can increase our debt payments, and I’m grateful that I am able to do this. I know there are a lot of people who would love to work but are unable due to illness or physical limitations. I’m lucky to be healthy and able to work.

    1. Agreed! I try not to take things for granted, but when I joined the Air Force, I had one goal. That goal involved becoming debt-free in 5 years. We’re still (currently) on track to become debt-free, but seeing that time frame lengthen scared me. I need to remember to live in the here and now and be grateful for the present.

  6. I love this post! I’ve been doing lots of number crunching lately since I am leaving my job in 2.5 months when I get married. It’s so scary thinking of my income going down drastically but it’s worth it to marry the love of my life.

    1. It can be tough. Just remember to be completely open and honest with each other about finances. There’s nothing worse than bottling those feelings up. It will bring nothing but hurt and sadness. I know you two will be just fine though! :)

  7. As someone living in an expensive part of California, I drool at your rent payment.

    That being said, Colorado seems so gorgeous and worth a higher cost of living than St. Louis.

    I keep dreaming about moving somewhere less expensive, and Colorado is just about at the top of my list…

    1. You’re right. I have a friend from San Francisco and her rent payment is something like $3800/month, and it’s a one bedroom. I know it’s all relative to where you live, and the military tries to ensure that the housing supplements match the market. Colorado is definitely a great place to relocate because it’s booming out here and there’s a lot of job opportunities, but the cost of living is skyrocketing every single year. Overall, I am excited to be here. I can always do some freelancing on the side if I feel like we need to make more money.

  8. I love this post. Yes, poverty is real, but not for someone who has money to tuck away for hard times. That is called Middle class. Believe me, I know what it means to be POOR and you are not it.. I love how you expressed this and was able to reflect and understand the difference.

  9. Finances are always such a tricky situation. My fiance and I live in D.C. and the cost to live in the city is truly insane, but we love our life here. More importantly, we love being able to always find something to do. I imagine Denver is the same and even though it’s stressful, i’m sure it’s worth it!

    1. It’s true. There are so many wonderful things to do in Denver and the surrounding areas. I am so excited to explore. So far, I’ve been stuck in about a 20 mile radius because my husband isn’t here yet, and it’s too cold to go into the mountains (for hiking etc.), but there’s all kinds of places to eat, and living downtown is much more expensive than the burbs’. So I’m content. I can only imagine all the things there is to do in D.C. I hope to visit there someday!

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