Of Scott and I, I am certainly the more financially minded of the two of us. While he likes to spend his spare time gaming, I spend mine researching. With having some significant liberty over the last couple weeks, I spent a good deal of time researching the cost of being adults. Sure, I've legally been considered an adult for 10 years, but with both of us embarking on careers in the next 6 months, we're finally starting to feel like adults, or at least feeling the weight of the responsibilities that come with adulthood.
We've been playing: "it'll get better" for a long time. We saved aggressively for Scott's tuition. We slammed the bank account doors shut when I quit my job. For years, it feels like we've been doing with out, saying now, and just biding our time until "it gets better." While we are now starting to breathe a sigh of relief financially with me being in a steady, secure, and supportive job, a new reality is hitting us.
Financial security doesn't mean financial freedom.
Our parents appear to be financially comfortable. Both sets have relatively comparatively large houses (4 bedrooms, attached garages, air conditioning), with new (and planned) upgrades from granite counter tops to bamboo flooring. They travel as much as they would like. Their cars are in good condition, even if they aren't exactly new. For much of our life, we have enjoyed freeloading off of their financial fortune, and have always expected we would have a life much the same... once it got started.
And now, being at the precipice of "adulthood," we are realizing a very important lesson. It takes time and effort to get to that financial situation. What we don't remember are the years our parents worked to save money for down payments on homes; when they crossed their fingers, stuck out their tongue, and held their breath, hoping their car would still start; when they sacrificed trips to Europe, fancy dinners out and designer clothing in order to provide us with food and shelter.
With two incomes looming on the future, we could be in the position to take exotic trips, buy fancy clothes (or comic books), and go out every weekend. Or, we could be in the position to purchase a house, trade in our two rust buckets for one reliable, practical car, and start saving for our children's future. But unless we start buying (and winning) lottery tickets, we can't have it all.
While we feel like we've been depriving ourselves for these last few years, we took a moment to look around this last weekend. For so long, we've been focusing on what we've been missing out on, what we feel we deserve. But it was obvious - we have a lot for which we should be thankful. We spent our Saturday traipsing across the city, donating our excess goods to charity, purchasing our new patio set with the last of our wedding money, and eating out at our favourite restaurant before spending the evening playing with our niece. Sure, weekends like these are few and far between (well not the free babysitting part), but we have no reason to complain.
The big house? The car that doesn't squeak at every stop sign, corner or crack in the road? The trip across the big ocean? Those things will come. And when we've had to work hard to get them, we'll appreciate them all the more. For now, we're going to be happy with what we've got, because when it comes down to it, we do have a lot.