How We Would Live if Money Was Not an Issue
In (Late) Response to Challenge Posed by Carole P. Roman
How We Lived Worrying About Money
Before I tell you how we would live if we didn’t have to worry about money, please let me fill you in on our history with having and not having money.
For the majority of my life, I’ve struggled with money. By that, I mean not having enough to cover all the bills I had. Things were the worst in my early days when I sometimes went without food or medical care or medication.
I’ve always been physically sick since I was a child… and my mental illness got progressively worse until it became debilitating several years ago.
I moved out the day I turned eighteen to escape an abusive mother.
My first apartment had broken windows, a sporadically working toilet, and was located in a bad part of town. A woman pulled a knife on me when I was walking home one night. Somehow I was lucky enough to talk my way out of it instead of being stabbed.
I survived mostly by stretching one box of macaroni and powdered cheese over a week, usually made with water because I couldn’t afford milk.
I was very grateful to my friends who gave me clothes and invited me over for dinner. Most of them still lived with their parents who didn’t understand why I lived on my own. I was too embarrassed to explain and feared they wouldn’t believe me anyway.
When I finally landed a job paying more than minimum wage, I moved into a studio apartment in a better part of town. I still existed on macaroni and cheese, but sometimes I could afford milk or bread. A year later, I received a promotion and a small raise.
My first car was a piece of junk car that passed inspection with a rear quarter panel I fabricated out of cardboard, duck-tape, and spray paint. This was decades ago. I’d never get away with that today.
I became frustrated at work being an accounting clerk unable to obtain any additional promotions because I didn’t have a degree. I knew how to do the work and resented having to obtain a piece of paper in order to get a better job.
I took on two part-time jobs in addition to my full-time day job to attend college classes at night. There were times I was so tired and weak, I struggled to open a box of crackers. However, I was determined to make a better life for myself. It took me four and a half exhausting years but I did it. I earned a Bachelor Degree in Accounting and Business Management.
My degree helped me obtain a job at another company. This allowed me to eat better and purchase a car that lasted longer than eleven months and didn’t require duck-tape. Still, I’ve always been physically ill. Back then I was undergoing surgery annually which meant constantly paying medical bills.
The owners of the apartment house I lived in decided to sell. I soon received notice from the new owners of a substantial monthly increase. Unable to afford the increase, I had no choice but to move again. This became a pattern. I’d move and receive a notice of an impending rent increase within six months.
I moved so often, my mail was covered with yellow forwarding address stickers, I thought one day I would receive a letter from the post office stating, “Please, rent a post office box. We won’t even charge you.”
I did well at my new job and received modest annual salary increases. I was lucky, not everyone was granted a raise. However, those unpaid medical bills followed me around like a loyal puppy dog.
When I got married… they say you also marry the family… not only did I do that, but I also married his enormous extraordinary debt, which I shockingly became aware of soon after we began dating. His total debt was enough to purchase a very nice luxury car. Yes, I admit I was disappointed because this affected our future plans.
Where some might have walked away from this situation, hold separate accounts, or even sign a prenuptial agreement, I dove right in and began planning how we would pay this off together. I love my husband and there is no obstacle big enough to get in the way of true love.
Unable to purchase a home with our combined debt to income ratio, we bought, in my name, a very small four-room nine hundred square foot house with three-quarters of an acre of land. The bedrooms were so small that I banged my elbow on the wall every morning I made the bed.
Soon we began rescuing dogs. We put up a six-foot fence and adopted dogs that were sick, old, and on death row. We took in dogs with behavior problems, rehabilitated them, and adopted them out. We also fostered dogs for the city. The dog beds covered just about every available square inch of floor space.
The most dogs we had in our tiny home at one time was twelve in all sizes and mixed breeds. It was like living in a sit-com, watching one small dog walk under a larger one. It was sweet to see which dogs cuddled up together at night.
As hard as we tried to pay down our debt, our veterinarian expenses were enormous. Since it was for a good cause, we resigned ourselves to the fact it would always be this way, but it was well worth it. We didn’t have human children, we didn’t take vacations, and we didn’t have nice cars or expensive clothes. Our priority was the quality of life of the dogs, no matter the cost.
Years later, my husband and I found ourselves with good-paying jobs at the same time.
We made small repairs on the house. When my vehicle tried to kill me with a leaking exhaust, and since it was in need of additional expensive repairs, we replaced it with a brand new vehicle, my first ever, which I still own today.
Then I received a promotion along with a hefty salary increase. Yes, we had lots of debt, but this allowed us to pay our bills for the first time without worrying about making the payments on time and to replace my husband’s vehicle.
We were finally able to move up to a larger home with more land so we could adopt more dogs. This house has twice the rooms, three times the square footage, and two more acres of land than our previous home. We hired a carpenter to install a ramp alongside the full set of stairs for our senior and debilitated dogs. It gave them the freedom to go outside and play in the grass whenever they wanted.
For three years, we did just fine. Our expenses were high but so were our salaries, so we didn’t worry. We took trips to see my family and we even went out to dinner once a month. We donated to both human and animal charities.
You could say we ascended the rollercoaster of wealth slowly to the top, sat there for a moment to enjoy the view, road to the bottom at breakneck speed, then exited the car completely shellshocked.
My husband lost his job. We stopped traveling and going out to dinner. Unfortunately, it was around this time my mental and physical illnesses worsened and I required more frequent therapy sessions and additional medication… expensive medication.
Then I lost my job. Luckily, my husband landed a job, but it was at half his previous salary. We did everything we could to save money. Still, the dogs came first.
Two years ago things were at their worst. We are scrappy individuals and will do whatever we can to earn money. When my husband lost his job, we began selling items on eBay. I’m surprised at what people will buy and it’s easier than having a yard sale. Two years ago I started a website, that is failing, to sell handmade jewelry, metal bookmarks, and key chains. My husband started a Go Fund Me campaign for our dogs’ expenses. Over a year ago I began writing here and it helps, but due to my illnesses, I’m only able to publish once a week, so my earnings are low.
Yeah, we worry about money a lot, and I resent it.
My thoughts about money are, it gets you things you need and want, but it doesn’t buy you happiness, true friendship, or health.
How We Would Live if We Didn’t Have to Worry About Money
It’s pretty simple really, what we would do if we didn’t have to worry about money.
We would pay off all our debt: medical, mortgage, and credit card.
We would purchase a home that is on one level and close to the ground. There are too many stairs inside and outside for me and my husband. We’re too heavy for the dog ramp. Ha, ha.
We would visit our family we haven’t seen in a long time who are scattered around the country.
We currently continue rescuing dogs, but we would rescue more, returning the normal number of dogs in our home back to the double digits… the mark where people think we’re crazy.
We would resume donating to human and animal charities.
I would also finish writing and self-publish my book, and hopefully another, and another, and another…
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
My husband and I began rescuing dogs over 20 years ago. They are our furry family and we do everything we can to help fill their lives with love, health, and happiness. We rescue the old, sick, unwanted, damaged, and on death row. Each special soul we save changes us and remains in our hearts long after they’re gone. I am an aspiring indie-author and also create and sell jewelry and metal bookmarks and we have a Go Fund Me campaign (https://www.gofundme.com/tr796d-dog-haven?member=1560512 ) open in hopes of raising money to help pay for their veterinarian expenses.