It was May 2013. Something was wrong.
While blessed with health, careers and a loving family, we felt like we were increasingly coming up short. There never seemed to be enough time or money …. but wait, we are getting ahead of ourselves.
Let’s go back to the beginning.
We (Dave and Sheryl Balthrop) live in Eugene, Oregon. We met when we were both recovering from the devastating emotional, financial and relational loss of divorce. When we married in 2001, we committed ourselves to giving Dave’s four children (whom Sheryl loves as if her own) the best opportunities we could. We bought our dream Colonial home and borrowed against it over time to provide all the trappings of upper middle class Americana.
Cracks in the Foundation
As our children began to leave the nest, we had the niggling suspicion that something was wrong. While we were working harder and accumulating more things, it had become more difficult to find time and resources for our family, our future and our health. We kept telling ourselves that someday, with increased income, things would be better. Besides, everyone else was doing the same thing…
Our epiphany came when we took a long overdue trip as a couple in May 2013. Listening to Podcasts on minimalism, downsizing, and simplifying, we realized that there was a disconnect between what we claimed were our priorities and how we actually spent our time and resources. We found that we had no margin and were deferring many things that were important to us: spending time with family; giving; growing in our faith; taking care of our health; and setting aside sufficient funds for savings and retirement. We realized that based on our trajectory, there was no guaranty that the “someday” we were working towards would ever come. So, we resolved to take action.
The first step was the hardest. While we recognized that our over-sized house used most of our resources, we justified the expenditures by telling ourselves that we needed to maintain a large legacy home that could serve as a gathering place for our children and future grandchildren. We also envisioned hosting more social gatherings and dinners. In reality, these events rarely occurred.
As time went by, we also realized how difficult it would be for our children, scattered across the country with multiple sets of parents and in-laws, to visit, even on major holidays, with any regularity. To have the type of relationship we wanted to have with our family, we needed to be more nimble. We needed to be able travel to them.
We put our dream home on the market.
Too Much Stuff
The next step was a bit easier. Our plan was to sell our big house and buy the house next door from Sheryl’s mother. Mom was both gracious and pleased to have family in the house. However, in order to make the move into the much smaller space, we needed to sell and give away a large percentage of our stuff. We found it unexpectedly liberating. We also considered it an advance gift to our children in that they would never have to deal with boxes and boxes of unneeded items which we edited from our lives.
To Be Continued…
At present, our house is still on the market. As we make progress, however, we will report further on the tangible life changes of increasing margin. Please stay tuned…..
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