A colleague of mine opened right up with me today. She is in her 40s, married with two kids (10 and 14) and two years ago got into a mortgage up to her neck. The kids are in private schools. The daughter does piano lessons. The son plays soccer. They live a 45 minute drive from work. Sometimes my colleague has to catch the bus to work which can take up to an hour and a half. Twice a week they take their son to soccer practice across town, which means they don’t get home until 10pm.
This just sounds like the Australian Dream.
My colleague migrated to Australia several years ago from Central America. She told me, with tears in her eyes, that, in many ways, she feels she has taken ten steps backwards. Her and her husband work to keep afloat, and there is little money left for entertainment and definitely not enough to work on the projects she feels will make for a more comfortable life–landscaping the backyard and putting solar panels on the roof–or travelling back to Central America to visit family every few years.
She told me that she longs for the day when she will be comfortable. When she doesn’t have to worry about money. I stopped her and apologised in advance for being so bold. I told her: “Sometimes we have to be less fixed on getting more money to satisfy our needs and instead reduce our needs so the money we currently earn is enough”. She agreed. She and her husband are going to sit down together soon and really work out what it is they want out of life. Is the mortgage necessary? Perhaps they are better off renting, or buying a cheaper house. Do the kids really need to go to a fancy private school? And are they perhaps more wise to move closer to work to cut down on the money and time they are losing to the commute?
(I am placing this post in the the “Apply Self-Regulation and Accept Feedback” category as it is terribly apt.)