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Hi, how’s it going? Hopefully, you had a great weekend. We spent ours working and catching up on home projects. Poor Terin had a bout of teething all afternoon. She was not happy and wanted a mix of snuggles and frozen teething rings.
What’s going on with you?
I wanted to write about practicing contentment since it’s been on my mind lately. In my life, a huge source of freedom has emerged as I work on being happy with what I have rather than angry at what others have. We don’t often know the journeys others take to get where they are.
Being mindful and kind to others is a way to be kindest to ourselves.
Practicing contentment in our frugal home
Wealth is so much more than dollars and cents. We’re practicing contentment along our journey to financial independence and early retirement.
We had the opportunity to flex the contentment muscles in the last few weeks. Our friends shared with us that they bought their newest home. Their family gave them a gift of equity of $90,000 to purchase their newest home. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t jealous. My mother lorded her millionaire-status inheritance over me so I would act exactly as she wished. Receiving $90,000 to help build a family legacy seems like a dream. Our friends have been on Cloud 9 for weeks now.
Our reality is completely different. I have no inheritance from my family. We’re 100% self-made, middle class and learning as we go on building wealth. Our net worth is the highest it’s ever been, but I’m not happier because of it. My happiness today has come from having my daughter and taking action in my life.
True wealth is so much more than dollars and cents.
While I’m happy that our friends don’t have the family dynamics I do, pillow talk with Nick changed. Suddenly, benign conversation changed to, “when we move, we’ll get … a sunroom … a wrap around porch … an area for chickens … acerage …” Suddenly, our home that we’ve lived in for less than 2 years, didn’t seem like enough.
I started looking at real estate apps to see what our money could buy. To “keep up” we’d have to go into debt further. And since we make more than them, we’d have to get a nicer home.
I realized later that my daydreaming was not productive and not making me happier.
Buying our first home felt like a total upgrade from being without a home for a few months. It’s has a small yard with manageable outdoor upkeep. It’s 10 years old and doesn’t have a huge amount of repairs. It’s got good bones. It’s smaller than what we rented, making it easier to clean. There’s a lot to love.
One of my favorite aspects is that we can afford it. Our mortgage is less than $453 per month, giving us the freedom to save and pay it off in less than 5 years. We’re on track to pay it off in around 3 years if we keep this up.
Why is it that our friends’ successes turn my contentment into wanting the “next big thing”?
Wisdom from a Divine source came to me when we were at a landscaping store buying some plants today.
Turn your home into an oasis so you don’t want to leave.
For all the complaining I have done about our home, I have done little to love it more. I haven’t bought any plants for the front yard or research best ways to care for a lawn. I haven’t removed the sources of stress within our home.
Is it really fair to blame our home for my lack of contentment?
Moving (and spending a chunk of cash) to keep up with our friends seems like the wrong approach for us. It’s silly to move when our home could serve our needs well through 4 kids and many years to come.
Some of the most beautiful and relaxing spaces often aren’t large. They are uncluttered and hold only the items that make us happiest. Everything else is donated, sold or trashed.
In the spirit of practicing contentment, I’m developing a list of ways I can love our current home more.
What I’d like to do is
- Declutter and get rid of what no longer brings us joy
- Learn about cultivating an outdoor oasis, i.e. lawn care, frugal DIY landscape design
- Slowly add plants that I love, that sip water and flourish in our environment
- Fix all the little things in our home that have bothered me for years
- Cluttered pantry
- Unfinished trim
- Various painting projects
- Paperwork organization
- Strive to be less messy so that home is a source of relaxation not of repeated stress
Ironically, none of these projects are expensive. It’s certainly less than moving. 🙂 We have paint from older projects. I might be able to sell some of the baby stuff Terin doesn’t use anymore. (I’m looking at you, Baby Bouncer). I can work with this.
We won’t be selling our house for a while now, and it’s ok. I’m going to do my best to make our home a place I don’t want to leave. Practicing contentment is a wealth that lasts no matter what the numbers on the balance sheet tell. No matter what the stock market does, no matter what our incomes are, contentment brings a peace that no one can buy.
Are you practicing contentment? Share with me how you’re doing it in the comments.