family, life, thoughts

Owning Choices

skyline 2So, due to the high cost of living and job insecurity in the Chicago area, we found a more financially sound place to live in Florida.

This meant, I needed to say goodbye to all of my family and friends, which was not an easy task.

At the time, I still had three living grandparents, my parents … who were then going through an emotional divorce, one sibling, lots of cousins and a group of very close friends. I lived in one house until I married, and all of us were within a few miles of each other.

Keep in mind, when we first moved, there were no cell phones, internet or Skype. Calling long distance for twenty minutes could cost as much as one month’s phone bill today. And –  gasp  –  we had to use the post office to send letters.

moon-palms wmMy husband’s brother and his family had recently moved to Florida, and it helped to live near them. But, within a few years, his brother moved out of state. We were left all alone.

I’ve already written about much of our lives there, so I won’t write it again. The point is, we did the right thing in moving. It helped us to grow up in more ways than one.

Because of the move, we cleared all debt, had no car payments and financed a home within our means. When the housing bubble broke, we were safe.

That’s when it happened. I got into a feud with a friend of mine who lived in another state (not Illinois). She was complaining about how it was the big banks fault that she could lose her home and everything else she had accumulated over the years. She and her husband had no children, and he had a good job, so I didn’t understand.

I asked her how she landed in so much debt.

decadence wmThat was when she let me have it. I was part of the problem, because I didn’t see how it was all the big corporations and banks fault that so many people were losing their homes. She told me I had no idea what it was like living in fear that any moment I could be homeless.

Well, it didn’t go well from there, because I hadn’t yet learned to pick my battles, and I should’ve been more sensitive, but I fought back.

In my defense, I was probably hurt, too. I never lived in luxury like my angry friend. She had a 3,000 square-foot, three-story house planted on an acre of land with a lake, a dock and a boat. She and her husband also owned expensive new cars.

My husband and I bought a modest 1,700 square-foot one-story home in Florida with a tiny yard, without a lake, boat or even a pool.home (800x532) wm

We drove used vehicles that had been previously wrecked, because in my husband’s business, he could buy cars and fix them for us to drive. This way, we didn’t have car payments.

We made the gut wrenching decision to move far away from loved ones in order to live within our means. It wasn’t easy, but we did the responsible thing.

Grant it, some things that happen are out of our control, like getting an illness, struggling with infertility, or my husband’s accident in 2014. Although, had he not taken that job when offered another, the accident might not have happened. We will never know.

So you see, it’s been my experience that our choices bring us to our present situations.  Even though my husband is no longer blue collar (but still in the same business), moving back to Chicago is much less comfortable financially. We chose this, because my husband’s new job here is best for the lingering issues from his injury, and it brought us nearer to our loved ones again. I own my choices, and I’m not sorry for them. They haven’t landed me in the lap of luxury, but they’ve gotten me through a life that’s fitting for me. In other words, my choices have always given me what I needed.

Even so, I’ve made some bad choices that I still own, like the choice that lost me that friend. All I can do is learn from a bad choice and move on. The good news is, she didn’t lose her home.

How do you feel about your choices? Would you do anything differently?


29 thoughts on “Owning Choices”

  1. I’ve made some bad choices but happily none that have had lasting effects 🙂
    We live simply and within our means, which somehow projects the illusion-assumption we are wealthier than we are. Perspective is a curious thing – the people who think that appear to be those who aspire to more than they can afford -champagne lifestyle beer income- and artificially perpetuate it rather than valuing & pursuing the comfort of lifestyle security. In the past few weeks we have heard all sorts of speculation about the vast amounts of money we must have stashed away. Not true and none of their business but some people can’t seem to see beyond their own motivations and behaviours, as you found out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I found that when some people live in a victim mentality, they can cause their own bad circumstances and can’t own up. I know how hard you’ve worked for where you are now, and I’m proud of you. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My married life has been much like yours. My husband and I were able to build our first (and only) house, which was very fortunate for us as a young couple. But it was a very simple, modest house and not on the most optimal property in the development. Still, over the years, as we’ve grown older and more financially sound, we’ve loved it and improved it to make it just what we need.

    But I wasn’t always so accepting that we had what we needed. As I watched family and friends upgrade to bigger and better, I was often jealous that we didn’t have the latest and greatest and biggest. I wasn’t always content, and as much as I wanted to “keep up with the Joneses,” we stayed put in order to keep our budget manageable. Then we saw some of those same people lose what they had and have to start over. I recognized the severe bitterness that came from having so much and then having to go backwards and start over. Today I look around at my life and realize that we have exactly what we need. I’m glad we stayed put.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Tee. When my husband and I used to come back to Chicago to visit family, we noticed that “keep up with the Joneses” mentality. We didn’t see it that much in Florida. We wondered how everyone in Chicago was affording the bigger homes and nicer cars, cause we had to move just to afford something simple. We used to joke that maybe they were all in the mafia and/or selling drugs.

      Thank you for sharing your story. I appreciate learning more about you, and how other people deal with the times of society.


  3. Growing up I never thought I’d leave Reno. I was born there. My parents are there. All my extended family is there. My husband and I were living in a home that we were renting. It was a nice home, on 1 acre with a barn and arena for my horses. It was also across the street from my parents, which I loved. When the owner came to us about buying it, we thought sure . . .until he told us the price he wanted. Unfortunately, the housing bubble at the time hadn’t burst. He wanted $425k for it. OUCH! One night soon after that, I was on the phone with a friend who lived in OK. I had a few glasses of wine and for some reason started looking at houses online. After seeing the prices out here, we booked a flight and met with a realtor. Our house is smaller than the one we were renting. It’s older, it needs work, the barn is older, too, and isn’t as nice, but I still love it. The house in Reno was 2500 sq ft, sat on 1 acre, and came with a $425k price tag. Instead, we bought a 1300 sq ft house, sitting on 8.13 acres, for the low, low, price of $119k. I hated leaving my family and still hate it now that my girls are older and ask me to see them all the time. But, I know we couldn’t have all that we have here if we lived there. Horse property homes with 8 acres there are rare and usually are close to a million in price. Even 1 acre is still out of our means and the cost of living is much higher there. I spend $120 a year for hay for one horse. My mom spends $2,160 a year for hay for one horse. Of course, I have 7 acres of pasture, but even if I didn’t, my hay cost would be $520 a year.

    Now, on another note, with regards to your friend blaming the banks. I think it’s just the sign of the times. No one seems to be accountable for their lives and actions anymore. And it’s only getting worse.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Angela. Your story sounds similar to mine, with the exception that I’m totally not a country girl. Ha. When we first moved to Florida, the place we chose was a little more rural than I was used to. It wasn’t farm country, like by you, it was a suburb. But, I lived in Chicago suburbs and they were much more populated. Over time, the suburb in Florida grew, and grew, and grew, and before I knew it, I was living in as populated a suburb as where I left.

      I hear you about the cost of living. It was so much more affordable in Florida. Things are tight now, but it’s best for my husband’s injury and for me to be near my aging parents.

      I never met anyone who was born and raised in Nevada before you. There were very few people who were born and raised in Florida when I lived there.

      Thanks for sharing your story. It’s always a difficult trade off to leave family in order to afford to live. But, your (immediate) family is thriving there, and I admire your decision.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve made some bad decisions in my life, too, Lori. At the time, however, I didn’t know that they were bad choices (well, most of the time). Still, I wouldn’t change anything because everything led me to where I am now and I love where I am now. No regrets, only LOTS of lessons!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s the thing about “bad” choices. They turn out to be not-so-bad if we learn from them. I’m so happy that you are in a good place. Thanks for your input, Lorna.

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  5. I definitely believe that we all make choices–free will is tough. Many people don’t expect or want to live with the consequences of their choices. Sometimes circumstances contribute to our problems, but we do get to make choices about what to do next. And life has tradeoffs. I can understand why you got in a fight with that friend. While she was in a bad situation, it didn’t just happen to her like an accident. She signed mortgage and took on debt she probably shouldn’t have and she gambled with her future to live the good life now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great points, Kourtney. Sometimes circumstances DO contribute to problems, but then it’s up to us how we deal with them. It seemed my friend didn’t understand that her choices led her to that place. It’s a shame, because choices don’t have to be bad if we learn from the consequences.

      Thank you for your valued input in the conversation.


  6. I really appreciate those who live within their means. I grew up in a blue color world where you owned your choices, you didn’t spend what you didn’t have, and if you wanted more you worked a second job. Having said that I do feel there are corporations (not all) that will put their thumb on the scale to get the right outcome and have no qualms about cheating you if it will benefit them; sadly there seems to be so few things that are black and white anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes Charlie, you’re right about some corporations. My husband dealt with companies who treated him like dirt for their own benefit. The good thing was, because of his expertise, he made a name for himself in the area where we moved. He did take abuse from a couple of companies for some time, but when he finally had enough, he used his good reputation to find jobs elsewhere. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world.

      Thank you for sharing your experience. It seems people from our generation understand living within our means.


  7. “All I can do is learn from a bad choice and move on.”—Yes, perfectly said. Getting caught up on our past choices prevents us from moving forward, or at least moving forward in peace. But it’s difficult to silence the “what ifs” that are never far away.

    What a difficult time in your family situation when you first moved to Florida. How stressful that must have been.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that consequences to choices would be a reason to learn from them. It didn’t appear that my friend learned from hers.

      Yes, it was difficult to move so far away. I’d never been away from where I grew up, not even for college. It was the right move though, and so was the one to move back … at least so far …

      Thank you for reading about it.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Of course, teenage years don’t count. 😉 So glad that despite some hard times with illnesses and such, that your have a good life. It’s all about attitude.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I like that you made choices you could afford. I could relate to this post so much. We never lived beyond our means and were able to hang onto what we had. It wasn’t much but it was ours. Now we can afford more and are enjoying it, and no one is going to take it away. I drove an old truck that was paid for, for years while other neighbours had the latest models (and never owned any of them outright). Many people who have the same opportunities we had, don’t know the meaning of the words “save” or “sacrifice.” Of course there are always those who are unlucky with health or disabilities, but for those who are “able” a little planning and patience would go a long way towards attaining goals.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great insight, Anneli. Thank you for sharing it. I think we’re both pretty lucky. If someone is having difficulty with a choice they made, perhaps they need to take a look at the consequence and learn from it. I wished my friend would’ve learned from hers instead of blaming.

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  9. Hi Lori, we have made some interesting choices during our married life. One of the less positive ones was the decision to move to Florida. After my son’s bout of meningitis and 3 hurricanes in a matter of 3 months we knew we had made a terrible choice. But..we moved and now are doing quite well in California. We don’t have anything fancy and I am fine with that. We are comfortable, our sons are healthy, we have 2 of the cutest dogs ever and we are happy. What more could a family ask for?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was there in Florida for those 3 hurricanes, SD. We didn’t have time to breathe before another one was hitting. I hope your son got good healthcare when he was sick. That must’ve been horrific.

      Florida was the right move for us, at least for a while. There was so much we needed to learn, but I would’ve liked to have moved back to Chicago a decade ago. As you may have read in my other post, I had to wait for my husband to be ready.

      I do enjoy reading about your life in Cali. It’s not the material things that matter. I’m glad you’re happy there.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. A lake, a boat, a pool?

    We have (nearly) always bought cheap properties at the lower end of the market (easier to sell). We currently live in a one-bedroom flat. So what. We’ve never had a detached house although I was brought up in one.

    There is some serious aspiration in society.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, she didn’t have a pool, but when we moved to Florida, almost everyone had one. We didn’t even get one of those in order to live within our means.

      Sounds like you’ve lived responsibly. Happiness isn’t in material things, right?

      Thanks for sharing your experience.

      Liked by 1 person

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