Greg and I have done our best to avoid debt whenever possible. We don’t carry balances on our credit cards, and we pay off loans as quickly as we can. Admittedly, this is easier for us than a lot of people because we both had our college tuition paid by our parents. We still make a few sacrifices to reduce our bills. We cut out cable long ago, though that didn’t feel like much of a sacrifice, and I just got my new-to-me iPhone 5. The Internet connection is fast! But you already knew that two years ago.
We’ve always felt that eliminating debt gives us freedom. One of us can stay home or work part time, and we have wiggle room when it comes to seeking new jobs. We can choose the best fit rather than the highest paycheck.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about when I will return to an office job. I like freelancing when I have work. That’s the rub — when I have work. Sometimes I spend more time searching for work than doing actual paying work.
But there’s the problem of us living so far from the city. The jobs that I want are downtown, and the commute seems impossible to manage with young kids. (If you’re thinking of moving to Austin, be aware that we have major traffic problems.) I always thought that I could make it work when the kids got older. Realistically, though, when am I ever going to want to leave at 7 a.m. and get home at 6 p.m.? Even when Henry is in school, I’ll still want to be home in time to make dinner or run the kids to soccer practice.
I was talking to some family members last week, and they asked about my job prospects, and I said, “We’re going to have to move at some point.”
As soon as those words popped out, I knew that I had spoken the truth. I felt relief. Because all of the job concerns I have stem from our living so far from the city. At the moment, neither of us wants to move. We live in a great neighborhood for young children, and we’re friends with many of our neighbors. I don’t want to uproot Eleanor. And, getting back to the debt thing, I don’t want us to take on a bigger mortgage. We’ve worked hard to get to this point, and it seems crazy to voluntarily give that up.
As backward as it sounds, trying to live without debt has become a trap. When we bought this house, I didn’t have a job. And then for a long time, I had a job where I worked at night, so commuting downtown wasn’t an issue. Now, I literally can’t have an office job because of our location. I’ve been happy to have time with the kids and to take life at a slower pace while raising them, but I don’t plan to do this for the next 18 years.
We’re not doing anything drastic. You already knew that. Greg and I are the tortoises of decision-making. When I do return to work, I will definitely start my job before we start house-hunting. For now, I’ll keep holding out for that magical, interesting work-from-home job.