It's here, it's here!! My summer break is here!! School has finished for the semester and my summer of traveling, gardening, reading, and rejuvenating has begun! Obviously, having three months off from work each year sounds blissful for most and I know my ability to take advantage of the time off stirs up a little twinge of envy in some. I get it! Goodness, I do! But this stage of life didn't just happen for us. I worked for years to prepare for this place that we're now in. I completed my master's degree while working full time. I paid for school as I went so that I could finish debt free and put the little money we did have towards an affordable house. And we decided, and continually decide each year, that we'd rather live on less money and have the freedom to travel and truly enjoy our summers.
Now, I know, for many working full-time all year long is not an optional lifestyle--it's an absolute necessity. However, I also know that many of us find ourselves overburdened with bills and expenses (some of which really aren't necessities) and we then feel required to work a job that doesn't bring fulfillment or a balanced life. This is something that Dan and I are very passionate about. I tell him all of the time, that I'd rather be poor and happy, than financially comfortable, but with no time or energy to enjoy that comfort. So, we live in a little house with a very affordable mortgage and minimal household expenses, which gives us the freedom to do what we love and take more risks. It's worth every penny we pinch at the end of summer as we watch our summer living fund dwindle. Life is so much better when you take the time to really enjoy it, and sometimes to make that happen you have to sacrifice a bit in other areas.
I'm reminded of all this every time I tell someone that I don't work during the summer and I see the look of longing pass over their eyes. It makes me want more for them. While summers off aren't feasible for most of the working world, there are so many options out there that are available such as working less hours or flexible schedules. For me, having time for what really matters in life is far more important than having that extra bedroom or big kitchen, or filling my closet with new clothes each season and driving a new car. For those who value those things or can easily have them, that is just fine, but for us, they're not what we want or need now.
So, if you're finding yourself in a place of feeling like life is unbalanced or you don't really have time for the things that are truly important to you, then I encourage you spend some time evaluating and thinking creatively about how life could look different. It may require living with less or lowering your living standards, but I think the freedom that comes with living simply is worth far more than any of the things that extra money can buy.