Last post I shared a little about my parents. They were mostly supportive, yet didn’t quite grasp all the reasoning behind our desire to cut back on consumption while moving to a more minimalistic structure. They understood the financial savings, but beyond that I suspect they are still processing the ideas.
Shortly after this, my wife shared the vision with her mother. As I did with my parents, I need to set some background. Like my parents, my in-laws are consumerists also. Really, who isn’t these days, it’s pretty normal actually. Her mom loves to make other people happy. As a consumerist, this is usually done through purchasing various things that aren’t really needed, but serve for a short high of happiness and excitement.
She gives and buys for her grown children and her grandchildren. Well, most of them. The more needy the family member, the more she does for them. Since my family is less needy, we don’t get nearly the amount of gifted goods as the rest of the family. We’re ok with this, and actually feel good about it since this giving creates a huge strain on her financial wellbeing.
To her, there is nothing better than buying some shiny doo-dad for her adoring grandkids. She loves to see the excitement in the grand kids as they tear open some new gift.
The problem is the grandkids tend to expect it, and the grown children tend to rely on it. It’s turned into a never ending cycle of buying, giving, and expecting. Much of the original joy has faded yet the expectations remain.
I think for a moment, when Dream shared our plans with her mother, her mother considered the idea of lightening the load, and shedding the house for an apartment. She has a 4 bedroom house, and there is always some other family member(s) living there at any given time.
Then she quickly decided that she wouldn’t be able to sell in this market since and still break even. I’m sure she’s wrong on this given that she owes about $100,000 on the house, and I’m sure she could at least get that. In any case, she quickly dismissed the idea.
She went on to say the area we are considering moving to, which is about 10 minutes from where I work, is not a very nice area. Granted, this isn’t an area full of single family homes. But it’s a nice area, with beautiful, upscale apartments, condos, and retail. It’s not the quiet suburban neighborhood that we currently live in, but it is quite nice. It’s very close to work, and being an apartment, it doesn’t come with all the baggage of home ownership.
Most of this discussion happened before I got home from work. So my telling of this is second hand. But after Dream’s mother left, I got filled in on all these details. Dream was a little sad about her mother’s reaction. It wasn’t as supportive as she would have hoped.
When we first started considering this move, we discussed the reaction that would likely be had from friends and family. We decided then that many wouldn’t get it. Even more so, we expected many to feel that this was an attack on their way of life, and would be quite hostile towards the idea of downsizing and moving from a house to an apartment.
We know that many people will decry our choices, saying that we have to do it because we can’t afford our house. That we’re in financial trouble, and that this move is out of necessity. We also know that the worst of the comments will come from people who are struggling. They are afraid for their own futures, and they will lash out at us for fear they may have a similar fate.
These are the “normals.” They don’t understand that we can afford our home and our lifestyle. They don’t understand that anyone would make a conscious choice to leave a house for an apartment, or to purposely reduce their number of belongings. They don’t understand that we are choosing to reduce our “stuff” in favor of generating more experiences. We want to be less tied to the things we own and to gain more freedom to do things we enjoy.
Dream’s mother and my parents don’t fully understand yet. I’m sure they will come around, but it’s going to take a little time. We’re ok with that. We are confident in our decisions and we have a plan that is already in motion. We’re continuing with the big purge to lighten our load and reduce our ties to stuff. We’re excited about our progress and happy with our future potential!