I had an interesting discussion in the comments of my last post. In my post I talked about the travels, activities, and adventures we have been on in the past four months. We have freed up a significant chunk of income by selling our house and moving into an apartment. We are now living on 50% of my salary and have about 20% dedicated to saving. That leaves 30% for wants.
The adventures we have taken in the last four months are budgeted and planned for. Our wants budget comes to about $1500 per month. That’s a pretty good sized chunk of money, but it would be easy to blow if we weren’t careful about what we wanted.
Prior to downsizing we spent some time thinking about the things in life that we really enjoyed. We knew we wanted more enjoyment out of life, but in order to manifest this, we needed to figure out the types of things that brought us pleasure.
To determine this, we thought back to our fondest memories from childhood and from our fifteen years of married life. Our fondest memories typically revolved around family vacations. We love to travel and explore new places. Our family vacations were times when we spent hours and days together as a family doing fun things.
I remember RV road trips, boat excursions, visiting museums in Washington DC, and playing at the beach for the weekend. I remember staring into the darkness during a late night road trip listening to Top Gun blast on my Walkman.
I remember a road trip to Tennessee with my wife, filled with awe at the hugeness of Mammoth Caves, drooling over Corvettes at The Corvette Museum, and being led by one of the best tour guides I’ve ever experienced at the Jack Daniels Distillery.
I remember listening to the new Jewel CD over and over and over again with my wife on a trip to Outer Banks, North Carolina. We went over Christmas break, and it was our first Christmas away from any family obligations. We dedicated our entire time to each other, and visited botanical gardens, the Wright Brothers Museum, and the Largest Sand Dune on the East Coast.
I remember the first cruise vacation we took with our daughter. She loved being on that ship and exploring everything they had to offer. She has talked about that trip ever since and repeatedly asked “When can we go on another cruise?”
We looked at where our money had been spent over the past years, and found that it wasn’t in areas that brought us the joy and memories that we craved. Most of it was on a house and stuff to fill and maintain that house. Very little was left for vacations, travel, and fun experiences.
We don’t have many fond memories that were dependent on our housing situation. Sure we had fond memories while living in our houses growing up, and fond memories of living in the first house we bought and recently sold, but they weren’t dependent on that exact house in that exact location. Most of those memories could have been had anywhere.
The result of our soul searching led us to realize that we value experiences over stuff, and that the best experiences were related to exploration and adventure.
That’s the background that led us to where we are today. We spend a significant chunk of income to do the things that bring the most enjoyment into our lives.
The enjoyment and fond memories aren’t the same for everyone. Some have less taste for travel. Some prefer to spend more time at home enjoying quiet company. Some take great pleasure in maintaining and beautifying a home. Some like social interactions and parties with friends. Some may crave even more adventure than we do and take to world travel to exotic and non-touristy destinations.
Everyone has different dreams and different fond memories. The important step for each of us to take is to verify that your dreams are in line with your fond memories. Is your life full of the things that create wonderful memories? Is it full of the things you most enjoy?
Do this exercise now:
Make a list of your fondest memories. Think of childhood, think of your teen years, think of your young adult years, and everything since. Write down every fond memory you can think of. Scribble it out or type it up.
Then compare that to your current life. Is your life full of the things that create memories? If the answer is no, then what steps can you take to get there? Start planning now. You might not need to sell your house like we did, you may be able to make small adjustments. Small or large, start now. Jot down some ideas of things you can do now to change your situation, and start putting together a plan to get there.
Care to share? I’d love to hear what’s on your memory list and see some of your ideas to create more of these memories.