Cost of Living

Power In Living Debt Free

Do you ever have that magical dream, the one where you’re flying? A normal dream full of random people, surroundings, conversations, everyone walking along together, then, a feeling of defiance, “I can do this” and you take off running. With one flap of your arms (yes silly as that seems) and a mighty leap, running turns to flight and you take off.

In mine, I can sense it, feel myself fighting, trying hard to stay aloft. For a minute, it seems as if I’m caught in an extra long leap, that the inevitable gravity will pull me down, yet it doesn’t. Even in my dreams, flying is something I fight for, work hard for and I feel that fight, every, single, second, even when soaring high above the ground smiling triumphant in my flight.

After over 20 years in the work force, I realized those dreams had stopped happening.

I wonder sometimes if that was just me, just me that lost the magic of flight in my dreams somewhere in my mid 20’s? The sad part is, I didn’t realize these dreams had stopped until just last week, when one returned. I woke delighted and surprised, wondering “where did that come from?”

As one does these days, I did a little online research and found that dreams of flight can be interpreted many, many ways. You’re in control or you’ve lost control. You’re overcoming or your struggling with obstacles.

So here’s what I’ve decided, I’m interpreting the return to flight in my dreams as a positive thing. I welcome the flight and if it’s a sign of challenge, I welcome that too.

Perhaps not incidentally, I’ve been writing about how my Husband and I pulled up roots from New York City after a decade. We wanted nature in our lives, to travel, we wanted to work for ourselves. Saving $5,000 a month in fixed expenses, mostly rent, certainly has been freeing, I’ll say that for sure. So has been getting rid of nearly everything we owned with the exception of 20 boxes, 2 chairs, 2 desks and our clothes.

There is literally nothing holding us back, down or in place. It’s scary, it’s exhilarating and it’s really, really not the norm with the average American household carrying credit card debt in excess of $15,000. 

At 39 and 40 years old, we own no car, no home, no signifiers of wealth. We do own Art, but it’s made and sold by my Husband Paolo Ferraris. As a couple we are also odd, not simply because we chose not to acquire, but because we are 100% debt free. We owe not a penny, to anyone. No lease, no mortgage, no credit card debt of any kind.

This is a mistake I made early in my 20’s, thinking that Mulberry purse was important enough to charge it. I’ve changed my ways and a few years back, started doing more than maxing out my 401K, I started saving to have cash on hand. I started saving to take a flying leap from the corporate world.

Bello is a born saver. As a Northern Italian, debt is considered embarrassing. So he never accumulated it or anything beyond a wardrobe and the equipment he needed for his passion for photography. We’re well matched.

I’m really hoping the clothing I invested in during my spending years in New York serve me well for years to come. I’m selling what no longer fits my lifestyle. We’ve saved, we’ve held back on things we would like to own but did not need. I cook all of our meals, we make our own coffee, we give each other gifts of travel and experience.

What would happen if we prioritized our dreams and forget about the American dream? I’ve been asking myself and acting on that question this year.

Right now, I’m testing my own personal theory:

The things you own, own you. 

When things own you, they hold you back. You have to fret, care, pay for them and a place to put them. You have to keep that job that gives you chest pains just to pay for the stuff you thought you needed. You wake to numbers and add, subtract and count on paychecks to come.

As adults, the rules of life, bills, debts, mistakes and the lessons we’ve learned force us to be more grounded, more responsible. Is the parallel of that less dreaming I wonder?

Standing on the edge in Northern California
Standing on the edge in Northern California

Bello and I are on uncharted ground and we’re not sure yet how things will turn out. The stresses are there at times but they are by in large self imposed. We’re pressuring ourselves to figure out, if we give ourselves time instead of things with our money, what can we do with our lives.

Could we make a go of our passions? Could we build something of our own? We’re trying hard, we’ll see. 

It all comes at a cost. We don’t fit in with many other couples, we don’t try and can’t keep up with the Jones. My creative mind, struggles with the discipline needed to stay the course, create a schedule for myself and stick to it. We’re in each others faces 24×7. Thankfully, I still wake grateful each day to see his.

Bello and I agreed our savings for retirement are off limit. What will happen is ours to determine. It’s a matter of time right now, we have a year to make things work, or face returning to corporate, working for others.

Did I mention it’s scary?

Did I mention it’s freeing?

It used to be, we were only truly happy when we were traveling. I apparently have a relaxed “travel pose.” One I was unaware of, that Bello has been photographing along the way. Hands on my head, I’ve relaxed around the world with him.

With hard work and a little luck, perhaps he’ll capture a photo of me with my laptop relaxing while I work on my project sometime soon.

Fingers crossed my theory that owning nothing while we’re finding our path is the right way to go, otherwise… I’m going to be eating some humble pie out of my hand since I donated all of our dishes.

What are your thoughts?

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