When I was a kid I didn’t own the stuff that other kids seemed to take for granted. My clothing was never on-trend, my single pair of school shoes were always from JCPenney and my coats were bought at an annual rummage sale. (Although my mother bought them in bulk, as I had a tendency to abandon my coats on the playground.) We only ever owned a single car at a time and I recall just a few restaurant meals. Ever. However, we traveled through Europe and lived in London when I was 3-4/10-11 and 19-20.
My father is an English professor, so we weren’t technically poor. But teaching is not exactly a road to riches, even at the university level.
My parents could have chosen to buy the San Francisco Riding Gear wide-leg designer jeans that could have been my ticket to popularity and acceptance, but there was simply not enough money for both lifestyles.
My husband and I don’t travel to Europe, Hawaii or Mexico for relaxation, our cars are both long in the tooth, and in exchange I get to work part time and live a life without the anxiety of debt and how to pay next month’s mortgage. Life is more expensive than it used to be. My parents paid $20,000 for their move-in ready in 1969, and we bought our fixer-upper in 1996 for $136,000. (Housing in Portland is expensive, ya’ll!)
But just because we don’t travel through Europe doesn’t mean that we choose things over experiences. Our house is furnished with curbside and thrift shop finds, and our clothes would not gain us acceptance into any social clique.
My sons have been able to travel to Japan multiple times, and my husband and I have each been once. It was never an instance of simply writing a check, and instead always came together from the dribs and drabs of our entrepreneurial efforts.
I choose experiences over stuff. Designer jeans be damned!
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”