What’s it for?

I remember joking with my brother and sisters as we were growing up about the fact that once we were old enough to drive, our parents expected us to get jobs in town, so we could earn enough money to pay for the cars that we had to have in order to drive to our jobs in town.

Back when I was bringing home the lawyer income I ate a lot of meals in restaurants. It was expensive, but I didn’t have time to grow and prepare my own food. I was too busy earning the money I needed to buy food.

Nowadays it is very rare for us to eat in a restaurant. Restaurant meals aren’t in our budget and even if they were, why would we? We raise nearly all of our own food here now and the food we eat every day would be an expensive treat at a gourmet restaurant. The fact of the matter is that our everyday meals are superior to nearly anything we could get at a restaurant.

One of the lessons we’ve learned from our downward mobility is that much of what we earn money to pay for becomes unnecessary once you step out of the rat race. Food is an obvious example but there are many more. Just as in our teenage years we had to have jobs to pay for the cars we needed in order to have jobs, we discovered that we were still doing that in many ways. Once we stepped away from that life and took at hard look at what we really needed to buy, we found that it was very little. It was disconcerting at first–we’ve been conditioned to believe it just isn’t true–but once the truth of it settled in, it was liberating.

On our current income we can’t afford to eat out often. But the truth is that we’re wealthier than if we could.