We have a lot of big decisions coming up in the next year or so. The biggest by far is whether or not Oliver is going to reenlist. There are a huge amount of factors going into this one, but surprisingly the one thing we aren't spending a huge amount of time talking about is the money aspect of it. As much as I'd like to say I'm a trust fund baby and don't need to worry about how we get the money we need to live on, it's not true. We're average joes who have the same concerns reflected in the lives of so many others.
I'm actually surprised at my own calmness when thinking about it. I've done the poor, starving college student thing, and I absolutely know what it is like to not know where the next meal is coming from. Those were tough years, and I have no desire to repeat them. The military may not have made us rich, but it has afforded us freedom from both debt and fear of how we are going to pay for things. Leaving it behind means an inevitable pay cut in some form.
Here's the thing, though, that I believe has made the difference in how we look at all of this: We have spent the last year living on a tiny island with few resources. While Oliver took a fairly hefty pay cut to move to shore duty and leave deploying behind for a few years, we still have more money than we can spend here. There just isn't anything to spend it on. Including food at times. I've had to learn to master our resources in a different way. Not by spending less, but by buying more eggs when they have them, recycling things at home rather than just dumping them in a bin by the curb, and choosing carefully what extras we want to go to great lengths to secure, among other things.
Somewhere along the way, I have had my eyes opened to the realization that so much of what I thought was essential isn't. And sometimes, the simplest things are the things that bring the most joy. We have a coconut palm behind our house that is dropping coconuts right now. I've never had access to something like that, and it's been fun to add something new and interesting to our diet. I will miss that a lot when we move.
So when we return to the States, we will be doing triage on what we know we care about most and what is really not important. I know we can live on a lot less than we once did, and we can be happy doing it. While income is always going to be something to consider, it no longer seems the larger problem when we talk about what we want out of life and where we are going. It's just one of the small details to work out along the way.
Ana is a restless soul who would love to keep moving around the world the rest of her life. This is probably why she married a submariner in the U.S Navy seven years ago. They have two energetic little boys, and currently live in the Bahamas. She blogs about life in paradise at Sunrise on the Water.
*Pic is Ana's.