The Ying Yang of Living Without
Life is all about ‘living with’ and ‘living without’. Have kids or don’t; eat healthy food or don’t; travel the world or don’t. Live with, live without. Each path has its definite perks and downfalls. So, we’ve chosen to travel the world, we’ve chosen to stack our cards and organize our lives in a way that has enabled long-term nomadic family travel. It’s the cosmic ying-yang of our life choices.
Has it been easy? No. Have we had our doubts? Often. Has it been worth it? Absolutely.
How It All Began
When we started toying with the idea of becoming a nomadic family, we knew we had to change the way we lived. Every drawer, shelf, countertop, closet, nook and cranny were overflowing with more junk than we could ever have use for. We were consumers, and not just to the material stuff. We enjoyed taking our kids to shows; we had our weekly date out; and loved family vacations. We were happily living our “American Dream” in Israel, until we realized we could choose to live another way of life.
What We Did
We did simple mathematics: Make more, spend less. We took on extra jobs. For two summers I ran an all-day summer camp out of my home in killer heat, while teaching parenting groups at night and taking clients in the evening hours. I almost died (I actually did have a physical break down), but I did it for the goal in sight. Kobi stayed in a J-O-B he hated well passed what he could endure because hi-tech jobs in Israel make really good money. And when he was (painfully at first, but thankfully) fired, he worked like a maddog as a professional dog trainer to bring money home, and for our goals.
And, we spent less by living without We lived in voluntary frugality. We lived without new clothing, babysitters, family vacations, shows, restaurants, attending weddings and celebrations (in Israel the acceptable gift is a check), too many car drives to Kobi’s parents in Jerusalem (the gas), and luxury food items. In the ‘living without’ came a delightful way to fill the void. Share and pass on clothing between friends, second-hand stores, dates at home, extended family get-togethers during off-season and tons of camping out, in-house entertainment and time in nature, and enjoying ‘special foods’ when they were on sale or for a special occasion.
We got so good at saving that a few amazing things happened. In four short (but really focused) years, we paid off the rest of our house mortgage, paid off our student loans, and saved $50,000 for our world travels. We found creative and powerful ways to save money that still allowed us to live joyful lives. Our Saving For The Dream e-book is a great start to figuring out how to re-organize your life to financially make your travel dreams come true.
We found that we could live perfectly joyful, rich lives while spending a third of what we used to. And while watching our credit card bills go down to half was awesome; other parts of it were not. It was not easy explaining to well-meaning friends (again) that we could not join them for that cool event this weekend or that our kids won’t come to bowling and pizza (again). It was in those moments that we were depriving our kids of normal, everyday cool kid-stuff that all of their friends were enjoying that we felt guilty and confused. Is this trip worth this? Can I look my friend in the eyes (again) and explain why we can’t afford full private-school tuition on three children and really need a discount? Do I really want to have another “we choose to spend our money on this” talk with my child? And when my son’s best friends’ mom paid for him to participate in some event, trust me, I wasn’t feeling mother of the year. I was embarrassed that I acted like a pauper while I was hording all of our money for round the world travels.
So, “living without” has truly become a ying yang for us. While we sacrificed on many of the conveniences and temptations in our everyday life; we enabled our family to taste a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. The same friends who judged what we put our family through to make this trip a reality, now tell us with envy how they could never afford such an amazing journey. And I agree. So long as we don’t “live without” in one category, we won’t be able to “live with” in another.
When we worked so hard to make our dreams come true; so often, we’d wonder where were the bells and whistles that pay off all of our hard work. Had we indulged in the unripe fruits of our labors rather than save it away for this world-travel dream, our family would have never become the nomadic family. And so, for us all there is a payoff, a turning point where there’s just no going back, a ying yang that we calculate on a very personal basis and decide ‘do I live with or without?”
What are you willing to ‘live without’ to make your dreams come true? Is the long-road toward world family travel worth the daily cuts and sacrifices for you? Have you ever felt uneasy or alone in the presence of those who live and spend their lives fully now, while you’re saving for your dream?
We’ve decided to go for it- to live this one life to the max, to do some ying in order to taste the yang. Many other inspirational families have made the leap too. Our most popular blog entry to date 10 Nomadic Families, 7 Continents: How They Afford It reflect how much people are fascinated with affording their travel dreams.
And as we relish every color, taste, and sound of exotic Colombia; we know we’ve chosen the right path for this family of five.Please, share with us what your road to ‘live without’ has entailed, and what color it has added to your life palette.
It is my honor to be a part of a community of nomadic family travelers. Be sure to check out their inspirational reflections on “Live Without”.
The Great Family Escape- What Can We Live Without?
Family on Bikes- Living with Less: What can you ditch?
Tripping Mom – Less stuff, more life
Living Outside of the Box – Living without
A King’s Life: Living with Less & Spoiling Ourselves
Globetrotting Mama – Living without the stuff
With 2 Kids in Tow – After 10 Months of Living With Less
A Minor Diversion – What we’ve learnt to live without
New Life on the Road – Living the simple lifestyle but would still love one thing
Carried on the Wind – Living Without