All The Things!

Vaguely related to my last post about traveling is the issue of wanting all the things, all at once.

Husband and I would like to have kids in about 4 years. Of course, we’ve got a laundry list of things we hope to accomplish before we have kids (not because we believe all accomplishment and personal advancement must immediately stop the second kids enter the picture, but just because some of these things are easier to do when you don’t have tiny little humans to care for). On that list are a few BIG things that involve either a lot of money, a substantial time commitment, or both. There’s some doozies on the list like going on at least two international backpacking trips, buying a house, and feeling stable and established in our careers before kids come into the picture.

We were not bringing in the big bucks before going to school (we were on the lower end of comfortable), but now that we’re both in school full time, we’re just barely making ends meet. We’re normally pretty aggressive savers, but with our current income, saving anything at all is pretty much impossible, as there is literally nothing left over after our basic needs are met (in fact, there’s a bit less than nothing left over). What that means is, saving for these big goals is on the back burner for a year while we further our education.

What that also means, is that once school is done, we’ll really only have 3 years left to accomplish a couple of our bigger financial goals. Our incomes right after school will likely put us firmly in the ‘lower middle class’ category (that will improve over time, we hope), and it’s overwhelming to think of how we’ll actually manage to save the downpayment for a house (we’re aiming to save $50,000, and we’re currently about 1/3 of the way there), while also saving for travel, without feeling like the goals are competing. We struggle a bit with feeling guilty that every dollar that goes towards our travel fund is pushing our goal of home ownership back a little bit more, but at the same time every dollar that goes into our house fund postpones our travel plans, which makes us feel like we’re trading experiences for stuff.

Realistically – will we be able to achieve both goals in the next 4 years? We’re really not sure. There’s definitely a strong feeling of wanting all the things, all at once, when we know that’s not necessarily realistic for us. We know we want to travel before we have kids, and I do genuinely believe we’d regret it if we didn’t fit any epic trips in before we reach that stage in life, so it’s definitely going to happen, but it’s challenging to reconcile the fact that that will impact our ability to have our own home on the timeline we’d expected. I’m learning to be patient and reminding myself that good things come to those who wait, but that is easier said than done.

I’ve never been famous for patience. Sigh.

Itchy Feet

Traveling has always been important to me, so in the past I’ve made it a priority to travel, by pinching pennies, saving every extra bit of money I received (gifts, tax returns, etc) in my travel fund, and planning out my schedule to fit trips in when I could. By the time I graduated from university, I’d been to 16 countries, but since graduating, I haven’t really traveled at all. A big part of this is the slightly tragic reality that traveling is easier when you’re a student because your schedule is so much more flexible and you get long breaks throughout the year that are perfectly suited for trips, but part of it is just that I haven’t prioritized it lately. I’ve talked about traveling, but haven’t made any real concentrated efforts to plan for any trips.

I’ve decided it’s time for this to change. Husband and I want to do at least a couple of big international backpacking trips before we have kids, so we’ve decided our first big trip will be Southeast Asia, and we’re starting to actually plan for it. We’ve set up a ‘travel fund’ account in our savings account, I’ve started a planning spreadsheet (because that’s how I roll), and the planning has begun. It will still be a couple of years before we can afford to go (although traveling IN Southeast Asia is super-affordable, getting TO Southeast Asia isn’t), but it’s exciting to feel like we’re actually taking steps towards making it a reality.

Our next trip after Southeast Asia will probably be South America, and that will likely be our last before we have kids. We don’t intend to stop traveling once kids are born though – we hope to take trips to New Zealand and Europe with our kids once they’re old enough to remember it.