When the American dream consists of a McMansion, giant flat screen television, and an expensive car, I often feel like my American dream seems modest and unremarkable.
Yet, as modest and unremarkable as it is, I feel as though I am living what I would consider a dream come true. After battling a year of unemployment with my husband and a mounting pile of debt, we made our last credit card payment today. $13K of debt stands behind me and in front of me is a future that seems as bright as sunshine.
Yes, my dreamy life is now simple and delightful. I am living in a house that I can afford, in fact, we have been paying extra on it each month so it can feel more like OURS than theirs. My house is nestled in a safe neighborhood with people who care about and for us.
Our house rests on a bit of land that I can do whatever I want with. I can grow food for us to eat and sit outside with my children while they play on their hand-me-down swing set. My clothing can flap in the breeze on the line and we can eat outside in that beautiful fresh air.
My husband goes to work and comes home with a paycheck that we can rely on. When times of self-employment faced days of wonder about whether he would get paid at all, when he was laid off from job after job, when he worked for employers who did not appreciate what a great employee he was something like this almost seems foreign. We are so grateful for this amazing opportunity and for him to have a boss that says, “Please don’t ever leave- we need you!” is nothing short of phenomenal.
I am able to put food on my table and gas in my car, despite the rising costs. We might not buy as much or go as many places to make up for the hike in prices, but we go where we need to and eat when we are hungry.
I stay home with my children, which is exactly where I had hoped to be. I cut every corner I could to make it possible, and I sit here amidst a pile of blocks in the floor and a crunching of Cheerios as I scoot my chair back, but one kiss from my peanut butter & jelly smeared daughter makes all of the noise of my life come to a standstill.
When my daughter lays down for her nap and my son enjoys his moments of quiet time, my house is quiet and still. The phone does not ring with collection calls, but it does ring on occasion to let me know that my library materials I request are in. To enjoy answering my phone and to not be fielding these calls is a relief.
Best of all, I share my stories and someone reads them. I never thought anyone would read anything I ever wrote and to know that our site continues to grow and that I am paid to write about my ordinary and extraordinary days is beyond what any person could ever hope for. I have a community that supports me and a family that loves me and it so wonderful to know that the people around me care about what I am doing.
I share these accomplishments, not to brag, but to show how you can overcome debt and that you can lead a simple and beautiful life with your family. As an American, you can chose to live whatever dream you could ever want, but it doesn’t have to be a dream of consumerism and being hostage to a credit card company.
And if you are a person who can’t answer your phone without worry, if you are struggling with an unemployment situation, if your credit card debt is bigger than your yearly income and you wonder how you can ever get out, I am telling you now that it is possible. Take it one day at a time and put as much as you can towards reducing your debt and building a safety net for your family. We started out with only minimum amounts put towards the debt and slowly worked our way up from there.
It was not without struggle, but rarely have I ever read a good story without a good struggle. Would I even want to read a story where it was smooth sailing and happy rainbows? Probably not! But a story where the heroine overcomes a mountain of debt, struggling each step of the way and documenting her wild ride to the top of the mountain, and then slides down her credit card statements to a rosy finale…now that is a story I would love to read.
So here it is…this American’s dream came true and she tackled that mountain. And here she sits with Cheerios crunching under her chair and living that happily ever after that she always dreamed of.