Living your values…is the cost too much?

Lately I find myself feeling quite alone as I am reaching that stage in life when many of my peers are starting to hit their stride professionally and financially. Yet here I am a year and some change shy of 40 and basically starting over, yet again. Some years ago my father in law and I had a discussion when I found myself needing to ask him for a rather large sum of money (since he’s not my Dad I did the asking since it felt less personal) and while in the end he gave us the much needed cash it didn’t come without the lecture that parental types like to give when giving you money.

It’s never been a secret that many of the choices I have made professionally have had a negative impact on us financially. No one really minded when a year after getting married I made the decision to go back to college and get my BA, it seemed like a pretty good idea. But my decision to get a master’s degree that at times feels pretty damn useless combined with my tendency to work at small and struggling agencies that do amazing work yet have very little in the way of financial rewards is a source of tension. Oh, the Spousal Unit will never say anything directly but my father in law gave me a loving talk about the matter since when I decided to move to Maine, it meant his son aka my husband gave up a financially solid position to become a freelancer. What that meant was his son who had never asked for help found himself asking dear old dad for help multiple times especially in the early days of getting established as a freelancer.

The exact details of that discussion are irrelevant though the focal point was that as an adult one must make adult decisions and that personal bliss is not always an option. I admit it was a hard talk yet his words continue to ring in my ears.

Often when people talk of personal bliss as it relates to work many have the belief that money will follow yet my own experience is that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes following our values and beliefs can cost us a great deal. Despite the cost though I continue to live according to my values, just yesterday I was lamenting to the Spousal Unit why is it that our monthly budget is always is blown? He lovingly pointed out that if I stopped shopping at the local farmers market and instead shopped at Wally World I would stay within the budget. You know what? He’s right, except that buying local and eating local is something I feel strongly about. I suspect my stomach’s inability to deal with grocery store meat and dairy has something to do with that but also the strong belief that if we all stopped supporting our local businesses what does that mean in a larger context? Yet the price for living this belief is that my budget gets busted though I am willing to see what things I might be able to downsize on.
In thinking about all of this today, I found myself thinking how easy it is to live our values when there is not a cost to us. In other words you earn plenty of cash so it’s no big deal to buy organic or local. While I have worked at larger agencies in my career, I prefer working at smaller ones where on any day I can see the difference my work makes in the lives of others. That fills me with joy, the downside though is I work at an agency so small there is never time for me to take my vacation time. Granted I don’t exactly earn enough to go on a vacation and a staycation would be equally disastrous to my budget…ask me how I know?

Oh, I bitch and moan but ultimately I enjoy what I do and while I am hoping at some point to transition to some form of writing as a career I know if that does not happen I will be fine where I am. However there is that little nagging feeling that maybe I am just fool for the choices I make, I mean how many of my friends have to do mental calculations before they head out lest they spend too much and really blow the budget? Even now with things slowly starting to stabilize financially I still have thousands of dollars in dental work that I have no idea how or when will happen. I keep thinking by the time I finally save up enough to get all the work done I will be told my teeth are too far gone instead I will be using that cash for some snazzy fake teeth.

So I sit here on a gray, rainy day wondering maybe the cost of living my values is too high…I wish I had an answer!

5 thoughts on “Living your values…is the cost too much?

  1. I’m on my fourth (or fifth?) career and it probably pays less than any thing else I’ve done. It took me until my early-40s to recognize that making money makes life easier, but it doesn’t make it happier.

    On days like today, when I worry that the roof will (continue) leak, that I haven’t done back to school shopping because there simply isn’t any money in the account, and that I probably won’t get another paycheck for two weeks, I think about the time I spend with my kids, the lack of stress pain in my body, and the friendships I’ve had time to nurture because I’m not working 60 hours a week.

    I’ve got severe dental problems, too. We’ve got insurance that pays for cleaning, but not much towards the crown, extraction, and implant I need. I may have to give up “real food” because I can’t chew it anymore. I have to laugh because if I didn’t, I’d cry.

    Keep your chin up!

  2. For what it’s worth, babe…I wasn’t suggesting we stop shopping at Farmer’s Market. Just offering it as an example of something we might be spending too much money on at times. I support eating and buying local too

  3. You should be able to do what you love, and thrive. God does! Everything in nature thrives by doing what comes naturally: Orange and lemon trees that are fed and watered give abundanlty and continue to give.

    Although you’re not an orange and lemon tree, you can experience the same kind of fruitful success by simply knowing who and what you are: The image and likeness of a God that meet all human needs, not just meagerly, but with an abundance that’s frightening to behold.

    Know that you have enough, and with a little left over to share, and you will. Know it often, daily, hourly, if necessary, with thanksgiving and joy, and love.

    I said something similarly to you once. You were receptive, but a chorus of voices took me to task for being what they call, a victim of the “Prosperity Movement.”

    Never spend what you don’t have, and haven’t demonstrated.

    Although you may not be seeing what you desire in your daily experience, you can give it form and substance in your heart, and mind, and in your heart and mind, find evidence for it, by forming it with the substance of faith and knowing.

    In time, you will have a treasure in heaven, and nothing can take that treasure from you.

  4. Black Diaspora, I love these words! I keep thinking that ultimately this will all work out, in the end my needs keep getting met and even some of my wants. There is abundance out there so I am trusting that if I stay open and receptive it will all work out.

  5. This is one of the main things that makes me wish that I were a member of a faith community – I know other people who are struggling (and we’re luckier than many), but the sacrifices that come with not wanting to work in opposition to my values, and the extent to which that places me at a significant distance from many friends and family is tough.

    I’m not christian, but I have to say that I deeply appreciate the camraderie that I can find online amongst a number of christian, frugal, simple(r) living bloggers. While there are absolutely a number of secular folks who embrace these practices, there’s often a silence as to the values that brought us to it. Talking about WHY we make these choices is one of the best ways to get through the frustrations that these same choices bring – thanks for bringing it up, though I hope that the financial realities that you’re staring down get rosier soon!

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