How DO you get off the treadmill of making money to sustain a lifestyle?

The recent New York Times article about a couple who gave up their cars, moved and changed their lifestyle so they could get off the treadmill of making money to spend money made me think about how my family lives and how some of my friends live.

I have a few girlfriends who work crazy hours and make very good money but hate their jobs.  Some of them long to be with their children when they are young, but feel trapped in their current situation.  Some feel that absolutely have make money to save for private school and college right now.  Most of my friends, like me, live in semi-affluent metro suburban areas.  But let’s face it, we are also working to sustain our lifestyles: our fairly nice cars, pricey kid gear, dinners out, lawn services or cleaning lady (or both).   Ironically, some of these line items are needed because we are too busy working to handle them ourselves.

Suze Orman would tell us to sell our homes and move somewhere cheaper, to skip Starbucks, to send our kids to public school.   She’s right, but who wants to uproot your family and leave a neighborhood and a community that you are established in (especially one with good public schools)?

I work part time, from home, with a flexible schedule and love what I do. It’s not all easy- it can be stressful to work for myself, especially when I don’t have anyone paying for my upcoming maternity leave.   Our house carries a hefty mortgage and I do need to work to help support our family.   With the much- wanted new baby coming, I want to spend as much time with him/her as I can.

Which brings me back to the idea of the treadmill.  Spending time with our children when they are little is so important.  I admire families who make a heck of a lot less money than I do and manage just fine.   I often wonder if they are happier.

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