I don’t really remember how Emily of Simply Us Blog and I met, but I remember immediately being struck by her interest in living life well. She was overjoyed to hear about my desire to fully live out my 20s because she did just that. She told me she was so intentional about making the most of those years that she graduated to her 30s without a single regret. After hearing a bit of her story, I was so inspired that I asked her to write a guest post to share some tips on how she leans into life every single day. Give her a warm welcome!
I don’t think that I started out wanting to do things so differently from everyone else. I wanted to fit in! However, as the years passed and the more I found that my strange lifestyle choices bothered people, the more I wanted to be unique.
I was born in Florence, SC in 1985. Soon after, my parents decided to go into missions, so we packed up, moved overseas and I grew up in Ethiopia and Bolivia! By the time I got married in 2007, I had moved about 30 times, visited 12 different countries and already experienced a lifetime’s worth of adventure. Luckily I married someone who caught the travel fever and was excited to explore with me. We joined OM Ships and lived as volunteers on the Logos Hope for six months. A year after we returned to the USA, I went on a trip with my daddy to visit Bolivia. I still remember our conversation like it was yesterday. I was sitting on the edge of the bed and told my dad “I don’t want to be just another person who graduates college, gets married the next Saturday, waits two years and then has 2.5 kids and then just lives the rest of my life like everyone else. When I am laying on my deathbed, I want to be proud as I remember what a great adventure I lived.” And my dad said “Well, do it!” Although I was pretty different from others already, that conversation in 2010 was what truly sent me over the edge!
As if a fire had been lit underneath me, I started making Bucket Lists and brainstorming how I was going to make my years count. One of the first things we knew that we had to do was pay off Nick’s student loans ASAP. So, we lived totally on Nick’s income and made payments with my income, until we sent in the last loan payment in November 2011. Then, we decided to continue living on Nick’s income and saving mine, calling it our “fun money.” This is when the adventures really began! At this point, we had already visited the Caymen Islands and Cozumel on our honeymoon. Also, while living on the ship we trained in Holland and then sailed to Trinidad and Tobago, Aruba, Barbados, Curacao, Guyana, St Lucia and Jamaica. And for our three year wedding anniversary, we took a quick trip to Bolivia so that Nick could see where I grew up. But, I knew that we had to step it up a notch! When we could have caved and bought a better car, we chose instead to visit Denmark and the Faroe Islands for a friends wedding. And when we could have enjoyed owning our own home, we chose instead to visit Northern Ireland and Ireland for another friend’s wedding and then hop on over to Scotland while we were so close. While I would have loved to get a cute downtown studio apartment in Greenville, we chose instead to spend three months in Bolivia.
So, we chose to make lots and lots of sacrifices. I knew that we didn’t have the money to buy everything we wanted and do everything we wanted, so we had to make decisions based on what mattered most to us. And making memories always wins over accumulating more stuff…at least in this house!
However, not everyone can just pick up and travel like this! I majored in Elementary Education and Nick majored in Sociology, with a concentration in Criminal Justice. If I had stayed working as a teacher and Nick got a job as a cop, we could not live the lifestyle we want. So, this meant that we had to find the right jobs for us! Luckily, my dad owns a construction company and is very gracious in letting Nick take off anytime we ask. And I own my own essential oils business and can work from anywhere in the world. These jobs mean that we are able to do things like go to Bolivia for three months!
Another good decision we made early on was taking The Financial Peace University course with Dave Ramsey. This taught us how to budget and is how we are able to live on so little and save like crazy so that we can have adventures! Nick has a spreadsheet where he keeps up with all of our spending…mortgage, bills, gas, food and miscellaneous. He keeps up with everything down to the last penny and will tell me when I’ve spent all my money for the month. True, it sucks when you just want to go on a shopping spree, but it’s amazing when you’re on that airplane, flying to a new destination and you realize that the sacrifices were worth it. Every. Single. Time.
Last year, we bought a house! We were married for 8 years, living in rentals, because we enjoyed the freedom of not being tied down. However, we decided that we would like to settle down in Florence, SC and just continue to travel to see more unique places as we are able. Although we bought this house, it wasn’t what they call a “turn key” purchase. We are living in it while we renovate pretty much the entire place! Is it fun to live in a construction zone? No. I would rather not. But, does it mean that we got a home that we could afford? Yes. Each day, I try to remind myself that we are in this for the long haul, that this home means less debt than a brand new home and that it means we can continue to live adventures, while we live in our fixer upper.
Finally, kids. This is the biggest decision that we’ve made so far. Sure, people think you’re weird when you live differently, travel all over the place and sell essential oils, but that’s nothing compared to what people think of you not having kids within a few years of getting married. When we first got married, we decided that we would wait five years and then have kids. But, once we got to the five year mark, we realized that we were still not ready…so, we added on another five years! This has probably been the most difficult decision, not because of us but because of others. I rarely have a day when someone doesn’t make a comment to me about us having children. Although we’ve told people that we are not ready, most people feel like it is their place to tell us what we should do with our lives. The funny thing is that next year we will celebrate our 10 year anniversary…and we are still not sure if we are ready for kids!
Nick and I met when he was 20 and I was 19. So, we basically spent all of our 20’s having a blast together! But now, we are in our 30’s…it’s unbelievable how that decade just flew by! As soon as I hit 30, I felt this intense surge of fear that time was passing fast and I only have so much of it! The biggest thing on my Bucket List is to backpack the world for an entire year. Actually, in high school that was the one and only item on my list, as I saw all these Europeans coming and going while enjoying their Gap Year. However, we haven’t been able to make that happen yet. So each year that I get older, I feel a little more fear creep in as I worry that it will never happen! However, the older I get, the more I’ve learned to be flexible and to enjoy what I do have right now.
So, what tips would I give to you to make your 20’s more meaningful and live without regrets in your 30’s?
- Pick the right partner so that you can dream and explore together
- Make sacrifices and live simply so that you can make memories instead of accumulate stuff
- Find the right career so that you have freedom to make your own choices
- Create a budget and stick to it so that you aren’t stressed about finances while exploring
- Be confident in your decisions so that you aren’t easily swayed by other opinions
- Stay flexible as you add to and cross things off of your Bucket List
- Keep enjoying life, even when things don’t go as planned