Monday, April 2, 2012

Big Life Questions: Balancing Priorities


One of the things that Andrew and I struggle with is finding balance in our lives in terms of how we prioritize our time and money. I'm sure everyone can relate to having limited time away from work and limited money so I assume others may have similar struggles. There's always more that we want to do than we can do. Lately we've been thinking a lot about this balance in terms of making improvements to our house.

We both work full-time at office jobs, and when we're not at work we prioritize spending our time doing things we enjoy - skiing, rafting, camping, spending time at the cabin, hiking, fishing, and when we can, traveling. Ever since we bought our house and paid off our cabin two and half years ago, we have prioritized investing our money in allowing ourselves to do these activities. We've spent our money on travel and new gear and a truck with high clearance and 4WD. And, it is wonderful. We spend a lot of time outside doing things we love.

BUT, this has meant that we haven't invested much time or money in our house. Luckily we bought a solid house that the previous owners had upgraded. It was move-in ready three years ago, and we haven't changed much. While it is in great condition and we're lucky that there is nothing that has to be fixed or anything that we absolutely hate, there are still some things we'd like to do like paint all of the rooms and install new fixtures in the bathroom and build closets for the master bedroom.

So, I got this far in writing this post, and I've realized that I have just answered my own question. As I write out that list, I know that I don't want to prioritize new fixtures over a season pass or spending my weekends painting the house over spending a weekend on the river. But I feel guilty about that. When I see all of the projects that our friends and acquaintances take on around their houses, I feel like we should be doing more. Maybe we talk about this balance a lot at our house because we're trying to justify our choices to ourselves.

Rationally, I know there's no reason that we need to justify our choices or even explain them, but that guilt creeps in. Do you ever feel guilty about how you prioritize your time or money?


  1. I definitely face this! Sometimes I feel envious of a friend's house when we visit for whatever reason - nicer furniture, nicer layout, nicer neighborhood. But then I try to (quickly) remind myself that 1) we also have a really nice house, much nicer than most people live in, especially world-wide, 2) it's within our means (i.e. we can comfortably afford the mortgage), and 3) I don't want to value material things over non-material things like having a great relationship with my husband, our health, etc. Usually those things bring me back to reality! It sounds like a similar situation to you. I say, who cares if you have some outdated fixtures, when you look back you'll remember the skiing camping, etc. and not the fixtures. The friends with nice houses might be envious of all the awesome adventures you guys take!

    1. yes, there's no way I'm going to remember those fixtures 20 years from now and I'll definitely remember all the fun we were having while we weren't working on the house. I feel the same way about not wanting to value material things too highly. I don't want to prioritize that in my life.

  2. Meghan, I constantly feel guilty about something. It's from all that time they spent shaming us in Catholic school instead of teaching us about relics and pilgrimages.

    I got some good advice about choices once, and I think about it at times like this: Whatever choice you make, you are always sacrificing something. To be happy about your choices, you have figure out what you're willing to sacrifice, accept it, and enjoy what you're gaining. Of course, this is way easier to say than to live, but it helps me sometimes, when I'm feeling out of balance and trying to regain it.

    1. ugh, the GUILT! It's like a terrible weight that I'm carrying around all the time. I've made a lot of progress in shedding guilt from my life, but it's still there. The combo of catholic school and growing up in the midwest is almost too much!

      That's good advice. I know it's true and I try to live it, but it's hard.

    2. Oh Rosie that is good advice! I'm going to remember that!


Hey, thank you!

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