Sarah Deveau: Money Matters


Pursuit of Happiness

Working towards a dream

Two years ago my husband and I bought property in Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia after a decade long search. It’s a sprawling 40 acres, with seven acres of cleared land surrounded by mature trees and the rest of the space completely wooded. It features a nearly 200 year old house on the ridge of a gentle slope down to 700 feet of sandy beach on a quiet lake. There are two cabins, a barn, and a humongous workshop.

Our plan is to eventually move to this property, where I’ll work from home and my husband will pick up odd jobs in between clearing more of the land, fixing up the house and cabins, and working on projects in his workshop.

Last summer I spent five weeks in what we call our Pursuit of Happiness. This summer, I was only able to get down for three days. It wasn’t long enough, and it broke my heart to leave.

I’d love to move there now, but commuting an hour in each direction to work for minimum wage isn’t our idea of paradise either. And we’re not debt free yet, which is our goal before making the big move. For now, we’re toughing it out in Calgary while we hammer away at our debt and get ahead in our savings.

I realize this sounds like a first world problem, but we bring in a certain level of income, and live far beneath it. Most of our friends however, live at or above their level of income. It’s tough saying no to all the fun opportunities presented, all the conferences and trips and dinner and a movie nights. It sucks not having the right clothes for an event because you only do that activity occasionally, or drying your lettuce on paper towel because the salad spinner broke and you haven’t found one for what you want to spend yet. Saying no to being in a bridal party because you can’t afford the associated costs.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of, “It’s just one night, it’s just one gift, it’s just one trip.” Weighing every decision against the benefit of now versus delaying our dream for the future.

I carry a photo in my wallet of our home down east. It’s the wallpaper on my phone. I even recently got a small tattoo of the words Pursuit of Happiness on my wrist. All to remind me to stay strong, that this sacrifice will pay off in spades.

Do you set long term goals for your finances? How do you help yourself stick with them?

If you liked this post you might like Don’t Spend Like There’s No Tomorrow or When to Splurge.