Wealth and riches

I occasionally lament my Master’s degree, since I went into massive debt to get it and then promptly left my field of study.  What I do value from my graduate education is a handful of friends.  There are people in my life who wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for graduate school, and I am thankful for them.  While I don’t like the idea of paying for my friends, I’d rather focus on my $40,000 friends than my $40,000 piece of paper.

Thinking about my debt disappoints me.  I am working on a plan to be debt free (details to follow), but the real point of this week’s post is to focus on wealth.  Real wealth.  Thinking about money, and loans, and degrees, and friendship, and what it all means… what does it mean to be wealthy, to be rich?

This week, I posted the following status on Facebook:

If I was homeless and asked for anyone, anywhere who was able to take me in and let me live with them, how many of you would invite me to share your home? Please comment or like if you’d be willing.

Within a few hours, the status received likes and comments from 18 people.  I think it’s also safe to assume my parents would also take me in, if circumstances made it necessary.  That’s twenty people, just at a hypothetical need to stay somewhere.  Plus other friends and family who didn’t see the status.  All told, I think there are at least thirty people in my life who would immediately take me in if I needed somewhere to go.  About one third of these are people I have not actually met in person, only online.

Some of my favorite comments:

“If I had a home, I would share it.”

“I don’t have a spare bedroom, but I would definitely offer you my couch!”

“Um, duh?”

“Of course! Not even a second thought. You can come stay with us.”

“Come on over but I might put you to work.”

“I would let you move in and then plant a bigger garden because I would have more help to take care of it!”

“If I had my own place, you’d be welcome any day.”

These comments, many from near-strangers or people I haven’t seen in years, remind me that I am rich.  I am wealthy. 

The economy and the stock market and the value of the dollar will go up and down, but friendship and love are two things that are always in high demand with a very high value.  I have friends, true friends, who would accept me into their homes and hearts without question or pretense, and for no other reason than to help another human being.  Someone they care about, on some level, whether they think of me as a friend, a daughter, a sister, or just a person in need.

When I separated from my ex-husband (the first time), I stayed with a friend from grad school.  He didn’t really know me very well, and I don’t think his wife had met me previously to our living arrangement, but they accepted me into their home and I am still touched to my core that they would do that for me.  For someone they didn’t know very well.  Someone in need.  They are now foster parents, which is very fitting!

When I separated from my ex-husband (for real), I moved into my mother’s house.  She and my step-dad took me in, no questions, no judgment.  The terms of my “rental agreement” were to pay $50 a month in rent, help do chores, and apply for 5 full time jobs per week.   I succeeded in finding a full-time job and moved out – that’s where the blog started!

My point is this: money isn’t what makes us rich, or happy.  It’s love.  That’s the corniest thing ever, I know, but it is so very true.  The kindness of strangers, and the love of friends, is what will get us through any trying time.  This isn’t to say money wouldn’t help anything – I can think of some things to do when I hit the lottery jackpot! – but monetary wealth cannot be the focus of a happy life.

My new criteria for being wealthy is to be able to say, “no matter what, I will have a place to stay with someone who loves me.”

 

 

Bonus track:

Things I would do with a million dollars!

  • Put half of it in savings
  • Pay off my student loans
  • Pay off my car
  • Pay off my mom’s student loans
  • Pay off my sister’s student loans
  • Pay off my brother’s student loans
  • Buy a house
  • Plant a massive garden
  • Raise chickens
  • Comfortably afford to be a full-time stay-at-home mom and homeschool my children
  • Adopt a dog
  • If there is money left over… kitten ranch
  • Continue living minimally and frugally, because it just feels better
  • I’d buy you a monkey. Haven’t you always wanted a monkey?

Tell me the ways you are rich!! And as a bonus, share what you’d do with $1,000,000.

23 thoughts on “Wealth and riches

  1. minimalistcouple says:

    I too feel wealthy, and had a stage a couple of years ago where loving people took me in during a time of need, for about a month.

    In regard to the million, I would invest the lot in a wide range of places and then use the money earned to pay off the debt of all of those who are close to me. Once debt is demolished, I would use the money earned to help grow all of our lives together, empowering people to make some awesomeness in their lives

  2. Eimear says:

    I love this post! There is definitely nothing more important than family and good friends. I’d much rather be poor and loved than rich and miserable.

    Having said that, if I had a €1,000,000 I’d do a lot of things! First of all I’d pay off my parents and siblings’ mortgages. Then I’d buy a new ambulance for my branch of the order of Malta – the ambulance is no longer road worthy and we can’t afford to buy a new one, which drastically reduces the services we can provide.

    I’d then probably buy myself either a rolling home or a small apartment and keep enough money to pay for my college and living expenses until I could get a job and the rest of it would be given to animal shelters with the condition they use it to keep healthy animals from being put down.🙂

    • Caitlin says:

      Those are awesome goals for your million! I would love to do something to help animals. I also like the idea of a small mobile home or apartment, but I think my life will take me in a bigger-home direction, especially since I want a sizable garden and yard for chickens. Thanks for sharing!!🙂

      • Eimear says:

        Yeah I’m constantly at odds with myself about that particular stage of my life. I’m a city girl through and through, love where I grew up and still live, but my future plan includes growing my own food, having chickens for eggs and rescuing lots of animals – something you can’t exactly do in an apartment! It’s such a tough decision to make and I’m so glad that I still have a good few years of education to get through before I move out into the world and have to decide.🙂

  3. Shari says:

    I love you. Can you imagine how healthy we’d be if the Heart and I took you in? Bonus!!!??? You are OCD… (my house would finally be spotless)

    Seriously, I enjoyed this blog. Mainly because I, too, have been doing soul searching into what is important. While money does make the world go round, living simply is so rewarding.

    Now, if the Good Lord punished me with a million dollars I would first hire Bare Naked Ladies to an outdoor concert in our back 40. I would pay off mine and the Heart’s homes and would share what I could while still investing to live off the interest and retire asap. I would still volunteer some time at DubC because this is where magic begins. It gave me you.

    • Caitlin says:

      Awwww Shari, that is the sweetest thing!! Also I would totally come see the BNL outdoor concert, because that sounds like a magical time of awesomeness.

      Also, while I am a little OCD… my house is far from spotless, but I suppose if you just had me live in to cook and clean I’d make it work🙂

      I love you so much, thank you for reading.❤

    • Caitlin says:

      I applied for over a hundred jobs over the course of a year with no luck. My master’s degree is in Higher Education Administration, with experience in career counseling and academic advising. Now that I’m out of higher education, I am content to stay out… I actually plan on leaving the work force to work from home when I have children, which would have been a GREAT THING for me to know before I went into all this debt thinking I wanted to work at a university. Live and learn!

  4. Evalyne says:

    I love this blog post. It makes one reflect on self and what is important. If I had 1million, i would pay all my family debt, buy a house and a car and then invest the rest.

  5. Drop that Debt says:

    Wow what a beautiful post. It’s so touching to know there are that many friends that care and that there is much more to “wealth” than the traditional financial sense. Considering I’m not working in my field of study either, I am grateful you’ve made me look at it from another perspective. I definitely made some friends and nurtured friendships during school that I will have for the rest of my life. ALSO, I think my life skills have greatly improved and I don’t think that would have happened so quickly without university! Me before and after university is like night and day.

    • Caitlin says:

      I wouldn’t change undergrad a bit (except maybe lose the boyfriend, since THAT totally went well :P) but I would do grad school differently. I think I would have come out in a similar place at this age and not have the massive debt to show for it… but there’s no way of knowing, and I like who I am! So I guess I better accept the fact that grad school and debt is part of my life…for now. (evil laugh).

  6. livingsimplyfree says:

    Caitlin, I read this a while ago, but was too tired to respond at the time, some how I lost the link in my inbox (which I am now trying to clean out) what a horrible minimalist I make.

    Anyway, being late to the discussion I thought I would add you are more than welcome to my futon any time, having just one room it would be like a sleepover, but it’s yours if you ever need it.

    Your list of what you would do with a million dollars is exactly what I would expect of you. I would put money in trust for my grand children, pay off my children’s homes, and maybe, and I would have to seriously give thought to it, but maybe build a small home on a piece of land. The rest would go to helping those less fortunate than I am.

    I gave up lamenting the money and time I put into obtaining my degree as not only did I make great friends but my children had the experience of going to the day care on campus and having access to most everything I did which was huge in giving them a real advantage in their education.

    Love is the only thing that matters.

  7. hafidhafauziah says:

    i’m rich because i have all the basic need to survive in this life.
    i live in a peaceful environment, with parents and my siblings.
    i have a lot of friends and couple dear friends.
    i can develop myself in day to day basis.
    i have a really cute boyfriend who loved and i love so much.
    thanks God for everything, i know that You love me so much.

    thanks for sharing this beautiful post🙂

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