Thursday, September 3, 2009

Financial Choices, Personal Growth - Life at the Cabin

I'm a little frustrated. I had two posts I was working on when BLAM! The power went out. They weren't completely lost, both were partially saved, but I hate rewriting something I have already worked on. So for now, they are both in the "to-do" pile, waiting until the irritation fades and I feel like diving into them again.

If you are here in the States, do you have plans for Labor Day weekend? I will be heading up to my cabin. It has been a couple of weeks since I have been there and I am looking forward to setting up my lawn chair down by the water and just taking it easy. It will be five years ago this weekend when I first saw my cabin. It was a cool crisp Sunday when I first walked in and fell in love. Despite the piles of trash and clothes, dog feces in the corner and wasps surrounding the garbage, and I knew within 10 minutes of being inside that it would be home. The owner had rented it to a "friend" who responded by throwing her electric bills in boxes and burning trash in the woodstove. Yet, despite all this, I could see the diamond in the rough. Sure, the cabin had been through some abuse, but the "good bones" showed through. It would take some elbow grease, some paint and a lot of love, but underneath the trash, the cabin was made for me.

Although yes, I know that in some ways, having the cabin has contributed to my financial woes...

but I also know it helped keep me sane throughout the divorce process. The cabin and therapy were two things (along with my friends and family) that helped me deal with the changes that were taking place in my life. I am never more at peace than I am when I am there. Just getting in the car and hitting the road I feel all my stress and worry leave my body and fly out the car windows, and I leave it tumbling along the highway.

In many ways, my therapy and my cabin are very similar. Both were big expenses when times were tight. There was quite awhile there that I was going to therapy twice a week, and my insurance does not cover it. Some hardcore financial folks might wonder about the need of spending that much money on things that aren't strictly "necessary," as in, they don't fit in that bottom rung of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. While it is true that I could have lived without either, not having them would have changed who I am.

The therapy got me through the divorce and helped me get my head on straight. As I have said many times in this blog, it was because of a session that I decided to fight back and get nine hundred dollars each month instead of caving in. The life skills that I have learned, first through therapy and second, through my financial journey over the past 14 months, are lessons that will help me throughout my life. I have learned resilience, forgiveness, creative thinking, gratitude, and how to have confidence in myself and when to ask for help. I have learned practical skills like budgeting, plumbing, refrigerator repair, tax planning, and all sorts of skills need for running two houses and being a landlord. I have improved my writing and web skills from having this blog, and in turn, that has helped my job. All of this came with the help of therapy. Had it not been for it, I might have given up and given in.

The cabin, on the other hand, has been my haven. Think for a moment of your favorite place in the world - the one spot where you felt completely at ease and at peace. Think of how you feel on a relaxing vacation, no stress, no worries, no phones. Now imagine, that all you have to do is get in your car and drive one hour and you'll be there. That's what it is like at the cabin for me. My therapist says that instead of having this somewhere else, I should work on creating this in my own home, but there is a fundamental problem with that - my house has a lot of memories of my ex. It isn't so bad now, and now I am finding new appreciation for my house, but at the time, thinking of my home as a haven was ridiculous.

The cabin too, is an investment. At this point, it is not "rental ready." It needs some repair work as well as some money spent on amenities that I can live without, but a renter would expect. While I might be able rent it out now, I couldn't get the kind of renters I would want. (In other words, I might be able to rent it to a group of hunters who are a lot less picky, but are those really the types of renters I want?) However, in time, I could see turning it into a property that could earn an income. Even as it is, going by local sales and rough appraisals (and the fact I bought it dirt cheap,) it has increased in value - even considering the real estate market of today.

However, I didn't buy it to make a profit. I bought the cabin because it makes me incredibly happy. It was something I have always wanted, and I was able to achieve that goal. The fact that I have had to work hard for it over the past year has just made it more dear to me.

It is interesting to me that it really only took me a year to change things around. Sure, sometimes it felt like a looooong year, but in reality, it really didn't take that much to create a working budget and get my financial house in order so I don't have to worry about fighting foreclosure or coming up with nine hundred dollars each month. I still have goals that I need money for, but I have breathing room now - and I did it while keeping the things that were important to me. I feel really good about that.

Photo by: pixiesticks23♥
via flickr


Jessie said...

I'll be going camping for the long weekend with my family!

- by the way, Canada has labor day too :)

Dawn said...

Jessie - That sounds nice! Actually, I knew that Canada had a similar holiday, but didn't think it was at the same time - and for some reason, I though it was called something else. Goes to show that you can learn something new every day - thanks!

getting stuff done said...

some things are worth the money. what else is there to say? huge strides forward in every way.

Dawn said...

Getting Stuff Done - I couldn't agree more!

Anonymous said...

Jessie / Dawn: Actually, our Canadian holiday is called something different, it's called LaboUr Day. (hee hee, sorry, couldn't resist the bad joke. And I do realize it is bad). Non-financial related, but was just wondering if you ever have any safety concerns being out there yourself?