Radical Good News

Have you heard the good news about one? No? Well, here it is. One is enough.

I know, I know! It’s weird and it rails against everything that our current culture is trying to convince us of. It goes hand-in-hand with the news that you are enough, but we’ll get into that another time. Right now it might be tricky to accept that one is enough.

One what? One car! One mortgage! One kid!

Oh, I’m sure that last one got your attention, but let’s start at the beginning here. We sold our second car after I quit my banking job so that we wouldn’t have to pay for insurance on it. There was no car loan attached to it, so having it sitting in our driveway wasn’t hurting anything, exactly, but it wasn’t helping us in any way either. We put minimal gas in it since we rarely drove it, but when we went from two incomes to one, things needed to change. And fast.

So we sold it! And it was awesome and suddenly we only had to pay insurance for one car and that was really, really nice.

I’m sure most people out there are in the same boat we are of having to have a mortgage. Unfortunately we didn’t have the cash on hand to buy our house outright (hopefully next time!) so we pay monthly for our home. As normal and accepted as this is it really stinks! The worst part of it is that many people have not one mortgage, but two – the second in the form of either a traditional mortgage or a home equity line/loan.

When I was in banking we were strongly encouraged to make a lot of HELOCs (home equity line/loans). They’re fast, easy, and have a wonderful collateral in your home. Also – the rates on home equity lines are variable and nothing is better for the bank than the ability to raise rates on money owed to them. Anyway, a lot of people who applied for and received these loans weren’t using the money for life or death situations. They were financing boats, vacations, additions to their homes, or even things like motor homes. In fact, we were encouraged to ask customers if they had any interest in updating their homes. If they did, boom, sounds like you need a HELOC.

No, no you don’t. I’m here to tell you that I think a second mortgage of any kind is not a great idea. Oh, sure, there are arguments for them and wonderful reasons that you might really need the money, but because you want a bigger kitchen? Or to go to Hawaii? Let’s all take a deep breath and think about it.

Ok, now for the doozy. I’m convinced, as are some other like-minded people, that having one kid is fine. In fact, it’s more than fine. It’s awesome!

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The end.

No, I’m kidding. I do want to delve deeper into this in another post though, so here’s the skinny of it.

Only having one child is not for everybody and, in fact, isn’t always an easy decision. But now, with C almost 5, I want to tell you that it’s pretty nice. Even though she was not an easy baby it was very hard for me to give up on my dream that I’d always had of having multiple children. (My body giving out was part of the reason we don’t have a second child, but we could have pushed through that with medical intervention.) I remember talking to Bruce when C was almost two and getting him on board with having another kid. Even then there was a small voice in the back of my head questioning if that was the right decision for our family, but in true bullheaded fashion I plunged ahead.

Although we live below our means and hope to not spend nearly as much money raising C as common thought assumes we will (around 250K plus college!) kids are still expensive. They cost money and they cost time. This fall C will go to kindergarten so we won’t have her preschool bill to pay, but there’s still insurance and food. We hopped onto a hand-me-down train as fast as we could and have spent a grand total of under $50 on clothes for her this far, but not everybody is as lucky.

Having one child means funding one college account. It means the occasional meal out and spur-of-the-moment trips to get ice cream. Most importantly, it means undivided attention and the knowledge of a secure future for her.

Is one enough for you? That’s the question you’ll have to ask yourself. Dig deep. Convention screams at us everyday that more is better and that more will make you happier. Challenge that assumption. Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t make it right. I feel like people are moving away from the “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality and it makes me so happy to see. Find your happy and live it.

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