Five years ago I returned to my homeland.
I walked into the airport and heard the typical Kiwi accent and knew that it was good to be home. We’d been off adventuring (aka learning some very tough lessons the hard way!) for three years, and now it was time to be back.
I don’t regret returning, not one bit. It was the right decision and the right time. A short four months (or so) later we found out we were unexpectedly expecting Munchkin. I’d always been prepared to have children while living overseas. It didn’t bother me at the time. But now that I have my son, the best place in the world to be right now is just down the road from my own parents, and just over the hill from my husband’s parents. We are so totally blessed to have them all here, so close. And our son has benefitted no end from grandparent interaction, both direct and indirect.
Five years ago we left Australia.
But five years ago we also left something else. We left debt. We’d been working away at it, paying some off for about a year before we moved back to NZ. But when we came, we made the decision to pay it all off. Family. Banks. Credit cards. We could ‘start over’ like that because we sold our house. But it was still tough, watching it all disappear. There wasn’t much left by the time we were done. Just enough to set up house, buy a new (second hand) car, and get ready for Munchkin’s arrival. We have student loans, but no other debt.
Part of leaving debt behind was choosing to give up our credit cards. Another decision I do not regret in the least. It wasn’t that hard. I’d been thinking about it for a while. They were just causing trouble. So we decided not to get new ones when we moved country. Easy. We were earning good money. We had an emergency fund of a few month’s wages. Things looked rosy. Until we returned to New Zealand in the middle of recession, a recession that cut 50% from the civil engineering industry…my husband included. Until we discovered we were going to be parents, while studying, working part-time (and at the time, living in my parent’s basement!). Choosing to keep credit card free suddenly wasn’t quite as easy. But it’s worth it. I’d used one since my late teens, and kept a very close watch over it. But no matter how hard I tried, there were times it got out of control. Then there’d be the months of trying to get it back ‘under control’ where you felt like all your effort was going into a deep dark hole (which, to be honest, it was, the deep dark hole of debt). By not having a credit card, I have one less temptation. We haven’t even discussed them in years. Do things get tough? Sometimes, yes. Do we sometimes need extra funds than what we have? I suppose so. We’re just so used to saving it, planning ahead for our needs, using our Visa Debit instead for online stuff, and at times ‘borrowing’ from other areas that this is now our normal. We have an agreement. No debt other than student loans. The only proviso is for something that is essential. That means the car, the washing machine, the fridge, or a laptop (because we are students, in case you think we are techno-addicts!). It’s really helpful. Like when I wanted to buy a chest freezer and had almost convinced myself it would pay for itself enough to warrant buying it on hire purchase. My beloved reminded me that we’d agreed not to and that it wasn’t essential. Sure enough, we’ve managed just fine for several years since. It’s not even near the top of my wish list these days. Interesting how our priorities can shift over time.
I can’t in all honesty believe it’s been five years. They’ve been pretty full on. Five years of study, of child-raising, of part-time and summer jobs trying to keep above water while we qualify. But also five years of family time, of loving raising our boy, of learning new skills and honing old ones. I’m here, and my life hasn’t worked out AT ALL like I imagined it would be when I landed on that plane. Not at all. Not even close. It’s been harder, but so much better. And five years hasn’t been long at all. I wonder what the next five will hold?