This Aesop fable came to me in a dream a few days ago, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind. Early spring is the time of year when (for the past 2 years) my fiance and I plan a vacation for the last week in April. In 2016 we went to Arizona, last year we went to California. We had so much fun, and looking forward to a vacation brings some light to what can be a really hard time of year in the northeast: spring is (technically) here but it’s cold, and things are still brown and barren. This year is different: we’re getting married in July, and working toward buying our first home. While we do have some financial help with the wedding, there are still many expenses we’re covering on our own. When it comes to buying a house, there’s no such thing as having “enough” money. Even with a no money-down loan, we still have to worry about closing costs, real estate fees, inspection, and future improvements. Since last fall, we’ve buckled down hard on our finances. We’ve been diligently tracking every dime we make and spend, making a practice mortgage payment each month, sticking to a budget, paying down our existing debt, and majorly scaling back on frivolous spending (eating out, clothing, movies, etc.).
We knew this year it wouldn’t be wise for us to take a vacation. Not only do I have to save every iota of paid time off from my employer to take my vacation week off, but we just can’t afford it. I guess we could–but we know we shouldn’t. Our “new lives” are filled with a discipline and restraint we never really practiced until our goals became clearer (and closer). We are the ants–saving and storing our grain for the hard times ahead when we know we’ll need it. I desperately want to be a grasshopper, living a carefree life enriched with travel and energizing experiences. It pains both of us to know that we’re missing out on that this year. But we hope that marriage and home ownership will be new kinds of adventures for us, with different rewards. We accept that this is simply a season in our lives, one that we need to go through if we want to become homeowners (which we definitely do). We crave roots, a place to call our own, a washer and dryer, a basement, a place we can invest in and make our own. We want to build our lives.
It’s okay to be the ant. Maybe it’s even better. We’ll keep our heads down as we work away at building something that will last for many seasons to come.