More than anything, all this money stuff is about priorities. “How do I really want to spend my time?” “What is most important to me?” “How can my money have the most effect in the world?”
Between a few members of my family-of-origin, money is fluid. Rather than fight that “Johnny got more”, a few of us scramble to pay each other’s way here and there. This seems to work nicely, as everyone ends up feeling they’ve been gifted.
For example, when my sister travels to my town, my mum, sister, and I debate who will cover the costs involved, each of us feeling we should pay. My sister has a disability, so requires specialized accommodation. She is very willing to shell out, but she has, by far, the least amount of money. Our mum financially supports an able sibling to the tune of $25k per year, and is happy to pay the relatively tiny amount for these trips. On the other hand, I feel I’m being gifted by my sister’s travel hours and effort, so want to pitch in with cash.
This year, the accommodation costs increased. Our lives here have also become very full, such that time together would be less than previously. Three different people are planning stays with us within a one-month period. I’m covering some costs for some visitors. My sister is, as every year, reluctant to plan the trip—uneasy and unsure about when to come, if at all. For all of these reasons, my sister travelling all the way to our house may not be the optimal.
When I thought about it, one thing kept coming up in me: internet.
Let me set the stage: My mum is unable to travel. My sister lives right near her, because they are best friends. For several years, my sister was also physically unable to travel out-of-town. For all of these reasons, I try to spend 7-8 weeks at my mum’s house each year, split over three visits. We all like this.
The single stress for me is the lack of internet there. I work online, I volunteer online, and I study online. In my mum’s small rural town, the library serves as a rec centre (noisy!), there is no cowork office, most coffee shops don’t have wifi, and the one that does closes at 3. Except via carrying a well-planned flashdrive around, there is no printing option anywhere.
It has seemed to me that if I’m willing to drive from morning to night twice, skip my life at home for several weeks at a time, and work around everything else, internet may be not too much to ask.
So, I put in the request: “Can we (collectively) put the money we would have put into one short trip into a year of internet at mum’s house?”
Financial prioritizing isn’t limited to our own spends. When we’re sharing life with others, it’s beyond okay—fabulous even!—to note the collective budget as well, and to speak up for what might make more sense for the group. A tradition that no longer works is okay to let go of, and a new approach that may ease everyone’s life is a fair pitch. (Bonus? I think that if my mum gets internet, more family members might be willing to make more or longer visits.)