Sunday, January 28, 2018

Priceless

A couple years ago one of my fire buddies was sounding off about the size of his anticipated tax refund.  Suffice to say it was in the five digit range.  Knowing his salary, I was horrified. "They're taking too much out!" I said.  "The government is using your money for free all year and you're not getting any interest on it!"

He was unfazed.  "Redneck savings account," he yelled.  "If I had that money in the summer, I'd just spend it.  Now I get it in the winter when I need it."

Like a large part of the wildland firefighting force, my buddy gets put in "non pay status" for six months out of the year, even though he is considered to be a permanent employee.  Not surprisingly, most of  these firefighters obsessively count their overtime hours, scrounge for off season work, and take any assignment they can get, to make ends meet.  Money is something we all talk about a lot.

I'm starting to get itchy feet.  The travel bug is biting.  It's been almost three years since my last trip.  I want to hike in Norway, go back to Iceland, climb a mountain in Russia.  My miser side fights with my spontaneous side.  I think about the retirees I know, still going on the road to fight fire as needed, even though some of them don't want to.  And then I think of the others who saved every penny, stayed home, and retired at 50, never looking back.  Then there are those who meant to travel and see the world, but they never did.  They thought they could do it later, but an accident or a disease lurking in their body's cells took them first.

It's a delicate balance.  I'd have more money for the future if I hadn't climbed in Nepal, hiked in Patagonia, or camped in Antarctica.  But I can't imagine my life without those experiences.  Maybe I'll have to follow the wildfires for a few more years because of them.  But I've seen the sun rise over seven continents.  It was a good choice.
Antarctica, no filter.  Cheap? No. Worth it? Yes.
 

12 comments:

  1. The memories of your travel adventures are priceless and well worth it! Jadon and I have an ever growing list of places we want to visit and look forward to the changes upcoming in our life so that we can start knocking some of these places off the to do list!!

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  2. Delicate balance for sure. But as long as you are solvent, hope you can go on racking up those memories...it's a cliche, but they are priceless -- at the time and to think back on during the long work times. Seven continents - amazing!

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  3. Oh heck yes, travel now, while you can. You just never know what the future holds - I am all for doing as much as you can possibly afford, because honestly, if I make it beyond 90, I seriously doubt I'll have the energy to run and jump and play like I do now.

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    1. I agree! It's good to hear some affirmation. I hear a lot of my friends say they can't because of this or that.

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  4. Go, go, go! BTW, consider things like Earthwatch or Friendship Force International to get you to a country, in with locals, etc. and then stay after for climbing or whatever else you want to do.

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  5. I'm all for traveling when you are still young and in good health. Somehow we if we want to go bad enough, we always find the money

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    1. That's true, I traveled when I was a penniless seasonal employee. I have to remember that.

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  6. Love the phrase "delicate balance" to describe the work-free time tension.

    Been thinking about this a lot lately. I've got a miser side too, the side that checks all the account balances and thinks they are not growing fast enough. But then wonders just how much savings are really needed.

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    1. Yes that's the dilemma. I hear financial experts saying you need a million, well that's not happening here. I don't feel like my life costs me that much. It's still a worry though.

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