Some of you are nodding your heads. Some are rolling your eyes. Others take secret pleasure in the knowledge that our seven-year experiment with a nontraditional lifestyle failed so miserably. There are no shortcuts. No secret recipes. We’re all in the same boat. Playing the same game. Following the same rules. Sonya gave up her career as a massage therapist; she took a full-time job. An office job!

Blah.

At one point, we were rich. Not rich like a rich person thinks of as rich, but today, when I look back at that prior-me, I think “That dude was rich.” I had a spreadsheet. It showed us retiring at sixty-five. You know, rich.

I’m not counting on that retirement anymore. I’ve got kids to put through college. When I’m sixty-five, Arti will still be in school.

Baling on massage therapy… it wasn’t the wages. Massage is a good way to earn money. The hourly rate is amazing. It’s physically and mentally taxing though, so the hours are fairly limited. OK, maybe a little bit about the wages. The real problem was the health insurance.

We’re old(er). Health care premiums are only affordable for the young—those people who don’t need health care. They don’t need colonoscopies, biopsies and hemorrhoid surgery. We were spending $1,300 each month on insurance. That’s more than our mortgage. After our monthly expenses, there wasn’t anything left for extras, for emergencies. And there’s always something extra, always an emergency. Radiator repairs, back to school clothes, yet another crown, Christmas! When our roof started leaking, Sonya sent out her resume.

Her company-paid health insurance alone was like a $15,000 raise. This is where my story could take a political turn. Medicare for All! Middle class adults need to work full-time to afford insurance. The luxury of having a part-time parent at home organizing the household and tending to the kids is financially unviable. Too much scrimping, too many deferred expenses.

This isn’t about my liberal agenda. I can write another post about that. This post is about relief. Sonya started working in August; we’re finally getting caught up. No more worried looks shared when our kids need to replace their sneakers. The roofers are coming next week. Christmas didn’t freak us out.

I liked it when Sonya was home during the day. When she wasn’t massaging, she was running family errands, keeping house, helping the kids with homework. We took that step, she became a massage therapist, because we thought it would be relaxing. Her free time during the week would leave our evenings and weekends unencumbered. It turns out that financial stress is worse than being overbooked. All the extra time was just used to worry.

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