There are two burning questions people have when they find out we are taking a year off work. 1. How can you afford that? Or 2. Why would you give up that income?

I totally get the first question. Not many people take a year off. Most people can’t afford it. And honestly, we look a lot like “most people.” We live in a modest home. Drive older cars. Work jobs that pay $25k-$40k a year. Of course, they don’t see a lot of things, like how we aggressively starting saving in our early 20’s. They might not know Adam was in the Army and has a small pension from that. Or that we paid cash for our house. Or that we own rentals with good cash flow. Or that we paid off all our debt 10+ years ago. So it is a reasonable question to ask.

The second one, however – well, I don’t get that at all. But I like to be very polite. So I just smile and say that we are really enjoying this time. But here is the honest break down for you all.

Adam left a job that paid him $32,500. A really good wage for both our area and for the social service work he does. But what could that have bought us? Let’s assume that with our large herd, we pay 10% tax. So we have about $30,000 left.

Hum, what to buy with $30,000? We really have everything we need. We have almost everything we could want. But to play along, let’s say we go with a new minivan. We trade our 10-year-old van in and get a nice minivan.

What would we have missed out on? We are 9 months into our time off. What would we be trading for that nice minivan? Here is my shortlist of what we have enjoyed so far.

  1. We remodeled the kitchen in one of our rentals. It was challenging, fun, and profitable. Net worth shot up to 10k.
  2. We hosted our largest gingerbread house making party yet! We rented out a space and invited everyone we know.
  3. We spent time actually enjoying the Christmas season as we waited for our sweet baby #5 to arrive.
  4. Adam skied the most perfect snow days.
  5. Despite having a newborn, I was occasionally well-rested. =)
  6. I was able to start writing this blog! Hello!
  7. We hiked on every perfect spring day.
  8. I did a girl’s trip to the Hot Springs and a summer concert.
  9. Adam processed 2 deer, putting 80 lbs of venison in our freezer.
  10. We spend the weekends out on adventures with the kids vs. getting caught up on chores.
  11. We traveled to see friends in Washington State, and they came to see us.
  12. We took a 6-week road trip, including a week in Yellowstone, time with both sets of parents, Mount Rushmore, and lots of museums.
  13. We have finished our Minimalism Challenge!
  14. I was invited to speak at 3 different venues.
  15. We are finally able to build our second bath (that we have put off for 4 years due to lack of time.), Increasing our net worth by $10,000.
  16. I hosted 5 fundraisers for causes I care about.
  17. Adam has been able to work out 5 days a week and is in the best shape of his life.
  18. We had time to spend with the teenagers we each mentor.
  19. We pitted and froze 100 pounds of cherries, which will go into oatmeal and smoothies the rest of the year.
  20. We have played at the lake, drink coffee in the yard, connect with friends, read books, spent time in Glacier National Park. And a few other things I suggested.

There have been less tangible benefits as well. We are more rested and relaxed. Our kids have really thrived by having more time with us. We met up with friends. Honestly, almost none of this would have happened if Adam and I worked this year.

Maybe you would rather take the minivan. =) And that is ok. Maybe someday we will too. But not this year. After 14 years of paying down debt, saving, hustling, keeping our heads down, and pushing through, this was our sabbatical. And it’s been awesome.

What kinds of things would make your list? Would you take a career break if your job allowed it? Anything you have been dying to do that would be worth losing a year of income for?

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