The four-hour trip to the bank that reminded us about what was REALLY important

Guest post by Sabrina Brown

By: Matthew RutledgeCC BY 2.0
All the while we were dating, my (now) husband and I kept our finances completely separate, but after a long talk about money, we decided we at least needed access to each other’s bank accounts, just in case of emergency. Unfortunately, as a disabled vet, my husband banks at Navy Federal Credit Union, and the nearest branch is four hours away in Corpus Christi. We kept making plans to drive out there but it never happened until my husband lost his job.

No less than two weeks after our honeymoon, Kurt came home to tell me that he had been fired from his job. I was a student at the time, so we had just lost our one and only income. We had been so proud of how far we’ve come since both of us growing up in run-down trailers that really should have been condemned. And we were devastated. How would we manage it all? We couldn’t ask for help — none of our families were in a financial situation to help.

We spent the next few days formulating how we could last until he could find a new job, moving due dates and pulling savings until finally there was nothing left to do but wait. He had applied to every job in town and we just had to wait for a call back. Neither of us were really eating or sleeping. We were desperate. We were sitting on the couch, both lost in thought until Kurt looked over at me and said, “Wanna go to Corpus Christi?”

So we hatched a plan to load up the car with the tent and a cooler and made the four-hour drive. Having no money that was available to spend on a hotel, we pitched our tent on a free beach and ate cold leftovers from the back of our Jeep. It was primitive camping, with nothing but a Port-O-Potty, but it was one of the most memorable nights of my life.

We laughed and joked and ran around in our underwear on the beach (not having the foresight to pack our bathing suits). I’ll never forget how free it was to run around on the beach with the moon overhead and the waves crashing behind us. It reminded me that even though we had practically nothing, we had each other. That we could be happy and we could make it through. In that moment, we had less than we ever had; we weren’t in a nice apartment, we weren’t eating nice food, but somehow, we were happy. It made us realize what was really important. We were so caught up in trying to crawl out of the pit we had been born into, we forgot that none of that stuff was really necessary anyway. That trip was everything we needed.

The trip back was joyful, and when we got home we were refreshed and hopeful again. In the end, he got a job about two weeks later. One that pays better with better hours and we managed to keep the rent paid and the lights on the whole time.

I am proud of what we went through, and I am glad that we took the risk to take that trip. We really didn’t have the money at the time, but it was a spiritually refreshing and I think that no matter what we face, even if we end up back where we started, in a trailer, eating cereal with powdered milk, as long as we never forget to stand together, we’ll be just fine.

Comments on The four-hour trip to the bank that reminded us about what was REALLY important

  1. Thank you so so much for this post! I am just about to hand my notice in from a job I really don’t like and panicking that it will leave me and my fiancé with no money to live off of and that I’ll never get another job again. So it’s extremely comforting to hear of people in similar situations who can (and do) cope and come out the other side. And I am so glad that your husband found another job and you have succeeded. Thank you!

  2. I need this, today and for several days to come. Our move to Oregon has been wonderful but the job outlook hasn’t. I’m working a temp job I really like, but I have no way of knowing if they’ll hire me on. If they don’t, well… it’ll be time for us to take a road trip too. I have nightmares pretty much every night.

    Your story of hope means a lot. There’s so many fearful stories out there, I needed to hear one that ends without losing everything.

  3. I didn’t have a four hour drive to a bank, but I did have three months of living in a seedy motel with my then 2 year old son and boyfriend. He only had a part-time job, and we were eating a lot of food out of cans, but it is still one of the fondest memories we have because when times get tough now, we reflect back on how we made it work then, and it renews our strength. I loved this story and commend you both for realizing the strength in your relationship.

  4. My current job has brought me to tears roughly three times this week already. It’s made me feel so terrible about myself that my ever-cautious, super thrifty, always responsible husband told me just to quit because I was so miserable.
    The job is dreadful, but as we’re getting closer and closer to buying a house, I can’t bring myself to walk away from income that is helping us reach that goal. This post is really, really making me think long and hard about whether or not being made to feel completely worthless and stupid on a daily basis is worth being able to buy a house RIGHT NOW instead of three months from now…Thank you!

    • i worked at that job, was pregnant through that job, had a newborn through that job, and finally found the courage to leave that job. i didn’t like who that job made me become or how it made me feel about others. (never positive, never.) now i make less money, and i am ten times happier. i’m not sure there is any amount of money worth feeling like shit every day.

    • My husband quit his “makes me miserable every day” job to take a significant paycut at “OMG I get to work at the company I’ve been a fan of for a decade” job. It was worth the ramen and water nights NO QUESTION. Is owning your own home going to make you happier than this job is making you miserable? Don’t get me wrong, home ownership is nice, but it isn’t a panacea. By contrast, a job that makes you happy (or even not working a job that makes you miserable) makes you happier all the time.

      If you don’t need the job to maintain your current quality of life, and it is making you THAT miserable, dump it. Home ownership can wait. Renting really isn’t all that bad (it’s nice to have maintenance be someone else’s problem!).

  5. This is so great- thanks for sharing!!! Those times, while hard and scary, are such a source of joy when you remember how you have each other- the great treasure of all 🙂

  6. I, too, really needed to read this today. Thank you so much.
    Your words have given me some perspective on my own current situation halfway across the world from you (I’m an English woman living in South Africa!!!)

  7. As the husband in this story I can tell you that we have found ourselves stronger than ever. The funny thing is that the week my wife’s story found its way onto this site we find ourselves back in the same boat. This time I found a job within a week but the experience before gave us a compass to weather the storm again. Everyone currently in the situation have faith that the universe will balance it out and in the end it gets better!

  8. I’m so glad that my story can help some people. I really feel like it is a universal story, we all struggle to weigh our decisions and live the best life we can. It’s so easy to get caught up in the materialism of the world, in the definition of success and loose sight of your friends and family and loved ones. Those are the things that can’t be replaced, everything else is just icing on the cake. As my husband chimed in earlier, we just went through this situation all over again (oh god. >.< ) but again, we made it through unscathed, and I really feel like going through it last year helped this time. We stayed calm, kept our heads and had faith. 🙂

  9. I forget sometimes how much I worry about “succeeding” because of the upbringing my parents had and how hard they worked to keep us afloat when I was small. I know they expect me to do well, but I don’t even know what standard to measure myself against. I get trapped sometimes in a mental loop of worrying about whether I’m doing well enough, knowing I can’t really get there right now and not knowing what is reasonable to expect of myself, anyway.
    I love it when perspective finds me! Moments like that put a little order to the chaos and remind you that there is always hope and beauty in the world.

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