I remember it like it was yesterday.
It was the spring semester of my second year of college. Finally, that awkward freshman phase passed, and new enthusiasm spurred dreams of college life, friendships, and that life changing awareness when you finally find those things you are passionate about.
This phone conversation began no different than the many others I shared with my mom, yet she concluded with “I don’t think you can go back next year. We just don’t have the money.” For a few years, my precious parents dueled in what ultimately proved to be the financial battle of their lives. As it neared the end, with resources depleted, yet heart and soul intact, it became clear that the tuition at the private liberal arts university that I attended in Indiana was too significant to continue paying.
My stomach dropped. I lost all breath. I felt my first real loss – the loss of a dream.
At that moment, I couldn’t see myself at any other school. My passions and dreams only seemed achievable if I could stay at that location. In short, I wasn’t dreaming big enough.
Already working for admissions as a tour guide, I picked up additional hours as a waitress. That summer, my parents moved from WI to NC, a life changing move to a location where I knew not a soul, so I chose to stay in my hometown of Milwaukee where I knew I could work multiple jobs throughout the summer to try and scrape together enough tuition to return. After having met with the VP of the school, he moved mountains to find more loans for me (i.e. large debt), but I still needed to find significant cash for the fall semester. I waitress-ed long hours at a casual restaurant during the day, with any free hours spent as a receptionist in a hair salon. Just when I thought I couldn’t squeeze in another hour of work, I would head evenings to waitress at a fine dining establishment, where tables were sparse, but tips were great.
Money was not going to stand in the way of my dream.
Although I am can say I worked, worked harder, and then worked again for the next three years to put my way through school, graduating with such a significant amount of debt that I laugh at the nicely accepted American term of “school loans,” I know I would do thing differently.
Years later, with new knowledge, perspective, hind sight, I realized that my dream could have been achieved in any number of ways. It would not have been a loss of a dream, it would have been re-routed, yet quite possibly even better, without such long years of paying loans back. Although my college experience was incredible, my dream was tied to a “thing, a name, a specific school.” In those moments, I didn’t even brainstorm alternative options because it didn’t seem as if I had any.
I did.
What those years taught me was to broaden my dreams. Sometimes the loss of a dream opens up a whole new way of thinking to dreaming even bigger dreams. By being a visionary and thinking big, we allow ourselves to get creative with the resources we have, and not demand large resources we don’t have. (Now, this is not a knock on a college education. All our children will be encouraged to go to college, with our boys most likely desiring advanced degrees. I will address this financial topic later in the month.)
I don’t want money to stand in the way of my dreams, but I am also realistic. Understanding that by applying creative juices to a situation when it seems as if money is the only way, may open you up to a whole new realm of amazing situations.
Sometimes we are called to wait on a dream. I wrote about Setting financial goals, and asked What Dream are you Saving For?
I shared my front porch story and how that dream has saved our financial future more times than once. It’s still a dream of mine, but since it’s a “thing,” and my worth is not tied to my stuff, I am ok with waiting.
Some day though…
I  have lots of dreams. Some are coming to fruition on a daily basis as I live my life as a wife, mother, friend etc. Others, are slowly simmering, waiting for just the right time to boil and others I can see in the distance. It’s not quite the time yet. The bank account says to wait, but as I keep saving and dreaming, it will make the realization of those dreams even sweeter.
So what about you?
Are there dreams you have but you aren’t quite sure of how to realize them?
Is there a dream you are “saving” for or possibly something you want to do, but not quite sure how to start?
Share them in the comments. I’ve found sometimes it’s amazing to just start naming them. We’re going to talk about women and entrepreneurship later in the month. Maybe somehow that will spark some new ideas for your dream.

If you’ve missed out on the first posts of Balancing Beauty and the Budget, read them here.