How a sisterly trip to Iceland made me change my mind about money
You can’t put a price on precious time with family.
I recently took a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Iceland with my sister. Yes, Iceland. Ridiculous, right? People asked me if it was on my bucket list. No. It was not.
It was on a list next to Mars, Narnia, and Hogwarts, of cool places to visit if magic was real. But then it happened.
My incredible sister got a good deal at a hotel in Reykjavik, and six months later, I was standing next to a right-hand drive Mazda, looking at my first international parking fine.
The thing was, I had the money for the ticket, saved in my “don’t you touch this, yes, I mean you!” investment account. I had a goal save account called “Magic” and I was able to map my budget for the next few months and squirrel what else I needed.
I opened a Global Account, which let me save in Euro. After six months, I had exactly what the Internet said I needed for a week in Iceland.
But I was still anxious and second-guessing if I should be doing this at all. I have spent the last four years climbing out of a deep and dark hole of debt. I currently owe 10 per cent of what I owed in January 2019, when I finally faced my situation and started to change it.
The money I was about to spend would 100 per cent clear my credit card and overdraft. And now, instead of being “responsible” and using it for debt, I was about to blow it on a holiday.
My story about money has been that I am bad with money. I am reckless and I don’t make good choices. My inner critic told me that this decision to go on a holiday was stupid and dangerous. I was behaving like a child.
I spoke to friends about my feelings, and the response was unanimous. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The money to pay the debt would come. The penny dropped when someone I work with, our chief revenue officer, said “Sarah. There is always more money. There isn’t always more time.”
It landed. My sister is one of my best friends. She immigrated three years ago, and we have spent very little time together since. In fact, we haven’t had that much time in the past 20 years since we both had kids.
This would be a week alone with her in Iceland. I wouldn’t have to share her with anyone. That was the true once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
We went. It was the best holiday I have ever had. Iceland is beautiful and strange and calm. But what was more special was hanging out with Chloe.
We grew up hanging out. Our relationship wasn’t built over the phone, or in intense one-on-one chats, it was built out of decades of just existing in the same space as each other. This is the foundation of our friendship.
In the few years since she moved to Dubai, we had lost the felt sense of each other. It didn’t take long to get it back. I remembered how easy we are with each other.
We like similar things. We are both morning people, extroverts who will talk to anyone and can laugh at ourselves and each other.
We are both controlling when we get anxious, but thanks to years of therapy and a quick “I am noticing that I am bossing you right now because I am anxious” conversation, we got a handle on that.
Iceland is magnificent, but the real joy was spending time with Chloe. And while being debt-free might have felt good, it would not have given me the sense of peace and groundedness that a solid familial relationship does.
Safety comes in many forms, and money is just one. Sisters can stand against anything. Even international parking fines.