Let’s get very real for a few minutes… can we? We’re going to talk about money. We’re not experts on the subject, but we have figured out how to make sure money doesn’t have to be our focus in life, and it’s allowed us to live our dreams and help others in way we once only dreamed of. I know money is the least favorite topic for most people, so feel free to check out, but if you’re frustrated with money, you’ll probably want to keep reading.
When we got married in 2006 we had $45,000 in debt, which was coincidentally twice our household income that year. That meant we didn’t have many choices. We had to work a lot and spend very little.
Over three years time we managed to pay off 100% of that debt, which is exhausting to even think about, and now we’ve been debt free for almost five years! There are plenty of resources on how to become debt free, but let’s talk about the aftermath.
At first, we took some money and bought a few things as rewards. Josh got two new suits (for his job) and I got a nice camera. We also went out for a steak dinner for our anniversary that year– and felt like a million bucks!
But then it was right back to normal. Over the years we’ve kept our cost of living as low as possible because we never want to be stuck in debt again. Being debt free gives us options. We can save for vacation, new clothes, increase our food budget to buy healthier items, etc, because we’re not throwing that money at bills each month. We never turned cable back on because we learned that it wasn’t really that important to us.
Having a little more leeway with our finances also allowed us to move out of an apartment where we heard gunshots each night. We thought we were living in a decent neighborhood, but a neighbor keyed our car, and over time we heard more and more gunshots while laying in bed. One day I took our daughter to the neighborhood playground and promptly left because there were bulletholes in the brand new fence. But if we were still hanging on to thousands of dollars of debt? Moving likely would have just piled on more debt, making our situation more hopeless.
So if you’re feeling like you have to stay on the hamster wheel just to keep up, figure out where you can live more modestly. You either need to spend less, make more money, or both! We opted for both– we spent less and picked up second jobs (Domino’s for the win!).
I will say, it’s very hard to get ahead sometimes, but don’t lose heart. It can happen, and will happen– I believe in you!
Live simply and it will really help you reach your dreams!