It’s been 8 months since Drew and I made our last loan payment. I can’t tell you how refreshing it’s been to keep roughly $2,500/month vs. paying it towards loans. We still joke around and ask each other, “how much do we owe this month?” and then respond “ZERO!!!!”
But we made “sacrifices” to get here.
For almost 3 years we barely ate out, had minimal decorations for our home, and bought basic groceries. Snacks and desserts were treats, we ate lots of spaghetti, and bought the most affordable meats—lots and lots of chicken! If you were a guest in our home we’d offer you “water or water.” 😉
No doubt we had all we needed, and we didn’t go as far as to only eat rice and beans like Dave Ramsey references, so all and all we had a lot to be grateful for. Nonetheless, we were still making sacrifices.
Was it worth it? ABSOLUTELY!
There are so many benefits in being debt-free. By God’s grace, we’ve been able to build our savings and start investing in retirement and mutual funds.
Sidenote: we chose to put all our extra money towards loans and put off investing/retirement. We took this strategy since we were losing about 6% in interest, and we wanted to focus one one thing at a time -paying off debt, than investing.
Having financial margin has reduced stress and provided options. Like I mentioned in a previous post, Drew was able to quit his full-time job for a year to pursue a career change. We have a buffer if the economy crashes or we have a significant unexpected expense.
Ultimately, our trust and security are in Christ alone. We know that we could lose everything of earthly value today, or God could clearly lead us to give it all away. Outside of scenarios like this, I think it’s wise to have financial margin and savings for retirement, if possible.
So without getting into the weeds of our strategy, I want to encourage you with yours.
I want to encourage you that making some extreme decisions, and perhaps living a little different than the trend of our culture, is totally worth it!
What vehicle, house, new outfit, or living room set is worth being a slave to debt? What’s worth the stress that being financially burdened brings? Would you rather make some tough sacrifices now, or continue living strapped?
But…our culture tells us that if we want something, we deserve it.
Think of all the advertisements. How about the commercial this Christmas that showed one neighbor buying the “lame” snowman while the other bought the new truck. Or Verizon, “Didn’t get what you wanted this Christmas?” “There’s still time to get the new iPhone” (paraphrased).
We live in a world where billions of dollars in marketing are spent each year to make us feel like we need more to make us happy. We have to be aware of this and be ok living a bit differently.
So, what actions can you start taking, today?
Perhaps it’s selling a car and sharing with your spouse. Downsizing your home. Wearing what you have and pursuing contentment. Eating out less, and grocery shopping with a strategy and budget.
All of this sounds awful, right? But I can tell you it really wasn’t that bad. When it’s a choice to cut back in pursuit of a preferred future, it can be invigorating! It’s all about shifting your perspective.
“But I want to enjoy my life…”
You may be thinking you’ll miss out on life. We found ways to have fun on our budget, and I don’t think we missed out on anything of significance. Like I said, Drew was able to quit his job, there’s plenty of ways to enjoy life without spending a lot of money, and now we have plenty of cushion for fun.
I have no regrets!
A few closing tips:
If you start changing your spending habits, I recommend viewing your decisions as an opportunity to share with others why you’re living differently rather than feeling embarrassed by your frugal lifestyle. I think you’ll be surprised with how many people will feel encouraged to do the same, as if they wouldn’t be alone if they stepped out of the norm, too.
If you make some intentional choices to pay off debt, it’s so important to renew your mind often and remember why you’re choosing to do this. Between wanting to purchase something, comparison to others, and consumerism, it can be tough. But the battle is worth it!
Ok, ok, one more thought: there’s GRACE in all of the above. Think of ways you can start managing your finances better, and find what works for you.
That’s all for now, folks!
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