“But I don’t Want To!” That’s a phrase I hear from my young children (especially the little one) on a daily basis. When it comes to changing financial habits and making decisions that affect our future it’s exactly how I feel. “I DON’T WANT TO!” Mature, no? Well no — it isn’t, but that is exactly what’s screaming in my head as I learn to make and execute responsible financial decisions.
My husband and I will celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary next spring. In those 15 years we made mistakes financial and otherwise. Today let’s look at the money side of things.
We’ve been in debt and out of debt, restructured debt, bought cars, eaten out (a lot), paid for cars, contributed to 401K, cashed out 401k, bought another car, a home, (and a whole host of other CRAP), had two children, adopted 3 dogs, two cats and short-lived fish.
Busy! Busy indeed, and in being so busy we created debt.
We created debt because we were young and arrogant and spoiled and “want-what-we-want-right-now-and-are-going-to-have-it-regardless-of-what-it-means-tomorrow!” (again with that maturity thing). I’d love to be able to say that we’re in debt because of some noble reason; not so.
We created debt because we bought a lifestyle we COULD NOT AFFORD. When I quit my job (cutting our income by 1/3) to stay home with our 1st child we didn’t cut our lifestyle by that same 1/3 (uh-oh). Make no mistake, we are in debt because we wanted to be — then, just not now. That’s the insidious lure of credit cards — have it all NOW and pay for it all later — again and again and again. And for a while it feels great — then you get the bill.
Fast forward (or rewind) to about 3 years ago when we FINALLY got smarter about our financial present and future. We started with obedience and began tithing (truly life changing). Soon after, Casey got a raise, but we swept it all into the 401K and never saw any of it in our pockets — just our portfolio. During this time we’ve also managed to reduce our debt load considerably, but still used the available credit on the cards we had left (will we ever learn?). It’s hard. It’s so hard to change such a longtime habit and sometimes it just feels like such deprivation to be responsible, but I’ll tell you — being out of debt by fall 2009 feels better so that’s what I focus on. I focus on it really hard as I drive PAST Starbucks on my way home to COOK dinner — again. Jeepers! If going without Starbucks and dinners out is what I have to worry about, let’s face it — I DON’T HAVE PROBLEMS!
Our priorities were out of line and now that we’ve gotten them straight it is getting easier to look within instead of without and focus on the bigger picture instead of just the here and now. I still hear that voice — the one screaming “I DON”T WANT TO!” but I am also learning to say (as I do to my children) “I understand that you ‘don’t want to’; you still have to eat your peas — er follow the budget.”
I hope that with practice (and lots of prayer) it will feel easier and I will learn to instinctively trust what I KNOW and not what I feel when it comes to money. Until then I’ll continue to repeat that scene in Star Wars “Stay on budget! STAY! ON! BUDGET!”
I’ll keep you posted!
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I'm just an average mom, trying to live a frugal life and get out of debt. I write about things that have (and haven't) worked to improve my family's financial situation. What works for me may or may not work for you, and you should always consult a financial advisor before making important financial decisions.
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