I’m not debt-free. There, I said it.
Sometimes I feel like a working poor person…wait, scratch that, a highly-educated, working, poor person.
Okay, maybe technically, I don’t actually have a job in the 9-to-5-FICA-takes-half-my-salary- vacations-come-only-when- earned sense of the word but, make no mistake, I do have a job.
My husband does the working and it’s my job to take care of this home we made together with our two beautiful children. That job is one without end and one I wouldn’t dare trade for a job in the more traditional sense of the word.
That said, my delicious darling of a husband spends his days working hard to satisfy our desire to be both the family that lives within their means and the one that doesn’t sacrificing the pure joy that comes from living in a world where so many options for adventure exist.
So, as of now, we splurge on one big vacation a year. Last year it was Atlanta for big fun in the city (aquariums, museums, malls, and such) and this year it’s a week in Washington for the Cherry Blossom Festival–and a chance to expose our little ones to the beauty and history of our nation’s Capitol–and next year it’ll likely be California or Chicago.
Also, birthdays and holidays are always treated like major events in our home and we make an effort to always include something educational into everything we do because we want our children to be as knowledgeable as possible about the world they will someday contribute to shaping.
Most trips and special events are planned months in advance and then budgeted to the nth degree so that nothing is left to chance or credit card, but, I’d be lying if I said I’d forsaken the use of such vices here and there to fill in the gaps. A habit I developed in undergrad that spilled over into my graduate work.
I worked my way through grad school and tried to do as much as I could not to accumulate too much debt through taking put unnecessary loans, but that became difficult when credit came easier than cash. So, I didn’t pass up many opportunities to use that plastic lifeboat when I felt I needed to for whatever reason.
Trust me, I expect no sympathy for the choices I willfully made with money. I made them, they are mine to bear. However, as a mother and wife who has often struggled to maintain the freedoms that having money can grant you, I know I want more.
More for our retirement, more for our children’s educations, more mini-vacations during the year, and more peace of mind when times are hard.
I won’t be reinventing the wheel with anything we do, but by doing simple things like buying items on a cash-only basis, applying any surplus money earned towards reducing debt, and concentrating only on debt elimination–as opposed to debt addition–I expect to decrease our debt limit by 75% within 2-years and be nearly out of debt within four.
Trust me when I say it will
Take a great deal of budgeting and monetary discipline, but the reward is greater later for any sacrifices we make now.
Never doubt that being financially fit is every bit as important as being physically fit. It’s something we should all strive for in our lives and we should be willing to do what’s necessary to get our wallets and checkbooks in shape.
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