Living With Less is actually more like Learning to Live Within.
The story of our financial journey is akin to different kinds of changes. Sometimes things happen quickly and in a moment everything changes. And sometimes things just change a little, slowly over time. The next thing you know you are asking yourself “How the hell did we get HERE?”.
This is the beginning of our financial clean up story.
Like all families there are typical things we spend money on. Food, housing, clothing, utilities, the norm. Then there are the things that come along that are less expected or down right unexpected. Kids summer camps that need to be paid for in February that are $600, the furnace the needs repair that is $800, braces, birthdays, concerts, back to school clothes and supplies and devices and and and…
Not to mention the winter that is just too bloody long and too bloody cold and if you don’t get out of here STAT you may just end up needing to spend more on psychologist fees than a quick trip to Mexico would cost. So off you go!
Our intentions were nearly always good. Most often we’d finance an expense for something in the future – acknowledging that we’d pay it off over time. This is one way we justified to ourselves that it’s OK to live beyond our means. Sometimes we simply wanted to take advantage of opportunities that came up, that we might not get again, like celebrating our children’s milestone birthdays in very memorable ways. We leveraged our future financial position for the here and now moment. I don’t even regret all those choices if I’m being honest. (I will write more on this topic later) Alexa will never forget her 10th birthday – ever, and neither will I.
There is truth to the rumor that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. It became easy to slip into the habit of just pulling a little here and there from our line of credit to wipe clean a credit card at the end of the month, take a quick trip to the mountains etc. No one should pay 19% interest right? It also became easier to justify it to ourselves each time we took this action.
A secondary, but troubling reality emerged; the larger the line of credit balance, the easier it was to pull more money from it. What’s the difference between a balance of $23,000 and $24,500? Nothing. Or so it began to feel.
We were not behind on any of our bills, and we made a rather large payment to the line of credit balance each month and life went along beautifully. Money matters were not something we fought about and usually we were on the same page. Neither of us enjoyed taking money from the line of credit, but it was a means to an end. The life we wanted, and the stuff associated with it, was always attainable.
Toward the end of 2017, with the new year approaching, Jeff and I began discussing our hopes for 2018 for our marriage and for our family. We also began to dream about what we would do with extra money. It is so fun dreaming together, and something we do often. It was during that conversation we realized if we paid off our line of credit, we could start doing the things we were dreaming about!
Armed with a dream in our heart of more financial flexibility, and extra vacations on our mind, we decided 2018 was going to be the year we stopped borrowing from the line of credit (save emergencies) and the year we took that sucker down!
We wanted to live life from a place of being ahead, instead of behind.
Together we decided to become diligent in our pursuit of a $0.00 line of credit balance, while finding our own financial happiness in the process. It is more than dollars and cents; it is a lifestyle balancing act, it is a mental balancing act, it is a discipline balancing act. And it has proven to already be very rewarding, just a few months in!
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