Monday, December 31, 2012

Sluggy Gets Reflective on Debt Freedom as 2012 Leaves the Building



First off, I want to express my gratitude to everyone who comes to this little blog and reads my humble(usually ranting)remarks and the ever-so-dry financial calculations and scratchings I make.

And an extra dose of gratefulness to those who read and comment!

Though I may be quite lax in replying at times(most times!), I do read every single word of comments left on the posts and they are most welcomed.
They leave me with a sense of "I'm not just shouting into a big black void" and the comments either validate me/what I do OR they let me know when I am in serious need of getting my head out of my own ass and returning to something resembling reality.
Hopefully, it's the previous and not the latter situation that prompts your comments left. ;-)


I see my blog, firstly as a LIFE BLOG.  I talk about almost anything I have a mind to, from finances, to my family, to genealogy and my other interests in life.
A big part of my blog is frugality.....it's not the only thing that goes on here, but it's a big one.


Most frugal blogs also encompass debt and debt repayment.
If you haven't realized it yet, you won't find that component here at DON'T READ THIS; IT'S BORING.
Hubs and I escaped the whole Debt thing for good in March of 2007, when we paid off the mortgage.
We only put as much in purchases on the credit card that we can pay off each month and we don't finance cars.  We are onto cash flowing college for the kids and building up our retirement savings.  We just don't do debt anymore.

You won't be able to come here to cheer us on when we kill a debt.  I know.....I just take all the fun out of life sometimes, don't I?
I do, however, love to leave comments for others who are still struggling with debt, when they vanquish a foe.  It makes me smile when all of you I visit take another big step toward living the dream of Debt Freedom.

What you WILL be able to come here to see is how much better life can be once you get to be debt-free.
You can see that once you aren't dissipating your income to this debt or that one AND giving the bulk of your income to a mortgage company, how quickly that money you use to give to debts can pile up and stay in YOUR bank account instead and then fund other goals, like college for the kids, house remodels, vacations, house repairs and retirement.

You'll also see how we struggle to avoid lifestyle inflation, what I feel is the greatest threat to living below your means.
It's so easy when you get a raise in income or a windfall of some unexpected money to use it to upgrade your life.  Instead of keeping what was before, a perfectly reasonable lifestyle, suddenly that extra cash needs to buy you more things or higher quality/quantity of food/drink/car/home, or more nights out being entertained.  So the extra cash gets spent on frivolity(wants) instead of being held for emergencies both big and small that will come around.
Shit happens.  You may not want to face that fact, but it does.  So don't spend all your money.  Keep some.  Invest some.  You never know when you'll need some extra for.....Needs!

People often ask me how we did it....how we got to this place.
It's complicated and what worked for us might not work for anyone else.

We saw 2 paths to debt freedom.
There is the "intense/short" path or the "little pain felt/long" path.

We could get very serious about being in debt.  Debt could become the focus of our lives and every penny spent, every decision made would be ruled by the debt.  We could make debt so vile in our minds that the most important thing in our lives would be to extract from it's talons, even if some decisions made our lives uncomfortable for the short term.

OR

We could be more casual about rooting out the debt.  Debt would be paid off slowly, without it disrupting our lifestyle much.  We wouldn't feel the pain of making do without this or that, and the debt would be hanging around longer.

Since we didn't have piles of debt(credit cards, medical, car, etc.)other than a mortgage, it was easy to pick the short, intense path to freedom.  We could knuckle down for a couple of years and delay gratification in so many other things to get the debt gone.

I know some may feel that getting intense for 2 years is extreme.  Heck I know people who can't delay wants for 2 MONTHS.
We thought 2 years of full frontal deprivation was pushing it, but the benefits of getting the debt over with outweighed the sacrifices we had to make.


But you know......where you are with your finances now is because of a long long line of choices you have made with your money through the years.
No single decision brought you to where your money stands today.
There have been literally thousands of decisions you have made over the course of your life and each one put you either on a better path or a worse path, and every subsequent decision you made, either made that path better again or even worse.
All those choices, either good or bad, you have made through your life is why you are where you are today.



But with that being said, it is NEVER too late to take control of your finances and your life.
If you've just been drifting along for 10 months or 10 years, don't worry about what's past.
Make today the day you take the reins of your money and live intentionally!
You can't change the past, but you can certainly change your future.

It is your life and your money.
No one has THE correct way to get out of debt and no one has THE correct way to save and spend your money.
This is something you have to figure out for yourself.

Yes, you can follow the path someone else took to freedom and it might or might not work for you as well.
But more importantly,  you need to take the lessons from how they approached their finances.
Learn why they did X, Y or Z.
Learn a new attitude about and toward your money.

Money is a great tool.  IT is not the end all and be all and the point of your life is NOT to end it with the biggest pile of cash.  It's a means to an end...... being able to live your life without stress from money worries, surrounded by the people you value and who value you.

Take the time and effort to learn how best to use the tool to craft the life you want to live.

Sluggy



8 comments:

  1. great post Sluggy! We are out of consumer debt, but we still have our mortgage. We'll probably move before it's paid off, so it's not number one on our list. I do love reading about how much you are able to save each month. That's where we want to be. Hopefully 2013 is the start of that savings plan!

    Happy New Year!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes, Sluggy I am guilty of lifestyle inflation. Everytime more money has come in, more goes out. Thanks you for your words of wisdom today, I will think of them often as I embark on my journey and I will see how much pain I can endure! Happy New Year!

    ReplyDelete
  3. My goal is to be you!!! That is why this year will be hard and tight(hmm get your mind out of the gutter people). We are going to be debt free at the end of this year. Yes we are lucky our home is paid for but we will be completely out of debt by the end of 2013 if it kills us. We are choosing to live on very little in order to be debt free!

    2014 will be the year I start banking our money for retirement and everything else but this year debt is going down!!!@!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. And when I pay off my last bill I am coming up to your house with a bottle of something good and we will toast the long hard road my family is taking this year....

    ReplyDelete
  5. I really enjoyed this post - it's pretty much where we want to be in the future. Frugal, but only after much effort, hard work, & learning about how to control our wants vs needs. Great post, & I really appreciate your divergent perspective on finances.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I paid off my mortgage the long hard way. But, predictions from others was that I would lose the house. I never had consumer debt. I avoided that pit my other newly-divorced dug. They lost their homes. I did not. No, I am not gloating. They had more "fun" than I, and no home, eventually!

    While I knew how to get free entertainment (art, wine, and eats) at art openings, they paid for clubs. My choices always proved to be better economically.

    It sort of bothered me that you got such good bargains and saved so much money. I felt I should be doing like you. Then, I realized that you have more people to consume all you get free. Even if you don't, you have the flea market and yard sales to make money from it. I just cannot do either because of my back problems and the need for three surgeries.

    I was not jealous, just needing to aspire to your levels. Now, I realize that I don't need your levels. However, once I have surgery and can spend time in CVS and Riteaid, I will be there getting some deals. Anyplace that does not have an electric cart is just going to see me shopping.

    In case you did not know it, I love your blog!

    ReplyDelete
  7. You are a great inspiration and everywhere I want to go with debt-free living. We still have a mortgage but we are eating away at it quickly. Den wanted to refinance the house so I went to our bank and we figured out that by the time we repaid all of the fees, we wouldn't be better off because we are paying it down so quickly. Yes, I have an awesome bank! My FIL and I talked and since he is a CPA, I trust him and he agreed with me not to do anything.
    We will probably have the house paid for when the kids are out of college. It will feel like we are rich! But I won't have it all paid for/out of college for prob 10 yrs. But it will still be in our early 50s. SO it isn't too bad.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Okay I am going to read this every day!

    ReplyDelete

Hey there! Thanks for leaving a comment. Though I moderate it's partly to keep spam out but also partly so that I read every comment. I don't often respond to comments so if you need me to answer you please write me at my email addy posted on my "About Me" page, linked on the side bar.