Our Debt-Free Milestone
On your debt-free journey, you have to know your Why and celebrate the milestones. If you are in the thick of it, here is some fire.
Outside of sharing some killer deals that I think will help your journey, I don’t usually branch out of the saving-money-and-eating-healthy niche on this space.
This website is about you and helping you eat well and guard your budget.
But after I mentioned this Instagram Story in the last 1-Min Email, you asked if I could share a full blog post about it. Many of you don’t have Instagram or just prefer reading over watching video clips (and I’m right there with you actually). So here it is.
Know Your Why
The truth is, none of us saves money and eats healthy because we want to. While I always want to use my resources wisely, I don’t stick to a budget because it’s fun, or easy, or leaves room for us to eat exactly the way we want.
I would much rather make fun fresh meals with funky ingredients than eat leftover rice and chicken again. I would much rather feed us all organic and local food all the time instead of choosing my priorities.
But money is finite, and we are the boss of it. For the most part, we get to decide what we spend and how much we save. Some years, we save a lot. Some years, we barely make it.
But through it all, we have a Why. It’s the reason we make the choices that we do. It’s the fire in our belly that keeps me focused at the grocery store when I pass convenience food and fair trade dark chocolate. It stops me from ordering pizza on a busy evening.
Chris and I have a couple of life goals that make our Why:
1. Live Debt-Free Forever
We have had a few bills over the years – because medical emergencies and trauma will do that. But if it was within our power, we avoided debt. This isn’t for everyone in all circumstances, and we are a little extreme for most people. But I have never, ever regretted staying debt-free.
Okay, when all my friends were buying houses, and I was on year seven of renting, I didn’t love it. I wondered if we were doing the right thing. I whined quite a bit.
2. Buy a House with Cash
When we finally bought our home, it was a cute little fixer-upper that just barely fit our family. It was nothing to brag about, but it was something to cherish because it was all ours.
No exaggeration: I cried the first 20 times I drove to it because I couldn’t believe we had actually done it. It took 10 years, but we did.
Again, this is not for everyone, but it was one of our goals.
3. Travel Internationally with Our Kids
Most of Chris’ and my courtship took place across different continents. For a while, he lived on a decommissioned World War II ship. I lived in the poorest country in the world (at the time) and learned to speak street French. Travel was in our bones and baked into our souls. The love of it was one of the things that brought us together, and we always planned to do it with our kids someday.
Finances, babies, difficult pregnancies, and medical emergencies pushed the plans to a distant future, but this year we finally did it.
A little bit of family trivia: My husband is Greek. He is not 100%, but his family immigrated recently enough that we still have cousins living there. He and I spent time over there before we had kids so I could meet this family I married into, but we haven’t been back.
We want to take our kids to see Great-Papou’s house. We want them to walk the hills their ancestors did. Not many Americans can trace their roots back across the ocean where their family started. So this is where we will start.
We plan to spend most of our time visiting family and hitting up free or cheap activities – i.e. lots of hiking, walking, and simply being present.
I will probably cry like I almost did on Instagram Stories.
When You Are in the Thick of It
I hesitated to share this because when we are in the thick of it sometimes it is hard to read about other people’s dreams.
For example, if I follow someone on Instagram and their feed or stories are mostly crowded with Nordstrom clothing hauls or accidental $200 Target runs, I usually unfollow them. There’s nothing wrong with being in that season of life and having that money, and I celebrate it! But it’s not very encouraging or uplifting to me in the season I am in.
Many of you are in the thick of it right now. You are scrambling to save every penny, you are trying to make sense of health issues and how to afford it all. You are paying off debt or saving for your home.
Sometimes it’s hard to remember why we are doing it all. Sometimes it’s hard to keep that fire going, to stay focused at the grocery store, or to eat leftovers for the fourth time this week.
As someone who whined a lot when my friends were redecorating their living rooms or could afford the drive-thru, can I encourage you for a minute? Making good decisions is hard. Sometimes it sucks. I hate saying no while everyone else is saying yes. It’s not fun. It feels lonely.
I used to talk in my sleep about the price of tomatoes. Chris still teases me about it. We used thumbtacks to pin up the fabric of our car ceiling when it fell apart and kept blocking the rear window. I stayed home with a baby six days a week because we had one car, and the only job my husband could find required driving all over the state.
When you are in the thick of it, it’s easy to forget your why.
The truth is, even with goals none of us knows what the future holds. It took us 10 years to buy our home because life punched us in the face around year seven.
But you will never regret remembering your Why. You will never regret being smart with your money, or taking care of your body, or eating that salad. You won’t regret making some good decisions today.
Your goals might not look exactly the way you planned, but every good decision gets you closer to something better. Don’t give up. Have some fun along the way – be healthy and balanced – but don’t forget your why.
What’s Your Why?
I would love to hear from you! What is your Why?
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