Tuesday, October 16, 2007

My Personal Finance Success Story

Writing a title like that on my blog feels pretentious - fake. It's interesting how my husband and I have been slowly evolving and changing our mindset from truly believing that we were financially stable and progressive to acknowledging and embracing our debt. It wasn't an easy transition.

Like many things, breaking bad finance habits seems to come in spurts of ambition and lulls or backtracking laziness. It's difficult to build new habits, particularly when some habits come out of us on different levels and from different motives.

This is MY success:

1. I acknowledged our financial situation. My husband has been doing our books and such, so I didn't really know where we stood. Had I known sooner, I dare say we would have been out of this sooner - two people working for a solution work much more effectively than one! It would have been easy to rely on him to say whether or not we could afford something for the rest of our lives, but there's no telling how long we would have spiraled into debt - he could not tell me "No, there's no money for this."

2. We've made some big changes. These came in layers and spurts, mostly when I felt we could be doing so much more toward our debt. We sold our vehicle back to the dealer. While we could have fetched more selling it elsewhere, we were both in such an emotional state over the heavy realization of the mess we were in that it was an effective and instantaneous relief. We are paying down the negative equity from two car purchases back now as a result. We chose a smaller place to live that had what we were looking for - allergy-free carpeting for me, but more importantly, a yard for our son. It's not perfect and it hasn't had the walls painted in some time, but it is more than adequate enough (as long as the furnace lasts longer than the refrigerator!)

3. We've made some little changes. We are thrift shoppers by nature for some things, so it came naturally that my son's desk would come from Goodwill. Praise the Lord for sending us the exact thing we were looking for at a $20 price! Nearly everything we buy is on sale, but instead of buying what we want because it's on sale, we buy what we need - looking further into the future. Beyond four people, our Christmas shopping and birthdays are caught up through January!

4. We're thinking differently. It's almost a game and a continual challenge - how much more can we save? If we buy a deep freezer, will it pay for itself in two or three months if we don't go out to eat? I'm learning to combine coupons with sales, and though the curve is steep I know I can do it! I will also be taking up sewing - if that fails, I will do tie-quilting! We buy far less for our son to play with and use our old things to entertain him or hit things on Freecycle (a sandbox, for instance). We have a sheer curtain panel set up as a tent. (I will blog that as a separate post sometime! V. nice tent!) Our want list for him is short and only includes items we know he will love and enjoy.

5. We're feeling differently! Instead of relying on shopping and things to bring us joy, we look to each other and select items to augment what we already have and enjoy carefully. We deserve quality but don't require luxury. Loving where you are and who you are with is the best success you can ever have.

Thank you to GRS for the idea on what to post. Not only did it clear my mind and heart, but gave me the patience to realize that where we are is not a bad place to be. Though the debt is going away more slowly than I'd like, we are making progress in more ways than just the numbers.

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