and ramblings on everything in between
Friends, I am a failure, a fraud, a fool.
This blog started off with the news of my huge accomplishment in 2013. I’ve been very vocal about living debt free and fighting like heck to stay that way. I’ve gone on and on about how my ways were changed and how I was going to be proof that debt-free living could be done.
But as soon as the going got tough, I cowered and caved.
If you’ve followed this blog for any amount of time, you know my biggest financial fear was my 12-year-old car that had more than 150,000 miles on it. I had been saving like crazy each month to pay cash for the next one but it slowly became like taking two steps forward and one step back. The final straw was hearing I needed a new transmission that would cost around $1,800. My first instinct was to bite the bullet and pay the $1,800 in hopes that it would buy me more time to save for a decent car. But with an all-interstate commute to work and the 20,000+ miles I put on a car each year, I knew the likelihood of another hefty repair was high.
My next instinct was to pay cash for a used car on Craigslist. This is what Dave Ramsey would do, I told myself, as if Dave Ramsey is the all mighty king. I searched through the makes I felt confident driving (I know brand loyalty shouldn’t have been my focus but, admittedly, it was) and for what I could pay cash for, I would have been in a very used car that was rapidly approaching 100,000 miles. In another year or two I’d be in the same place – an old car that’s having issues and not enough money in the bank to get a better one.
I just couldn’t do it anymore.
So instead I did what I shouldn’t have done and what I recently harped on other people for doing: I bought the exact car I wanted even though I couldn’t pay cash for it.
It was a decision that was made with a lot of tears and a lot of anxiety. It broke me to admit that I couldn’t do it on my own. As a seriously independent person, this was the hardest part for me to swallow. I didn’t want to have to eat my words. I didn’t want to be like everyone else. Yet, I was tired of worrying about the situation and I was tired of saying no.
I’ve been following Joan’s plight to become debt free on Man vs. Debt, and when she started her debt-free journey in 2011, she thought she would have all her debts paid for in three years. Those three years have come and gone and she’s only halfway there. She recently posted about how her spirit is broken and she’s angry. She’s working multiple jobs and has cut everything she possibly can from her life and it’s still going to be another three years before she’s in the black. It’s easy to let the part of you who feels defeated hijack the whole situation. But she’s focused on looking at her overall financial goals to remind herself where she’s winning instead of where she’s losing. She’s made amazing progress. She’s learned valuable lessons along the way. She’s winning even when she’s losing.
Even though I feel like an epic failure today, the lessons I learned during the two years I hustled to pay off my student loans and the year and a half that I spent saving for a car aren’t going to disappear just because of the decision I made. Those lessons have helped me to realize that I value living a simple life more than I value buying new clothes and shoes each month. I’ve learned that I don’t want to measure my life in the amount of things I own, but instead in the amount of experience I accumulate. I know how to stretch a grocery budget and use every last item in the fridge before buying more. I know how to say no when I don’t really need something.
After putting down the cash I saved, I will be able to pay off the loan in two years. It’s a better situation than it could be, but it’s still not how I wanted this to go down. Two years and I’ll get to do the debt-free dance for the second time. Perhaps that time will be the last…
For all of you out there who are living debt free, how are you making it work permanently in your life? My stent only lasted a year and a half. Once the car is paid for, it will be time to think about a down payment on a house, and then the babies I want to adopt, and then a different car once this one is worn out, and then that trip to Europe that I always dream about. It never stops. It’s never going to stop.
How are you able to keep the momentum going?