Sometimes being debt-free isn’t much fun.
When I look around at the world driving nice cars and eating at nice places and going on nice vacations I can get discouraged. But then I remind myself that I am choosing this! (And then I also remind myself that 80% of Americans are in credit card debt.)
“I’m choosing this!” is more than just semantics. That little phrase can change your life. Hear me out: If you’re on some kind of diet that doesn’t allow cake, it’s only because they didn’t know about Laura’s cakes. (Like this Low sugar Strawberry Cream Cheese Cake or this Low Sugar Banana Cake.) But let’s pretend you’re not eating cake because a diet book told you not to. So now you’re sad about not eating cake, and you sigh and feel bad for yourself because you really want cake and it’s all somebody else’s fault for deciding that high sugar and processed fats and carbs are unhealthy and you struggle with attitude problems every time you are put in a cake situation.
Let’s not blame the cake.
What if you turned the whole thing around and told yourself, “I’m choosing this!” Nobody is forcing me to give up anything. “I am choosing to make better food choices. Eating healthier options is my choice! I don’t even want all that cake because I know what’s in it, and it’s nothing good!” And then you can use your freshly ground flour to make your own densely nutrient cake and you can choose to have your cake and eat it too.
What if you wanted a new car instead of cake?
Something my husband and I have embraced the last few years of paying off debt is “We’re choosing this!” We are choosing to not spend money so that we can use it for other things. We could choose to not pay our bills, but then the electric company could choose to turn off our lights. If we choose to ignore our mortgage payment, the bank will choose to take our house. See how this works?
There are exceptions to everything.
I do understand there are times when life spirals out of control and things you had carefully planned fall apart. My sister was in a car accident years ago and was left with over $40,000 in uncovered medical bills. Sometimes the job situation doesn’t work out, I get it. But for the vast majority of Americans we have put ourselves in our own financial messes. We made the choice to move out of our tiny apartment to buy a house we really couldn’t afford. And we had such fun in that house! But if you give a man a house he’s going to want a dog to go with it… and a lawn mower and snow shovels and two cars and another phone and the internet and a video streaming plan and a grill and… and… before you know it, the $9/hour secretary job just isn’t enough.
We absolutely love being debt free.
I haven’t always had a great relationship with money. I would get so mad at people who said, “I can’t afford…” and yet they lived a lifestyle that said differently. But then I found myself saying, “I can’t afford…” and I realized it’s all in perspective. We made a combined total of $8000 our first year of marriage. As we worked more and made more we bought more and being debt-free wasn’t as much of a priority because we didn’t even know where the money was going. When I sit down and look closely at the choices we’ve made the past 12 years of marriage I can see huge financial mistakes we made that put us back. With each raise we started living just a little more comfortably. And that’s okay! That was OUR CHOICE. But to then go and say, “Well, I can’t afford…” doesn’t really make sense.
I’m choosing this.
When I say, “I’m choosing this.” It brings ownership back on my shoulders. Playing the victim isn’t possible with that phrase. I am choosing to save money! I am choosing to pay extra on the mortgage! I’m choosing to do family birthdays differently. I am choosing to live beneath my means because I have something better in mind for later. Here are some choices we’ve made and continue to make because we absolutely love being debt-free: Paying the internet bill instead of keeping chips on hand. Putting gas in the car instead of going out to the movies. Finding extremely loved used vehicles instead of buying new clothes for everyone in the family. Living in a 600 sq foot home until we got a better paying job in another state.
You get to choose!
I am giving you a phrase that has the power to completely change your outlook on life and money whether you are debt-free or not. “I’m choosing this!” You get to choose and you don’t have to be ashamed about it either. I am (97% of the time) not ashamed about the vehicles I drive because we bought them on purpose. We used to buy them on purpose because it was that or nothing. Now we buy used vehicles on purpose because we have really exciting plans for our money.
What are you choosing? Are you pleased with your choices?
My intention is most definitely not to make you feel bad about yourself or your money, but the opposite! If you find yourself feeling sad and thinking, “I can’t afford…” try pepping yourself up with a little “I’m choosing this!” attitude change. It could rock your world. And then go make cake. Because cake is yummy and actually quite affordable.
Laura’s friend Tasha is passionate about encouraging women. She’s a homeschooling mamaX4 who loves to make silly faces in the mirror with her toddler. She and her husband Ben have worked hard to be debt-free (except for their mortgage) and try to choose people over things everytime. She can be found playing on Instagram @hackettacademy and @heavenlyhomemaker and has too many hobbies to name. Most recently she’s been making chocolate cake for breakfast and sending her kids out to pick asparagus for lunch.
My sister and BIL have followed Dave Ramsey for most of their marriage. I have to admit that at first I thought they were crazy. Why would you NOT buy this and that and go here and there, when you can well afford it? Then children came, then the home repairs came and they were prepared. I had honestly never heard of an emergency fund. My parents are financially careful but they never talked about money with us, other than tithing.
Fast forward a few decades. My sister and BIL have a PAID OFF house, cars they PAID CASH FOR (and prayed for and waited for and saw God miraculously provide). Now they go on trips when they want. They go out to eat when they want. They send flowers to people and are generous because they can be. The years of denial seem far behind. They have a fun and rosy future. This is not the case with me or many of my friends. Financial trouble and stress have ended some of my friends’ marriages. The choices you are making now are hard but are worth it. I encourage anyone who is wavering in their commitment to stay the course. Persistence pays off in a big way.
There’s nothing better than being debt free! Do not give up! You will not regret it! We have been debt free for 10 years, but I still spend money very carefully. I get a thrill out of a bargain! My husband doesn’t give me a grocery budget, but I spend like it — I will do my best to always get a better price. I love thrift stores & clearance sales! We still drive older cars and keep taking care of them — mine is currently with our mechanic and has nearly 350,000 miles – it doesn’t need to be replaced, it just needs TLC :-)
I love not owing anybody. It is a freeing feeling. Learning to pay cash is hard but well worth it.