Below is a re-posting of something that I wrote at the beginning of 2013. Looking back on it, I was writing a mini money manifesto. When I wrote this I’d just started this blog and was still living in the Pacific Northwest. I’d finally done some math and had the day of reckoning in which I realized that debt had its hand around my neck and was starting to squeeze. I’d just decided to move out of my overpriced downtown studio to start a new financial future.
I’ve found myself re-reading this little post from time to time to stoke the fires of wanting to be debt-free. So here it is again for you to enjoy as well.
Out with the Old and In with the New
This will indeed be a new year. This will be the first year of my financial future. After my rude awakening with respect to my finances and debt, I FINALLY started to make some real changes in my life.
I moved to this West Coast city two years ago to start a new job. Instead of continuing to live like a grad student, I inflated my lifestyle. Life mistake #412. I moved into a “posh” apartment building in the heart of downtown. I couldn’t afford furniture or a car or travel or nice clothing, but I didn’t care. I loved my posh digs. It took me two years of living paycheck to paycheck to buy furniture for a studio apartment. And the kicker, I’ve had my student loans in forbearance this entire time. Yes, I put my massive student loans in forbearance, accumulating interest continuously, so that I could buy nice furniture for an overpriced shoebox apartment. The stupidity!
Today I marvel at how much my thinking has changed and evolved. This has undoubtedly come from reading many personal finance blogs and listening to the gurus. I had the head knowledge of what I should be doing with my money, but I wasn’t uncomfortable enough to change. I wasn’t fully realizing what I was giving up to live like that (opportunity cost). All I could afford to do was work and come home to my posh apartment. Occasionally, I’ll have a rough day at work – taking crap from clients, my manager, etc., and I’ll fantasize about leaving and finding another job, but I quickly realize that I can’t take the risk of leaving. I am wholly dependent on my employer for my livelihood. So I keep my mouth shut and my head down in those situations at work. I hate it.
I have been reading blogs such as Man vs. Debt. Bloggers like these have been able to travel extensively (my passion) and lead a lower stress life thanks to lack of debt and financial freedom. I realized that I would never be able to live that type of lifestyle while shackled to this mountain of debt. That made me sad. What made me angry was the realization of how much interest I’ve paid to make others wealthy and not myself.
I finally got uncomfortable. I got angry. I’m still angry. I’m done being a tool. I’m done being a profit center for corporate fat cats. I’m done funding everyone else’s retirement but my own.
When I am out of debt I vow to never pay another red cent in interest for ANYTHING.
I do not own a car, but in the future when I am able to afford one, it will be used, very small, economical, and paid for in full, in cash. I don’t know if I’ll ever own a home or if I’ll ever want to, but if I do I will pay for that with cash, as it too would be very small, simple and functional.
I’m done with consumerism and materialism. I’ve come to embrace simplicity, minimalism and frugality. While I still like nice things, my definition of nice has changed from what it once was.
I now realize that no fancy apartment or electronics or furnishings are worth what I’m losing. What am I losing? I’m not funding my retirement. I’m 37. I have no emergency savings, so I have no peace of mind. I can’t travel. I have old clothes that are so out of fashion that people stare at me sometimes. The list goes on. And #1, I don’t have control over my own life. It’s too risky to try for a new job in a new city or a different country. And when you can’t stand up for yourself or push-back in the workplace because you are entirely dependent on that job, a bit of your self-esteem crumbles away, little by little. To the financial powers that be. You can have your treadmill back. I’m done with all of it.
So, out with the old and in with the new!
That was one of my earliest posts from January 1, 2013. I can’t believe that almost two years have passed. My goal for 2013 was to pay off my credit card debt $30,340. Unfortunately that was a big fail for reasons I’ve written about elsewhere – including here, here, and here. However, I’m now a little older and hopefully a little wiser about things. I now have a better job and live in a different state. Only now do I feel like I’m back on track to get out of debt in this lifetime.
If you are in a similar place in life, then I am one person who can relate to what you are going through. Hang in there.