January 26, 2011

Meeting our Financial Goals

There are blogs that I follow of women who are dealing with debt and are serious about getting things paid down and finally being debt free.  I am fascinated by their stories as I can totally relate to what they are experiencing. 

We are 6 months away from fulfilling our 3 year goal of having a car payment and our mortgage as our only debt.  While I am not considering this being debt free, it is very, very close. 

How did it feel back then to look at three years of serious cutting back in order to accomplish this goal?  Well, in a way 3 years seemed like a long time but as we stayed committed and started to see our plan work, I got more excited as each month passed.  Then 9 months into our three year plan, I lost my job and was home full time.  Having a 9 month warning was more than what a lot of people get when they lose their job so we took advantage of those 9 months of getting money into savings and working on our debt reduction plan.

I believe that the reason we have been able to stick with our plan is due to the fact that I have been happy.  My happiness comes from being home full time.  While I enjoyed my employment as a legal assistant, I find that I am much happier being a stay at home wife and mom. 

In my opinion, if you're miserable and you are trying to pay off debt, it will be more difficult for you.  You will want to spend money in order to make yourself happy.  If you go ahead and buy something that you feel will bring you happiness, it will be short term and then you will find yourself back to being unhappy because you spent the money that you didn't have.

My advice is this.  I know it will probably go against everything that some financial experts will tell you.  Here it is.  If you are going to be miserable, better to take some extra time to pay down the debt and give yourself some breathing room, than to set yourself up for failure by trying to be too restrictive and then becoming miserable and disillusioned with putting all your money towards debt.  For example, if you are working a job that you hate and you are miserable but you have no other employment options, I wouldn't cut the cablevision in order to save money if that is your one source of enjoyment and entertainment when you come home at night. 

My husband was working a miserable job between July 2009 and January 2010.  We were blessed when he found a new job in February 2010 that he is totally happy doing.  Those 6 months that he was so unhappy in his work would have been more miserable if we hadn't freed up a little money for him to buy tickets to some college basketball games.

2 1/2 years ago it seemed like a long time for our plan to be fulfilled, but along the way as one debt was paid off and then another, we had small celebrations.  There was constant affirmation that we were accomplishing our goal. 

We had to pick a starting point, that is a commitment to cut back and focus on getting the job done.  Then we had to pick a realistic ending point.  In other words 3 years was a realistic amount of time for us to get the debt paid off, but it did mean sacrifice.  Our motivation was to get the job done before our youngest son went to college this year. 

So here we are 6 months from our goal.  Has it been worth it?  Yes.  Has it been scarey at times?  Yes as we had unexpected expenses and our savings account dwindled to next to nothing a time or two.  Have we had to sacrifice?  Yes.  We have consistently had to find cheaper sources for items that we needed and have learned to do without.  We have constantly been reminded of what is a want and what is a need.

So to those of you that are beginning the journey of debt reduction from someone who is coming close to meeting her goal, keep your focus on the end of the race and constantly look to what your life will be like after your goal is met.  Think daily about what it will be like without the debt hanging over your head and it will spur you on to cut back, save those pennies and commit to meeting your goal. 

It has been worth it all.


Sharon said...

A great post! It sounds like you are very happy at home, and also you will soon be an empty nester??? We have two car loans left, one is my daughter's car, so she will be paying us back when she starts to work next year. The other is my husband's hybrid that we purchased because it was a bigger hybrid than what he had...and it makes him much more comfortable on his 2 hour commute back and forth to work. I want that one gone soon!

Other than that, we are grossly behind on our savings...which we will hopefully rectify this year. It takes sacrifice, as all of my friends are planning cruises, etc. but I believe it will be worth it...just like you said!

Congrats and don't forget to celebrate when the last debt is gone!!!

Anonymous said...

Such a wonderful post and I totally agree!! You have to have a little bit of fun in your life, or what's the point?

Keep up the fabulous job!! :)

Maureen said...

I do agree with you Martha, I am in a job which I really get little satisfaction from. So I absolutely hang out for my Holiday breaks. Which was why I set up a holiday fund while still having some debt.
Next break is at the end of March....

Martha said...

I worked a job several years ago that I hated. It was in the 1980's and my income was an absolute necessity. We were in the middle of a recession and the farm crisis here in the Midwest was at its peak. There weren't any other jobs and I did the best job I could at a job I hated. I lived for the end of the day and for the weekends. I lasted 4 years in that job and then when the economy got better I moved on.