So…this whole adulting thing. I’m terrified and excited about the fact that I get to respond with “Because I told you so” to generally any inquiry from those 4 and under in our household. So, that’s cool.
However, sometimes as an adult, I have a hard time with the “Because I told you so” rules of finances and this whole “credit” thing. Some examples…because I told you so, you have to pay off that zero interest credit card before the 18 months is over. Because I told you so, you cannot just ask for more or borrow others credit. Because I told you so, you should not live outside of your means or incur unnecessary debt. (Side note- I come from a VERY fiscally responsible household. Shout out to Terry and Sue for setting a great example. They actually attempted to warn me about all of these real life situations pre-adulthood but I was “so busy, like, bartending and being a social butterfly”).
Now I will preface this with-I’m on the fresh side of my 30’s. So, we will call it being a “newer” adult. Also, a wife of 5 years, mom of 2 under 4. I’m going to write out a little timeline of what a typical day in my mind can look like…
5:00 AM- Did we pay preschool (read as “expensive as college”) tuition?
5:01 AM-What bills need to be paid? Water? Gas? Electricity? Was cancelling auto draft the best thing I ever did or the worst? Best-too many surprises there.
5:02 AM-What day is it? When is pay day? Do we have money in savings? Do we have money in the IRA? What happens if we’re homeless? Do people become homeless when they’re working?
5:03 AM-Did I buy groceries? Did I pack lunch? Do people believe me when I tell them the Aldi brand is better? Do I believe me when I tell myself that the Aldi brand is better?
5:04 AM-Is it cold outside? Do the kids have enough winter clothes? What if I’m that parent who everyone’s like “she really could have put a jacket on that kid before the bus stop”? Griff hates jackets. How is Christmas next month?
5:05 AM-I need to pray.
Does this sound familiar? Is this you?! Girl, we don’t need to wash our faces. We need Jesus. We need yoga, wine, whatever it takes to shut that mind off from time to time. But this is #reallife as a mom and wife. We take ALL the pressure and ALL of the responsibility.
So, sometimes I do let loose a little…and all of the reason and sensibility goes to the way side. We’re talking polar opposite-we can call this mindset “fun mom” or even “the woman my husband dated” ...footloose and fancy. When I’m feeling fancy, we’ll call her “Fancy Nancy” (because she’s living her best life) we’re talking... a devil on my shoulder saying “you’re a working mom, You deserve ‘THIS’”.
Whatever ‘this’ is. This=________ (insert here). For me: some new athleisure (mom uniform) wear, new “sunnies” for the hubby, a smocked clothing release, some new Christmas decor, (New Hobby Lobby 2 exits up- glad they’re always playing those Christian piano hymns because I need the Jesus’ strength up in there), the long lost luxury of getting my nails done, a spray tan (because tan Holiday cheer looks better than pale Holiday lb’s), a cocktail with dinner, and last but not least-Chick-Fil-A (the Lord’s calories).
THIS is different to everyone but life is stressful. We all feel like we owe ourselves THIS and NOW. When my mind is in this form, I’m all “YOLO”, keeping up with the Jones’, driving fast into deeper debt and hopefully in a newer Yukon, (Because. I. Live. In. My. Car.).
FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS…IS THERE SOME BALANCE? The answer is yes. We’re not there yet.
So this brings me to my next point. We’re admittedly in debt. I was really ashamed to talk about this until I started looking and listening around me. Our generation has adopted to “YOLO” mentality to an extreme and it’s not setting any of us up for success. Are you aware that 75% of people are in debt and/or living paycheck to paycheck? Good news, you’re not alone. Bad news, we’re all at an underage drinking party where the cops are about to show up.
You see, I have always, in anything that I’ve done, struggled with the all or nothing mentality. A LOT OF US struggle with the all or nothing mentality. We’re either being fiscally responsible or completely and utterly irresponsible.
We’re saving cash but living on credit that we never plan to pay back, we don’t have a spare penny in the bank but we sure do want our friends to believe that we do, we’ve been making big money so we’ve been spending bigger money…whatever your situation is, or how you got there, if you’re in debt…#thisisus
So, I am here to tell you... there is balance. You don’t have to be diving head first with weights on your legs into debt but you don’t have to sell the house and go down to one car. Call Santa, all the elves and Mrs. Claus in all her Glory...I have news. WE’RE NOT CANCELLING CHRISTMAS.
Learning to budget, control our spending and start knocking out some debt doesn’t mean that we, or you, will have to live a deprived lifestyle. It just means we can’t have ALL the things (right now). Just because you can’t have ALL of the things does not mean you cannot have any of the things.
I wanted to share a few tips as we enter the oh so Joyous Holiday season, which typically involves financial pressure, uncomfortable conversations and more activities, gifts and social obligations than the budget ever allowed for.
1. Get competitive. So, I love a little friendly competition...particularly with myself. Just give me the info and tell me it can’t be done, that’s all the ammo I need. Look at your lifestyle and get creative about where you can cut! Do you love your gym but it’s a little more than you consider reasonable? Great. Consider all of your options-make a pro’s and con’s list and stay there (if it is the best decision for your health). But find balance. Maybe the cleaning lady has to go for now. Or Starbucks every day, or your weekly massage. Maybe you can trade your daily Publix trip for a well planned weekly trip to Aldi. Whatever it is-find what works for YOU and your family.
1. Saying no for now does not mean no forever. Learning to say “no” is key here. You will, at some point, feel like you’re disappointing someone, missing something, being judged by someone. Guess what?! All of these things are probably true. But they are temporary. As long as you don’t start dumpster diving for your kids lunches, I’ve found that most friends are understanding when you say no to spending extra money and find the courage to be really transparent about it. Don’t come up with excuses or fake stories, just simply say “not right now, we’re not spending money on that.”
2. Partner for performance-what if I told you that living within your means and eliminating debt could strengthen your marriage? I will tell you what does NOT strengthen your marriage- both working to feel broke and stressed about money constantly. Or, even worse-not communicating at all about finances and getting in a worse situation because it’s “stressful”.
Partnering with your spouse and creating a plan to eliminate debt and give you more financial freedom is admirable. You should start with the Holidays. This year. (2018 in case you were a little taken aback by that). Consider it a project that you’re working on together, hold each other accountable and come up with some creative and budget friendly ways to spend time together. Date night does not have to be $300.00 and loving each other does not equate to spending money you don’t have on crap you don’t need.
3. Begin with the end in mind. What means more to you-giving your kids an overpriced Christmas gift that they will forget as soon as you turn on Cars 3 (for play #1million) OR sticking to a Christmas budget that is feasible to your overall goals? We’re not cancelling Christmas. Do the things…bake cookies and watch Hallmark Christmas until you come to terms with the fact that there hasn’t been a plot twist since 1995. Whatever it is that makes you feel the Holiday season, do it. Just don’t make financial decisions for a season, day, or moment that detract from obtaining your long term goals.Drink the eggnog…just don’t go online shopping afterwards.
I don’t claim to be an expert, in any way shape or form. In fact, we’ve been on this debt free journey for a very short amount of time. I do consider myself a realist more than a minimalist. My challenge to you, is to find what works for you, communicate openly with those you love and who love you. Truly make the season Merry and Bright. Remember the Reason for the Season, which is to celebrate our Lort (that ones for @theanxietymom) and Savior. Jesus of Nazareth, Christmas is coming!