Getting Rid of My Debt, Part 15 (Gaining Some Perspective on Looking Forward by Looking Back)

Yesterday, I had a few good talks with people whose opinion I trust. One is a friend who has known me for about 10 years now, and she’s always been one to tell me straight on things. She doesn’t sugar coat things, and that’s one thing I really like about her. I asked her if I was thinking about things in the wrong order – looking online at RVs and tiny houses, trying to figure out where to live, etc., without finding a job in those locations first. She thinks I’m narrowing my options down too early and also, most importantly, that she didn’t want me to give up on my dreams of a tiny house, or as she put it “half ass my goals.” And I respect her for that. She fears that RVs just are not meant for longevity, living-wise.

Then I talked to my financial adviser tonight.  I really looked forward to this meeting – what a change from a few years ago when I used to be depressed at my situation.

(Btw, my adviser is completely awesome and if anyone wants her contact details, I’m more than happy to refer you to her. Just drop me a comment below so I have your email in case I don’t already.) She is very happy with my progress and reminded me of how different my financial situation was just two years ago. I still had credit card debt plus a personal loan I had taken from my own retirement funds to pay off a credit card whose initial interest rate of 0% was about to spike up to 14%, plus my student loans, plus rent, etc. Also, my priorities were much different then. I wasn’t willing to give up much – I still had cable TV, insisted a car was absolutely necessary, etc., etc.  She told me today that she had really feared for me back then, hearing my goals, and thinking, “wow, how is that gonna happen?!”

So, I just took a look back at some of my old emails back and forth with her when we would talk about my goals, etc. I now see that I my goal is to save almost 5X the amount per month as I did back in Jan. 2012. And for the most part, most months, I’m doing it!! I see the amount of money I was paying out every month just to pay off my consumer debt, and how many months we had forecasted would be needed to reduce those balances to $0. All I can say is, “wow.” Wow!

So, why am I bringing this up? I guess it’s because of something they both said to me today. When you start making progress on your goals, you can start to get caught up in trying to reach the goal, and just keep wanting to PUSH and PUSH at it.  You don’t recognize the progress you have made so far. And that’s certainly true for me, if I look back long term, since July 2010. When I left my marriage, I proceeded to ring up what would total at least $8K in credit card debt. Nothing stopped me from going shopping with my girl friend and getting a couple hundred dollars worth of clothes. There was always tomorrow to pay it off. I was so used to being in debt, I didn’t think anything else could be normal.   I do remember that week between christmas and new years in 2011.  (I work in academia so I had the time off.)  I had less than $500 to my savings account, credit cards maxed, and pretty much less than $20 left in my checking account until my next paycheck. Talk about stress and feeling like crap about yourself. I didn’t do anything fun that week because I couldn’t afford to. 

Along the way I met my best friend, who is great at saving and managing her money, and my now-ex from down south, who had no consumer debt whatsoever aside from a mortgage. My good friend that I mentioned at the beginning of this post and I started cheering each other on with our financial goals, and trusting each other to be brutally honest when asked for our opinion. It kind of opened my eyes.  I didn’t have to settle for a life of debt, debt, and more debt…

I see that about a year and a half ago, I started thinking about the world of tiny homes. And looking back, I also see that I started getting much more aggressive at tackling my debt. I took Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University online course, and while you can think what you want of his investment advice, he does give some good advice to people looking to get out of debt, with the rationale being to not add any debt. I occasionally remind me of his famous line “You have to live like no one else so you can live like no one else.”  If you think about it, it does make sense.

That line is very fitting – I’m living my life my own way, with all my furballs, and being content with my progress on my goals. Knowing I will live in a tiny house, it will just take me some time to get there.  Knowing that eventually my only debts may be taxes on the land on which my tiny house rests (which will hopefully be off the grid as much as possible).  Knowing that when someone wants to invite me to their wedding in Mexico this fall, I think i can really do it with a bit of planning and prioritizing my expenses until then. Knowing that if I want to learn some handy skills, I can do it, and will figure out a way to make it happen.

I no longer care about what society thinks I should or shouldn’t have. It used to bother me more when people called me the Crazy Cat Lady. It still irks me, depending on who the person is saying it, but not as much. And I forget about that stuff when I see my animals all sleeping and content. Because I know I have been able to give them a good home, and will continue to do so. I no longer feel like a loser if I stay home on a Friday night. I know there will be even more payoffs in the future in addition to the peace of mind I usually currently have.

There will always be people who won’t understand my need to downsize and live in a tiny house. I’ll never understand why some people want to live in bigger and bigger houses. Differences– they make the world go around, right?

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