I don’t know what happened. One day I just woke up. I realized this life of perpetual payments was not what I wanted. I was making more than enough money for one person, yet I didn’t have any. After upgrading jobs for a few years, making more with each new position, I thought, “How am I broke!?”. This was before I knew the term “lifestyle inflation”. I looked at my bank account and seeing all the red negatives, my heart sank. I was overspending, there was no way around it.
It was a habit, as pathetic and irresponsible as that sounds, it's true. Having grown up in a low-income household and being denied certain things (unimportant things, but I felt denied, nonetheless) I felt that I deserved a “nice life”. The typical car and car loan, credit card to build credit, store credit cards for clothing, etc. Looking back, I think how foolish I was. It’s embarrassing and shameful. But the truth is, this is the life of almost everyone we know. It’s a combination of needing instant gratification, the ease of which young people can obtain credit cards, and most important and scary, the ignorance we have as consumers. We think we need certain things when really our needs are minuscule. We confuse needs with wants way too often and that is exactly what happened to me and it had gotten out of control.
After searching online for help and tips for what to do to extract myself from this pit of despair, I found Dave Ramsey's baby steps. His plan undoubtedly helped me. I had money saved already (baby step 1) so went straight to baby step 2 which was paying off all consumer debt. Dave Ramsey teaches the snowball method, putting all you can to the smallest amount owed while paying minimum payments on all other debts. Then, when the smallest is completely paid, you move to the next smallest debt. Mathematically speaking, paying off the highest interest rate would be more beneficial. But as humans, we don’t always work so logically. The psychology, and the basis for why Dave (yes, first name basis) recommends the snowball method is because it will take less time to pay off the smallest one, allowing success to reach us quicker, maintaining motivation and building momentum to keep us on track to pay off all debts.
I completely paid all debts in June 2018, becoming debt free and it was extremely liberating. But I also felt a little lost. I had worked so hard to reach this point but now that I had, now what? That’s when I found the Financial Independence (FI) community. People were talking about retiring early (some really early) and describing a life I very much want. A life of freedom, inspiration, and creativity. While many of them have been able to reach these tremendous goals through hard work and dedication, they were also in higher paying fields. I began to feel discouraged making $40,000 while they were making double or maybe even triple that. But I told myself to snap out of it because $40K is still plenty to live off of and although I may need to get a little more creative, it is not impossible to become financially independent on that income.
My goal with this blog is to post my income and spending for everyone to see. I want others to know that if I can reach FI one day (hopefully) they can, too if they take the time to examine themselves and their spending and commit to the life they want to live. It's all about spending intentionally. Hopefully at least one person will feel inspired to reclaim their lives from the 9 to 5.
Trying to navigate life in the most simple way possible.