If our monthly debt repayment progress reports have left you feeling discouraged or frustrated, this post is for you.
By far the majority of my readers are truly supportive and completely encouraging. Not only do you leave words of encouragement for me, I often receive kind messages from you sharing that you are encouraged by me. I love hearing from readers who have been inspired to be a little more frugal, improve their financial situation and tackle their debt because of what they read on Six Figures Under.
Still, there are some readers and occasional visitors who aren’t encouraging or encouraged. Every once in a while someone sounds pretty discouraged.
Looking at our budget just for the numbers, some find it frustrating that we don’t have a rent or mortgage payment and pay a mere $70 per month in utility costs.
Of course you are able to make huge progress on your debt! If I lived for free I would too, but I don’t have that option!
If your big take-away from our monthly debt repayment progress reports is just that we don’t pay rent, then you’re missing the boat.
It’s not my intention to make you frustrated and feel jealous.
I want to inspire you to make the best out of whatever situation you are in.
I want to help you think creatively about what you can do to improve your finances by being more frugal and smarter with your money, or increasing your income so you can start making a bigger dent in your financial goals.
Seeing the Forest For the Trees
It would be easy to get jealous of our housing cost savings if you were just looking at the “no rent” tree, and not seeing the forest of frugality and sacrifice around it. Looking at the bigger picture, you might not be as envious.
I am a pretty positive person in real life, so I avoid dwelling on the negative. Sure, I could write a blog on the frustrating aspects of our life. I could share all the aggravating details about our living arrangement, but no one wants to go online to read a blog of complaints. And writing them would probably turn me into a grump.
If you’ve been around here for a while, then you’ve probably gleaned some details of our place, like the cement floors and walls (which is why we have cold feet and nothing hanging on the walls), exactly zero closets (yep, everything is out in the open), and boxes of storage stacked to the ceiling (some ours, some my in-laws). We have a step-up bathroom (gotta love basement plumbing), so my tall husband can’t even stand up straight in the shower. We also routinely find snakes, lizards, and frogs in our living room (maybe a perk for the little boys).
Have you noticed that I never post indoor pictures besides the lovely yellow kitchen countertop that is much older than I am (when someone was remodeling 30 years ago, my in-laws took their old cupboards, sink and countertop and stored them in the basement for a few decades until we moved in and installed them)? Yeah, not exactly Pinterest or Instagram material.
We choose to look for the good in our situation. We have so much to be thankful for, so we focus on that.
Don’t Do What I Do
While I like to share tutorials (like canning applesauce or making pie crust in bulk) and practical ideas (like how to get kids clothes free or cheap or how to save money on road trips), I don’t expect you to do exactly what I do.
Everything that works for me won’t work for you.
For example, I am totally cool with rinsing out poopy diapers and doing two extra laundry loads a week that I hang dry and fold. I know cloth diapers aren’t for everyone, so if you want to buy disposable diapers instead, that’s cool. We can still be friends.
We don’t own a TV. We don’t even have a video streaming subscription. We generally have an entertainment budget of $0 for our family. We don’t go to the movies, out to dinner, to amusement parks, or other activities that cost money. That works for us, but it might not fly in your family.
On the spending side, I’ve already addressed the controversial topic of paying ten percent of our income in tithing. We realize that ten percent is a huge chunk of money that would help pay our debt off faster, but it is spending that we are not willing to give up. That might not be your thing, but it works for us.
While not everyone has the opportunity to live with family for free, many wouldn’t be willing to take it even if they did (which is toootally understandable). It requires a serious dose of humility to go from being a homeowner to living in your parent’s basement.
I also have to mention that cutting out the cost of housing doesn’t guarantee that the savings would go toward paying off debt (or whatever else your financial goal is). The thousand dollars we save in rent could easily be spent on food, clothes, or entertainment if we weren’t super dedicated to our goal of paying off debt asap. I’ve said before that living in my in-laws’ basement is the biggest contributor to our debt repayment, but that’s only because it has motivated us to buckle down and pay off our loans asap.
Don’t Do What Works FOR ME, Do What Works FOR YOU!
I share lots of different ideas for frugal living, cooking from scratch, budgeting, and earning money so that you can choose what works for you. I love hearing your ideas and suggestions in the comments too. There is so much we can learn from one another.
Let’s not compare. Our journeys are different and we never know the whole story. Teddy Roosevelt had it right. “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
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