I read a fantastic book last week, well scratch that I read TWO fantastic books last week- thanks for letting me borrow your Kindle, Dad :)
1. Heaven Is For Real
2. And this awesome book from Trent Hamm
The first one was uplifting and put me in a different frame of mind as far as how in tune little kids actually are. There were some things that didn't jive for me doctrinally, but I didn't read it to pick it apart, I read it because a child's perspective of a "heaven experience" is, to me, a clearer picture of what to expect- not that I'm going anywhere anytime soon, but I like hearing about it.
The second book was so timely. I think we have probably all dealt with a truckload of debt at one time or another in life, whether as single people or married. This guy wiped out his HUGE debt load in 2 years. I figure since it took about that long for Steve and I to rack up the debt that we are so... joyfully (note sarcasm) paying off, we can probably achieve the same kind of financial freedom that this guy did, if we make some seriously drastic changes. Not like we haven't done that before, but some changes are easier to make in summer months than winter, etc... I wish I had read this book a few months ago since we are coming up to some pretty expensive months with the family reunion approaching and gas prices being retarded high, but oh well. What I liked about the book is that, this guy, Trent, isn't a certified financial planner or any of that, he's just a guy who pooled some great resources and came up with a plan that really worked. I'm so impressed and I am sure that if he can pay off the amount that he did in just 2yrs, we can pay ours off in at the most that amount of time. Who knows? I wish I were getting paid for plugging his book, haha. Anyways, it's a great book if you're looking for motivation or ways to start small, and he shares some great personal insights that made me laugh out loud, since I have definitely done some of the things he talks about.
Here's what I've learned so far, debt sucks. I never understood why my parents said "The early years when we had no money were the best". Having no money sucks. It's good in the one respect that we are learning lots and bonding over our misery, but it's not fun otherwise, like when the vast majority of your monthly paychecks are paying off things that you realize aren't all that important or meaningful in the first place. We were so financially handicapped when we got married, I can't even begin to sum it up in this post. That is not happiness! Debt really is bondage, that's not just a phrase people use to scare you from putting things on credit cards. It is stupid- and I hate using that word, but it is. I'm completely fed up with it, so we're making changes. We are doing great at paying it all off but we can do so much better and get it paid off so much faster by changing just a few really simple things. Yay! I'm excited, so much so that I think my enthusiasm is scaring Steve, but he'll get over it. Seriously. We got a wedding invite to one of Steve's good friends' wedding, which is happening in June, in California. I went online and found a smokin' good seat sale but we can't take advantage of it because of our other financial obligations. That sucks. That makes all the stuff that we are paying off worth so much less in comparison to how much fun it would be to have the freedom to go surprise a friend on their wedding day. Really. Don't do it. Do not spend mindlessly, it is not as fun as you think and it will not make you happy. You will kick yourself in the pants over it.
One of my favorite quotes from the book is,
"Experiences always trump things. Experiences do not require maintenance. They do not take up space in your home. They stay with you in your heart. Fill your life with experiences. Chase the things you've always dreamed of doing, and leave the things on the store shelves where they belong."
That could not be a truer statement for Steve or I. There are a few experiences that we are paying off that we feel not so bad about, but that's because those experiences were worth the cost. And if we had the wiggle room we would just suck it up and go to that wedding, but we don't have that wiggle room right now. It's amazing how many of our favorite memories are not at all attached to the things that we are currently paying off. Does that make sense? Here's a good example. The year I graduated my parents took me, my 2 siblings and my grandma on a month long trip to England, The Netherlands and Denmark. On this trip we were able to see my maternal grandmother who we hadn't seen in person since Stephen and I were really little, think 5 or younger. We met aunts and uncles and cousins who we didn't know, we celebrated Nan's 80th birthday, we stayed with friends that my Mom grew up with and enjoyed authentic fish and chips and all of that. We visited the Netherlands, staying with a family who my Dad had taught the gospel to, we went on canal tours and walked endlessly down cobblestone streets and retraced some of the steps of our ancestors. We went to Copenhagen and stayed 2 streets away from where my Grandma's grandfather first heard the gospel being preached. We visited cathedrals and chapels that our ancestors were christened in and regularly worshipped at, and searched the most beautiful graveyards for any family markers we could find *ahem, none*. We spent time with each other, we drove each other mental, we laughed hysterically, we took wrong turns and got completely lost, we tried to speak English in England and weren't understood. We heard string quartets play on dimly lit, cobblestone streets. We saw street performers, fireworks and the most beautiful sunsets. We made friends. We shared bedrooms. We bonded with our Grandmothers, one of whom passed away a few years later. That's one trip that incurred quite a bit of debt for my parents even though we stayed mostly with people that they knew, but they didn't feel bad about that debt at all. It's one of those experiences that you can't put a price on because it meant so much to each of us. If we go into debt in the future you can bet it will only be for a house and if we have to, for a life-changing experience or two.
In hindsight, our "old" selves really didn't do our "present" selves any financial favors. Those choices have ripped us and now our kids off a little bit. We could be having some pretty cool experiences if we had just thought things through a little better, or gasp, listened to other people's advice. HA! I hope that if any of you invite us out in the next few months that you aren't totally offended if we say no or hesitate or suggest doing something that doesn't involve money. Really, I don't want anyone to be offended or to think that we don't want to have fun with you, we are just squeezing the budget a little/lot. After reading that book I just felt like we owe our "future" selves and our kids a bit of freedom and there's a big tab to pay off before we can say yes to every idea or offer that comes along, even if it doesn't seem like that big of a deal. Oh, and if Steve says things like "I'll ask Alli" or "Alli says I can't" or "The wife says no", now you won't have to wonder why :) Okie dokie? Yay. The end.