The Best Birthday Ever

 

So, not too long ago, I celebrated a birthday.  Normally, I’m a bit shy about my birthday and generally don’t like to talk about it, but I just felt so inclined to share with ya’ll why this was what I view as my best birthday ever.  Full disclosure here: I’m an optimist and generally love my birthday every year.  It doesn’t need to be fancy: just a nice day with Rick and the kids on my birthday is fine with me.  But this birthday was different.  Why?

Well, for one, we’re more in debt than we’ve ever been in our lives.  This obviously equates to more stress, so it might not make any sense that this was a greater-than-ever birthday.  So how can I possibly count this as my greatest yet birthday?  I’ll tell you:

1.  We’ve got a  plan in place.  Gone are the days where we float willy-nilly in and out of debt, wondering if we’re going to make our money last till the end of the month.  We’ve got a budget, and a plan, not only for getting out of debt, but for what we want to do with our financial lives in the long-term, so that we can live more carefree in our regular lives in the long-term, and today.

2.  We’ve got a new perspective.  Living the last six months on a super-strict budget has given me, and all of us, a new appreciation for the basics in life.  I am more grateful than ever that we always have food to eat and a warm place to live, even if it’s not necessarily my dream menu plan or dream home.  Getting back to basics, I guess, has given me an appreciation for what’s truly important in life, and it’s not working to satisfy my “immediate gratification” desires.  In fact, my first thought for celebrating my birthday was a nice steak dinner out at a halfway decent restaurant.  But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I’d have a much better time with my family if we were simply together at home, with no other noise, distractions or strangers to take away from the experience.

So Rick, who we lovingly refer to as “The Grillmeister”, grilled the kids and himself some burgers, me a fabulous porterhouse steak (from the 1/4 side of beef we got in the spring at $3.50 a pound – SCORE!), served with a baked potato and steamed broccoli, and he and the kids made me a homemade chocolate cake and we bought some Oreo Cookie ice cream.  It was absolutely fabulous, and it cost us all of about $15!

3.  The real me.  Living on a back to basics, getting-out-of-debt-budget has taken some real soul-searching.  I’ve had to learn why I spent like I did in the first place, and work to heal the hurts that caused my frivolous spending.  Also, since keeping up with the Joneses’ is out of the question now, I’ve had to learn to accept me for who I am, and I’ve also had to learn who my real friends are.  These journeys were painful sometimes, but now I know that the real me is a perfectly acceptable human being, no matter what I wear or have (or don’t have, for that matter), and I am now certain of who my true friends are.

This year was the best birthday ever because of the “getting out of debt” journey we chose to walk on January 1, and because of the changes our “getting out of debt” journey forced us to make.  Aside from being debt free one day, this journey has increased our happiness in SO many ways on a personal level too.  The sacrifices we are making to get out of debt have shown us what’s truly important in life.  What a wonderful thing!

46 comments

  1. Deirdre O'Mara says:

    Great post! I can only imagine what your next birthday will bring! Your on your way and you will have major, major progress at your next birthday!

  2. I am excited for you and the new perspective. You’re so right on about forgetting keeping up with the Joneses. And I bet your stay at home dinner was just as, if not more, enjoyable than going out to a fancy place and spending $100+.

    • Laurie says:

      Greg, it was delicious! I can’t imagine how disappointed I would’ve been if we’d went out and the meal was less than fabulous. SO glad we stayed home.

  3. Sounds like a great day Laurie! We’re much the same way in our house as we’d rather not spend the money and just put it towards something else. Just imagine what the birthday will be like after your journey is over, it’ll be a great day. 🙂

  4. Happy Birthday! Peace of mind is a wonderful gift to yourself. My husband and I are celebrating our 24th anniversary today. We used to go out super expensive restaurants and spend $200 or more because that’s what we thought people did. Now we just invite a few friends over for a BBQ; cheaper, for sure, but also so much more fun!

    • Laurie says:

      Anne, that sounds like the PERFECT celebration. We’re hitting our anniversary pretty soon too. No expensive dinners for us, and we’re happy that way. 🙂

  5. Happy belated birthday, Laurie! I’m glad to hear you enjoyed your birthday. It’s great when the little things in life make us happy. Most of the time all you need are the bare necessities, the rest is just unnecessary fluff.

  6. Thomas says:

    Thats great Laurie seems like you found yourself in the process of paying off debt. That in itself is rewarding. Happy Belated Birthday! Are you a Cancer as well? Hopefully next year will be even better for you!

  7. Alexa says:

    I am glad you had the best birthday ever. I have found myself in a situation similar to yours. My circumstances have forced me to be extremely smart and frugal with my money. It has opened my eyes and I am beginning to realize what really matters in life.

    • Laurie says:

      Hi Alexa, thanks! Glad you’ve found your way too, about what’s truly important in life. I think it will lead to great things in the future, for both of us, as we continue to make choices based on what’s really important. 🙂

    • Laurie says:

      Isn’t it the truth? How we let ourselves be convinced that a great birthday equaled a lot of cash, I’ll never know, but I’m so glad for both of us that we know better now. 🙂

  8. Good for you… a birthday doesn’t have to cost a fortune. We don’t do anything special for our birthday’s. A friend of ours goes all out for her husband every year with all the bells and whistles, full party and all. It sounds to me that being in a better place financially is the best birthday gift ever.

  9. This is great to hear Laurie. That new perspective can really lift up the spirits, can’t it? I know that this year my birthday is going to be very special. I turn 30, but I will be consumer debt free and my son graced us with his presence two months after my last birthday, so my life is completely different than last year and the ones prior. It feels good.

    • Laurie says:

      Grayson, you have two very wonderful reasons to celebrate, and many more on top of that too! So happy for you that this upcoming birthday is going to be a great one for you. 🙂

  10. Matt Becker says:

    Great sentiment here Laurie. The best things in life really are pretty simple. My wife and I have definitely taken to celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, etc. by finding something easy and fun to do as a family. Much better to make an experience as a family than spend big money on gifts. And oh yeah, happy birthday!

    • Laurie says:

      LOL, thanks, Matt. 🙂 Yeah, I agree with you – it’s definitely more fun just to be with those you love than to go buy a bunch of stuff you likely won’t remember by the next birthday.

  11. Love your attitude and spirit! So your next “Best Birthday Ever” will be when all this debt is behind you. That actually will qualify as a best birthday and an Independence Day all in one.

  12. When I think back to how much money we’ve spent on our birthdays over the years by going out wining and dining, it makes me quiver in my boots! I love the fact that you had a fantastic time with your family and it must be so satisfying only having cost $15. Result! Happy belated birthday! 🙂

    • Laurie says:

      I totally get that! We used to do the same thing on birthdays. The freedom I felt after deciding that we would NOT go out to a restaurant was a wonderful thing in and of itself. The great time we had at home was an extra bonus on top of that. Awesome. 🙂

  13. Happy belated birthday, Laurie! I’m a July baby too. 🙂 I love your attitude. I’ve been guilty of getting caught trying to keep up with the Joneses. When I got laid off during the great recession, I had to quickly change my habits. While I was fortunate to not have debt, I was still spending money pretty mindlessly. Now I live frugally and while I can’t say it’s 100% by choice (there are a few luxuries I’m doing without that I really miss!) but I am also overall happier. And I’m planning on grilling up a steak for my b-day too, so we obviously have great taste!

    • Laurie says:

      Hey Tanya! Cool! Yeah, our frugal lifestyle isn’t totally by choice either, more by necessity, but I’m so glad, b/c it’s helped us to understand what’s truly important in life. Funny about the steak – yes, we do indeed have great taste. And with the tactics we’ve learned, we can enjoy our champagne tastes on those beer budgets. 🙂

  14. Laurie says:

    Good for you, Chris. We’re looking at the same type of thing. That, or maybe the camper cabins at the state parks. They usually run about $50 a night. Camping, only a bit more homey. 🙂

  15. Pauline says:

    Happy Birthday Laurie! I find your last point the greatest part about getting older, you get closer to accepting who you really are.

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks, Pauline! Yeah, that’s one of the things I really love about getting older – you just accept yourself as you are.

  16. Alexandra @ Real Simple Finances says:

    Happy belated birthday, Laurie! This was such a sweet post. I fully believe that the simpler we live the happier we are. I’m glad you’re having a great year!

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks, Alexandra! You are SO right. The more we simplify, the happier we are, at least in the Frugal Farmer household. 🙂

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