I often find people who question why we go to the extreme budget cuts we do, and live the lifestyle we live, in order to better our situation. For many, they just don’t find it worth the several years of extreme frugality that we’re “subjecting” ourselves to in order to reduce/eliminate our debt.
Don’t misunderstand: I can totally see where they’re coming from. I too wonder some days why on earth we’re tormenting ourselves. Especially when I look at the fact that we’re only at the beginning of what may be a very, very long time of counting pennies and eating ramen noodles. Given our colossal amount of debt, we’re not just talking about a year or two of this type of frugality.
There are days when it just seems like it would be so much easier to just keep making minimum payments, or even just file bankruptcy, so we can quickly alleviate the stress of our situation and enjoy a whole bunch more freedom from a financial standpoint. There are days when we are so very discouraged that we seriously consider giving up, or on the flip side, moving to a house that’s barely above the state standards as an inhabitable residence just so we can escape the debt.
So, why don’t we just give in? One very important reason is because of the kids. There are a number of things we feel we can teach them if we stand strong and face up to this mess now rather than later, or rather than not at all. What are those things?
1. Integrity. The fact is that we created our own situation due to years of not being frugal and responsible money managers. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with seeking help to get your finances in order, but we also don’t want to give the kids the impression that the mess we’ve created is not our responsibility, or that there’s not consequences to our actions, money or otherwise.
2. A respect for money and how it’s handled. The last thing we want for our kids is for them to fall into the same money mistake patterns that we’d fallen into. We’re hoping that by making our debt-free journey an open book, they’ll see the struggles and the pain that debt causes and not repeat our mistakes, but instead choose to manage money wisely, which through this process we’re teaching them to do.
3. The importance of not giving in to impulse desires and instant gratification. There are SO many benefits to teaching your kids not to give in to the desire for instant gratification: selflessness, charity, discipline, and most of all, we’ll be teaching them that life can be just as happy without all of that “stuff” as it can with it.
4. A better life in the future. We long for a life when the kids are grown and have families of their own that we can be in a financial situation to not only help them out with big things like the first kid and the first house, but also to plan vacations and/or dinners out where we can treat the entire family. We also don’t want them to be in a situation later where they have to add “supporting my parents” into their financial plan. Travis over at Enemy of Debt spoke specifically about the relief that flooded over him when his dad sat him and his brother down and shared with them that he and their mom were well-equipped financially (due to good planning and keeping an eye on spending) to take care of themselves during their golden years.
Many people think that by going on a debt-slaying journey that they’ll be denying their kids the things that “all the other kids” get, or they worry about what others might think if they start an extreme journey out of debt, and those thoughts are just too painful for them to start their “getting out of debt journey” now.
But for us, the short term pain is well worth the long term gain. Now that we’re on a budget and working diligently to get out of debt, I watch those around us who have chosen not to take the mountainous path to debt freedom, and the thing that sticks with me the most is that, at this point anyway, they have decided that they don’t want the pain, stress and darkness of debt to end. But as for us, we just can’t live that way forever. At least this way we know that there’s an end in sight from the torturous weight around your neck that debt is.
Yes, the road to debt free may be hard, both for you and your kids, if you start cutting out sports, vacations and other toys and gadgets. But look at what you’ll be giving them in return: a life with a valuable lesson, a stable financial future, and a life free from the stress that extreme debt causes. That kind of a gift is priceless.