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Motivation: Learning From Others

DSCN1349  One of the best ways, IMHO, we can stay motivated on our journeys to debt-free, is to simply learn from others.  And I think if we’d keep our eyes open, we’d find learning opportunities in lots of unexpected places, which is what happened to me the other day. 

I was at the local auto shop, getting some repairs done on our little commuter car (I am blessed-beyond-blessed to have a brother who’s an auto mechanic).

I love to talk (don’t all bloggers? :-)), which led me to start chatting with some of the other people in the waiting area at the shop.  I also love to listen and learn from others, and for some reason, people sense that, and occassionally complete strangers will share life stories with me.  A deep desire of mine to learn from others and not make my own mistakes makes hearing these stories a real blessing, and I received a huge blessing that day at the auto shop.

There was a man there, mid-sixties or so, who walked into the door shortly after I did.  “My car shakes when I drive down the road” he said.  He sat down as the mechanic took his keys,  and we acknowledged each other with a smile and a nod.  A short while later, the mechanic came back.

“Your car is shaking because your tires are bald.” he said.  “The back ones are pretty bare, and the metal cords are showing quite a bit on the fronts.  You really need new tires right away, for your own safety.”

“How much?”  the man asked.

“$424 for four, $216 for two” the mechanic replied.

The man shook his head.  “Four’s not an option for us, but I’ll ask my wife to check the budget and see if we can do two.”

As the mechanic walked away, the man hung his head in despair, and I could sense a story was on its way.

“I never thought I’d end up this way.” he said.  And he began to tell his story.

The man had been out of work since August, due to some health problems.  His income wasn’t great, but it paid the bills.  And there were LOTS of bills,  His house and his two rental properties were mortgaged, one for twice what it was worth.  And there was tens of thousands of dollars in credit card debt.

His original health problem was a torn tendon in his right foot, which left him unable to perform at either of his driving jobs.  As they did the pre-op physical for the foot surgery, they found cancer of the prostate.  And a bad hip that would need to be replaced.  And two shoulders that needed replacing as well.  Oh, and a possible bone cancer scare that, thankfully, turned out negative.

What was supposed to be a 6-week hiatus from work had now rendered him unable to work for a minimum of a year.  The raditation treatments for the cancer will end in the spring, at which time they’ll schedule the hip replacement, which will be followed by the two shoulder replacements.

The man then went on to explain that they were in the middle of foreclosure proceedings on one of the rental houses, and trying to sell the other, all while working with a lawyer on bankruptcy proceedings.  They hoped that they could at least keep the extremely modest house they were living in.

“I never expected this,” the man said as he hung his head.  “I’ve always worked hard, and always paid my bills.”  He had always had lots of debt, but always figured that since he worked hard and was committed to making his payments, that it was ok.  Now, here he was in his mid-sixties, and in the process of losing everything due to unexpected medical conditions.

I felt terribly sorry for this man, who had to take his beyond bald tires home and try and scrounge up $200 to at least replace the front ones.

And I felt even more terrible that, because of our mismanagement of money, we were not in a position to give the man a measly $200 or $400 to help him out. 

I realized that good stewardship of our finances is not just about us, but about our ability to show love to others by giving to them when they’re in need.  And by our happenstance attitude toward money all of these years, we had not only put ourselves in a dire situation, but eliminated our ability to help others in need as well.

And that story will be yet another checkmark on my mental list of why it’s crucial that we stick to our plan and eliminate our debt.  The thought of our family still struggling with money 20 years from now, like the sweet man I met at the auto shop, is enough to keep us going.

The other piece of news here – good news –  is that there are lots of positive stories that we can learn from that will motivate us too.  There are thousands of people and families that have gone before us and made it to the other side; the side of debt-free.    And many of them are sharing their stories in hopes of helping people like us make our own way to debt-free.

And one of the main things I’ve learn from the others in these past three weeks is that no one is in too deep to get out.  And that, while you may find a handful of reasons not to make the changes necessary to get out of debt, there are a whole lot more reasons that you should get out of debt, now. 

For the sake of your family, your life, won’t you join us on the road to debt-free?





  1. Hell yes, we are joining you! I totally agree- I get all kinds of motivation from others! It makes me think I’m not crazy when other people are doing the same thing I am doing. =)

    • Laurie says:

      LOL! Isn’t it the truth, Holly?? The world wants us to think we’ve lost our marbles, but knowing there are others like us shows us the truth :-). Have a wonderfully thrifty day!

  2. michelle says:

    That is an excellent point to make Laurie, one that often gets lost in this culture of envy against those who ‘have’.
    I think most people would really like to help others, but are so financially strapped themselves, they cannot. Then they just give up and rely on the false belief that ‘someone’ else will do it.
    No, you are right. We are to be independent so that we can care for our family and neighbors when the need arises. It is irresponsible to count on someone else to do it when its our duty.

    • Laurie says:

      So glad you liked the post. Several bloggers this week have written on the issue of our overabundance mindset that has caused America to be in such financial distress. Lord, may the reality of the danger of this mindset kick in!

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Chris! Yes, a terribly sad story, you’re right. I’m hoping it’ll encourage others to get out of debt now, so they can avoid a similar situation in their lives. Have a wonderfully frugal day, Chris!

  3. I am totally with you. I do not want to go into my sixties or even fifties with debt at all. You can throw all the calculations out about why it is a better deal to invest than pay off your mortgage, and I get that, but the feeling of being debt free trumps all that at this point. My inlaws are 65. Through a series of unfortunate events, some beyond and some within their control, they lost their house to foreclosure going on three years ago. I never want that to be any sort of possibility.

    • Laurie says:

      Kim, couldn’t agree more, especially about the mortgage vs. investing part. Actual dollars and cents aside, I’d rather have the “financial peace” than the “more money”. Our goal too, is to get everything paid off by the time Rick is 50. So sad about your in-laws – I’m seeing it happen all over though. They’re certainly not alone, and I pray that our generation can learn from their mistakes. Thanks, Kim!

  4. Great post Laurie and very insightful. It always makes me cringe reading stories like this, yet so saddened. If it were not for a very wise person I’d probably be no better off than this gentleman you met. The best motivator for me is to remember what it used to be like, how bleak it was…and ALL because of me. That is the strongest motivation there can be. Thanks for adding me to your Blog roll as well!

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks for the insight, John. Yeah, I still feel kinda sick thinking about this guy. It’s keeping me motivated, though, which is good. And glad to have you on the Blogroll – you’ve got great info to share!

  5. Ryan says:

    So true that when our finances are in disorder, we’re not able to help others like we should.

    Even though we still have some debt, it’s important to us that we give tithing to our church. I figure that I could make excuses for not donating until the end of time, so I might as well start now.

    • Laurie says:

      I totally agree, Ryan. Tithing is crucial to financial success, and you’re right, we can always make an excuse for not doing it! Thanks for stopping by!

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