Perspective in Debt Payoff

355404692_96e3250881_oAs we navigate through our debt payoff journey, sometimes I find myself falling into some self-pity modes.

Why did we get ourselves into such a mess?

Why don’t we make more money?

Whine, whine, whine.ย 

We are working to increase our income through side hustles, and my freelancing biz is growing wonderfully each year. But not fast enough for my impatient mind. Sometimes, when I find myself wallowing in whiny-ness, I work to get some perspective by thinking about how people in most other countries live and about my own childhood and our struggles with poverty.

My most recent wake-up call came courtesy of our whining kids. Honestly, our kids are super well-behaved. They’re thoughtful, hard-working, obedient, kind and smart. But like all kids, they sometimes complain about our tight budget and the lack of ability to spend with reckless abandon. When the whining comes, my “drill sergeant” mode kicks in and I start giving the kids the “what for”. My rants, based on my own childhood experiences and observation of the less fortunate around me, usually sound something like this:

“What exactly is it that you’re complaining about? Is it tough having three meals a day? Think about what it’d be like to look in your cupboard and your fridge and find NOTHING. NADA.”

“Is it tough living in a warm heated house in the dead of winter? Try going without electricity and heat because there was no money to pay the bill!”

“Does it suck having a family that loves you and parents that devote their life to you? Think about all of the kids in foster care right now, begging for a family to love!”

On and on I go until I’m sure the kids have a crystal-clear understanding that, in spite of our unbearably tight budget, they are blessed beyond measure. And in that rant, I remember that Rick and I are also blessed beyond measure.

Our budget may be tight as we work to dump our consumer debt for good, but we’ve always had the money for basic necessities. We have a decent home, we’re healthy, strong and live in a safe area. My husband is committed to our family and works hard to be sure we’re provided for. We live in a country where we’re free to own and read our Bibles as we please, without fear of prosecution by law or death sentences.

As I worked hard to improve my perspective this week, I went on to Global Rich List to check out just how blessed we are. I punched in a random net income that was a bit lower than ours in order to give myself added perspective. I used $50,000 as the base pay, and here’s what GRL showed me:

  • A person with a $50,000 annual net income is in the top .31 percent of the world’s richest people
  • The hourly wage for a person with that income is $26.04, while a worker in Ghana makes just 8 cents an hour
  • A worker in Zimbabwe would have to work for 49 years in order to make the salary equal to $50k
  • While a worker at that rate in the U.S. would have to work 1 minute in order to earn enough money for a Coke, it would take a worker in Indonesia 2 hours to earn enough to buy a Coke in the U.S.
  • An income of $50k, or $4167 a month, would pay the monthly salaries of 224 doctors in Pakistan

We can argue all day long about how horrible the U.S. is, but all it takes is a quick look around the world to see how very blessed we are. Most of us don’t live in mud huts or tents, and there is a plethora of social programs and ministries available in the U.S. that exist to provide free food, shelter and other items to the needy. Having volunteered at dozens of these organizations over the decades, I’ve seen first hand that while there are those in the U.S. who struggle, there are also many hands out to help them.

I bring this up to make the point that most of us in the U.S. have it good. Real good. Simply having shelter, clean water and food is a blessing that many both in the U.S. and out of the U.S. only dream of.

That’s why, instead of continuing to whine about our tight budget, we’re making a choice to stick it out until the debt is paid off, so that we can ramp up our giving and help more intensely those who truly need it. And in the meantime, we’ll work to keep a good perspective on all of the blessings we really do have.


  1. Well said!

    I have never seen that particular website before, but those are some sobering statistics. My wife was making wishful comments the other day about “How the 1% live” Obviously she was talking about the top 1% of the USA, but how crazy to be in the top .31% of the WORLD.

    Always a good idea to refresh your perspective frequently!

  2. Mr. SSC says:

    Nice perspective! I get caught in that mindset sometimes, and it’s easy to do. Regaining perspective on life and everything in general is always nice and just thinking about how things could be totally different in so many ways.

    I didn’t realize the disparity in riches across the world. Yes, I’m aware we live in one of the “richer” countries, but man, $50k net income as the top 0.31% is kind of staggering in what that means for the rest of the world.

    Great post!

    • Laurie says:

      It’s amazing, isn’t it?? This kind of info always helps me remember how good we’ve got it and helps me to focus on that instead of the perceived shortcomings in our life. PS, I went in and put in just my freelancing income for the year (12,000 gross roughly minus one third for taxes leaving me $8k) and I was still in the top 19% of income earners in the world. Perspective.

  3. I do this too, Laurie. Some days I throw myself an epic pity party and wah, wah, wah. I pout; I whine; I feel sorry for myself. Then, at some point, I put my big girl pants back on and remember how truly blessed I am at the end of the day. My life is not perfect but have very supportive family and friends, a warm and safe place to live, food in belly, clothes in my closet and a mischievous cat to entertain me. Thanks for the reminder of all the good in my life.

  4. Tara says:

    I tell myself the same thing! While we don’t have high-interest debt, we are in the midst of trying to expedite paying off two car payments and some student loan debt so we are definitely living pretty bare bones at the moment. And when you’re still a ways away from paying it off, it can be easy to lose focus and perspective so it’s nice to read stories like this! I did want to add though, that not everyone in this country has clean water at the moment… there’s a scary situation in Flint, MI with lead-filled water. Hopefully things get resolved there quickly!

    • Laurie says:

      It really can be easy to lose perspective! I just read about the situation in Flint – terrible! Unacceptable in the U.S., in my humble opinion!

  5. Kelly says:

    In difficult situation, it’s really a challenge to be positive and to get out of it quickly. But I must say that you Laurie are good that you can have this attitude easily. Congrats to you. Good luck!

  6. What an interesting tool that was. I think most people have ups and downs when it comes to paying down debt. Keeping it into perspective is the best way to get through the tough times. It’s amazing how blessed we really are once we start thinking about what we do have and not what we don’t have.

    • Laurie says:

      “It’s amazing how blessed we really are once we start thinking about what we do have and not what we don’t have”. My favorite comment of the week, my friend. Thank you. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Jason says:

    I fully admit I do this all the time. I flagellate myself for being such a moron, but these posts are great b/c they give you a better perspective. I can’t say that I won’t continue to be a little woe is me, but I am blessed much more compared to others.

  8. Tom says:

    Having been to some of the poorest parts of Africa before it really does make you appreciate both what we do have (money, health care etc), but also what we both have. I met some of the happiest friendliest people over there even though they had some of the toughest lives I could imagine.

    • Laurie says:

      Exactly, Tom!!! Because they’ve learned to be grateful, it doesn’t matter to them what they do or don’t have. They’ve learned to “be content in whatever state I am”. Glad that you got to go and see that stuff firsthand. I believe it changes a person forever.

  9. Mortimer says:

    This is so trueโ€”it’s so easy to lose our perspective, and our thankfulness, for the truly abundant lives we live here in the U.S. Me and my two older kids (10, 6) recently volunteered for the non-profit Feed My Starving Children.

    We packed rice meals for people in need around the world. They saw a video about the need people have out there. They loved the experience, and asked if they could do it again every week. Nothing like giving away your time to people in need to help you appreciate what you haveโ€”even when you’re a kid.

    • Laurie says:

      We’ve spent quite a bit of time at FMSC and love it there, Mortimer! So glad you guys found it a blessing as well. Those videos are so powerful, aren’t they? We always leave FMSC feeling much more blessed than the people we feed. Thanks for stopping by!

  10. Miranda says:

    I’m going to have to show my son this site, we are doing a debt free journey ourselves, and he thinks because he doesn’t get something new every week we don’t love him or something. We should all be a little more grateful!

    • Laurie says:

      Great work, Miranda! Make sure to remind him that a life without debt will be much more bountiful and open many more doors of opportunity for your family. And also tell him that if you get out of debt now that will ensure he won’t have to support you with his money when you’re old. That usually helps. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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