Home » Screw ’em: Doing What’s Best for You in Your Debt Payoff Journey

Screw ’em: Doing What’s Best for You in Your Debt Payoff Journey


Have you ever been in a situation where you were going against the tide?  Swimming upstream?  If so, how did you handle it?  Did you turn around and take the easy road downstream, or did you keep pushing forward, against the grain.  What were the results?  Did you realize at the time that sometimes it’s necessary to go against the flow instead of going with the flow?

I first got a real dose of this lesson when my kids were little.

What Will People Think vs My Sanity

I had all four of our kids within 6 years, and the last three within three years.  Once the youngest was walking, at about 15 months, you can imagine the craziness it was taking 4 kids under 7 anywhere.  To top it off, the two youngest were always AWOL risks.  You know; the kind of kids that would be there one second, and gone the next because they’d seen something cool a few hundred feet away?

To save my sanity, and to protect my children, I bought leashes for the 3 youngest kids, who were 1, 2 and 4 at the time.  The 4-year-old was great about staying near, but she was quiet as a church mouse and always walked slower than the others, and without constant supervision, I’d never know if someone snatched her up or if she got lost in a crowd at the zoo, so I put a leash on her as well.

When I began using the leashes, I got more than my fair share of rude comments and snide remarks from perfect strangers about what a rotten mom I was for “treating your children like dogs”.  For several months, these comments would pierce my heart.  I wanted so badly to be a good mom, and the fact that someone else thought I was a rotten mom really hurt to the core.  I started to question my actions:

Am I really treating the kids like dogs?

Are child leashes inhumane?

Am I doing them more harm than good?

In the end, I decided that the safety of the children and my piece of mind was far more valuable than what anybody else might think of my actions, so the leashes stayed, and after that, when people commented rudely on them, I politely gave them my classic (which I’m very good at, I might add) FU look. 🙂

The rich are rich in large part because they don’t give a hoot what people think: The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy

The result?  My kids are safe and sound from being lost  or abducted in a crowded mall or zoo, and I’m not in the looney bin.

Your Debt Payoff Journey Will Likely Attract Criticism

I’ve found occasionally now that people respond in the same judgmental way to us, both about the existence of our debt, and about our choosing to sacrifice stuff to pay it off.  The critics generally dwell in one of two camps:

Camp #1: You losers!  How could you have been so irresponsible?  We obviously are much too cool to associate with the likes of you.  Seeya.

Camp #2: What, you think you’re better than us now?  We’re certainly not going to stop having fun and join you on this ridiculous path.  You turnin’ into some rich snobby person or somethin’?

Like my dilemma with the child leashes, these comments and attitudes would, at first, really, really hurt, even though they were the exception and not the rule among our family members and friends.  Funny how the mean, hurtful comments stick out the most, isn’t it?

If you want to be wealthy, you’ve got to learn to think wealthy: Secrets of the Millionaire Mind: Mastering the Inner Game of Wealth

After awhile, like with the leashes, I began to realize that this path to debt freedom we’re on is best for us, and that’s all that matters.  Even if every other person we know in life were to turn their backs on us because of the mess we’ve created or our choice to get out of it, we’d still take this same path, because at the end of the day, what makes us be able to sleep soundly at night is knowing that we’re doing what’s best for our family and our situation.  And I would encourage you to do the same.  Choose this day not to put too much stock in the opinions of those who have little to no knowledge about your situation, or little to no regard for your feelings.  You deserve better.

Have you ever had a situation come up where you had to choose between taking your own path and doing what others thought you should do?



  1. A friend of mine likes to say that having kids means you’re signing up to be judged every day of your life. Doesn’t that sound so pleasant? I’ve heard and seen so many silly over the top parents, I just shake my head. Kiddie leashes were common when I was a kid and you can definitely still buy them, they make sense to me.

    • Laurie says:

      So true!! People seem to have an automatic right to give you their two cents when you have kids. Not sure why, but it’s what it is, I guess. 🙂

  2. I am on the same page with you about “kid leashes!”
    I think that some kids need them more than others. My four-year-old stays right with me all the time so I don’t worry about her. My two-year-old is very impulsive and I wouldn’t hesitate to put a leash on her if we went somewhere where we might be in a huge crowd.
    I couldn’t care less what people think!

  3. Stacey says:

    I had to smile when I read this post. . . we had a very active two year old that refused to sit in strollers. We bought a harness so that we could go out in public without losing our kid. We called it a tiger tail and the two year old had a lot of fun pretending to be a tiger.

    We also got a lot of nasty looks and rude comments, especially from girls at the mall who were too young to have kids of their own who thought we were being cruel and abusive.

    Getting out of debt is tough enough without having to deal with criticism.

    Thanks for this reminder about the unexpected consequences of swimming against the tide, and the value of choosing what is right for you and your family in spite of what others may think.

    • Laurie says:

      Yeah, Stacey, our comments were usually from people too young to have kids too – funny, isn’t it? 🙂 My kids used to have fun pretending they were puppies while on the leashes, which didn’t help matters. 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for leaving your thoughts!

  4. Oh, I can so relate to this Laurie. Having three under the age of 6 is absolutely nutty and adding another one to the mix and I think I’d be drinking most of my meals, lol! My parents used leashes on my younger brothers and it just made sense to as they were so active. In either case, people just need to keep their nose in their own business and stop with the judgment.

    • Laurie says:

      LOL, you know, I’ve never wondered why I didn’t drink more in those days! 🙂 It’s so easy for people to get caught up in caring about the opinions of others, when, in reality, we need to focus on our own situation.

  5. Yankeegal says:

    This post made me smile. My mother tied all of us to the garage door so we would not go into the street-and amazingly we didn’t! I have been accused of abuse for giving my children chores, or having them work while going to school. Good for you ignoring them!

    • Laurie says:

      Since when does teaching your kid a strong worth ethic constitute abuse? Good for you for doing what’s best for your kids, and so glad the post made you smile. Your mom sounds like a wise woman. 🙂

  6. I have felt this way many times Laurie. Especially recently as my wife and I have made many life changes. I know people don’t understand what we are trying to accomplish and I try not to worry myself with their feelings. What’s more important is that I stick to the track we have agreed to is best for our family.

    • Laurie says:

      Exactly, Brian!! Good for you guys for sticking to your path as well. Amazing how many people judge when they don’t have a clue what they’re talking about. 🙂

  7. Your post reminded me of the Kacey Musgraves song (that BraveNewLife turned me onto):


    It’s too bad that random people feel the need to judge others’ choices. I have to admit that I sometimes fall into the same bad habit, and try my best on the blog to avoid it. I have the temptation to write posts about the poor financial decisions of others but, you know, what’s the point? Better to focus on me than on someone else.

    Anyhow, I love your reaction to that nonsense. Forget about others…just do you.

    • Laurie says:

      LOVE your attitude, DB40! I think it’s tempting for all of us to judge others, and there is a fine balance between educating and judging, but I think the key is that when someone tells you you’re doing something wrong, that you weigh the advice wisely, but ultimately stick with doing what you feel is best. Thanks for the insight!

  8. Kathy says:

    There are those who hate for every facet of life. I was one of those people who thought kiddy leashes were horrible. But then I only had one child and was always able to hold his hand. But as I’ve grown up {another way of saying “gotten older”} I can see how beneficial they are. It gives the child a sense of some freedom but still under your control. I wouldn’t worry what other people think. They can always live your life better than you….or so they think!

    • Laurie says:

      Kathy, thank you so much for your very encouraging words!!! I had to laugh at your “grown up, i.e. gotten older” reference. I often reflect on how much I’ve grown up, and then I look in the mirror and am reminded that I’ve gotten older too. 🙂

  9. This situation comes up all the time in my life, and I can only imagine others are in the same boat. Kind of an interesting example is my blog. People just don’t understand it! People either have a ton of questions, don’t care at all about it, or get annoyed that I am spending time building a business that I can do from home (this one I chalk up to jealousy). But you know what? I’m in debt, I’m entrepreneurial, and it’s better than most things I could do with my time so I feel great about it.

    • Laurie says:

      Amen, DC! You could be sitting around whining about your situation like so many, but instead, you’re taking action. For some reason, this is incredibly against the grain. Odd, isn’t it?

  10. For some reason I never realized how close in age all your kids were. Like you said, you were using child leashes to protect your kids. It’s not like you were tying their leashes to light posts while you went into the store! People can be incredibly judgmental and critical and it isn’t always easy to ignore them. When people decide to get out of debt, it can scare their friends who may have been blissfully ignoring their own ticking debt bomb. Now you’ve made them aware and they don’t want to face that reality so they try to convince you being debt-free isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. As they say, you know who your true friends are when you go through change and/or tough times and they stick with you.

    • Laurie says:

      So true, Shannon. I guess it can be scary to suddenly be made aware of your own debt time-bomb when you really don’t want to know. I was reminded again today of one of those who have shut the door on our relationship due to this whole mess, and was sad for awhile, but then I look at all we’ve accomplished, and the great online buddies we’ve made, and am eager once again to be facing a future without debt. 🙂

  11. Great post Laurie! Wow…4 kids in a short time span…you must be super mom because I can barely handle one! =) I already have the leash as we registered for it as a baby shower gift. I think they’re great, kids like to run off and this can be a life saver. Just recently in NYC, 2 young kids were hit by cars crossing the street because they ran off with a grandparent chasing them. As for going against the tide, you couldn’t have said it better. You have to do what’s best for you and ignore the judgmental people.

    • Laurie says:

      LOL, super mom, or crazy mom. 🙂 Such a sad story about the NYC grandkids! Makes me all the happier I had mine on leashes when they were younger. Totally agree on doing what’s best for us. It’s made us stronger, that’s for sure! Thanks, Andrew. 🙂

  12. Brit says:

    Love the FU Smile! haha! Kids leashes are great. I would of love for parents to use them more when they are shopping. They have some cute ones I just love. As far as taking my own path, is a battle for us as people/family members don’t see the entire picture. How I deal with it is by (FU Smile! jk) I ignore them. I know what I want and I know we will get there. Thank you for posting this post. It made me smile.

    • Laurie says:

      LOL, so you’ve got the FU smile down too! Yeah, gotta ignore them, Britnee. It’s the way to handle it. Glad the post made you smile – that’s my goal. 🙂

  13. Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial says:

    I’ve always thought kid leashes were the smart and logical choice! I’d much rather see parents put those little cute backpack leashes on their kids and KNOW where they’re at than have their children running around like crazy things and possibly end up missing and lost. Same thing with debt! You have to tackle it the smart and logical way and disregard those that have negative things to say – some people seem to just have a need to lash out and be cruel to others. Keep on ignoring judgmental people and keep reminding the rest of us that’s the way to go. You go girl! 🙂

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks, Kali! Yeah, those haters can be huge in pulling a person away from their goals if they’re allowed to. Gotta give ’em the hand!

  14. Anytime I feel down about my debt, I come over to your blog Laurie because I truly love your fighting attitude towards it! No one in my real life knows about my blog or my debt so I haven’t really had to “defend” myself yet. I love the FU smile. I have a great one too. 😉

    • Laurie says:

      LOL, maybe we can go shopping in a crowded mall one day and take all of the nasty people down with our team FU smiles, GMD. :-). More people than I care to know about the blog/debt now, and although it’s been difficult facing the music, I’m a bit relieved it’s all out there, you know?

  15. jim says:

    Love the article! Thanks for the chuckle. My wife came from a family of 10 kids. Her parents had a lakefront property and they used extended leashes that were staked strategically so that the little ones couldn’t get into the water. When I first learned of that I thought it was a bit over the top. My wife thought I was a moron. Then we had a kid who was a runner – ha! Damn right we put him on a leash – including when we were teaching him how to snow ski which, to this day, he still just shakes his head about. We’re waiting for the day he has a “runner” and puts that baby on a leash!

    • Laurie says:

      LOL, and you know he will, Jim. 🙂 My little brother was a “runner”, and the kind of kid that always got into mischief. My mom laughed so hard the day he called to tell her his 4-year-old daughter had painted the car with pink fingernail polish. 🙂

  16. “I politely gave them my classic (which I’m very good at, I might add) FU smile.” ha ha! Although no one has shunned me for it, it was hard to say no to a lot of social plans. In the beach volleyball community, there are tons of charity events and social activities that take place around the sport. I have to miss out on a lot of those because of the cost. But thankfully everyone still treats me really well. I think I’ve been fairly lucky in that regard.

    • Laurie says:

      Tonya, that’s awesome! Yeah, it’s really difficult when there are tons of social things going on and you’ve got to say “no” to so many of them. I think it’s awesome that you are sticking to your plan, in spite of the difficulties – great job!

  17. Michelle says:

    I used to hate the leashes…maybe for cultural reasons…until I saw the cute little bears/monkeys. At the end of the day, there are a lot of freaky people out there and you’re the parent. I’m not! You as the parent have to do what you feel is best for YOUR child.

    • Laurie says:

      So true, Michelle! Well said. We are the ones who have to live with our choices and attitudes, so it’s important that we choose ones that are best for us, right? Thanks so much for the comment. 🙂

  18. lyle @ the Joy of Simple says:

    Great post Laurie and I love your F U smile!!

    There are always going to be nay-sayers and people are always going to judge and think that they can do better…which is why we were all born with a middle finger 🙂

    “…we’re doing what’s best for our family and our situation…” – That my friend is all that matters…F the rest as they say! More power to you!!

    Take care and all the best.


    ps: the daycare in my building hooks up the little one’s to “leashes” when they are taken outside so why couldn’t you!

    • Laurie says:

      LOL, Rick says it’s a little too good, i.e. scares people. 🙂 Funny about the middle finger! I never thought of the “logical” purpose of it before. 🙂 Have a great day, Lyle. Your bright attitude always brings a smile.

  19. Isabella says:

    I had four children in six years too. Although I did not use a leash, it could be very stressful keeping track of everyone! I remember reading two different stories about people losing children in crowds. One was about some recent immigrants in NYC around 1900. They lost a young child in a large crowd, and she was never recovered. Another incident was when Vietnam collapsed at the end of the war, and people were frantically trying to leave. A family lost two young children in a crowd. Those lost children were adopted by Americans and raised by them. (Years later, the two children, now adults, found their parents in Vietnam, visited them, and helped them financially.)

    These are our children, and as parents, we need to do what is best for us. The same goes for our financial situations!

    • Laurie says:

      Sad stories!! These are exactly the type of situations that always freaked me out, and that’s why I’m SO glad we did use the leashes on our kids.

  20. Dear Debt says:

    Great post, Laurie. At the end of the day sometimes you have to go alone and walk the path that’s best for you. It can be hard, but knowing your right is the best revenge 😉

    • Laurie says:

      LOL, ain’t it the truth? We have, embarrassingly, used the “knowing you’re right is the best revenge” aspect of it to keep us standing strong at times. It works. 🙂

  21. Micro says:

    I think the only time I’ve ever been a little shocked to see a child leash is if there is only one kid. In my opinion, you should be able to keep your eyes on one child when you go out. Having 4 to keep track of though would be increadibly stressful. I can absolutely see the advantage of using a leash to keep the kids out of harms way.

    • Laurie says:

      LOL, I have to say that it depends on the kid. My younger brother, that guy could disappear in seconds when he was little. If he would’ve been mine, I definitely would’ve leashed him – even if it was just him. He was like a magician – you’d turn around, and he’d be gone. 🙂

  22. Laurie, I completely agree that we should do whatever works best for our family and stop caring about what other people think or say. We need to consider the well being of our family both short term and in the long run and that is always something that will draw negative reactions. The truth is that I found out that no matter what path you choose, there will ALWAYS be people to disagree and consider you a monster for doing it. So it’s best to do it your way because you know best what is best for you and your family.

    • Laurie says:

      Well said, C!!! You sound like you guys have encountered some of that same opposition. Glad you stood strong as well. It’s totally worth it. 🙂

  23. Alexa says:

    The last time I took my oldest daughter and my nephew to the Zoo I used backpack leashes on both of them. I don’t have to worry with my youngest because she is attached to my hip. However when my oldest and my nephew get together you better watch out. I used the leashes in Walmart once too and got all kinds of dirty looks. The thing was the kids really liked it. They thought it was fun! Screw what everyone else thinks!

    • Laurie says:

      LOL, isn’t that funny, Alexa? The kids don’t mind at all, it keeps us as caregivers sane, yet people all over seem to have a problem with it. Sounds like the old “There’s something about you that I don’t like about me” syndrome. 🙂

  24. Matt Becker says:

    Love it Laurie! This is something that can be hard for me, but I 100% agree with you. No one can look from the outside and tell you what’s right for you. That’s not to say there aren’t helpful suggestions, but in the end it’s all up to you. We’ve definitely faced some resistance from both friends and family to our more frugal lifestyle, and it can be tough, but it’s our choice and we feel good about it.

    • Laurie says:

      So glad you guys are sticking to your path of frugality, in spite of the naysayers, Matt. I know that, just like us, you’ll be glad you did. 🙂

  25. This made me laugh – I used to work in a mall and kids would be on “leashes” all the time. I think it’s a great idea. SO many kids got lost in malls, more often I’d find myself calling security because a three year old was separated from their parents and was standing in front of my store, lost.

    • Laurie says:

      I know – it’s crazy, isn’t it?? This is why it’s so important to blow them off. Obviously, they don’t get the path you’re working toward.

  26. Just as with your experience with the child leashes, rude comments are borne from ignorance. Generally speaking people who would make the rude comments are people who have never tried to corral that many small children at a time. Other parents were probably WISHING they had the BALLS to put their kid on a leash. 🙂

    The negative comments that I’ve gotten about our debt and our journey out of debt have also only been from people who simply do not understand and cannot identify with the situation. Those that really know it may ask the question about how we accumulated so much debt, but then are extremely supportive of our effort to eliminate it.

    One of the FIRST things I learned as a parent is a lesson I learned again as we moved along our path to pay off our debt. Never, ever, EVER judge someone else – because you have no idea what their personal situation is.

    Supportive trumps judgmental every. single. time.

    • Laurie says:

      LOVE this, Travis! Thanks for the wisdom – I love hearing about what you guys went through and how you dealt with it. You guys are an inspiration to many, my friend!

    • my2cents says:

      I constantly battle with this one. I don’t want to be judgemental, I really dont. But at least once a week I’ll be driving to work and see someone driving what TO ME (that’s key) looks like a rediculous vehicle. I struggle to understand how choosing that vehicle made sense to any rational person. Did you fully think through what you were trading away to have it? I try to force myself to give them the benefit of the doubt. I try to tell myself they have no debt, have already retired early and still have excess money left for something they personally enjoy. But really, what are the odds that I’m right?
      More likely they’re driving around in a giant monthly payment, and regularly complaining to everyone within earshot that they’ll never be able to afford to retire.
      Wouldn’t it be great if we all walked around with a bubble floating over our heads with our net worth on display and a statement about our finandial goals and values? Having all your dirty secrets on public display might be just the motivation needed in some cases. Personally I only have a small mortgage left, but it would spur me on to even higher savings levels so I can shorten the time until my early retirement date.

      • Laurie says:

        Ditto here – I totally fall prey to that kind of judgment!! LOVE your idea about the bubbles – I’ll bet the US would be in a much better financial place if that were the case. 🙂

  27. Love this! We get that a lot too… “I wouldn’t do that, if I were you”. Everyone has their own idea on how to parent your kids. But they are your kids after all, and I agree, you just got to do what’s best for them and for you.

  28. Deacon Hayes says:

    The path you are on is AWESOME and don’t let anyone else make you feel differently about it. You have to do what is best for your family, but I do know that it is hard to take other people’s criticism. When we were getting out of debt, people would hate, but that is because we stood for something that exposed where they fell short. Stay strong!

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks, Deacon! So glad to hear we’re not the only ones who experience criticism about getting out of debt. It helps us to know that, like you guys, we can make it through too. 🙂

  29. CF says:

    I’ve stopped caring what other people think when it comes to doing what’s best for MY life. I have gotten lots of comments about my grocery budget, my spending, this and that… but most people have very little to say after I mention the two condos and positive net worth :p

    Raising kids is hard! Paying off debt is hard! You got to do what’s best and most balanced for your life.

  30. dojo says:

    Wow, 4 kids. I think one will give us our fair share of ‘running’, lest 4 😉

    You know what, it’s YOUR FAMILY. If it’s good for you, who cares about the rest? We all need to learn to live for ourselves and not for others. Good for you to ‘leash’ your kids, if this worked (and it looks like it did). good for you to make the changes in your finances that will help you achieve your goals. Who can understand will, who can’t doesn’t matter 😉

    • Laurie says:

      LOL, yes, that’s true. 🙂 LOVE your last line, Dojo – “Who can understand will, who can’t doesn’t matter.” I will definitely keep that one in my arsenal. 🙂

  31. Oh gosh yes, I went out to work for a cruise line after finishing up a Master’s degree abroad and I got nothing but grief from my friends and family about how I was never around and how I missed out on everything. They were right (and I knew it – I’d worked on ships for a few years before going back to school), but I knew I could pay off most of my debt in just two years that way instead of stretching it out for ages. It was the right choice for me at the time, even though no one else agreed.

  32. With only one kid, I’ve never needed a leash, but I’ve always thought they were a good idea. In fact, I can think of several instances where I wish I’d had some to pass out!

    No one that I see in my face to face life understands our current financial goals, family included. My family has no idea that I blog, and would probably disown me if they did. They just don’t talk about that stuff. My Mom is that hardest. I have always sought her approval without much success. She used to give me a hard time for not staying home with my daughter, and now that I don’t work as much, she is baffled at what I do all day, and thinks I should work more! She also thinks we are destitute because we don’t have a land line and cancelled our TV. It doesn’t help that my sister and her husband make incredible income and spend like there is no tomorrow. She thinks I should be doing the same, I think, although we probably make about 1/5 of their income. At the end of the day, I have to love her because she’s my Mom, but I really ignore most of her advice and comments. Someday maybe I won’t care.

    • Laurie says:

      Oh, that’s SO hard!!! We’ve experienced some of that too, Kim, so I know what you’re saying. The really sad part is that your sister and her hubby are probably in much worse shape financially than you are, and probably always will be. I think it’s especially tough not to care when it’s family too, parents for sure. Funny how working toward financial independence is such a terrible thing to so many people.

  33. One simple word of advice Laurie. If you are doing something that creates comments like this, then you are doing something right. People usually respond with comments like this when they have problems of their own that they can’t control. You are doing what you should be doing and there are always haters. I actually thrive for those comments because it shows that I am on the right path!

    • Laurie says:

      LOVE that, Grayson! I never thought of it that way before, but I will now. You’ve turned this criticism around into a positive thing for me – thank you!

  34. My husband told me he had to be leashed when he was younger but as someone who can barely sit down to eat and paces all the time, his energy level now as an adult makes that obvious, lol. I was such a tired kid I loved being in the stroller. My husband says he doesn’t get why bigger kids can’t walk and I explain, just like you had to be leashed, some kids, like myself, were low-energy kids and we needed strollers after a long day at the zoo! You can’t judge parents on what they do for their kids to keep them safe.

    And let the haters hate… keep doing what you have to do in your debt payoff journey.

    • Laurie says:

      Interesting hearing the perspective of a high-energy kid-turned adult, Tara! Also glad to hear your perspective on the low-energy kid, I’d never thought of that before. Thanks for sharing that valuable insight – it’s always great to learn something new.

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