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!