If you’re about to hit a wall, choose one with an opening large enough to squeeze through.
DH = Dear Husband
Vaz Oxlade & Ramsey on “the wall”
Last summer I had coffee with Debt Debs, a fellow blogger, and she told me that according to her debt-reduction guru, Gail Vaz Oxlade, people often hit “a wall” after 3 years of intensive repayment. Naaah, I thought. I won’t hit that wall.
I remember when I first read my debt-reduction guru Dave Ramsey’s book The Total Money Makeover, and getting to the part where he compares the typically 7-year effort to reach complete debt-freedom to a marathon. Many marathon runners, he says, confront a wall of exhaustion at the 18-mile point. It is then the choice of the athlete either to push through it – or to stop. For those of us on a path to debt-freedom, says Ramsey, we face that wall at the point where only the mortgage debt remains. Naah, I thought at the time. I won’t hit that wall.
By the end of next month, we’ll have reached the 3rd year anniversary of our journey out of debt. Our non-mortgage debt, which totaled $102,200 in June 2012, is now down to $9,500. The question is: Are we hitting a wall yet?
Naaah, I thought when I considered this question recently. We’re still going strong!
What my thoughts about summer school reveal
But I seriously didn’t want to teach summer school this year.
I’m just tired
For the summers of 2012, 2013, and 2014, I taught summer school as part of our debt-reduction efforts. It was something I hadn’t done for fifteen years, so it marked a big change. It was all about being gazelle intense, and I was there! For the past two summers, furthermore, I taught double credit courses through both July and August. So it made sense to me that at this point, I was tired. This was not about hitting a wall.
Time for renovations
But then DH started to talk about renovations. His office space for his business has never been big enough. His equipment, orders, computers, and paperwork take over our living room and dining room, not to mention parts of the basement too. “I need more space!” is a complaint I’ve heard on repeat for years now. “Take the living room and dining room,” I’ve said – over and over again. “There’s nothing standing in your way.”
But DH is a careful man. There had to be a plan. There had to be money to pay for the renovations involved. There also had to be a justification for spending that money on something other than the business debt. Do you see where this is going? Soon – almost certainly by the end of July – we won’t have a business debt to pay down anymore. So DH is allowing himself to make plans for something that I would have supported him doing long ago.
Indulging in plans
Last week-end, as we spent hours driving to see extended family for Easter, we indulged in renovation talk. How would we incorporate a dining room into our family room? How would we set up DH’s former office space as a living room? There would be furniture to sell, and some to give away. There would be carpets to rip up, and new flooring to install. We would have to start looking out for new furniture – a sectional sofa for the old office space; a small love seat and two chairs for the combined family room/dining room . . . It was SO LOVELY to be able to think, talk, and plan in this way! I was high on visions of tile, hardwood, and leather furniture. I don’t even care how shallow that sounds!
3 years of growing frugality and dormant materialism
For the past three years, I’ve been conscientiously embracing the lifestyle changes and side-benefits of frugality. We have simplified as we’ve let go of spending-as-self-medication and trying to keep up with the Jonses. We’ve soaked in the bonuses of slow cooking – great smells of food, more family times in the kitchen and around the table. Instead of going out and spending money on entertainment, we play games like Monopoly and Settlers of Catan at home with our kids and their friends. Instead of meeting with friends at restaurants, we see them at our home or theirs. There has been a clarification of our values, and with it, a clarification of what we’ve needed to prioritize. And it hasn’t been furniture.
Over the last 3 years, we have watched our already old and worn furniture become torn and threadbare. We have witnessed the perpetration of stains all over our carpets. We have lived with the clutter of DH’s business paraphernalia taking over more and more of the house. And we have accepted it all. It has all been part of our gazelle intensity towards debt-reduction.
I didn’t realize the extent to which my dormant materialism was still alive and well – until it woke up with our talk of renovations. In my excitement about our plans, I am going to hold tight to our developing financial wisdom. We’re going to shop wisely, and we’re going to buy with cash. As for how much we’ll spend, we have a maximum in mind, and we’ll do what it takes so that we don’t exceed it.
Summer school : )
And where is this money going to come from? Suddenly, I don’t feel too burned-out to take on summer school. Hmmm . . . So I WAS approaching that wall – whether it was the 3-year wall or the only-the-mortgage-left wall. The fire in my belly that had burned so strongly for so long was waning.
Managing the wall – by squeezing through the opening
But there is a convenient opening in this wall, just like the one you see above – between our staircase and what is now the dining room. There is logic to our plans. It’s not a matter of impulse. We’re taking on these renovations as a practical way to solve a problem DH has had in operating his home business. Our timing and execution will be fully in line with our goals to be financially wise and completely debt-free. So although there were undeniably several drug-like hits of sheer joy today as we looked through three furniture stores, the adrenaline rush won’t cloud our minds or soften our resolve.
Is it possible to be frugal and financially fit while at the same time LOVING this kind of thing? I sure hope so!
Your comments are welcome. Do you find that your efforts to be financially sensible can co-exist with the emotional high that sometimes comes with plans to purchase?