Today was a Good Day

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We’ve learned many lessons this year, among them how to actually appreciate and value the things we purchase. It has made us a stronger family unit, and it has helped to instill values in our children that will hopefully help them in life for many decades to come.

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At the beginning of 2019, my wife and I were in a really bad spot. We owed an insane amount of money on credit cards (6 figures), and we were making $3600 a month less than what we needed to pay our bills. We had no savings, we had very little in our 401k, and we were almost certainly going to lose the house we had bought just 6 months prior.

We committed to solving our debt crisis once and for all, and we knew that part of doing that meant we had to set some really large stretch goals to keep us honest and aggressive in our efforts.

I told my wife, “We need to set a big number in terms of the debt we want to pay off this year, and it needs to be large enough to frankly make us uncomfortable.”

We set our golden number for the year at $50,000.00. Fifty-thousand. A FIVE, AND THEN A BUNCH OF ZEROS. That was a stupid number, and there was probably no way we would come close, but damn if we weren’t going to try!

When I have set similar lofty goals in the past, it has rarely worked out well…

Dave at age 10:
Goal: “I bet I can jump this canal on my bicycle!”
Result: Broken bike, broken bones.

Dave at age 22:
Goal: “I bet I can beer bong this entire 5th of whiskey!”
Result: Waking up in that same canal, wondering what happened to my pants.

Dave at age 35:
Goal: “I bet I can put a flat screen TV in each room of my house!”
Result: See paragraph 1 of this post.

So needless to say, I was somewhat pessimistic about the financial goal I had set for us to achieve, and I had a lifetime of results (or lack thereof) to back that pessimism up.

And yet today, a month and a half early in fact, we hit our goal.

Credit Card and Student Loan Debt Paid Off in 2019: $50,961.14

We didn’t accomplish this by receiving some inheritance or by winning the lottery, and we certainly didn’t accomplish it by accident. We cut, we sacrificed, and we didn’t have much fun this year, but today made it all feel almost worthwhile!

I say “almost,” because looking back we were probably even a bit too hardcore with our spending at times. We were frankly kind of miserable for part of the year, because we didn’t go many places or do many things. We just kind of sat at our house and stared at each other.

Even that has a silver lining though, because our family now TOTALLY appreciates when we do get to partake in something we so easily took for granted just a year ago. As an example, I recently bought the family a new board game. A year or two ago, we probably would have thrown the board game into the closet with 30 other board games, and possibly without even removing it from its plastic wrapper. This would have been due to the fact that I saw it on a shelf at Target, had a credit card handy, and thought, “This looks fun. Maybe we’ll play it one day.”

This one we researched as a family, because we all wanted to make sure we got our money’s worth. We read reviews, my kids talked to friends at school who had played it, we ordered it together (paid for with money we actually had), and when it arrived we played it instantly and had a blast as a family.

We’ve learned many lessons this year, among them how to actually appreciate and value the things we purchase. It has made us a stronger family unit, and it has helped to instill values in our children that will hopefully help them in life for many decades to come.

Today was a good day in a year of a lot of really bad ones. It’s a day for our family to feel proud, and not the shame we have felt many times this year for our dumb mistakes.

Here’s to many more good days to come, not only for us, but for those of you who might be in a similar situation. Set your goals, stick with them, and celebrate when you achieve them.

Don’t bother trying the canal thing though… that sucker is WAY too wide.

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