I have officially started my “Maternity Leave” that I am giving to myself…and I have some AMAZING guest bloggers lined up until the end of January. I’m so excited to introduce Kristen from Love the Miles as my first guest poster!
Hi there! I am beyond thrilled to be here today. I feel like the nerdy girl invited to sit at the popular table. Eek!! Erin and I grew up in the same small town, a place that’s probably the most beautiful spot in the Southwest and the food… oh my word. I miss good Mexican food. But enough drooling over the past, let’s move on!
Okay, yes, student loans are awful. Anyone that is paying them back right now (and living on a tiny budget) or has paid them off (and used to live on a tiny budget) can tell you that, but there is a silver lining. No really, I’m serious here.
- Having to work hard makes you realize just how much you’re capable of. For a lot of years I have been parenting essentially on my own either while Greg was in school or while he was working crazy hours. No, I’m not a single mom and I don’t even claim to have any idea of what it is like to walk that hard and lonely road but I do know what it’s like to be the only one making dinner and getting kids to bed and doing all of the other things it takes to run a family. I’m a lot more capable than I thought.
- Sticking to a tight budget is not a bad thing. Now that we carefully plan our budget it feels like we have more money to spend. We totally don’t, what with major student loan debt but because we have told our money what to do before we spend it there is a little room in the budget for things like running shoes and ice cream cones and ballet for the girls. That’s because we are making sure to take care of the essentials first rather than just spending and trying to make up the difference. Not having guilt attached to your purchases somehow makes you feel wealthy.
- Every time we plan our budget there are always conversations about needs versus wants. But as we have gotten further into our debt payoff we have realized just how little we actually need. Things that I insisted on 5 years ago aren’t as important right now because I see what a difference every dollar makes.
- Be okay with saying no. Our life is super busy right now. Greg works 2 jobs, I work part time. We have 5 kids. On and on. So our time together is really precious. That means we have to say no to a lot of outside activities. There is a Christmas choir that my kids have been a part of for the last few years but this year I just couldn’t do it. The thought of Thursday night practices just wasn’t going to work so I had to say no and it’s been okay. We also don’t let our kids play with their friends on the weekend (world’s meanest parents) because that’s our family time. We have to say no to our kids, to each other and to ourselves and as we do that we’re learning about things like delayed gratification, priorities and boundaries.
- Having a big common goal is good for your marriage. Now I’m pretty sure marriage and family experts don’t include paying off debt as a marriage building exercise but it has helped Greg and I. We’ve learned how to communicate. We talk about what our family goals are and all of those other things. Plus now that we’re sharing the budget work (he did the earning, I did the spending) it has taken the stress off of both of us. Neither of us feels like we’re all alone. After we go over the budget and talk about our plans I feel more attracted to my husband. Is that normal? No? Okay, I’ll put down my TI-83 calculator and pretend I didn’t just share that fact.
- Being grateful for what I do have is probably the greatest blessing of all. Somehow we are meeting all of our needs and making progress towards getting out of debt. My family is healthy and even more important, we’re happy. That’s priceless and maybe I wouldn’t be as aware of the magnitude of that blessing if our financial situation were different.