A dear friend of mine recently asked me for just that. She’s working harder than ever, but cannot make ends meet between household expenses and medical bills. This post is for you, friend! And for any of you who may feel you take one step forward and two steps back.
Alan and I began our debt free journey in January 2016. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy, and our intuition has been proven right over and over again. We have had very few perfect months where everything went 100 percent financially perfect as planned. I tell you this so you know you are not the only one struggling to make your plan on paper fit with reality.
We’ve come in under budget a few times. But, we’ve also had to pull from our emergency fund a few times for medical expenses that were hundreds of dollars more than we planned. We celebrated the former by treating ourselves and the girls to a cheap dinner out (Steak N Shake or SnoCones) and found refuge in our tiny savings account for the latter.
When you work as hard as we do, are as disciplined and intentional with budgeting and lifestyle choices as we are…and still fall short…you begin to feel like a hamster caught in a wheel.
Side note hamster story: A few weekends ago, at a family wedding, I turned to Alan and said, “There are a lot of hipsters here.” Alan turned to me and said, “Hamsters? Where are the hamsters?” Just to be clear, you begin to feel like a hamster…not a hipster,caught in a wheel. Although, the second visual is way funnier.
Anyway, we knew this journey was going to be tough. But, didn’t realize how much grit it required.
Thankfully, paying off debt is not a forever journey. It’s only for a period of time and will come to an end.
For now, let’s first remember to give ourselves grace. We are not called to be perfect and need to let go of this idea of things going perfect and being perfect. Instead, grasp onto the idea that doing is better than perfection. This mindset does not come naturally for me, but has been freeing when I remember to embrace it. Your plan may go haywire, but at least you are still working toward it.
Second, remember we chose this lifestyle. Sure, I could buy this and go on that vacation. But, I’m not because my family is choosing to pay off debt and avoid credit cards. Similarly, you can aggressively work to earn extra income…or have loads of free time. But, not both in the same season. They are mutually exclusive. And that’s okay.
Third, repeat Romans 8:28 over and over. I have this verse taped on the wall by my computer at work. I reflect on it often and enjoy discovering the ways our Father shares his love with me in the midst of our trials. I’m intentionally not telling you this verse so you have to get your Bible and look it up!
At the end of the day, I believe we are doing the best we can with the time and resources we have. Some days, we can admittedly do better. Other days, we just can’t even fathom doing one more thing, cutting one more expense, or taking on one more job.
My prayer for you, and for myself, is that we can be forgiving enough with ourselves to have grace, wisdom and grit to stay true to this new lifestyle choice, and faith that God is working behind the scenes to make this difficult effort worthwhile.
Blessings and Love,