We might make it seem like living debt free is easy, and we’re always happy go lucky. The truth of the matter is that we have struggles with living debt free as well. It’s not to the point where we feel the need to use credit cards or take out loans, but it is just enough to make us both think, “Damn. Is there an easier option?”
Although living debt free has proven to work for us over and over again, today I’ll be discussing some of the struggles with living debt free.
Doing a budget.
Since we’re going on almost 5 years of marriage the” doing” part of the budget isn’t such a big deal now. It really wasn’t even that hard once we were married because we were doing separate budgets prior to that. The problem that we initially had with doing a budget was that we had to figure out what worked best for us together.
When doing a budget together… It’s supposed to be just that – done together. No “my way or the highway”. However, for us, I knew we were going to have to gravitate towards doing it my way. When Omar used to do his own budget he would round all his numbers. He also didn’t check to see if everything balanced with his checking account. He just knew not to spend extra and so he was never negative. On the other hand, I balanced my budget down to the penny. If it didn’t match my checking account, then I didn’t give up until I found that one penny.
To Omar, a penny wasn’t a big deal, but to me it was everything! Although Omar introduced me to the way we do our budget and he was a self-proclaimed budget master, I now proudly wear that title. Why? Because if you’re doing a zero-based balanced budget, even the pennies matter. And plus, I have to have my budget match my checking account Every. Single. Time.
Being the budget master means that I’m typically the one to put all the numbers into the budget and execute it. This means paying most of the bills, transferring the money, etc. Also, when the budget doesn’t match, I’m the one that will tend to look for the problem first. Lately, Omar has been trying to take back over being the budget master. However, he knows it can’t work without me!
All jokes aside, regardless of which one of us initially starts to work on the budget for that pay period, we do have to be in agreement on how the money is spent for our family. Sometimes this is easier compared to other times, which can lead to “heated discussions” a.k.a. arguments. However, we always come to an agreement.
No more instant gratification.
The nice thing about using credit cards is that if you want it, you can get it. Well, as long as you haven’t maxed out your credit card. That’s basically instant gratification. There’s no waiting until you get paid or checking your account to see if you have enough to cover it.
Living debt free is the complete opposite of instant gratification. If it doesn’t fit into your budget, you can’t get it until you’ve saved up the money for it. It’s not glamorous by any means. For us, this meant moving into an apartment after we got married, instead of getting a house. The furniture we had was given to us instead of buying something brand new. I was fine with this for the apartment because I didn’t want to buy stuff that looked good in the apartment and then hate how it looked once we bought a house.
However, here we are almost 5 years later and we still have the same living room furniture. On top of that, we have several more items that we’ve gotten from other people. We are truly grateful for it, so it’s not that I’m complaining, especially since it has saved us some money. However, in order for us to get new furniture one day, we will have to save up for it.
** side note: This is something that we have chosen to put on the back burner and focus more on updating our house.
The same goes for updating our house. We bought a foreclosure – an extremely outdated foreclosure in our opinion. The house was basically liveable the way we bought it, but some things aren’t aesthetically pleasing to our eyes. Our kitchen used to be one of them, but we finally managed to update it. We’re currently working towards saving to update our bathroom. Sometimes it seems like it would be so much easier to just swipe a credit card and get it done. But unless we already have the money to pay off the credit card then we’ll definitely feel guilty about doing that. So we’ll continue to wait and feel a greater sense of accomplishment by being able to say that we were able to pay for it debt free.
Always prioritizing your goals in the budget.
This one seems to go hand in hand with the instant gratification problem. When doing our budget we put in everything that we have to pay and then decide what to do with any money left over. Sometimes we have quite a bit of money left over. Other times we sit there and scratch our heads wondering where all the money went.
It’s like our budget and our goals are competing for the money and we have to make decisions about what’s most important at that time. For instance, when we were saving money to update the kitchen vs taking a vacation vs eating out. Of course, all those examples may seem trivial since it’s not something we have to do, but it’s a good example of not being able to have the instant gratification of doing what you want to do. Therefore, you have to decide which one you’re willing to put off for the moment.
Investing is forever.
Forever ever? Forever ever? This is the one that blindsided me and pissed me off all at the same time. For whatever reason, I thought that we were going to stop investing once we got to a certain amount or even a certain age. One day as we were taking a walk and discussing our future, we came upon this topic yet again. After some back and forth, that’s when Omar punched me in the face with reality – we have to keep investing until we retire. WHAT?! That was my response to put it very nicely. It’s like in the blink of an eye I saw all my dreams and hopes of updating the house, getting a bigger car, and traveling the world go down the drain.
After I picked my face up off the ground, I realized that it actually does make sense to invest until you retire (depending on your goals). I can’t say that I like it, but I know it’s the right thing to do for us. So that’s what we will be doing.