In today’s credit card happy, home make-over-high, everything-needs-to-be-on-fleek and I-have-to-have-it-now society, living below your means isn’t necessarily always the trendy thing to do. “Budget My Life” or “Debt Free Goals” or “Adulting So Hard” are not the names of popular HGTV shows and what’s aesthetically pleasing is expected to be way higher on our priorities list than what’s financially pleasing.
Is it possible to have the “fixer-upper” ending on your own and be debt free after it’s all over? Aaron and I have had many, many conversations about this. When we started preparing for marriage, we realized we view money differently. Aaron is way more organized with finances and has learned how to budget well, but also has (what I would call) expensive taste. I, on the other hand, am not organized at all financially, have never sat down to set a budget, but have always been super frugal and just knew how to spend less than what I made.
We came to the conclusion that Aaron would budget our money and I would adhere to said budget and also remind Aaron in big financial decisions of said budget. You see, Aaron is awesome at seeing the bigger picture and budgeting us to get there, but he also is an impulsive buyer, haha. He helps me see the bigger picture and I help him remember it.
I purchased a townhome when I was a single lady about 2 1/2 years ago in 2014. When we were just a month away from our wedding last year, we had to do some remodeling in it as it would be our future home. It had galvanized plumbing that needed to be replaced throughout the house, some electrical issues that needed to be fixed, insulation that needed to be done and we had some practical things done like lighting and tearing down a wall that was literally two steps from the entry-way (70s design, smh). We wanted so badly to replace the ugly 70s tile on the bottom floor and fix the stairs that had this laminate that was falling apart on them. We had the money in our savings, it was going to be a little tight after for just a bit but not bad. We were at this point where we wanted the new floors so badly that it wasn’t really a question in our minds – we were going to do it to make ourselves happy. But then, the day before our contractor was going to start the job, I had the thought “do we need new floors?”
I know, it sounds silly. Kind of like a “duh”. It’s like when you were a kid and you wanted that new toy so badly that it felt like you needed it and then your mom reminds you that you don’t need it and you know she’s right but you don’t want to listen to her lol. Yeah. I was having that moment again, only as an adult and with myself. I honestly was a little nervous to tell Aaron because we were both so set on it and I knew the contractor and his guys were planning to start the next day and I didn’t want to sound like an indecisive person and ruin the plans, but it was the right choice. I told Aaron and to my surprise, he also took a step back and realized – we didn’t need new floors. The tile that we have, as ugly as it is, is in good shape. We can live with the chipped staircase and the blank cement strip that was left when that entry-way wall was torn down. These stills from a video of me eating pretzel chips below are the only pictures in my phone of that part in our floor, because I tried to never get it in pictures haha.
BTW, Cali reeeeaallly wants those pretzel chips lol.
I feel like that decision to separate that “want” from “need” was a defining moment in our financial life and it happened before we even got married. We decided that we wouldn’t let “wants” put us in bad or compromising spots financially, no matter how much we try to convince ourselves that they are “needs”. The plumbing, electrical and lighting work were functional, necessary and boring jobs that needed to be done. It wasn’t like I was going around telling people, “Yeah, we’re remodeling…I LOVE my new plumbing! Our pipes are so cute now!” Haha. Definitely a boring job.
In this specific situation, we had to ask ourselves, “Is it better to have a cute house right now even if it’s at the expense of being financially stretched too far, or is it better to be okay with waiting to save up while our house looks tacky for a season until the renovations don’t break the bank.”
It sounds funny and a little obvious, but we don’t want to become accustomed to charging things to a credit card, or taking out another loan, or having all of our money go to bills…instead of living with our money being our money.
This moment of defining “want” from “need” was big for us. What are some lines you need to define to chisel down your budget?
Financial freedom is underrated and we are on a journey to live in it! Stay tuned as we explore how we have found simple and effective ways to cut cost and pay off debt. This is only Part 1 of our journey to debt free living!
Why stop here?! Check out Our Journey to Debt Free Living – Part 2!