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!
Great post! Your floor doesn’t look so bad! Put a runner rug over it if it’s scratching a nerve haha. I think my biggest struggles are impulsive buying (I like shoes and lotions and soaps and notebooks and beauty products little nick-nacks and pretty much everything) andddd food. I struggle a lot with not giving in to cravings and the biggest piece on my financial spending chart is food ? I need to constantly remind myself “hey you don’t neeeeeed that taco or cupcake” in order to stay under budget! Lol
Haha you do like pretty much everything! I like all that stuff too. Aaron gives me a little tiny budget for stuff like that each month & it helps me to stay within that & not go over. Maybe you can set aside a specific amount for yourself every month & that way you still get to buy a little bit of it. The food thing is big for us too! The minute we stop eating out so much, it makes such a big difference!!
Looks like you’re on your way to living within your means…yay! Looking forward to Part 2???!
Thanks Mami! We’re trying!! ??
Argelia Madrigal says
Sounds all right!! Thanks!
Thanks for reading Nina! ?
Amanda H says
I love this post & honestly the floors don’t look bad to me at all. My hubby and I learned financial lessons the hard way and now repairing credit but also staying away from falling into the “American Dream” trap, the parts full of leading to disaster. I’m trying to teach my kids the difference between want & need & being open with them surprisingly has led to interesting learning experiences for us all. Too many people faking it, drowning in debt and something people avoid talking about also; the stress & marrital issues that come with not being on the same page ?
Haha thanks, yeah, it’s mostly that cement slab right in the entryway that is the most ugly part lol. I feel you, the “American Dream” should really be financial freedom & living with your money actually being your money. That’s great that you’re teaching your kids & being transparent with them! And yes, I feel you about the marital stress thing. For us, we’ve realized that it’s important for each of us to accept the things we are weak at & let the other who is stronger in those areas, step in and balance it out. Sometimes that’s easier said than done, of course lol. Thanks for reading!!
Quimi thanks for sharing your financial freedom journey! I LOVE these kinds of stories and I LOVE that you and your man are on the same page! Financial freedom means freedom for you and the freedom to share more with others. Yes it takes time. Yes it’s not popular in today’s instant gratification world. Congratulations on your decision. You won’t regret it! Looking forward to watching your journey! 🙂 Love & Prayers!