This story begins about 10 years ago, around the time my husband and I were married. It’s also a story that I have never told on Simply Frugal. In all honesty, I have never told this story before because it just seems too simplistic. But I’ll take a risk with this one and assume there are some of you out there that can relate to or need to hear our story.
You may have noticed that I have never discussed all the ways that we have personally climbed out of mountains of debt. Like most other websites similar to mine, they are sharing their story of how they knocked down thousands upon thousands of dollars in debt.
But I do not share these steps for one simple fact: Until the purchase of our new home, my husband and I have never had any debt.
I don’t share this to brag, but to perhaps tear away at the thoughts that our society suggests the idea that we need debt in order to be or appear successful.
We are by no means wealthy, but we have done well considering there have been some years with very low income.
As I mentioned, our journey to paying off more than 50% of our mortgage, began about 10 years ago when we started making smart financial choices. (Instead of ones that “society” suggested we make.) Our story may be possible because of circumstances but I also believe it’s because of our intentional decisions.
At the time of our marriage, my husband owned a condo that he then sold for a profit. We purchased another townhouse at the time of our marriage and decided the smart thing to do was to put his profits into our new home, paying off the mortgage in full. This was essentially the best decisions we have made for our family. There were so many fun things we could have done with the money. We could have been world travelers or bought a boat or fancy car. But we decided to be forward thinkers and determined that we wanted to set up our future for success which to us means no debt.
Because of our choice many years ago, we had a very low cost of living, which enabled us to save even more money. (Even in the very low income years.)
So, cut to March of 2017, we purchased our new home using the profits from the sale of our townhouse and the savings we had in the bank. That allowed up to pay off more than 50% of our mortgage!
As you can see, our story is not typical of most frugal websites out there today. It’s also quite “simple” because we happened to buy and sell at “the right times” allowing us to profit.
But… I also attribute our success so far to the spending choices we make on a daily basis. Here are our “rules” for spending that I hope will help you decide with future purchases:
1. Pay with Cash
When we want something or need something, we always pay with cash. Now, we do use a credit card, but we only use it if we already have the money in the bank. Over the years, every purchase we have made (aside from our new home) has been with cash.
2. Buy Used
Looking around our home, many of the things I’m looking at have been bought used. Our couch set, our dining room table, toys, our vehicles even. (Though we do keep those outside. 😉 ) When it’s time to make a purchase, we look for something used first.
3. Buy on Sale
If we can’t find what were looking for used, we wait for a sale. Everything goes on sale eventually! Why pay full price if you don’t have to?
4. Determine Wants vs. Needs
My husband wants a new TV for the basement. We still haven’t purchased one because we have determined that there are other purchases that we need to make that are more important. The way we have set up our finances allows us to buy wants, but that doesn’t mean we instantly go out and buy something just because we want to. We do our research and think through the purchase. Now, I’m not perfect and I struggle with buying more small wants than my husband. Something both of us wish to change. 🙂
5. Have an Emergency Fund
My husband and I don’t feel comfortable if we don’t have a certain amount in the bank. We highly recommend having an emergency fund. The amount you have in this account is up to you, but it should only be used in real emergencies.
All in all, it takes practice, thoughtfulness and a shift in mindset. Be a future thinker instead of a present thinker in terms of your finances. It wasn’t until I completed my very first No Spend Challenge many years ago that I had that mindset change. The challenge helped me to switch my mindset from shopping for entertainment to realize the enjoyment of having money in the bank.
My hope is that our story is an encouragement to you. If you’re in a less than ideal financial spot, it doesn’t always have to be that way!
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Please share in the comments below!