As I sit by in another country – able only to offer prayer and support – watching my dear friend and biz partner Ruth transitioning her beloved mother to a senior home, I can’t help but think what a relief it must be that they don’t have to worry about money at a time like this. Ruth’s parents lived frugal lives and saved well, and Ruth and her DH began their own journey out of debt and are now on the last leg of their journey, slated to have their mortgage paid off in just a few short years.
Changes and Motivation
Life changes such as watching your parents age are difficult, but they’re much more difficult if you’re struggling with how you will pay for the costs of those life changes.
This is part of what keeps us plugging away at our debt load. As a child, I watched my paternal grandparents struggle with money constantly. Bad decision after bad decision kept them broke and struggling to make payments and have enough money for the very basics. Their eight children routinely gave them Christmas gifts and birthday gifts that covered basic needs such as food, paying the electric bill or paying for home repairs in their small, ancient home.
As we work toward debt freedom all I can think about is that I want Rick and I to be a financial blessing to our kids – not a financial burden. I want to be able to take the whole family – the kids, their spouses, the grandkids and all – on vacations and out to dinner. I want to be able to give them occasional surprise checks for Christmas.
However, those things will only happen if Rick and I continue on our path to pay off our debt and build up our savings.
Keep the End Goal in Mind
On the days when I feel discouraged, or on the days when I’m feeling elated that we’ve come so far and having to discipline myself to not spend as I work to remember what is truly important to us, I remember that we have four beautiful children that deserve to not have to support us as we age. Know that this is not a criticism, just an observation of what I saw as a young person; struggling grandparents and their struggling kids trying to feed their own families and their parents at the same time.
My dad, having overcome his own decades of financial troubles, is working a kick-tail savings and debt payoff plan with his wife. I’m nearly 100% certain that he won’t need a dime for us in his old age.
My mom, whom I wrote about here, has zero debt but only a small retirement fund left. We may have to help support her in a few years. And I want to be prepared financially for that too. I don’t want having to support her hurt our own family financially, but instead be a blessing to her that we can easily give.
In other words, our end goal is to be a financial blessing and not a financial burden to those around us, and to teach our kids to do the same. So much of what we do each week in our quest to be debt free is motivated by our kids. There is something about that unconditional love that parents have for children that makes them be able to do extraordinary things.
One of the extraordinary things you can do for your kids is to pay off your debt and build yourself up a substantial savings account. Then, when you get to the age where you need to change your living situation, money won’t be a factor. Instead, the family can focus on loving you and loving each other through each transition, like Ruth’s family gets to do. Money troubles only make transitions more difficult. When you don’t have to worry about money, you can focus on what matters most: people.