“For me, there’s a disconnect between my perceived culture and class (professional, upper-middle-class-ish), and the reality of our financial situation,” Amy wrote in her comment on this post about Debt Repayment and Self Image.
WOW. That line really struck me – and struck me hard. You see, that line is the summary of how we lived our lives back in the ‘burbs. There was a definite disconnect between our money situation and how we felt we should be living as inhabitants of an upper middle class-ish community.
Basically, we were living a lie. Things looked great on the outside; we had the McMansion, nice cars, our kids were involved in all of the obligatory extracurricular activities that those around us said they should be involved in, but our debt kept being a problem: staying stable at “high” best case scenario, and growing higher and higher at worst case scenario.
But we continued to live in non-reality. It wasn’t until we moved to the country and took our family out of the rat race (at least from a geographical standpoint) that we saw that lifestyle for what it was.
It’s nobody’s fault but our own – we allowed ourselves to succumb to the peer pressure of the community. But we just didn’t see it until we were out of the glass bowl.
In the country, you really do feel as if you are living a permanent vacation of sorts. Not from a work or maintenance standpoint – there have been days when the level of hard work we’ve had to do out here has had me in tears. But from a reality standpoint, living in the country leaves us alone with our thoughts – and with the truth about our financial situation.
It was moving to the country that allowed us to relax – probably for the first time in our lives. And it was moving to the country – where no one could see the emperor with no clothes; no one but us, that is. The stark-raving silence of the country drowned out the noise of the work of keeping up with the Joneses and left us to face the truth about our financial reality.
And the truth was that we’d spent the last 17 years living in a cultural class that exceeded our financial reality. That was a tough truth to face. We spent many months being angry – at ourselves, at each other, at the world.
And then we realized that, angry or not, our only way out was to work our way out of the debt mess we created. And so we do. And the journey has gone slower than we’d have liked it to. There’ve been setbacks and roadblocks that have made this a one step forward, two step back kind of a journey.
But it’s working. We are headed toward debt freedom. Complete and total debt freedom. And as the numbers on our debt go down, down, down, our levels of peace and relief go up.
I share all this in hopes of encouraging you that, if you are struggling with debt right now, things can be different.
It will take work. It will take sacrifice. But I don’t like to call it sacrifice, because what it really is is learning to understand what is most important to you. It’s about learning to understand that all of those things you’ve been buying that aren’t in line with your true financial goals have been wastes of your time and money.
When you take the time to understand what you truly want out of your life and out of your money, and to face the chains you have forged for yourself in life, then you can start spending your money in a way that is truly in line with your dreams.
And then your non-spending isn’t about sacrifice any longer; it’s about learning to live your dreams. And that’s a wonderful way to live. 🙂
Have you ever had to face up to the fact that you were living a financial lie?
*Image courtesy of Flickr & Jay Tamboli