Can you enjoy the simpler things in life, or do you need everything to be in excess? There is no questioning that we here in North America have it really freaking good with access to everything that we want at our fingertips. It’s really easy for us to get caught up in a world where we buy things that we really don’t need, and that really don’t add any value to our lives.
The best examples of excess that I can think of in my life are the knickknacks that I buy at home décor stores. There really is no burning need to buy another bird shaped decoration or pretty clock (most often shaped like a bird), but for some reason I get easily suckered into paying upwards of $40 (who am I kidding, more than that) for these sorts of things and they don’t leave me feeling as fulfilled as a concert or a skate on the canal.
I’m sitting at my dining room table right now, looking at what I like to call, “my cabinet of fun but unnecessary.” In this cabinet you can see that I have about 100 records, 2 dozen board games, a dozen almost finished bottles of obscure alcohols that have probably been there for a good year, and the thing is surrounded by 3 of my 30+ plants and of course, the creepy mannequin head with a Lady Gaga wig and pilot’s hat, just like everyone else has in their homes to keep up with the most trendy hipsters in all existence.
|This is the wig, eat your hearts out little monsters.|
These things all have or continue to add some simple joys to my life, but the reality is, if there ever were a fire, I would easily be able to go on living my life as if nothing had happened. Mind you, I would stand out like a sore thumb at the next Lady Gaga themed party, but that’s really not the point. If you are sitting at your computer and reading this and thinking about your own debt and wondering how you can get to the point that I am in a fast time span, this should be a bit of a punch to the junk to tell you that the answer is right in front of you sometimes.
It’s all about reassessing what we have and asking what we can give up in order to get ahead. For me, the hard things to give up were: buying music, buying new clothes, eating out, and going to concerts. These things took up a lot of my budget, but I really felt like I was entitled to have everything that I wanted, but I looked at these things as needs, but wants. I needed to go to that concert so that I could spend time with my friends, I needed to buy that album so that I could support my favourite artists (like they would go out of business if I didn’t), I needed to have new clothes so that I could maintain my sense of style that friends and family raved about. There are so many stories that I could tell myself to justify just about any expense.
My best story was, well, “it’s vintage, so I’m not paying as much as everyone else”, or “it’s on sale”. It doesn’t matter if that t-shirt is on sale, it doesn’t change that fact that you have 50 more in a drawer at home. When you’re on a budget you need to identify these excessive items in your life. If you’re someone who is always wanting to get the latest and greatest music, stop following all of the music blogs, unsubscribe to the music blogs, and learn to dust off that Lauren Hill CD and ride it out until you’re financially stable again. Set limits for the amount that you are allowed to buy as well. Limit yourself to one album per month, and ask for the other albums you want for birthdays or holidays. The same can apply to clothes. Are you hooked on fashion blogs and already stocking up on the latest cool shades of green since orange is so last season? Stop following these trends and start setting your own trends. Learn to embrace what you already have.
The reality is that most people who are in debt, already have everything they need and then some, so giving up these types of things should not be difficult to do. As I approach the end of my debt, the things that I had to give up are getting welcomed back into my life, and the purchases I make are smarter ones. It may seem crazy at the time to stop going to your favourite restaurant every week, but when you’re out of debt in 2 years, you’re going to look like a freaking financial genius.
I used to go for brunch every single Sunday before my debt repayment process. Well today I went to my friends Kate and Caitlin’s place and had a fantastic brunch, stimulating conversation, and a great time with people that I love, which I have come to realize from this process, is worth more than any of the excessive wants that I had filled my home with. Take some time, figure out what really matters to you, and the rest will all just fall into place.
Can you believe I have less than $4,000 to go?! Wowsa!