I hate our apartment with the passion of 1,000 fires.
That’s why I was so surprised when I convinced Zach that we should stay here when our lease comes up for renewal in a couple months.
Let me rewind and explain…
I became accustomed to a certain way of life, with a certain amount of stuff
I’ve never lived in shared housing in my life up until now. I always lived in detached housing, tucked away somewhere in the woods. I even opted for a cabin without running water when I was living in Alaska over living in a dorm. The winter outhouse trips were a bitch. Up until now, I’ve barely even been able to see my neighbors.
I got my penchant for seclusion while I was growing up. My parents always had a house located in the middle of some forest, and they let me roam away to my heart’s content. I was basically the white-girl version of Mowgli.
I still remember the very first purchase I made with my very first official paycheck when I was 15. It was a huge cabin tent that I promptly pitched in the yard and lived in for the entire summer, until the snow started flying. I would have stayed out for longer, but I’d been advised that electric heaters and tents don’t mix.
My second purchase (after I’d saved up for a bit) was a truck that I used to take me from Michigan all the way to Alaska.
When I was forced to make do with less stuff, it sucked
I had to sell my truck to fund the move from Alaska to Colorado. It was tough because for the first time in my life since being a teenager, I felt stranded (I still do).
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Then, the only housing we could afford that let us keep our pets was a crappy apartment in a complex populated largely by snooty people with angry little mop dogs who burst into a seizure-like fit of barking whenever they see Juno.
They’ve trained Juno to bark at any and all little mop dogs she sees, and frankly I’m surprised I haven’t reverted to the same behavior.
This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. I’d been told that I’d find a great-paying job that would let me support Zach while he was in school, just like he had for me. I wasn’t expecting unicorns to poop out rainbow wads of hundred-dollar bills.
I just wanted enough to live in the simple way I’d been accustomed to, and I didn’t think that was too much to ask for.
Instead, we were forced to live in a situation that I wasn’t OK with because we didn’t have enough money for something better. And that sucked.
Every day that I had to go to my job and make less money than I deserved so I could live in a place that I didn’t even like made me feel like a colossal failure.
That’s why I took the initiative to learn how to manage my money better.
If money was the cause of me being there, then money could get me out, too.
When we identified our financial goals, we knew we needed to make do with less stuff
Once me and Zach identified our financial goals, we realized we had some work to do.
We don’t just want to make it out of this apartment. We want our own home again someday. Preferably, our home would be in the woods where I can have a wee archery range again (archery is highly frowned upon in the courtyard of my apartment complex).
Our goal is to save up a 20% down payment on a $250,000 house. We’ll need $50,000. And we’re still currently in debt by $81,000.
We’ve got a long way to go.
When making do with less stuff is a choice, it doesn’t suck as much
We decided to try and get to our goals faster by decreasing our spending and boosting our income. That way, we can pay off our debt faster, and save more money at the same time.
It wasn’t fun. We’d been used to doing a lot of things, like going to a sit-down restaurant for date night once or twice a week, buying too many Kindle ebooks, or ordering stuff impulsively off Amazon (one can never have too many fuzzy socks).
Over time, though, we got used to the new changes. I realized that there was a cost to everything we were buying. Every dollar we spent on something was one less dollar we could sock away towards getting the hell out of our apartment.
After I few months, I would think about the price of a sit-down dinner and ask myself: Do I want a nice dinner, or a house? Dinner, or a house?
Tough call. But the house won just about every time.
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That’s why I was so surprised when Zach asked me if we should find another (nicer) place to live when the lease on our apartment is up. I realized that the longer we stay in this crappy apartment, the sooner we can afford the thing that we really want: a house.
Sure, we could get a nicer living situation. But, we’d be stuck there forever because we wouldn’t be able to save.
I’d rather live here for a few more years in a sub-optimal situation and then have the ultimate reward rather than having something that’s just-kind-of-OK forever.
When we were forced to live in a way we didn’t want, it sucked. When it became a choice—a sacrifice for something better we knew we’d get later, then it rocked.
What things have you given up in pursuit of your financial goals? Are you more tolerant of less stuff after defining your goals? Leave a comment below!