Let’s start this post off with a confession. I am a tad bit competitive. Not crazy competitive like cheating or tripping people or anything like that but I do like to win if there’s a contest and although I know I’m generally not the smartest, prettiest, or most athletic in most rooms I walk into, I’m always going to do my best to make sure I put full effort into whatever I’m doing.
So, after considering this confession I just made you can see where it might be a little deflating when I’m reading all these personal finance blogs that I’m addicted to that have headlines like the following:
“We paid off $65,000 in one year….”
“We saved $13,000 this month…”
“We reduced our expenses by $20,000 a month and quit our jobs…”
“We retired at 36 years old and travel the world now…”
Okay so let’s talk about these headlines.
I don’t make $65K a year…
I don’t spend $13K a month…
I’m not going to be able to reduce my expenses and quit my job unless someone wants to pay for my family’s health insurance…
I’m just shy of 44 years and truthfully I’ll probably be working until about 36 minutes before I die at the rate I’m going…lol…
Well, that’s it, I guess I’m never going to be able to improve my financial standing so I might as well give up and buy that new smart TV I’ve been lusting after for months or that new Prada purse. And afterwards I’ll stop at a restaurant and drown my sorrows into some fancy $12 cocktail and think about how unfair life is and everyone else has it so much better and easier than I do.
WRONG!! Okay, first off, I googled Prada bags just to see how much they were and nearly had a heart attack. Those things are a couple thousand dollars. That’s insane, if I hit the Powerball and become a millionaire I can assure you that I still wouldn’t spend that much on a purse. I would like a new larger smart TV though but I don’t need one so that will wait for a bit.
Personal finance is exactly that, it’s personal. My financial story is not going to be the same as yours most likely. I’ve probably made different mistakes than you in the past and I probably have different goals than you going forward. That’s fine. You might even want to buy a Prada purse some day (if so, then I probably would have to re-evaluate our friendship though because that’s ridiculous money to spend on a freaking purse!) and think I’m goofy for wanting to spend $300 on a slightly larger smart TV.
I’ve made dumb financial mistakes in the past such as giving up a full-ride scholarship because I didn’t like the major, not making sure we had sufficient life insurance, buying too much house for my income level, getting in the car-leasing cycle for too long and perhaps getting too comfortable in jobs instead of job-hopping for higher paying positions at other companies. Some obstacles in my life were really bad luck/fortune, some were bad decisions, and some were a combination of both. Of course that doesn’t stop me from being all judgey sometimes when I’m reading someone else’s story. What? Why are they spending money on alcohol and cigarettes when they can’t pay their electric bill? Why are they putting that trip to Disney World on a credit card when they don’t even have an emergency fund?? See what I mean? Those are definitely financial mistakes but why am I judging them when I have my own closet of financial skeletons?
My focus this year is on focusing on my wins and not my roadblocks. I’m a single mom of two kids in college so it’s not realistic to compare myself to a couple with no kids and two high paying professional jobs. I have a full-time job that I’m certainly not going to get rich from but I enjoy it for the most part and it provides me with health insurance and I’m not worried about corporate lay-offs or anything. I have a second job with flexible hours that I can adjust as needed and provides me and the boys with a discounted food benefit. I adhere to a fairly strict budget as I try to steadily pay down our debts. I’m trying to build another stream of income with my writing. I’m trying to help my boys minimize their expenses while they’re in school. It’s definitely a slow and steady race for me at the moment and that’s frustrating sometimes but I just have to remind myself that I am moving forward and not backwards and someday maybe I’ll have that great debt payoff story to share. It won’t be a story about a race, more like a marathon, but that’s just fine with me.