Around the time I began writing Hundred Goals, I wanted to change my life. I was working at a job that I hated to pay for a car that took me to that very job. All three of my credit cards were maxed out and over their limits. I had been dragging along a personal loan for almost 6 years, the result of multiple failed attempts at debt consolidation. This, on top of my Student Loan debt that continued to grow with each semester.
I wanted to change my life and the first step had to be getting my financial situation under control. Without making money my priority, accomplishing anything else, any personal goal, would either be impossible or lead me further into debt. My only option was to dig myself out of debt, dollar by dollar. For the next year I spent every moment of my life working. I went in early and stayed late. If I was able to work on the weekends, I did. I worked every single day of the week, Sunday to Saturday, at times working more than three weeks without a single day off.
I was earning a lot of money and using every penny to pay off my debt. I watched my account balances disappear and I began the long climb out of debt. My credit cards were the first to be paid off, then the personal loan. While I was working to get out of debt, my life consisted of nothing more than work. Keeping the money flowing in was my sole mission and purpose in life. I knew that my hard work and determination would eventually pay off.
After paying off my credit cards and personal loan, I felt like my financial situation was almost under control and I began working less hours. Now that some of my debts were paid, I was no longer struggling to make ends meet. The money I earned working 40 hours a week was more than enough to continue paying off debt and to begin pursuing some of my other ambitions, so…
Erin and I booked a trip to Aruba.
Even though I still had debt, a balance between delaying gratification and living in the moment needed to be struck. Instead of waiting for the ideal financial moment, a moment that would be years in the future, I seized the opportunity to pursue my dream of world travel rather than continuing to delay my life.
Fiscal responsibility doesn’t mean a life of suffering and slavery to your debts. It means finding a balance, one where you meet or exceed your financial obligations while still leading a fulfilling and meaningful life. When I was working seven days a week, my life wasn’t fulfilling or meaningful but it was what I needed to do at the time in order to put my life in a place where I was able to find meaning and fulfillment.
I wanted to change my life and I have. I no longer need to rely on my credit cards and I do not carry a balance from one month to the next. I don’t need to rely on payday lenders to make my rent payment at the beginning of the month. I have paid off the remaining balance on my car loan and have begun repaying my Student Loans.
All the while, I am chasing after my goals. Since traveling to Aruba, I have spent the majority of my free time visiting places around the world. Belize, Germany, Iceland (Mexico, Honduras, Grand Cayman). I spent a month visiting National Parks around the United States. I have paid for all of these things with cash from my pocket as I continue paying down my debts. I’m not waiting for someday.
It could be argued that I could pay off the last of my remaining debt much earlier if I were to sacrifice even some of the traveling that I do. Absolutely! It would be possible to get out of debt earlier, though I see no reason to sacrifice the precious moments I have now in order to become debt free a little sooner.
“Accomplish Your Goals While Managing Your Finances”
It is possible to do both and I encourage you to find the balance you need in order to turn your dreams into a reality while meeting your financial obligations, not only in debt reduction but also in savings and planning for the future. Waiting for someday to live your life is a sure way to waste the life you have at this very moment.