Over the weekend, I had a chance to read a truly excellent article entitled Finding the Joy in Frugality at David on Finance. David’s story is rather similar to mine – he went through a financial low point and is now digging his way out. What he found that surprised him, though, is how enjoyable the process is:
When I can cook a $6 meal that will last me five nights, that is just awesome. That amounts to about $6-7 per night I am saving by not ordering take-out, and the food tastes good! When it is only halfway through my pay period, my bills are paid, and I still have money in my account, it makes me feel good! Knowing that by doing this, I will pay off my credit in a little over a year, saving me thousands of dollars in interest, I am happy. When I know that by the end of next year, creditors will no longer own me, I am happy. When I find a way to cut my cell phone bill in half, saving me an extra $20 or so per month, that makes me happy. When I turn $300 in overdraft fees into $300 towards credit card balances, that makes me very happy. After being enslaved by my own wallet for so long, every small success makes me feel like I am finally beating my creditors in the game of personal finance.
I know that feeling very, very well. Personal finance management can have some incredibly exhilarating moments, ones that make you feel so strong and self-empowered that it’s almost dizzying. I thought I would share a few of those moments in my own life – please, feel free to share some of your own moments in the comments.
The day I wiped out my large credit card debt. I had been carrying a balance of over $5,000 on one credit card since 2003. In August 2006, I paid the entire thing off. When I sent in that payment, the feeling that overtook me was incredible – I felt so excited that I actually went on a really long bicycle ride, far longer than my normal ones, and wound up with leg cramps. Arguably the best leg cramps of my life.
The day I paid off my truck loan. I started paying for a very expensive truck about a year and a half before my financial armageddon, and I realized when I started looking at things with clear eyes that those truck payments were overly expensive and an albatross around my neck. Last December, I paid off that truck almost a year early and when I received the title, I just sat there looking at it, realizing that it was mine and not the bank’s.
The moment we realized we really could afford the house we wanted. We spent months crunching numbers and looking at houses and crunching numbers again, and then we saw it: the house we both really, really wanted. The best part? We were quite confident we could afford it as we were looking at it, and a quick number crunch confirmed it. Our financial efforts of the previous year had really paid off.
The day I was able to just pay for brake repairs with cash and with no panic at all. The brakes failed on the truck and the bill was about $600. In the past, that bill would have had to go on credit and it would have also caused a panic because I wouldn’t have been able to afford it. Because of my smart planning, I just paid for it in cash, walked out of the building, got in the truck, and realized that for the first time I was completely in control of my money instead of it controlling me.
What major positive financial milestones brought you joy? Share some in the comments.